Monday, May 23, 2011

The Republican Presidential Field: A First Look

It's good to be back blogging again, after a busy few weeks.

The GOP presidential field is forming and evolving, as various individuals dive in or bow out. I want to discuss my thoughts on who these folks are and whether they are the "kind of people we want" in the White House. Starting from the top:

My Favorite so far: Tim Pawlenty. Two-term governor of a liberal-leaning state who managed to keep a wayward budget under control and generally be conservative without compromising core principles. As long as he doesn't get to DC and get grandiose ideas about how government can "help the people," I think he'll do a pretty good job.

Other Big Names:

Mitt Romney: He worries me. I can't get "RomneyCare" out of my head. He's Mormon...not sure how that will affect his decision making...if at all...or should it? He looks and talks presidential, but almost without passion.

Newt Gingrich: I like him, but his negatives are enormous. For every two good ideas he has—and he has many—there seems to be a lemon. I always have my doubts about those whose marital infidelity has become so, um, public. His tenure as House Speaker, however, was superb.

Rick Santorum: I like him, too. He's quite conservative and votes with a conscience. I don't think he has much of a chance, but mainly because so many of my GOP friends/family in PA don't like him. And if you can't do well in your home state....

Jon Huntsman: The man began running for president against Obama while still serving in the Obama administration. I call this bad ethics. He's an incredibly rich man—he didn't need the day job. So why did he take it?

The Rest of the Pack:

Michele Bachmann: Four words: Sarah Palin on steroids. Thoroughly enjoyable to listen to, and her positions on the issues are consistently on the mark. She comes across as less-than-presidential, though, and will be portrayed as (you heard it here first) Sarah Palin on steroids. This demonization will deep-six her campaign. And like Santorum, if you can't win your home state—Pawlenty will win MN, I'm sure—you are toast.

Ron Paul: Good on fiscal issues. Libertarian streak is too strong. Occasionally comes across as a crackpot.

Herman Cain: I lack research. Is he a bona fide, conscience-driven, Bible-believing Christian? Is he another loud-mouthed, egotistical, radio talking head? I honestly have no idea yet.

Gary Johnson: Leading nominee at present for the 2012 "Who??" award.

Thankful they dropped out: Huckabee, Trump. (Although Trump may do a Ross Perot and jump back in. I can see this scenario. I don't like it.)

Still haven't committed, and looking doubtful they will: Palin, Christie

And there are others out there as well. Start your research, everyone; I'll keep you informed about mine.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book Review: Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

This book is the third book of the trilogy of Teddy Roosevelt's life, preceded years ago by The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex. Like the first two books, this one is well-written, informative, and interesting.

This volume covers the period of TR's life from his Africa trip in 1909, immediately after he left the presidential office, until his death in 1919. The book contains copious endnotes (as the first two volumes did) which augment the basic storyline with a variety of details and source information; for those of us who enjoy that sort of thing, it is a great resource. For those who do not, you can simply enjoy the text, unencumbered with that "stuff."

Three things struck me about TR's life in particular. First, it was amazing to see how wide his circles of acquaintance were. His correspondence is legendary; it is estimated that in his lifetime he composed 150,000 letters, etc. to people. He knew people all over Europe and America, from royalty to scientists to authors.

A second thing was how his six children turned out. One son, Quentin, died heroically in World War I. His other five children all married and had varying degrees of success in this world, but at least three of them did not lead lives I would hope for my own children. His eldest child, Alice, had a rocky marriage and both she and her husband were apparently not faithful to each other. I cannot help but wonder if his extended absences from his family were directly or indirectly related to how his children turned out.

The third thing was his position on spiritual things. Despite his enormous breadth of reading and his ability to plow through a 300-page book in an evening (with legendary recollection), he admitted to not reading substantial portions of the Bible until his post-presidential years. He was an ardent follower and promoter of the theory of evolution, and tried to apply it to various fields of science. Although his personal moral code was above reproach, he rarely attended church or showed signs of piety. His writings on religious topics (his pen generated much of his post-presidential income) show that his views on righteousness and eternity were quite different from the teachings of the Bible. Indeed, if Morris's research is accurately presented—and I have no reason to believe it is not—it appears Theodore Roosevelt lived his life without accepting Christ as his personal Savior.

Despite that sad thought, the book is a fitting capstone to the Theodore Roosevelt trilogy. If you have the time to read the 2,000-ish pages in all three books, I encourage you to do so.