_84725864_hi028468657Following the first (and second) GOP primary debate(s) in Cleveland, here is our first installment of the Debate Awards. Due to the volume of candidates, not all nominees were able to receive an award. This is not intramural middle school soccer. Sorry, moms and dads! Not all of your children are superstars.

If Archie Bunker Had A Gold Plated Lay-Z-Boy Award: Donald Trump

Elmer Gantry Sanctimony Award (shared): Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee

Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Award: Rand Paul

Christine Todd Whitman “It’s My Party Too” Award: John Kasich

Randy Newman/Momma Told Me Not To Come Award: Jeb Bush

Norman Vincent Peale Power of Positive Thinking Award: Marco Rubio

Fair-Weather Fan Award (a/k/a I Chose Bon Jovi Because The Boss Was Playing Jon Stewart Out): Chris Christie

Orphan Black/Ronald Reagan’s 7 Previously Unknown Grandchildren Award: Scott Walker

Gory Abortion Imagery Wins Elections! Award: Rick Santorum

Rudy Giuliani-Joe Biden Noun-Verb and 9/11 Award: George Pataki

Carpathian Kitten Loss Award: Lindsey Graham

Running Like It’s 1979/Thatcher and Carter and Reagan, Oh My! Award: Carly Florina

Captain of the JV Cheerleading Team: Rick Perry

You’re Getting Verrry Sleepy Award: Dr. Ben Carson

Admiral Stockdale Memorial Award (shared): Jim Gilmore, Bobby Jindal, Others Already Fading From Memory.

My latest at Real Clear Politics, co-authored with conservative historian David Frisk.

QV073CCOT703IJFE-cp0x140x1280x860-rsz640x360-cp0x0x640x360My thoughts here, not on the legal or Constitutional questions of Watergate, but the cultural impact of how our conceptions of privacy changed 40 years ago. With all of those Expletives-Deleted….was Richard Nixon our first Facebook president?


The Tar Heel State had a GOP Senate primary last week which served as a nearly perfect proxy war for the internal conflict in the national party: Establishment vs. Tea Party vs. Evangelicals. Guess who won. Read my op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer here.

Lee and CruzMy piece published in POLITICO yesterday considers the importance of the tea party’s choice of Utah Sen. Mike Lee to be their official respondent to the President’s State of the Union Address — while tonight’s speeches may or may not matter much to anyone outside the Beltway, and the same might be said for the various responses from his opponents,they are important symbols and indicators of how the political landscape is shifting. This year, I think the tea party choice was as much about style as substance (both matter) and particularly found it noteworthy that Ted Cruz was not chosen to give the response. Lee presents a rhetorical study in contrast.

The Third-Party Trap

Time CoverMy latest article, published today in POLITICO Magazine, coauthored with historian David Frisk — biographer of the late William A. Rusher, Buckley’s longtime colleague and the publisher of National Review. We explore the parallels between not-so-long-ago troubles in the GOP, and Rusher’s effort to creat a conservative third party in the 1970s, in particular reacting to the policies of the Nixon administration. Those efforts failed, as did other past GOP efforts at ideological “purification.” We see some lessons for the Tea Party here, and lament the lack of sensible conservative guidance that benefited earlier generations. David and I were both fortunate to have know Rusher, and in my case he served as an amiable debating partner and correspondent — always eager to debate politics and what “conservatism” was really all about.

My recent column in The Hill, co-authored with conservative veteran Scot Faulkner, drew ire on the twitterverse from the Tea Party crowd, including a distant relative named Dan Riehl who is popular and followed among these folks. In reaction to my original column on Ronald Reagan I was called everything from a “half-breed” to someone who had been “dropped on his head” — a old Jersey saying….plug the terms into twitter and you will see what we are speaking about. In good favor I passed this on to my dad (a Reagan Democrat, who voted for RR twice); what I was originally writing about was the misconstruing of Reagan’s legacy. The twitter fury only serves as further evidence, with its lack of thoughtfulness. The Dan Riehl we write about below, in my dad’s comments, is my uncle Dan — not Dan Riehl of Tea Party fame.

Here is what my dad wrote:

“As Jonathan Riehl’s father, I can assure you that he was not dropped on his head as a child. He was raised on a diet of Walter Cronkite and Ronald Reagan.  Indeed when in kindergarten, the kids were talking about Star Wars he thought they were talking about President Reagan’s space program!

 While I do have a brother named Dan Riehl, it is not this Dan Riehl. I know Dan Riehl.  Dan Riehl is a friend of mine. You are not Dan Riehl. As for your followers, these folk who respond to your writings, such foul writers… Writings so foul….do you call this a conversation?”

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