Campaign Politics and Conservative Policies,
by Ed Gillespie
(Click for Amazon book review)
OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:
Ed Gillespie is running for Senate in Virginia, his first run for public office. Despite not having been elected before, he's considered the great hope for the GOP against Sen. Mark Warner because Gillespie previously served as chair of the Republican National Committee (the RNC). That means his fundraising capacity is enormous, and his political connections are just as enormous. Alas, his partisanship is also enormous. But he was, after all, the head partisan for the Republican Party, so that's understandable.
What's not understandable is why Gillespie writes like the worst political reporters -- this book reeks of the "inside baseball" political talk that characterizes so many bad political books by low-level political appointees. Gillespie should have more interesting things to say than the samples below
Well, Gillespie WAS in power, at least party power, and he WAS an insider, so I guess it's ok to talk like a partisan insider. But we at OnTheIssues care more about his issue stances -- of which there are plenty, detailed below -- those parts of the book were thin but assuredly present. Gillespie is an insider who is now running for office -- and hence he deserves the respect that comes with being in the arena instead of just a party apparatchik in the shadow of the arena.
- (p. 149): When thanking President George W. Bush for "letting me be a part of your re-election", Gillespie sent a letter to thank Bush him in writing as well as in person. Gillespie says of Bush's response in person, "I knew he'd read my letter.... I felt better having written it, because I'm one of his guys." (Yeesh; that sounds like a teenage girl in love, not the chairman of the winning political party).
- (p. 163-4): When acting as a go-between in negotiating the retirement of Rep. Wes Cooley [he did retire, and was subsequently convicted of tax evasion], Gillespie writes, "I left Cooley's office in the Longworth Building and ran-walked back to the RNC, rushing to Haley Barbour's office. He grabbed his white legal pad and wrote down Cooley's three demands with his black Mont Blanc pen." (Yeesh! Do we really care that Haley Barbour used a Mont Blanc pen? Or that it was black? Or that Cooley's office was in the Longworth Building? Those are the "inside baseball" details that make Gillespie seem like a wide-eyed naïf.)
- (p. 207-8): "The day before the Roberts vote on the Senate floor, I made a request of everyone on the confirmation team: I would like to be the first person to call him Mr. Chief Justice.... [when the 51st vote was cast], I reached across the table and he leaned forward to shake my extended hand. 'Congratulations, Mr. Chief Justice,' I said." (Yeesh!! A dream come true for a political insider, I suppose, but why do we care as readers?)
The oddest part of the book is a sub-chapter entitled, "Reclaiming the African-American Vote" (p. 258-64). Gillespie talks about the history of the Republican Party before the black vote was lost to the Democrats -- that Republicans were "the party of Lincoln", while Democratic governors defended school segregation in the 1950s -- but then launches into an odd statistical analysis. Gillespie cites (p. 259) that "in 2000, only 4% of African-Americans identified themselves as Republicans, but 10% did in 2002," and lauds the huge increase. But that implies it is a trend -- so why didn't Gillespie cite the figures for 2004 and 2006? Presumably because the numbers went back down! (we checked; the trend surrounding 2000-2002 is downward on both sides, not upward). Gillespie offers no advice for how the GOP can actually reclaim the African-American, other than citing Republican policy in general, and how African-Americans SHOULD support that policy. But they don't, as evidenced by Gillespie's own numbers -- this is a fatal flaw of so many party apparatchiks (I've seen this same arrogant hubris in Massachusetts Democrats so many times!) that the party's role is to demonstrate to one group or another how the party is good for them -- to teach them, or persuade them, rather than actually listen to them. Gillespie's attitude is "let's show African-Americans how good the GOP is," rather than actually addressing the subchapter title.
It is true, of course, that the GOP has had some remarkable electoral victories, and political appointments, of African-Americans, including under Gillespie's leadership and influence in the RNC. Gillespie cites many in Bush's cabinet; and then again reverts to his weird-statistical analysis method: "In 2004, there were two African-American lieutenant governors in America. Both were Republican." Well, ok, but what about governors, the lieutenant's bosses? And what about the years around 2004? As it turns out, in 2006, the year this book was published, there were two African-American governors elected -- Deval Patrick (MA) and David Patterson (NY) -- and both of them were Democrats. That's the problem with partisan statistics -- the truth makes them look very bad by simple juxtaposition.
Overall, this book gives a good look at Gillespie. He is partisan, but he was the head party official, so that's expected. He does have issue stances, and he lays them out, if one digs deeply enough among the partisan exhortations. And it's Gillespie's only book, so one MUST use it for insight in his Senate race. This book is certainly imperfect -- but we wish every Senate candidate had a book this imperfect!
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, April 2014
| OnTheIssues.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Ed Gillespie: Believes deeply in the sanctity of life.
Ed Gillespie: Promoting culture of life does not make me Taliban.
Budget & Economy|
Ed Gillespie: Budget-cutting is collective exercise in national interest.
Dick Armey: Accused of anti-gay slur against Barney Frank.
Ed Gillespie: Accused of minority outreach? Guilty as charged.
Ed Gillespie: Courts should not encroach on definition of marriage.
Ed Gillespie: Deciding marriage at state level is not gay-bashing.
Republican Party: Marriage is legal union of one man and one woman.
Rick Lazio: New generation of pro-environment moderates.
Families & Children|
J.C. Watts: The title "Dad" is more important than title "Congressman".
John Roberts: His kids' adoption records explored in confirmation hearing.
Ed Gillespie: 1984: Threat of Communism drove me to Reagan.
Elizabeth Dole: Supported NAFTA despite loss of NC textile jobs.
Elizabeth Dole: Supported NAFTA despite cheap textile imports.
Dick Armey: Lone vote against Whistleblower Protection Act of 1985.
Ed Gillespie: 2004: interpreted 527s (PACs) as illegal expenditures.
Ed Gillespie: The Rules: double standards for GOP vs. Democrats.
Ed Gillespie: Growth of lobbying follows from growth of federal government.
Ed Gillespie: Supports subsidiarity: federal action only when state can't.
John Roberts: Judicial nomination hearing should not be bargaining process.
Ed Gillespie: Revere 2nd Amendment as much as 1st Amendment.
Elizabeth Dole: Switched from supporting gun restrictions to opposing.
Ed Gillespie: Reform Medicare to save affordable program for future.
Ed Gillespie: 1993: HillaryCare bureaucracy meant job-killing mandates.
Ed Gillespie: Market principles: portability & tort reform.
Ed Gillespie: Follow principles like portability & universal participation.
Ed Gillespie: Broken medical liability system costs $28B per year.
Ed Gillespie: 2004: Kerry voted against many important weapons systems.
Clarence Thomas: What is it about America that people risk lives to get in?
Ed Gillespie: Pro-assimilation more than anti-immigration.
Ed Gillespie: New temporary worker program after securing our border.
Rick Lazio: Supported minimum wage but bucked union leadership.
Principles & Values|
Barney Frank: Press accused Dick Armey of anti-gay slur against him.
Ed Gillespie: 1994: Named the legislation in the Contract With America.
Ed Gillespie: A good plan beats a bad plan; any plan beats no plan.
Ed Gillespie: If you can name something, you can control it.
Ed Gillespie: I am tired of having my religious convictions scorned.
Elizabeth Dole: OpEd: Proxy incumbent to succeed Jesse Helms.
Haley Barbour: In politics, nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems.
Newt Gingrich: Forced change from minority mentality to majority mentality.
Elizabeth Dole: Personal accounts avoid system going broke.
Dick Armey: 1990: Drafted "no new taxes" resolution.
Ed Gillespie: Death tax is an egregious aspect of our tax code.
Harriet Miers: Supported $800M tax increase on Dallas City Council.
Ed Gillespie: Newspaper editors say, "Good news is no news".
War & Peace|
Ed Gillespie: Bush was insightful and resolute in War on Terror.
Ed Gillespie: We should stand by Bush doctrine of pre-emption.
Ed Gillespie: Fight War on Terror in Kabul or it will be waged in Kansas.
Republican Party: Party should stand by Bush doctrine of pre-emption.
Welfare & Poverty|
Ed Gillespie: Churches have always been alternatives to welfare.
The above quotations are from Winning Right
Campaign Politics and Conservative Policies,
by Ed Gillespie.
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