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When Pachyderms Turn Into RINOs

07.12.12 03:17 PM – Andy McDonald
If you read the online message boards these days, you often see Republicans complaining that the presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, is a RINO – an acronym for Republican In Name Only.

The truth is, even the giants of the Grand Old Party have had their RINO moments. Some examples:

Dwight Eisenhower: Sure, he was great when it came to winning World War II, but on public policy, Ike was a RINO. Perhaps Ike’s most RINO-esque idea was the establishment of an interstate highway system across the United States. Today it would be dismissed as a public works boondoggle. What possible good came from such massive government spending, other than improving the efficiency of American commerce, enhancing national security, and encouraging coast-to-coast tourism?

Theodore Roosevelt: By the standards of some of today’s Republicans, Teddy Roosevelt was a tree hugging environmental wacko. Imagine setting aside millions of acres of property so that future generations could enjoy the natural beauty of the American landscape. That land could have been used to create miles of tract housing, convenience marts and gas stations. But thanks to Roosevelt’s meddling, we’re now stuck with acres of pristine American wilderness. And wasn’t it TR who fought to establish labor standards at meat packing plants? Like botulism is really that big of a deal.

Ronald Reagan: The Gipper had the Russkies scared when he first took office, but once re-elected, Reagan rebelled against his conservative base. Reagan saw a chance to forge a nuclear weapons treaty with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Conservatives howled with protest. The Gipper was going soft, they said. How could he possibly trust the Evil Empire? Reagan ignored his conservative critics, took the initiative, and achieved the very first nuclear arms reduction treaty in history. Of course, we all know what happened as a consequence. Just as conservatives predicted, the agreement resulted in the triumph of the Eastern Bloc over the West, and we all now live under the yoke of Communism.

George W. Bush: The much maligned George W. spearheaded an effort to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa when America should have been minding its own business at home. Now entire generations of Africans will survive because of W’s shameless indulgence of his RINO instincts. A truly conservative, budget conscious president would never abide such spending on people so far away in a strange land. Sure, people were dying of AIDS, but was it really any of our business?

Abraham Lincoln: It was the Lincoln Administration that established land grant universities in the United States. Nothing good has come from this vast overreaching of the federal government --- except for the creation of a higher education system that is the envy of the entire world.

That lark has unwittingly led to astonishing innovations in industry, engineering, medicine, aviation, agriculture, you name it. Still, if learning by candlelight was good enough for Honest Abe, why should taxpayers have had to foot the bill for American universities?

If these RINO moments have taught us anything, it is that great policy is never forged by leaders, Republican or Democrat, who merely follow the party line.

To put it indelicately, great policy is forged by presidents who’ve got a brass pair; they don’t care about making the party rank and file happy. They are driven by a vision. They aren’t mere politicians, they are managers and leaders. They are willing to leave the party faithful behind in the safety of political dogma to make bold and lasting change.

When choosing someone who will occupy the Oval Office, we don't need a mere figurehead. What we need is an effective manager. With that in mind, I’ll take an active, thoughtful executive with the occassional independent streak over a strident, politically obedient ideologue any day of the week.

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