Note from Quin: Alas, just as I finished a lengthy note about today’s special election for the U.S. Senate, my hand somehow brushed an unknown button somewhere on my keyboard and erased the whole thing, just as I was going to save the draft. I do not have the energy to re-write the whole thing. Just please know that my thoughts from two weeks ago (re-printed below this note) haven’t changed: Of those in the field, Trip Pittman would probably make the most constructive and productive and responsible U.S. Senator.

But what the lengthy additional note did was outline the reasons not to vote for incumbent Luther Strange. In addition to undermining public trust in our systems of justice and politics by securing an appointment from the very man he was investigating, Strange — and his allies, the conduct of whom he repeatedly (if only tacitly) has countenanced — has run an utterly despicable campaign. My long post,now lost, outlined all the reasons, with great specificity, that his campaign has been beneath contempt. I’ll just repeat here the last point I made: that his allies’ ads falsely insinuate that former Chief Justice Roy Moore and his wife are crooks. In context, the truth is that in terms of the finances of their “charitable organization,” Moore and his wife have done nothing remotely dishonest financially (unless they have done things we don’t know about and that Strange’s allies have not cited).

Strange could have denounced the false attacks from his allies.

(When I was running for Congress and an organization that was trying to help me [without my knowledge] made an unfair attack against several of my opponents, I immediately called my opponents to alert them to the attack, to denounce it and apologize that it had been done supposedly for my benefit. I also tracked down the person responsible for the attack [it took a while to find him, because I had never dealt with him before] and demanded that he cease and desist.)

Strange, by contrast, has run a strenuously negative campaign in his own right while refusing to denounce the slanders emanating from his allies connected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Strange has proved to be a man whose ambition well exceeds his decency. Alabama voters should send him packing.

 

THE REPRINT OF MY EARLIER TENTATIVE SEMI-ENDORSEMENT OF TRIP PITTMAN:

By Quin Hillyer, a personal note, not “journalism.”

For months now I’ve been puzzling over the choice facing Alabamans in the August 15 special election for U.S. Senate. As a conservative, I just don’t see any Democrats who share my views on policy, so I’ll surely be voting in the Republican primary.

But, to be frank, I am not happy with the field of candidates. I have not liked how they have behaved in various ways in public life; I have not been inspired in person with the four I have met with personally; and, of the top four candidates, three of them have run campaigns I find either classless or demeaning or both. Of the four, I think each of them have at least a few considerable strengths as public servants. But, perhaps because I am comparing them to the man whose former seat they are vying to fill — namely the deeply principled and personally considerate Jeff Sessions — I have found them wanting.

I will not linger on these strengths and weaknesses with regard (alphabetically) to Mo Brooks, Roy Moore, or Luther Strange. If any of them ends up as our senator, I feel confident he will vote “correctly” (by my lights) far more often than not. Alabama will have a conservative senator of one sort of another, and that is a good thing.

But the one of the four “major” candidates who has been receiving considerably less attention is also the only one whose conduct of the campaign has been admirable, whereas the others’ campaigns have been reprehensible. That candidate is State Sen. Trip Pittman.

image: http://quinhillyer.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/trip-300×150.jpg

Now let it be said that while campaign conduct (including the tenor of the paid commercials) is certainly a determinant in adjudging a candidate’s fitness for office, it is hardly the only one. What should matter most, and what certainly matters most to me, is a candidate’s actual record, skills and abilities, as demonstrated in the course of his adult life. On this front, all four candidates can point to achievements of which anybody would be proud. All four have demonstrated weaknesses as well.

What I look for in a conservative candidate for office, though — and, to repeat, the first requirement for me is that the candidate indeed must be conservative — involves much more than mere ideology. The interplay of integrity, intelligence, discernment, and deportment is of crucial consideration. And, increasingly, especially for people to serve in Washington, I want somebody who can put his/her conservatism to good use to actually accomplish something. I’m tired of lone wolves. I’m tired of people pandering to the crowd by pretending to be the only noble, the only principled, the only true-believing candidate — the only one who will stand tall when others cave.

Well, there is a difference between “caving” and forging honest compromises. Without the latter, our government won’t work.

I want a candidate, I want a senator, who will stand firmly on principle when essential principle is at stake, but who will recognize that not every single vote is a matter of life-or-death principle. I want a candidate who can “get to yes.”

On the other hand, I also don’t want a candidate who will lamely follow Senate leadership, or slavishly follow a president (or reflexively oppose one, for that matter), or feebly and perhaps corruptly do the bidding of big-money donors (or corporate interests).

I want somebody who will “get to yes” by using independent judgment and persuasive ability not to make a lonely stand but to bring others his way, our way, and move just enough on side issues to help attract the others our way — someone who may be willing to give a little, but with the persuasive ability to convince others to give even more in the right direction.

This is what real, small-‘r’ republican lawmaking should be about: incrementally moving policy in the right direction (preferably large increments, but that’s not always possible) and making it into workable law under a strictly limited government.

Of the four major Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Alabama, two are far too “lone-wolf-ish” for me, and one has already begun looking like a servile tool of the lobbyist/Leadership community.

But one has a record of “getting to yes” without abandoning essential principle.

That one is Trip Pittman.

Pittman at various times has chaired both the major budget committees in the state Senate, in times when the budget was necessarily tight.

In all cases, and under difficult circumstances, Pittman has managed to get the whole state Legislature to “yes” on those conservative budgets.

Those were considerable accomplishments.

Now, I have more reason than most people to not want Pittman for the Senate. He can be very frustrating to deal with. And in one particular instance he directly and with great effect undermined me personally, and in doing so undermined the laudable intentions of other good people as well, for no good reason. If personal grudges were more important than effective policy-making, Trip Pittman would never get my vote.

But Pittman is a serious legislator and, when push comes to shove, a thoughtful conservative. Indeed, I have had several long discussions with him during the past six years about political philosophy, and while he and I are different brands of conservative, his conservatism is clearly grounded in reason rather than emotion, and is grounded at some admirable depth.

If Pittman goes to Washington, he is likely to find ways to bring Republicans and the few remaining moderate Democrats together rather than add to the splintering of the Senate now so disastrously evident. And he is likely to focus effectively on reducing the annual federal deficit and, eventually, federal debt.

Pittman’s record shows that he has these abilities. I am not convinced the other candidates have them to the requisite degree.

So, although on a personal level Pittman has done enough to deserve opposition from me rather than support (no need to recount the details here), I am leaning towards voting for him on August 15. If Pittman wins, I think he has the potential to make a rather good senator.

Washington needs more people whose legislating skills are as good as their posturing ones. Trip Pittman is a conservative who actually knows how to legislate.

— 30 —

Note: Photo courtesy of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

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