Tuesday, August 25, 2009


According to a recent article in the August 22, 2009, Wall Street Journal, Carly Fiorina, the former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett Packard Company, has recently registered a campaign committee called “Carly for California”.

It is being formed, apparently, in preparation for Carly’s potential 2010 challenge against California’s longtime Senator Barbara Boxer, the Democrat super-liberal who recently publicly dressed down a U.S. Army Officer appearing before her Senatorial Committee for referring to her as “ma’am” instead of “Senator” in answer to one of her questions. As I recall, the Senator was caught on national television saying that she had spent many dollars earning the right to be addressed as “Senator” and was offended when the Officer instead referred to her as “ma’am”. (Apparently, the Senator had “forgotten” that soldiers are schooled to address their superiors as “sir” or “ma’am”, as a sign of respect for the position they hold).

According to July, 2009, Rasmussen Poll, Senator Boxer leads Ms. Fiorina by only 45% to 41% of likely voters in a match-up between the two. Although Republican Party registration in California fell to only 31.4% of voters in 2008 according to the Public Policy Institute of California, Democrats are taking the potential challenge to Senator Box seriously. Democratic Party registration in California has also fallen to 44.4% in recent years, and the percentage of independent voters has grown significantly.

At a time when California is confronted with huge and seemingly unsolvable economic problems, it is possible that the business credentials and a well financed campaign by Ms. Fiorina could have significant appeal to the voters in the Golden State. On the other hand, her removal as CEO by Hewlett Packard’s Board of Directors in 2005 is a negative. Her other potential negatives, according to the Journal, include the fact that she is moderate on social issues and is pro-choice on abortion. She would face a popular conservative Assemblyman in the Republican Primary if she wins.

Still, the idea of somehow defeating Barbara Boxer in California is an intriguing one, because Senator Boxer’s political base is the extreme left-wing of the California Democratic Party. Her defeat would send shock waves across the country and signal a resurgence of the Republican Party nationally.

I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Carly Fiorina at a small dinner held at the State Chairmen’s Republican Party Meeting in New Mexico in 2008; and I introduced her the next morning at the Meeting when she spoke on behalf of John McCain. She came across to me as a tough, no-nonsense businesswoman with a strong handshake; and she is an exceptionally effective stump speaker. As I listened to her speech, it was clear that she strongly believes in conservative business principals and would unquestionably be an effective and knowledgeable candidate on economic issues when California’s unemployment rate, as of July, 2009, stands at 11.9%.

The problem facing California Republicans in 2010 is the same problem facing Republicans in many states. In the upcoming Congressional elections, can Republicans find a way to temporarily reconcile their differences on social issues and join together to defeat the Democrats? Can they support their nominees in an enthusiastic and energized way, whether the Republican nominees are conservative or moderate? If Republicans are to make a comeback in the upcoming 2010 Congressional elections, Party unity is the key. As Benjamin Franklin said: “either we hang together or we will hang separately."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Robert Novak, R.I.P.

Nationally syndicated columnist Robert Novak died Tuesday, August 18,2009. He wrote his last column in late 2008, in which he said that he was afflicted with a terminal illness and could not continue. Novak's column, when coupled with his writings in partnership with Roland Evans (the "Evans-Novak Political Report")became one of the longest running nationally syndicated columns in American History.

As chronicled in his memoir,THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS,Novak appeared on CNN's "Crossfire" and "The Capitol Gang". He later became a central figure in the Valarie Plamne CIA leak case, when he was the first to publish the name of the CIA employee in his column.

According to Bob Novak, he began his jounalistic career as a political moderate but became more conservative as time passed by. Although his column was not carried in our local newspapers in recent years, I was able to read it in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which also served our community. As I read the news daily, I increasingly found that I would instinctively look for the Novak column to find out what was really going on in Washington. He was hard on liberals and conservatives alike and had a dislike for "hypocritical, posturing politicians". Still, he had a special respect for Ronald Reagan. In his book he stated: "Although I was no lapdog for Ronald Reagan, I applauded much in his Presidency - far more than any other President in my twenty-four years in Washington".

I met Bob Novak twice, once when he appeared with the Capital Gang at a party in New York honoring Clarke Reed, one of the founders of the modern Mississippi Republican Party; and then again when he spoke to a breakfast for Mississippians in Washington when George W. Bush was inaugerated President for his second term of office. His wife joined him on that occasion - again at the invitation of Clarke Reed, his longtime friend.

As much as I enjoyed reading Robert Novak's columns, I never really had any affection for the man until I read his Introduction to a re-published edition of WITNESS, by Whittaker Chambers, a non-herioc figure and an admitted member of the Communist Party in the first half of the twentieth century. Chambers eventually turned away from the Communist Party and exposed, in public hearings, the urbane and sophisticated Alger Hiss as a high-ranking employee of the State Department in Washington who was also clandestinely an active Communist.

In his Introduction to WITNESS, Novak stated that the struggles of Chambers, as written in that book, changed his life forever. In displaying his sympathy and respect for Chambers, who endured long and loud public denunciations throughout the public hearings in Hiss affair from many in Washington, Robert Novak revealed himself to be an American Patriot. R.I.P.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Republican Primaries

In Mississippi, Republicans proudly claim seven of the eight statewide elected officials (in addition to both U.S. Senators and one of the four Mississippi Congressmen). They are:

Governor - Haley Barbour
Lieutenant Governor - Phil Bryant
Secretary of State - Delbert Hosemann
Treasurer - Tate Reeves
Auditor - Stacey Pickering
Insurance Commissioner - Mike Chaney
Commissioner of Agriculture - Lester Spell

All of these Republicans are outstanding public servants, and I am certain that some of them aspire to higher elective office during Mississippi's 2011 statewide elections. The problem they will face is how to engage in competitive Republican Primaries without spliting the Party and handing election victories to the Democrats.

Raucous Republican Primary elections are a relatively new phenomenon in Mississippi, but we had two recent Congressional races where the Republican Primary elections were violently acrimonious. In Mississippi's First Congressional District, the loser in the primary refused to endorse the winner, leading to a Democratic general election victory. In Mississippi's Third Congressional District, charges and counter-charges of fraud were the headline issues in the Republican Primary. In apparent disgust, Republicans nominated one of the candidates who declined to engage in mud-slinging - Gregg Harper of Brandon. Harper was ultimately sent to Washington after a general election victory over a weak Democrat and had a huge crowd at his election-night victory party.

Mississippi Republicans are justly proud of their statewide elected officials and of the progress their Party has made in recent years. But the vast majority of them do not want their statewide officials to act like Democrats and conduct ugly Republican Primary campaigns in their quest for higher office. Such a spectacle in our statewide elections, when most of our candidates are running, would split the Party, leave lasting scars, and inflict permanent damage from which the Party would not soon recover.

My advice to our 2011 Republican candidates is to ignore the consultants and staffers who have a private agenda and tell us that "politics is a contact sport, even in Republican Primaries." They also tell us that "negative campaigns win elections."

These statements may or may not be true in general election campaigning, but my guess is that in Mississippi, Republicans will not tolerate negative campaigning in the 2011 primary elections.

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