Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Friction Continues - further questions about Eric Greitens campaign

Following my recent post recapping my dissatisfaction with Eric Greitens campaign's lack of information, Bill Hennessy responded with a post restating his support for Greitens. Bill made a number of comments that I want to address, including a few of which I assume were at least partially directed towards me, while also noting that:
"Some of my friends attack Mr. Greitens, even on the St. Louis Tea Party blog, which I operate and fund. I let their attacks go out, under my name, not because I agree, but because I trust the people.

We have a simple policy for the contributors to that blog: write what you believe. If other contributors disagree, they can write what they believe. The people will sort it out. So, now, it’s my turn."
, which was good to hear and much appreciated. With that in mind, I'll respond to the points he made in his post, and clarify why they don't inspire the same confidence in me, that they do for him.

The difficulty I have with Eric Greitens has less to do with what he once had believed or done, than with what he hasn't done: He still has yet to explain his understanding of the Conservative ideas he says he now believes, he hasn't said when he came to believe them or, to any depth, why, or how these new ideas compelled him to turn away from what he had believed and spent years working towards - and being a 'Tea Party' blogger in spirit, I think that's worth blogging about.

As I said in one of the early posts on Greitens:
">>>The first time I heard about Eric Greitens was as he was announcing his intention to consider running for governor earlier this year. I read Bill's post on it, and the articles it linked to, and I too was much impressed, but unfortunately before that inspiration could take root, my next thoughts were:
"I wonder what his thoughts and positions on Individual Rights, Law & Govt policy are?"
, and the inspiration faltered in me as I tried hunting around on the web for specifics about his ideas on such things, and it withered away as I found nothing of the sort, only more and more instances of 'Happy Talk' about how really impressive a guy he is. He is impressive, that much is a given, no argument there at all, but that doesn't make the argument for electing him to office. Despite how impressive he is as a person, as a candidate, if your political positions, and your demonstrated understanding and commitment to the principles behind them, aren't impressive in themselves, then neither will you be, as a candidate for high office.<<<"
This lack of information is especially relevant, as he apparently made this political about-face within just the last five years - how deeply can a person come to understand a political philosophy that is diametrically opposed to what they had believed all their lives, in five years or less? Yes, it can be done, but as he's running for the highest office in the state, I think that deserves substantially more attention than what he essentially said in his 'coming out' column, that 'I saw that Democrat policies didn't work, so I became a Republican'. Not only has he not significantly elaborated on that in the last year, he has in fact made more of an effort to avoid, or even prevent, those questions from being asked of him.

I find it very concerning that he doesn't seem to think that the differences between the Left and the Right are big enough to warrant providing voters with more information to evaluate him by. After all, Eric Greitens is no laconic 'man of few words' - he's read and studied the philosophy and history that I'm always going on about, he was a Rhodes Scholar, he went to Oxford, he's written several books, and yet he is unable to explain what he believes and why? Something doesn't add up there.

And, as I pointed out in the previous post, his campaign website has devoted less than 800 words to describing his policies and reasoning for them, which for any politician who has recently changed parties, and specially one who was a Rhodes Scholar, that, IMHO, is bizarre.

Bill not only has no problem with that, but he has become if anything, even more enthusiastic in his support. which is something that I not only do not share, but I find his reasoning difficult to understand. For instance, in explaining why he is voting for Eric Greitens, Bill says,
"I believe the greatest threat to human freedom and thriving is the political class."
Is this not the same sort of spin that's used to tell us that the greatest threat to our inner cities is "gun violence"? But just as guns aren't the problem with 'gun violence', thugs and murders are; our problem is not with the political class itself - a political class could just as easily be filled with Thomas Jeffersons' as Hillary Clintons' - but with those politicians which We The People vote into that political class - why the distraction? The reality is that what makes the political class a problem, is the people who enable, support and vote politicians into it, without understanding their character, their convictions, and their willingness and ability to stand up for, argue for, and apply them, in our government.

IMHO, the greatest threat to human freedom and thriving, are in fact those people of all classes who support and vote for politicians based upon their personal appeal, while knowing little or nothing about the ideas behind that politicians smiling face - they are the ones who are responsible for bringing such a plague of two-faced politicians upon us, and that is what is progressively transforming our precious liberty into servility.

Bottom line: If you don't like the class of people in the 'political class', while you as a voter are not demanding more than a smile and a promise from those you vote into that class, the fault is yours.

"...That smirking political class infects both Washington, DC, and Jefferson City, Missouri. And I believe only one candidate has the courage, the brains, and the commitment to destroy that political class in Missouri. That candidate is Eric Greitens."
Why does he believe that Greitens is that candidate? Why should anyone? Based upon what? Because he's done admirable things in his life? Many people have done admirable things, but those deeds don't necessarily provide them with the knowledge and relevant experience to suit them for the office of Governor of a state - especially my state. If Eric Greitens really is different from the two-faced 'political class', then Show Me!

And I'm sorry to say, but when I think of Eric Greitens, I find myself thinking of the only thing that he's provided me to think about him with - a picture of his toothy smile or a sly smirk, a slogan, and a politicians appeal to 'trust me!'. For instance, he claims his NRA endorsement of 'AQ' is the highest rating the NRA gives to candidates - it is not. The 'AQ' merely indicates that a candidate has provided good answers to questions on an NRA questionnaire.
AQ is Not the highest NRA rating

The NRA's highest rating for a candidate is 'A+',
which, BTW, the NRA gave to Peter Kinder (which is who I'm most likely going to vote for), and is for candidates who not only answer questions well, but who also have a proven track record of consistently supporting the 2nd Amendment.

Eric Greitens' claim about his NRA rating is not true, while it is the highest rating that he can receive, as he has no track record, it is not the highest rating that the NRA gives, and yet he is continuing to make that claim. Eric Greitens seems to be comfortable with quite a bit of ambiguity, which is not a quality that I'm comfortable in giving political power to.

What makes a candidate different is the ideas they hold and their ability to stand up and argue for them, and if they won't demonstrate that, then I'm not going to pretend that I see this emperors clothes as having any more substance than that emperors clothes. If you dodge and avoid answering questions, if you avoid volunteering basic information for voters to make sound judgments upon, if you conduct your campaigns with catchy video clips, trite slogans and minimal information - just as the Political Class does - then I'm forced to assume that those slogans being shouted out about being a 'Different kind of Candidate!", represent a distinction without a difference.

Bill asks,
"Do you want to live as a slave to that smirking political class? Or do you want to live free and thrive?"
My answer is that I don't think a person can escape slavery without understanding what liberty is, means and depends upon, and what's more, I don't think they can be given power and avoid becoming tyrannical 'for a good cause!' without having that understanding either. Do you? It is of course for that very reason, that I don't recommend giving political power over our lives to someone who will not explain what their political principles are, who will not explain what they believe the limits of their powers are and should be, and who will not explain how those supposedly shared principles will guide their use of executive power in the highest office in the state. Until I hear Eric Greitens give some semblance of an explanation of his new understanding in that regards (again, we don't know how new), then I'm not going to just assume that he's found the answers that I'm looking for.

Bill says,
"Three Republican candidates for governor have crawled to the political class for help. One has not. That one is Eric Greitens."
Bill is a promo guy, he believes in moving people by triggering their emotions. Unfortunately the emotions which empty smears such as that triggers in me, are less than pleasant.

Bill continues:
"Many Tea Partiers want to remain political remnants. Political martyrs. Slaves to a self-imposed conformity. Self-righteous worshippers at the altar of the smirking political class. I know their feelings because I was a remnant for most of my life."
Speaking of smears. Is it just me, or is the key point buried in that slime fest, a recommendation that selling out your principles for political power, is a smart strategy that we should all get behind? Speaking for myself, I think that is... unwise.

Personally, I have no desire to be or to support political martyrs, and I don't conform to meaningless slogans. And there's nothing in that which excludes political leaders from making sensible compromises for legitimate political agreements - that is a necessity in governing people with differing views - so long as they are principled compromises. But, of course, if you don't know what a candidates principles are... then... you see the problem there for supporting Eric Greitens, yes? If I don't know what his political principles are, and the depth of his understanding of them, or his ability to argue for them, to bargain through them, then I don't see how I can count upon him making acceptable 'conservative' political agreements, as governor of our state. Do you?

Bill backs up that lovely sentiment above, with a quote from this source:
"The president of the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Arthur C. Brooks, explained the phenomenon in his book The Conservative Heart":
"...Or can the Tea Party become something bigger— a transformational, majoritarian force in American politics that does not simply rebel against American decline, but reverses it? ..."
Excuse me, but I've had quite enough of people attempting to transform America, thank you very much. IMHO Arthur 'Compassionate Conservative' Brooks represents a significant portion of what is wrong with the modern conservative movement, both in his enthusiastic support for the worst of William F. Buckley's ideas (which are very much in line with Bill Hennessy's thinking), and very few of his better ones. The contrived attempt to fashion a popular 'Message!', to 'win over key demographics' of the country via cheap PR gimmicks and platforms, are a significant reason behind the Right failing to expand its base. Despite the best efforts of many, myself included, the necessary ideas for a conservative take-over have not yet fully sunk in. We've made progress, but you can't short cut History through Marketing. Sorry, way it is.

If we want Conservative ideals to become a "...majoritarian force in American politics...", then we need those who understand those ideas, principles and history that America is formed from, to discuss them, live them, promote and spread them, without trying to pretend to be something they're not. Our ideas are the message, they apply to every person, every group, every ethnicity and every age group - don't throw them under the bus in a short sighted bid for winning over the latest demographic! The attempt to appear to be part of the 'In Crowd!' is doomed to failure.

Bill claims that,
"A vote for anyone other than Eric Greitens is a vote for permanent remnant status."
Which, especially in a Primary election, is an especially empty, meaningless statement to make, as in a Primary Election, you are supposed to be casting your vote for who you have the most confidence in, and who you believe in most; to vote otherwise is to be nothing but a pawn of cheap political gamesmenship. And as to the idea that having been a SEAL should seal the deal, I'm sorry, but if other members of the Navy SEAL's don't think that that's enough to qualify you as Governor, I'm not buying it either.

Bill again makes the pitch that the fact that Eric Greitens had been a Democrat, is no reaon for him to be rejected. And I agree. For the very examples and reasons he states - the fact that he once was a Democrat shouldn't change your mind, provided that the person in question has clearly explained and demonstrated why they were once a Democrat, and are no more:
"Yes, Eric Greitens began life as a Democrat, just like Ronald Reagan did. Yes, Eric Greitens applauded Democrats’ speeches, just like Ronald Reagan did. Yes, Eric Greitens wrote in support of big government programs, just like Ronald Reagan did."

I have zero problem with a democrat converting to the Right - Fantastic! But I do want to know WHY they converted, and especially in the case of a recent conversion (how recent? Eric's not saying), I want some proof that he understands what the difference is between the Left and the Right. Did he switch simply because of a pragmatic calculation of political numbers, or to make govt programs more effective and efficient, or from an understanding of the ideas which the Right is (supposed to be) rooted it?
Adam Sharp (who does not work for Peter Kinder) is kicked out before asking a single question
I and others have asked that question of Eric Greitens, his people and his campaign, but aside from receiving mostly smirking political snarkasm in response, and an occasionally a shove or an escort out the door, we've learned nothing more than Bill's next point:
"But Eric Greitens has seen fit to move to the right because he’s seen the damage done by the policies he once endorsed."
John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell, all make similar statements day in and day out, about how the policies of the left are damaging to America, but I don't believe that they understand why the democrat's policies fail. It's nice that they want to fix them, but wanting to help, without understanding how to help, isn't going to help! If you want me, to help you, to help us, you've first got to show me that you understand what the problem is, its causes, and how to fix them. If you cannot or will not explain that, then you aren't the one to help fix the problem - you'll just worsen the bad situation we've already got. We don't need any more help of that kind - we're drowning in it already.

Bill says that we should put away our concerns and rest assured that,
"Sensible people would help him make those corrections. Eric Greitens is fully equipped and prepared to fix Missouri."
Bill, and Eric's campaign, say that a lot. Words have meaning - how about sharing his understanding of them? Try explaining the what, how and why of the issues. Then I'll decide if he's worth supporting. Unfortunately he's not only not done that, but he's purposefully, and belligerently, avoided doing that. That isn't someone I'm going to support in a Primary Election that is supposed to be all about why I should vote for you.
"The more Eric sees government in action, the more he seeks to restrain government."
What has he said that shows how seriously he wants to restrain govt? I haven't seen it. The more I've seen of Eric's ideas, the more I've seen nothing more than sentiments ('we've got to reach out...we've got to provide support... we've got to do better...') that are sure to expand government powers and reach. I'm sorry, but I'll need to hear his explanations for what, how and why I should think that he understands the importance of restraining govt's power over us, rather than expanding it in another direction for a 'good cause'. And Bill goes again for the warm fuzzy association:
"Just like Ronald Reagan."
The problem with that, is that unlike Eric Greitens, Ronald Reagan spent years and years explaining exactly why he joined the Republican Party, he explained exactly what he thought the problem was with Democrat policies, and why he thought they were wrong, and he explained the ideas he meant to campaign on and execute. Eric Greitens has smirked. And snarled. And repeated key events from his books in Townhall's (limited to three questions from the audience), but he has not explained what he will do, why he will do it, and how he will carry it out. Unfortunately, on the basis of Greitens statements and actions, I can find zero basis for comparing him with Ronald Reagan.
"And Greitens is the only Republican likely to beat the Democrat in November."
Coming from the man who supported Ed Martin in every election he lost - I must decline to put all that much stock in predictions such as that.
"As long as that smirking political class holds sway in Jefferson City, our limited-government movement will remain a remnant, a faction, of frustrated grassroots activists waving signs that no one else reads or understands.
That’s why I believe Americans have a duty to blow up the political class first."
Hint: The political class is currently made up of people who smirk, spout slogans, make promises and demand support, while providing little or no substance for anyone to understand or support them on, and assiduously avoid having to demonstrate that they can and will walk their talk. That's Eric Greitens' campaign to a "T". I'll leave it to the reader to decide the best response to that.

As to "... waving signs that no one else reads or understands...", if no one understands the signs people are waving, then as I see it, we have two options:

  1. Demonstrate, communicate and teach what those signs mean.
  2. Deceive, trick or otherwise sucker people into supporting you so you can get into office and double-cross them later with what you think is best for them.
One of those options I endorse, and one of those options I oppose. How about you?
"The smirking political class is a sucking chest wound on this country. It’s bleeding us dry. Until we stop that bleeding, nothing else helps."
Exactly. We need to stop accepting crisp suits stuffed with empty slogans which have no substance, and until we stop accepting such false solutions, there will be no progress made. I repeat: Stop Accepting A Smirking Slogan With Zero Substance.

Bill then makes a statement which has much appeal and little understanding:
"Crony capitalism sits on the chest of the American economy, suffocating growth. Until will corral crony capitalism, our solutions will fail."
The sad fact is that organizations such as The Aspen Institute, and its The Franklin Institute, and various unaccountable NGO's, etc., are the marketing arms of crony capitalism - they are the means of connecting the politically powerful to corporate interests - and Eric Greitens has been an enthusiastic supporter of them for years and years, effectively undermining everything that the conservative and Tea Party movements have been working for. If you want me to believe that he no longer is a member of the cronies - then please ask him to explain to Missouri Voters what he now believes, and how and why he came to believe it. If he can't start with that obvious first step, then I can't trust that he'll take the next step at all.
"If your priority is anything but blowing up that smirking political class, then you’re going to kill the patient. He’ll bleed to death."
If you attempt to replace the smirking political class, with another class of political smirkers, guess what: Nothing will change.
"Without reservation or purpose of evasion, I wholeheartedly and proudly repeat my endorsement of Eric Greitens for governor of Missouri. And I ask you to join me in saving our country."
Without reservation or purpose of evasion, I sadly can find no reasons whatsoever, despite searching and asking, for believing that Eric Greitens believes, or will do, anything differently from the political class he seeks to be elected the leader of. That doesn't win over my support.

This is Missouri - If he truly understands and believes and can argue for Conservative ideals: Show Me.

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