Tuesday, September 26, 2006 :::
As George Allen's presidential hopes continue to implode, some conservatives eyes will start looking elsewhere for the one who can pick up the Reagan banner and run with it in 2008.
Is it possible that person may be Dick Armey?
That's what some conservatives think -- and its an image Armey himself is starting to cultivate. Exhibit #1 is this Wall Street Journal piece from last week where Armey makes the case that "pocketbook conservatives" are up for grabs. Snip:
Suspicious of big government promises and irresponsible spending, pocketbook conservatives feel the real pain of taxes. They don't want bureaucrats to pick winners and losers in the market, and they resent the power of special interests seeking favors at the expense of everyone else. Pocketbook conservatives are concerned with their family's personal finances and about the health of the American economy as a whole. They value thrift, hard work, ownership and individual responsibility -- both in their personal lives and in their elected officials. They expect the same from their neighbors, and generally respect the work ethic and economic contributions of new immigrants.
Ronald Reagan was the first Republican of my generation to effectively reach out to pocketbook conservatives -- Republicans, Democrats and independents alike -- who instinctively believed that little good could come from Washington. He energized voters who wanted government to leave people alone to work, worship and provide for their families as they saw fit. In 1980, Reagan won the White House in part because he had a positive, serious economic agenda that reflected these values, believing that "all great change in America begins at the dinner table."
Armey continues, taking great swipes at "sophomoric" and "angry" social conservative leaders, as well as at Republican demagogues like Tom Tancredo, or whose rhetoric Armey says, "...feeds the worst instincts of nativists and blocks a serious solution to our nation's border security problems."
There's a lot in this piece and it struck me when I first read it that it would make a pretty solid manifesto for someone looking to offer an optimistic platform to Republican primary voters. And it just may be that someone is Armey.
After all, he's been to Iowa. And not for his health.
I'm not sure such a message would be widely accepted, let alone embraced, by anyone eyeing a White House bid. Which is a shame, because optimism is in precious short supply these days. And for that matter, I do not believe Armey would get far if he decided to run (though if Newt got into the race too, the fireworks between the two -- who are, I'm told, estranged -- would be spectacular).
Who will take these ideas as their own? I don't know. But someone ought to, and soon.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 9/26/2006