In what has to be one of the most bizarre political press conferences in recent times, Huckabee told a packed room of reporters that he was pulling a negative TV ad his campaign had produced to respond to Romney’s attacks. . .
Then — via a laptop projector — he showed the ad anyway to the several dozen journalists in the room.
The last time I remember a Republican Presidential candidate saying that he wasn’t going to do something, and then he went and did it anyway, it was George H. W. Bush’s promise to not raise taxes. But at least the elder Bush waited a couple years before changing his mind. Mike Huckabee couldn’t wait a couple minutes before brazenly reneging on his no negative ads promise.
SEE UPDATE BELOW: It appears that Jill Lawrence, not Bill Theobald, is the culprit.
The USA Today’s Mark Memmott and Jill Lawrence reprint on their blog a Bill Theobald story. At least Theobald, and perhaps all three, apparently studied journalism under Maureen Dowd.
Here is the unexcerpted text of their story about Fred Thompson:
BURLINGTON, Iowa — Fred Thompson said Saturday he does not much like the modern form of presidential campaigning and that he “will not be devastated” if he doesn’t win the election.
“I’m not particularly interested in running for president,” Thompson said, but rather he feels called to serve his country.
“I don’t know if you have a desire to be president,” Burlington attorney Todd Chelf told Thompson during a question and answer session raising an issue that has dogged his campaign.
“I am not consumed by personal ambition,” Thompson responded. “I’m offering myself up.”
Given the volatile state of the world, the actor and former Tennessee senator said he was not “sure it is a good thing if a president has too much fire in his belly.”
“I’m only consumed by a few things and politics is not one of them,” he said.
Chelf said after the event that it was “almost refreshing to hear that approach.”
“I think there is a passion there,” he said. “I think it’s sort of a Southern gentleman passion.”
Thompson also had stops scheduled Saturday in Washington, Williamsburg, Montezuma, and Newton, Iowa.
“Wow, he really doesn’t want to be president at all,” is what you’re probably thinking after reading this.
But when you read the whole unexcerpted interview, you come away with a far different picture–a refreshing and uncommon picture of a man at the highest level of politics who takes his country and his responsibilities far more seriously than he takes himself.
In two consecutive presidential election cycles, the Internet has proven itself the most effective fundraising technology since the advent of direct mail. . . Any medium that lucrative is bound to hold the attention of politicians. And bloggers look very much like the custodians of the political Internet.
[However] The blogosphere links people all over the planet. It can generate volumes of comments and email that feel like a tidal wave to those accustomed to the milder responsiveness of the print medium. When I worked on the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal, then the largest circulation newspaper in America, a very provocative article might have elicited as many as a hundred letters to the editor. Today, an exciting post on a major blog can generate thousands of posted comments and emails. Few people possess the internal fortitude to stand up to a seeming barrage like this. ..
For those who participate in it, the blogosphere takes on the scale and reality of an alternative world—a world whose controversies and feuds are so absorbing, whose alliances and enmities burn with so much passion, that only the most level-headed of the participants ever seem to remember that somewhere between 97 and 98 percent of American voters have never looked at a blog in their lives.
Mike Huckabee last year accepted $52,000 in speaking fees from a bio-tech giant that wants to research human embryonic stem cells, a non-profit working to expand access to the morning after pill and a group pushing to study whether tightening gun control laws will reduce violence.
The news out of Pakistan isn’t good this morning. Besieged simultaneously by militant Islamicists and by middle class calls for democratic reforms, Musharraf has been walking a tightrope without a net ever since he took power in a coup. I don’t pretend to know even a fraction of the intricacies within the country, but what I do know is that America absolutely needed a stable and friendly Pakistan for two very important reasons:
The first is obvious. Pakistan has the bomb. The consequences are horrific if the country splinters and control of its nuclear arsenal is lost.
The second reason is geographic. Look at a map of Afghanistan and tell me how you would propose that America fight Al Qaeda there without the aid of Pakistan? There are only three ways into the landlocked Asian country: through Pakistan, through Iran, or over a very long route through Russia and the former Soviet Stans. If, as the Democratic rhetoric goes, Afghanistan is a more important fight than Iraq, then securing the assistance of a stable Pakistan is a necessary precondition.
I don’t know how quickly the situation in Pakistan will stabilize or deteriorate. Nor do I know how quickly the situation there will translate to the American electorate here. But what I do know translates well is an overall disgust with having to even concern ourselves with that part of the world.
The reason why we are in the Middle East is oil. And the reason why rogue Middle Eastern madman are internationally dangerous is the money they get from oil. The economic simplistics say that we just need to stop using oil and the foreign policy simplistics tell us that we just need to disengage entirely from that part of the world. Neither group ever offers a viable path to accomplishing their goals, but in the end both are right.
In a response to a commenter on an earlier thread I bemoaned the fact that the biggest rationale offered for reducing American oil consumption is global warming. At best GW fears are overstated. At worst it is total bunk. That the environmental movement has pinned its entire raison d’etre on global warming is ludicrous. If GW goes away as a viable theory (I’m predicting that it soon will), so too will the only accepted justification for weaning America from oil, the revenue from which makes possible the destabilizing regimes in the Middle East.
This is an area of failure for President Bush. I remember arguing to a colleague just a few days after 9-11 that three things were going to happen: We would build nuclear power plants again, we would immediately drill ANWR, and we would immediately raise CAFE standards. I was wrong on all three counts. I’m as small government, and laissez-faire capitalist as they come, but getting America off of our foreign oil diet should have been a national defense priority beginning September 12th. We’ve lost six years arguing about global warming instead.
Bhutto’s assassination is an opportunity to bring this domestic argument to the fore. We must elminate our dependence on foreign oil, but we can’t do that in the simplistic way that Democrats offer, which is to just set carbon consumption goals, spend billions of taxpayer dollars, and wish the problem away. And we must extricate ourselves from the Middle East, but not in the Paul-Kucinich way, which is to simply pretend that we have no foreign policy interest there even while we enjoy a huge economic benefit from the oil we use from the region.
Only one such candidate recognizes this reality. It is evident in how he frames the issue on his webpage. He doesn’t call it “Environment” or “Global Warming” or “Energy Policy”. Instead it is Energy Security. And that candidate’s name is Fred Thompson.
We don’t know the extent to which it’s warming. We don’t know whether or not it’s part of a cycle. We’ve had cooling periods in our country. We don’t know the extent to which man-made causes are contributing to it. We don’t know what the long-term effect of it is going to be and what we can do about it. . . Before we start rushing off and having United Nations countries, you know, big as a postage stamp telling us what to do and what we must do and so forth, let’s double-down and make sure we understand the ramifications and the significance of what we know and let’s improve on what we don’t know.
Spoken like a true skeptic*.
*And it should be remembered that skepticism, as Nobel Prize winner Al Gore apparently never learned, is one of the Three Central Components to Scientific and Critical Thinking.
Byron York opines on the potential political fallout of the Bhutto assassination. He contends that this hurts Iowa frontrunners Huckabee and Romney, helps Giuliani and McCain, and would help Fred Thompson if more people were paying attention to him. By the same logic, someone else it helps is Hillary. That’s because we will be reminded that very recently Obama had some very naive things to say about Pakistan.
All that being said, it is not hyperbole to say that the biggest story of 2007 just happened today with less than a week left in the year. If this event touches off a wider war a la the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, everything just changed. Everything.
Many more stories will rapidly follow to be sure, so let me close this post with one final thought:
Ms. Bhutto was killed at a campaign rally just two weeks before a Pakistani election. It is worth remembering as we begin our own campaign season in earnest next week that no matter how acrimonious the political discussion becomes, we live in a country where those who root for the death of their political opponents exist far outside the mainstream and that even if an assassination attempt were to occur here, there is zero risk of anything but an orderly transition of power on January 20, 2009.