Dems and GOP gear up for wild caucuses

By Angie Vogt, political commentary

The wild ride of presidential politics continues, and this weekend it makes a stop in Washington state with our Republican and Democrat caucuses.

For once, the nation will be paying attention to our state during primary season and our voice will matter in choosing the respective party nominees for president this November. Democrats, in particular, are getting the show of their lifetime. But first, what’s happening in the GOP?

In Republican circles, some are scratching their heads, not inspired by any of the nominees (myself included). The sheer contempt by some on the right, vowing to stay home for the first time in their adult lives if John McCain gets the nod, is perplexing.

Claiming he’s not conservative enough is odd, given that the same conservative voters overlooked the “liberal sins” of President Bush, who has hardly practiced conservative principles in fiscal matters, immigration or education. In fact, one of Bush’s first “accomplishments” in office was working with Ted Kennedy in creating the No Child Left Behind Act, in what was a clear gesture of trying to “change the tone in Washington” by reaching across the aisle. Yeah, that seemed to work out for him. Not.

McCain’s lifetime conservative rating by the American Conservative Union is 82 percent. His pro-life voting record is 100 percent and McCain is one of the few (if not only) senators who has never once attached an “earmark” or pork project to a spending bill for pet projects in his home state. Those “pork barrel” favors are abused left and right as a tool for getting re-elected by grateful folks at home who love getting free federal money.

He is brutally conservative on fiscal matters, and smart with national security (with one son currently serving as a Marine in Iraq). He has angered the conservative base on his positions regarding immigration (though none of the conservative candidates have a satisfactory immigration policy at this point), campaign finance reform (widely viewed as an affront to First Amendment rights) and more recently on Second Amendment issues.

The schemes and tactics during primary elections are also a spectacle to watch. Mike Huckabee’s strong performance in the Southern states and the heartland last Tuesday make him an attractive vice president candidate for a McCain ticket. Rumors were flying in the days before Super Tuesday that Huckabee had an agreement with McCain to stay in the race for the purpose of drawing away support from Mitt Romney, McCain’s strongest challenger, in exchange for some favor — possibly VP or a cabinet position. We’ll probably never know.

And poor Mitt Romney. How much of your own fortune can you spend with so little return and still stay in the race, without looking foolish? People are wondering about his business sense, which is what he touts as his strongest skill.

Speaking of business, the Clintons are knee deep in what looks like some shady campaign transactions. On Wednesday, after a brutal Super Tuesday night where Hillary Clinton’s only strength showed up among Manhattan and Hollywood liberals, it was revealed that they had contributed $5 million of their own money to the campaign, in what looked like an act of desperate measure. The shady part is that the money was taken from a $20 million “buyout” transaction requested by Bill Clinton from an investment arrangement he had with the Emir of Dubai, the richest man on Earth. From a distance, this looks like foreign money laundering, a federal crime, but that’s just what it “looks” like. Depends on the meaning of “looks,” I suppose.

The Barack Obama wave is throwing the Clinton fleet into emergency mode, with all hands on deck. His fundraising for January was $30 million compared to Hillary Clinton’s barely $10 million, and within 24 hours of Super Tuesday’s performance, he raked in another $3 million. He’s pretty, he’s clean, he’s young and inspiring to an electorate fed up with the status quo. Folks, it doesn’t get anymore exciting than this.

Today’s your chance. Find out your caucus location and get in on this historic action!

Federal Way resident Angie Vogt can be reached at vogt.e@comcast.net.

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