Trust the Man, Trust the Plan

On December 18, 2007, in General, by Neil Stevens

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama

Of all the issues, and all the debate, and all the faction wrangling this party has seen this year, I find it appropriate that the evaluation of each candidate is still boiling down to the same single issue. It was a core issue of our party in the 1990s, and for a while I thought it was gone. But it’s back, and this year it’s the decider.

Republicans are looking at each candidate’s statements of positions, but ultimately are deciding whether to trust those statements based on their evaluations of the candidate’s character, and I’m glad of it.

Character counts as much as ever.

Consider Rudy Giuliani. Taken at his word, by virtue of good timing the man would do more to fight abortion than any Republican President since Roe v. Wade by appointing a fifth and possibly a sixth justice to the Supreme Court who would stay true to the Constitution. He also claims he would continue various executive actions opposed to abortion. And yet, despite these promises that he would deal with abortion essentially as President Bush has done, he is despised by many anti-abortion activists.

Why? Many just don’t trust him. They look at his personal life, and they openly question whether he can be trusted in public life more than he’s shown he can be trusted in private life.

Look at Mitt Romney. On issue after issue, the former Governor has staked out positions that place him to the right of his competition. And yet, despite setting himself up as a frontrunning conservative, the man faces strong opposition from many conservative sources.

Why? Given the way he ran for the Senate in the past, his run now just leaves some Republicans with the feeling that he’s as trustworthy as a slimy car salesman. “What will it take to get you into this car today?” he might as well be asking them, when he asks for support.

Similiar stories can be told for other candidates. John McCain is branded unstable and pandering, Mike Huckabee soft and corrupt, and Fred Thompson lazy and superficial. And yet, on the issues, all of these candidates have strengths, especially where others have weaknesses. But because Republicans are looking at character first, they never get far enough to evaluate those policies.

Character counts, and while I make no claims here about who is right and who is wrong on which candidates can be trusted, I’m glad the party still works that way. The last thing we need to happen is to let our own Bill Clinton get into office, and let his personal faults distract his administration from the security of the nation.


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