Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Dinner With Grover (And Ron Paul's VP?)

After Ronald Reagan, Grover Cleveland just might have been the last great American president.

That sentiment would have gotten me cross-wise with my hosts last night, who would not have put in the Ronald Reagan qualifier. No, friends, the folks at the Grover Cleveland Social Club hold the 22nd president (and 24th, as Cleveland was the only president to come back after a hiatus and be re-elected) in exceptionally high esteem.

Grover was admirable, indeed, a man of character the likes of which I don't see among any of the current candidates ... although last night's hosts would argue that Ron Paul is Grover Cleveland reincarnated.

Here's a quote that packages Cleveland pretty niftily. In it, he is addressing his thoughts on federal aid to farmers whose crops had been damaged by drought:
"Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character...."
Prescient, huh? Especially from a Dem! The White House's history archives, provide the following brief summary of Cleveland's primary policy efforts:
He also vetoed many private pension bills to Civil War veterans whose claims were fraudulent. When Congress, pressured by the Grand Army of the Republic, passed a bill granting pensions for disabilities not caused by military service, Cleveland vetoed it, too.

He angered the railroads by ordering an investigation of western lands they held by Government grant. He forced them to return 81,000,000 acres. He also signed the Interstate Commerce Act, the first law attempting Federal regulation of the railroads.

In December 1887 he called on Congress to reduce high protective tariffs. Told that he had given Republicans an effective issue for the campaign of 1888, he retorted, "What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?" But Cleveland was defeated in 1888; although he won a larger popular majority than the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison, he received fewer electoral votes.

Elected again in 1892, Cleveland faced an acute depression. He dealt directly with the Treasury crisis rather than with business failures, farm mortgage foreclosures, and unemployment. He obtained repeal of the mildly inflationary Sherman Silver Purchase Act and, with the aid of Wall Street, maintained the Treasury's gold reserve.

When railroad strikers in Chicago violated an injunction, Cleveland sent Federal troops to enforce it. "If it takes the entire army and navy of the United States to deliver a post card in Chicago," he thundered, "that card will be delivered."
After the last several presidents' failure to control either the size of government or its spendthrift ways, all this sounds positively delightful.

Because the hosts of the evening -- OC Reg commentary writer Steve Greenhut, his former colleague John Seiler and friend Tony Bushala -- are all Libertarians, big and little "L" Libertarians abounded at the event, including Art Olivier, former Libertarian candidate for California governor and U.S. Veep.

Art and I chatted for some time, and he explained why Libertarians run in the face of insurmountable odds. I thought it was to educate and educate and educate people until we get the concepts through our dense heads, a point he agreed with in more polite terms, but he said he runs to keep the party alive.

Eventually, he feels, the stars will align with the right candidate at the right time, and the Libertarians will advance beyond their current place, where they are unable to get any higher than city councils, and break onto the national scene. Until then, his job is to keep the flame burning.

All things are possible, folks. The status quo is not forever. But Libertarian naivety on foreign policy will keep 2008 from being that year.

Olivier also revealed:
  • If Ron Paul doesn't get the GOP nomination (and they view that as a big "if"), he will run for president as the Libertarian candidate.

  • He believes such a candidacy will hurt both the GOP or the Dems. He feels if the Dems nominate Hillary, anti-war Dems will vote for Paul, as will GOP voters concerned more about privacy and big government than the War on Terror.

  • He, Olivier, would run for Vice President.
He would be an asset to any ticket -- tall, handsome, well-spoken, personable and approachable. I only wish I would have asked him how he feels about the 9/11 Truthers' Moonbats' attraction to Paul. Who in the world would want to get into office on the shoulders of that sad bunch?

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