Flashback: Arlen’s Specter’s 1980 Campaign


The funeral of former Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), 82, was yesterday, and for 29 years he was one of the vanishing breed of liberal Republicans. Specter left the GOP after the stimulus vote when his own poll indicated he would lose a Republican primary. He should have known better when he cut a deal with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Reid promised to maintain Specter’s seniority but it never happened. Specter was put on the bottom of all four of his committees when he became a Democrat.
When Specter switched, there were many articles indicating this signaled the end for Pennsylvania Republicans. Fortunately they were wrong. In 2010, the GOP recaptured Specter’s seat, the Governorship and five Congressional Districts.
This September 1980 photo was from a very unusual campaign. It was one of the few times a Democrat ran to the right of the Republican. Specter’s opponent was former Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty, who had switched from Republican to Democrat, while Specter had switched from Democrat to Republican.
Flaherty had been elected Mayor after criticizing the Democrats unbalanced budget. He attacked labor unions, opposed busing, balanced the budget and was to the right of Specter on social issues. Flaherty cut the city’s payroll from over 7,000 to less than 5,000, and repeatedly cut property and wage taxes.
We know Specter’s vote was needed to ensure the first GOP Senate majority since 1954, but we do wish there more fiscally conservative Democrats like Flaherty.

WITNESS TO HISTORY: Lola Aiken Turns 100


There are several events this weekend to mark the 100th birthday of Lola Aiken on Sunday. She is the widow of the late Governor and Senator George Aiken (R-VT), and was his Chief of Staff for 30 years before their June 1967 wedding. She kept her job after the wedding but was no longer on the payroll.
He was 20 years older and they married after his first wife died. The Senator was often described as a man of few words, but that has never been true of his second wife, who was a major political power in her day.
In October 1974, just two months after he assumed office, President Gerald Ford was the guest speaker at “George Aiken Day” in Burlington. The President acknowledged her influence by saying “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.”
In March of this year she sat in the State Senate balcony as they passed a resolution noting Sunday’s milestone:
“And whereas the members of the legislature wish to pay special tribute to a most endearing and gracious Vermonter whose life has been of historic magnitude.”
They were not exaggerating. Aiken was Governor for four years (1936 to 1940) and then served 34 years in the U.S. Senate (1940 to 1974). His last re-election was 1968 when his total campaign spending amounted to $17.04, enough to pay the postage for mailing in his petitions. She says “He didn’t break his neck to get people to know him.”
The faculty at the state university ranks him as the most influential Vermonter of the 20th century. Senator Aiken died in 1984 at age 92.
He was a moderate Republican who was a fiscal conservative but liberal on social issues. He was pro-abortion before Roe v. Wade. The terms hawk and dove were frequently used during the Vietnam era when the Senator was described as a “wise old owl.”
She has obviously seen many major changes. When she started working for him in the late 1930s there were almost 12,000 dairy farms in Vermont, but they have been reduced to just 900 today.
Vermont was then one of the top five GOP states in the nation. It was one of only two states to vote Republican during the 1936 Roosevelt landslide. Today Vermont is one of the top five Democratic states.
There was no real Democratic Party in Vermont until the 1960s, and to enter politics during Aiken’s formative years, you had to be a Republican.
Democrats controlled the Senate for 30 of Aiken’s 34 years on Capitol Hill, but he was regarded as one of the most powerful and influential lawmakers. A major reason was that everyone knew his best friend was Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT).
Lola Aiken said her husband’s friendship with Mansfield was based on comfort and trust: “They could talk to one another about anything, and they never revealed what they talked about. It was wonderful to be around them because they were not trying to get people to notice them.”
Mansfield and Aiken had breakfast every day and went on many trips together. Mansfield’s biographer says Aiken was his only true friend.
The moderate wing of the GOP was far more powerful in those days, and she says “things were not as partisan and there were far fewer single-issue groups”.
She has continued to serve as Honorary Chairman of numerous GOP campaign committees.
Lola and George Aiken were definitely moderates, but they were always loyal Republicans. Aiken opposed the 1964 nomination of Barry Goldwater in the primaries, but he always supported the GOP ticket in the fall.
When veteran Sen. James Jeffords (VT) left the GOP in 2002, Lola told the Rutland Herald he had made a major mistake. She said no provocation would have forced Mr. Aiken to leave the GOP.
She remembers being in the White House when FDR was President and seeing Harry Truman cry soon after he took office. Her stories about Eisenhower reveal he was never a politician.
She says “John F. Kennedy was not the forceful type. He was popular and amiable, but he was not a driver of legislation. Johnson was the operator, and got things done.”
Lola recalls how Aiken was one of just three Senators who were at Andrews Air Force Base when Kennedy’s body arrived from Dallas.
Aiken was also one of the few lawmakers who were invited to the Oval Office after the Gulf of Tonkin attack. Unlike today, none of them spoke to the news media.
She was married to a legendary statesman, but Lola Aiken had a successful and important career in her own right. She was a witness to history and she made a difference.

What Happens Now: Senate Defeats Ryan’s $6.2 Trillion Deficit Cut

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, holds a copy of his “Path to Prosperity” budget proposal. The $6.2 trillion reduction was defeated in the Senate earlier today.

The Senate today defeated the Ryan budget on a 57 to 40 vote. The “Path to Prosperity” deficit reduction plan had earlier passed the House and it would have reduced the deficit by $6.2 trillion over a decade. The most controversial part of the Ryan plan involved Medicare. Continue reading

Republicans: Who Are The Real RINO's?

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) do not want to end all funding for Planned Parenthood (PP). They wrote: “The program has successfully reduced the number of unplanned pregnancies, therefore helping to reduce health care costs.” However, they both voted for the GOP budget (HR 1) which cuts off PP. HR 1 contained an amendment of Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) which eliminated the Title X family planning program, which provides contraceptives to low income women. Sens. Jim DeMint (SC) and Rand Paul (KY) both voted against the GOP budget. Continue reading

Two Years Later: Looking Back at the Obama Republicans


Two of the most prominent Obama Republicans are Julie Nixon Eisenhower (the daughter of President Richard Nixon) and Susan Eisenhower (the granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower). Several of the moderate Republicans, and a few conservatives, who endorsed Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign have come to regret their decision. The ones who now remain in the Obama camp have for the most part switched parties and should be described as liberals.

The most active Republican on Obama’s behalf was Susan Eisenhower who spent a considerable amount of time campaigning for the then Illinois Senator. She endorsed Obama on February 1st, 2008, and left the Republican Party when she addressed the Democratic National Convention in August of that year.

She is Ike’s granddaughter and recruited her father (the late President’s only son), her brother David and her sister-in-law, Julie Nixon Eisenhower. She was against the war on terror, the Patriot Act and the Iraq surge. She claimed Obama would reduce the deficit, and Eisenhower told the Democratic Convention:

In my grandparents’ time, the thrust of the Republican Party was rooted in: a respect for the constitution; the defense of civil liberties; a commitment to fiscal responsibility . . . the advancement of civil rights.

Sen. Chafee and Rep. Leach said Obama was “the presidential candidate who represents the traditional conservatism that has been forgotten.”  The statement was especially ironic because Chafee and Leach were never conservatives. Practically all of the Republicans who backed Obama claimed he wasn’t partisan and would bring the nation together. The “Republicans for Obama” website spoke of governing in “a post partisan manner.”

That never happened. For example, not one Republican in the House or Senate voted for the President’s health care bill. All GOP reform proposals on every issue were rejected, and Obama has been one of our most partisan presidents. He entered the White House with an enormous reservoir of political and public support and his honeymoon was greater than any incoming president in the past three decades.

Obama had better numbers, and they were usually by double digits, than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or either George Bush on every item traditionally measured in transition polls. The Republicans who supported him in 2008 spoke of his ability to bridge differences and bring people together. They said he would rally Americans to a common cause.

To date, the only groups Obama has united are the Republican Party and his political opponents. The message of the 2008 Obama Republicans has long been forgotten. Listed below are some of the prominent Republicans who endorsed the 2008 Obama campaign.

Former Governors Arne Carlson (MN), Linwood Holton (VA), William Milliken (MI) and William Weld (MA).

Former Senators Larry Pressler (SD), David Durenberger (MN), Lincoln Chafee (RI), Charles Mathias (MD) and Lowell Weicker (CT).

Former Congressmen Mickey Edwards (OK), Jim Leach (IA), Wayne Gilcrest (MD), Claudine Schneider (RI), Harris Fawell (IL) and Bob Ellsworth (KS).

Other national Republicans who endorsed the Obama/Biden ticket:

  • Ken Adelman, former Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
  • Bruce Bartlett, author, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America
  • Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, Jr.
  • William Donaldson, former Chairman, Securities & Exchange Commission under George W. Bush (2003–05).
  • Ken Duberstein, former Reagan chief of staff.
  • Julie Nixon Eisenhower, daughter of former President Nixon, granddaughter-in law of Dwight Eisenhower.
  • Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of Dwight Eisenhower (she also left the Republican Party).
  • Lilibet Hagel, wife of Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE).
  • Rita E. Hauser, Former White House intelligence advisor for George W. Bush, backed Kerry in 2004.
  • Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary under George W. Bush from 2003-2006.
  • Scott McConnell, editor of Pat Buchanan’s American Conservative magazine. He also endorsed Kerry in 2004.
  • Paul O’Neill, Secretary of the Treasury from 2001-02 under George W. Bush.
  • Colin Powell, former Secretary of State.
  • Libby Pataki, former First Lady of New York from 1995-2007.
  • Bill Ruckelshaus, former EPA Administrator 
  • Andrew Sullivan, author of The Conservative Soul, who also endorsed Kerry in 2004.

Saying Good Bye to Melissa, the Real RINO’s and the Republican Civil War


We found this poster to be highly offensive and Hitler’s image should not be used in U.S. political debates. The poster first circulated in 2004 on a Moveon.org website and it was reproduced by many liberal activists when Bush was in the White House. Until this week it was the profile photo used by Melissa Jenkins, except she switched Bush’s head shot with a photo of President Obama.
Republicans have a wide range of excellent issues to use against President Obama and liberal Democrats this year. The GOP election outlook is excellent and the only way to lose is by extremism which would drive up the GOP’s negative ratings. That is not going to happen, but we are disappointed when Republican activists go too far. We did not like it when George Bush was the victim of this comparison, and President Obama should also not be equated with Adolph Hitler.
The Hitler photo is not our only conflict with Melissa Jenkins, and our disagreement is reflective of a significant debate in GOP ranks. Melissa is a conservative, but we definitely have a different outlook. Melissa lives in Massachusetts and claims she worked diligently for Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-MA) victory in the special election. Unfortunately, she is now furious at the Massachusetts Senator because he did not vote with the GOP the first time the financial reform bill was considered.
We were also disappointed, but as we told her, Massachusetts is not Utah. There is no other Republican in the Bay State delegation. Not one Republican represents the six New England states in the House of Representatives. We believe it is far better to have a Republican who supports you 80% of the time rather than a liberal Democrat who never supports you. Melissa does not agree.
She now regrets supporting Brown and says her efforts should have been focused on the isolationist libertarian candidate. We told her a strong third party candidate could have led to the election of another liberal Democratic Senator. Her response is that it is far better to have a liberal Democrat rather than a liberal Republican. Scott Brown is a moderate conservative but Melissa now places the Senator in the same category as John Kerry and Michael Dukakis.

The Iowa Republican Civil War
We are not sorry to see Melissa go, but our exchange is worth mentioning because this debate is happening in numerous GOP circles. There are a number of Republicans who will not compromise.
We had a similar exchange this past week with Steve Rathje, a successful businessman and congressional candidate who was defeated in the recent GOP primary. In 2008, he was a candidate for the U.S. Senate, and says a moderate Republican is not better than a liberal Democrat.
We disagree and moderate conservatives are a real boost to the GOP. We told Steve that on Thursday night the House of Representatives approved “$20 billion in domestic spending add-ons”, including $10 billion in grants to school districts to avoid teacher layoffs:

It really doesn’t matter because the election of Scott Brown changed everything. The GOP is now able to filibuster, and the new spending will never pass the Senate. Speaker Pelosi’s charge card is maxed out, and after November the rollback begins. The moderate Republicans are helpful in the GOP’s deficit reduction efforts, and they are far preferable to liberal Democrats.

Steve quoted Ronald Reagan who said we needed candidates of bold colors rather than pale pastels. We should nominate conservative Republicans in Red States, but hard core conservatives have proven to be unelectable in Blue America.
Many conservatives were enthusiastic about Alan Keyes’ 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, but State Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) received 70% of the vote and the landslide helped to establish him as a national figure. We responded to Steve Rathje’s comments by saying:

Who are these terrible liberal Republicans who are forfeiting our Constitution and values? We have no idea if former Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are bold colors or pale pastels. They both describe themselves as conservatives. They are the choice of Iowa Republicans and they are far better than liberal Gov. Chet Culver (D-IA) and ultra-liberal Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).
We do not always agree with Branstad and Grassley, but you are wrong to claim GOP moderates are destroying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have no problem being in the same party as them, and Iowa Republicans were wise in selecting electable candidates who are a distinct contrast to the liberal Democrats.

The Iowa gubernatorial primary was held last month, and it was a reminder that GOP infighting has resulted in 12 years of Democratic governors and a Democratic legislature. What was especially ironic, is that both Republican candidates were solid conservatives.
They had no disagreement on major issues. The area in which they were divergent is that one side claimed their candidate was “biblically based,” while the other conservative (Gov. Branstad) said he was going to focus on jobs, the economy and taxes rather than social issues.
What About the RINO’s?
There are many Republicans similar to Melissa Jenkins and Steve Rathje. Their crusade is to rid the Republican Party of RINO’s (Republicans in Name Only). In the 1960s and ’70s they would have had a point.
Those were the days of Senators Jacob Javits (NY), Clifford Case (NJ), Lowell Weicker (CT), John Chafee (RI), Ed Brooke (MA), Richard Schweicker (PA), Charles McC Mathias (MD), Charles Percy (IL) and Mark Hatfield (OR). There are few liberal Republicans left today, and the moderates almost always vote with the party when they are really needed. That did not happen when the GOP encountered three defectors on the stimulus (Arlen Specter is now a Democrat), but on other close votes the moderates did not bolt.
Melissa will not acknowledge the difference between Scott Brown and John Kerry. She sees them as two peas in a pod and says: “So far voting Brown has had ZERO benefit for the Republicans. He will vote with the Democrats, he is a fool and a tool! He is completely clueless and way in over his head.” We wrote an article explaining how Brown’s election ended the Democrats 60 seat super majority and changed so many things on Capitol Hill.
Our final observation is to admire Melissa and Steve’s self proclaimed devotion to the Republican Platform. We understand why they are upset about the financial reform bill, but we are surprised Melissa assigns little importance to foreign policy, national security and international economic issues. She has no problem supporting libertarian Republicans who oppose the Patriot Act and the U.S. role in Afghanistan and Iraq. We believe the libertarians, Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan are the real RINO’s.

The Real RINO's and the Republican Civil War

Some conservatives are annoyed because Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) did not vote with the GOP the first time the financial reform bill was considered. I was also disappointed, but at the same I understand Massachusetts is not Utah. We cannot expect hard core conservatives to represent the Bay State.
Aside from Brown, there is no other Republican in the Bay State delegation. There are 40 members of the State Senate and only four of them are Republicans. Not one Republican represents the six New England states in the House of Representatives. Continue reading