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For The Record

The other day, I discussed Senator John McCain and why I respect him -- and why I can't vote for him. As the primary here in New Hampshire draws closer, I find myself thinking more and more about matters, and wondering just how my subconscious judges candidates. And one of them has bubbled to the forefront: a record of accomplishments.

Looking at the Republican side, two men stand out in that category: Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

In 1987, Peter David wrote "Knight Life," a fun little book about King Arthur coming back and running for mayor of New York City. One of the running gags was that Arthur Penn (as he was known) ran as an independent against the nigh-unbeatable Democratic incumbent; the Republican nominee was so unremarkable that no one could even remember his name. (As I recall, David named him after one of his comic-book-writing colleagues.) The notion of a Republican mayor of New York City was an absolute joke.

Until Rudy Giuliani came along. The guy had been a hell of a good prosecutor in the US attorney's office, and then ran for mayor -- and lost. Four years later, he came back and ran again, and shocked a hell of a lot of people by winning. And during his two terms, he did pretty much what he promised to do: he cleaned up New York City. Crime went down, the general quality of life improved, Times Square changed from a porno mecca to a family-friendly plaza (OK, I'm not entirely thrilled about THAT one, but he said he'd do it and he did), and in general he made the city a hell of a lot better than how he found it.

And that's not even mentioning 9/11, which everyone else does anyway.

Mitt Romney came from business. He was a vice-president at Bain & Company, then left them to head up their spin-off, Bain Capital. While he ran it, it made stupendous profits -- according to Wikipedia, its average annual rate of return was 113%. Then, when Bain & Company was on the verge of collapse, he was asked to return -- and brought them back to prosperity.

Later, the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City were in serious trouble. The hosts used the "Mormon Old Boy Network" to get Romney to take it over, hoping to at least get through the games without losing their shirts. Romney flew in and started cracking the whip -- and in the end, the games were very successful and the city ended up making a tidy profit. Romney turned a $379 million shortfall into a $100 million profit, and the games themselves are considered among the better Olympiads.

Then Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts. Yes, he did some things I think were pretty wretched (the state-mandated health insurance plan among them), but overall he did remarkably well considering that he never had anything close to a majority in either House of the Legislature -- and in the second half of his term, had about 15% of each House. That he got elected in the first place, that the state didn't go utterly bankrupt in that time, and that he could probably have been re-elected had he run again speaks volumes.

I have to give some credit to Fred Thompson, too. To be both a Republican and a successful Hollywood actor (albeit not a major star) is a rare thing indeed. The guy has had several very competitive, high-profile careers and done well in all of them -- lawyer, Senator, and actor. I don't know how well that would translate into presidential success, but we've done worse.

On the Democratic side, the front-runners just don't have any real successes they can point to. Hillary Clinton spent eight years as First Lady to a president who seemed to forget that he was married, then shopped for an open Senate seat to bide her time until she could run for president. Prior to that, she was a lawyer in a politically-connected law firm while her husband was governor. I've tried to find any accomplishments of hers that are not tied -- directly or indirectly -- to Bill, and the only one that really comes to mind is her staff work on the Watergate impeachment committee.

Barack Obama, as I've said, comes across as an "empty suit." A first-term Senator, he'd prior been a legislator in Illinois, with some rather awkward (but well-concealed) ties to some of the more corrupt figures there. So far, the most memorable statement of substance he's made was when he first said that he was willing to invade Pakistan to hunt down terrorists (Pakistan being a nuclear power), then the very next day he vowed to never use nuclear weapons under any circumstances. This was the geopolitical equivalent of putting a giant "kick me" sign on the back of the nation -- and the boots being invited are measured in megatons.

I don't know who I'll vote for in New Hampshire's primary, and I probably won't decide until just beforeprimary day. But one thing I'll be looking for is some indicators that the candidates who may get my vote has proven that they can actually get stuff done.


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Comments (29)

Even though I am a die-hard... (Below threshold)
nehemiah:

Even though I am a die-hard conservative Christian (I've almost never disagreed with Ann Coulter, and always cheer the way she expresses herself), I am leaning toward supporting Giuliani. The most important reason is that he has been consistent and strongly supportive of President Bush when it is not popular to do so (but it's right). And he probably will also be our strongest general election candidate (but my support is more due to his support of President Bush).

Hopefully the picture will ... (Below threshold)
Eric Forhan:

Hopefully the picture will become clearer in the coming months. Hopefully.

As for Sen. Clinton, I realized while discussing politics with some liberals that they were hopeful for the Senator to win, because they essentially wanted to elect Bill Clinton for a third term.

Mind-blowing.

Despite all the hopeful pr... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Despite all the hopeful press and delusional dreams of Dims...the Dim party continues it's tradition of nominating unelectable presidential candiates. Just look at the track record. Since 1968 they have only won three elections, the Pubbies seven...pretty dismal. Since 1972, when the moonbats started to take over the party, the quality of their candiates were very weak. McGovern(nuff said), Carter(won only because of Watergate and just barely), Mondale("I will raise your taxes" that was brilliant), Dukakis(tank boy), Clinton(slick n'sleazy, only won because of Perot), Gore(I invented everything), Kerry(brahmin boy) and now you have Billary, Obama and Johnnyboy. The two candidates who could have run and won and who at least had a semblance of honesty and integrity were Bayh and Warner...but they dropped out..what does this say about the Dimo party?

Times Square changed fro... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

Times Square changed from a porno mecca to a family-friendly plaza (OK, I'm not entirely thrilled about THAT one, but he said he'd do it and he did)

You know, I see that sentiment expressed all the time, I would suggest it's made by people who don't remember the Times Square of the 80s.
I grew up about 90 miles north of NYC (The City), and used to go there fairly often. There was/is a commuter train from Poughkeepsie that went to Grand Central Station and it was cheap, less than $20 R/T.
I'm talking about 4 guys, ages 18-21, of whom I was the smallest at 5'11" 200 (and fattest), and we had to worry when we were there.

When I was 20, my friend and I were mugged in Times Square around 8pm, right on 42nd Street, not around the corner or in an alley, but right on the damn street. The guy only got $1 from me, but the point stands, I was mugged right in front of God and everybody and that was that. It was normal. You were happy, nearly ecstatic to see a cop strolling by, and I say this as someone who spent a fair portion of his late teens/early 20s trying to avoid having the police know what I was doing.
Nope, Times Square wasn't just for porno, it was for all kinds of violent felons too. One time a friend was trying to get a fake ID while we were there, there were a few places that sold some lame ones, one guy tried to get my friend to go down an alley with him, after making sure he had the money needed to pay for the ID, I'm sure I saved at least that friend's money and possibly his life by keeping from going down that alley.

It's very easy to say you want Times Square back the way it was, but the reality is much different from the way people seem to remember it.

Very interesting read on th... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

Very interesting read on the prior successes of the candidates.

Is it a coincidence the front runners on the right have had personal/professional successes, while on the left, well, not exactly.

some liberals that they ... (Below threshold)
nehemiah:

some liberals that they were hopeful for the Senator to win, because they essentially wanted to elect Bill Clinton for a third term.

Mind-blowing.

Remember that some libs thought Bill deserved a blow job from a line of women kneeling for some of his "feminist" policies. Penile-blowing.

Well outside the political... (Below threshold)
Sharon:

Well outside the political arena,I did want to stop in to one of Wizbang's best! and say Happy Birthday to you Jay! And may you have many many more!

just a test... (Below threshold)
crewcut:

just a test

Jay -I could find ... (Below threshold)
jim2:

Jay -

I could find no fault in your assessment.

Perhaps the Dems are more interested in "potential" performance than in "historical" performance.

That is, currently the Repubs seem to want to judge what a candidate might do in office based on what that person has already done with responsibility. Respected big city mayor, re-electable governor, successful businessman, valorous military officer - - those all suggest leadership track record and responsible administration of people and resources.

Meanwhile, the Dems may want to project what a candidate might do in office based on what they consider charisma, professed vision, and party positioning. Lack of track record means to them fewer chances for closet skeletons rather than less chance to gauge future performance. Kerry looked to them like he could be a leader but had not done so in the Senate. Edwards looked like he could be one, but he seemed unable to win re-election in his home state. Obama looks like he could be one, but has not done so to date. H Clinton looks like she could lead, but her time in the Senate does not seem to have been remarkable. Also, hubby disrespected her so much yet she appears to have accepted it potentially for political reasons.

In contrast, Bill Clinton seems to have been a successful governor, for all his grievous peccadillos. Indeed, perhaps the same can be said for his presidency - certainly the Dems say it. Why are there no Dem candidates with a real track record? Even one like Bill Clinton's?

In 1994 the year Rudy becam... (Below threshold)
Eric:

In 1994 the year Rudy became Mayor I had a business trip to NYC. My wife had never been there so I took her along. While I was at work she took a little walking tour of the city. She wanted to go to Times Square, not knowing how seedy it had become.

My wife stopped this woman on the street to ask her how to get to Times Square. The woman looked at her funny and said, "Nice girls don't go to Times Square."

A few years later we went back and it was safe enough for us to take the kids to Times Square.

"And that's not even mentio... (Below threshold)
charlie:

"And that's not even mentioning 9/11,"

9/11? Tons of TV face time on lower Manhattan walkabouts because he had no office to conduct emergency ops is hardly a measure of leadership.

And, if you love the Iraq War, with Ghouliani & his gaggle of war-mongering neocon advisors, you'll love this drag queen's Iranian war emerging into WWIII and the end of the global economy.

Why are there no Dem can... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Why are there no Dem candidates with a real track record? Even one like Bill Clinton's?

It's the old question of legislative vs. executive experience. There is one Dem candidate with executive experience like Clinton's, but he's not getting the numbers.

"Romney flew in and star... (Below threshold)
charlie:

"Romney flew in and started cracking the whip... the games were very successful and the city ended up making a tidy profit. Romney turned a $379 million shortfall into a $100 million profit, and the games themselves are considered among the better" Olympiads."

If one imagines the Iraqi War as a variation on an Olympiad, perhaps ole Mutt Romney could turn it into a victory-with (at last) a tidy profit to boot, rather than a $2,400,000,000,000 Bush morass.

The following comes from Wi... (Below threshold)
nehemiah:

The following comes from WikiAnswers. The reason so many things are messed up are due to ignoramuses like charlie (who think they are not ignoramuses). It's okay for people to be stupid, as long as they know they are and don't try to influence others. But not charlie.

From WikiAnswers:

According to my Oxford Companion to WWII in strictly monetary terms here was the breakdown for the major players in their currencies:

UK-Pounds Sterling 20,500,000,000 US-$306,000,000,000 Germany-Reichmarks 414,000,000,000 Japan-Yen 174,000,000,000 Italy- Lire 278,500,000,000 USSR- Ruble 582,000,000,000

I'm not sure if the US figure even takes into acount the 50 billion in Lend lease aid that was given out.

and by the way, chuck, thos... (Below threshold)
nehemiah:

and by the way, chuck, those are 1940 dollars (before you try to make stupid actual dollar comparisons).

So Nehehooha...what's your ... (Below threshold)
charlie:

So Nehehooha...what's your point? What does all your Wiki info about WWII have to do w/ the price of tea in China?

If what you wrote above was your inane response to my comment, you are the ignoramus who can't even muster basic English comprehension. Perhaps you should srick w/ your coloring books.

dude,are you for r... (Below threshold)
nehemiah:

dude,

are you for real? you don't know what the point is?

go back to drinking your "tea".

Wars are worth fighting for, you and your fat depressed mother don't know that. And they cost money. Go back to your "tea".

by the way, could you link ... (Below threshold)
nehemiah:

by the way, could you link your source for your $ figure, as I have done? Cause there's NO WAY I'm going to take your word for it, asswipe.

Ahem.nehemiah, cha... (Below threshold)

Ahem.

nehemiah, charlie, could you perhaps find another term to use besides my assumed surname?

J.

....and yet, despite all th... (Below threshold)
vespasio:

....and yet, despite all that, both giuliani and romney continue to be what they are: enthusiastic supporters (and secret lovers) of big government from the northeast. romney's the guy who presided over the installation of (massachusetts' version of) hillarycare. the guy who signed off on the "have a gun, go to jail" billboards. giuliani has never met a problem that a government agency can't be tasked to solve. the idea that the unleashing the incredibly dangerous power of government might NOT be the best solution ... seems never to enter his mind.

both men have a record of clintonesque spinning of their pasts; both men cheerfully admit to wanting to grow the mighty state; both have a record of hostility to gun rights & personal liberty.

these guys are the leading REPUBLICANS?!? i don' theenk so, luthy. i'll be the first to admit you can't have a reagan running in every election, more's the pity. but why must our second choice be another nelson rockefeller or some such? did the rockefeller republicans HELP or HURT the GOP way back when? put these guys together and you get a "second generation politician deeply in love with the machinery of government, who's willing to fudge his record or say ANYthing necessary to get elected. whereupon, he'll revert back to his true self."

in other words, you get george bush, senior. a conservative in name only.

pass.

NehehoohaJust list... (Below threshold)
charlie:

Nehehooha

Just listen to the news, butt wipe. If you want a link, just look up your hole from where you're blowing all your bilge.

What a rightie turd.

Editor's Note: WHACK! Splat!

Now I gotta clean off the hammer again...

Editor's Note: WHA... (Below threshold)
Eric Forhan:
Editor's Note: WHACK! Splat!

Now I gotta clean off the hammer again...

D'oh! Now, where were we?

It's hard to fight with Giuliani's record vis-a-vis New York, and no matter what detractors say, he was certainly "America's Mayor" post September 11th, 2001. That date was a watershed experience for America, and so it's hard for me to fault him if he had different views before then (as did so many of us).

I'm still riding the Fred wave, even if it's just a ripple for now. He seems to be victim of the "fast food" attitude we have in America -- our timing wasn't the same as his. So, we shall see ...

Lemme seeIf one is... (Below threshold)
charlie's wife:

Lemme see

If one is of the approved political persuasion, it is perfectly okay to deride another as an "asswipe."

If of the wrong political persuasion, "buttwipe" is beyond tolerance.

Perhaps the "editor" should revisit his hypocritical post of 10/21/2007 and retitle this blogsite appropriately as Pravdabang.

Good approach -J- ... (Below threshold)
Knightbrigade:

Good approach -J-

My approach is based on this exact order.

#1 How in-line with (MY) stances on the ISSUES.

#2 The candidates Character/leadership.

#3 Ideology/direction CONSERVATIVE as possible.

#4 Electability.

(3/4) are very close together could be flipped at any time, and factor way below #'s 2/3.

There's the Knightbrigade - blueprint folks..

My score card is such--
Absolute first choice didn't run--Newt G.

Solid 1st choice--Fred scores high on #'s 1,3 good on #2, and average on #4.

Decent 2nd choice--Rudy scores high on #'s 2,4
average to poor on #'s 1,3.

All other candidates POOR.
In the general if neither of my choices is the nominee, I will still vote for (ANY) (R) hell make that a goldfish over ANY Democrat.

While we should never resor... (Below threshold)
arcman Author Profile Page:

While we should never resort to personal insults such as a**wipe and b**wipe, I think that charlie and his wife should crawl back to the rock they call the DailyKos and Dumocrat underground.

OK, Chuck"watch th... (Below threshold)
nehemiah:

OK, Chuck

"watch the news" is a pretty lame defense (usually it's, "read the New York Times").

Well, as much as I'd like to watch al-Jazeera and read Kos ("news" to you), I'd rather go play with my Ann Coulter doll. But go ahead, and I advise your mom to do some more exercising.

The biggest difference betw... (Below threshold)
cliff:

The biggest difference between Rudy and Romney is their campaign. Rudy's is inspiring, Romney's is an insult to my intelligence.

It's one thing to flip-flop on an issue or two. It's another thing entirely to attempt to beat up on your opponents for not holding the positions you just held before you flopped.

Romney's "from the Republican wing of the Republican party" is so insulting that most of the other candidates would have to die off before I'd vote for him now.

I still think he'd be a good Secretary of the Treasury or something, he's very talented, but he just doesn't understand what being President is all about. It's not all about pandering.

Thompson CEO, Romney COO, A... (Below threshold)
kim:

Thompson CEO, Romney COO, And Giuliani AG.
==========================================

This might not be read by a... (Below threshold)
Don:

This might not be read by anyone since it is the last item on the tread. Yet I write it none the less.
Having lived in New York City for most of my 70 years, I can attest to the fact that what Rudy did was nothing short of a miracle. The last good Mayor prior to Rudy was Robert F.Wagner Jr and he left office on January 1, 1966.
The downfall of the city started under liberal John V. Lindsay, then we had Abe Beame (the city was almost forced to declare bankruptcy under him, the State had to step in) then we had Edward Koch or as I call him "The Buffoon", then David Dinkins. After 28 years of these four men and what they did to New York City Rudy took over. In eight years he undid the damage that they had done.




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