What Ever Happen to the Eleventh Commandment? In Memoriam, Louis J. Russo. Some Other Stuff

“With malice toward none; with charity for all …” A. Lincoln(R), March 1865

“Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”   R. Reagan(R), 1966

The patron saint of the latter day Republican party is Ronald Reagan. Forget that he raised taxes several times, signed an abortion bill, compromised with and be-friended Tip O’Neill. Distance in time sometimes fogs the memory.

Which brings us to the eleventh commandment. Many of the twenty-three Republican men and women who are running or thinking about running for president in 2016 (see March 28th post, below) seem to have misplaced the 11th Commandment chapter in their campaign handbooks. Consider the following:

Cruz about Bush:  “When Ms. Ingraham later pressed him to comment on Mr. Bush’s position on overhauling immigration — ‘Jeb says he has the grown-up plan, senator’ — Mr. Cruz engaged. ‘I will say this. I haven’t seen a whole lot of politicians have success when they treat the voters as children,’ Mr. Cruz said.”  (NY Times, 3/24/15)

McCain about Paul and Cruz: “In an interview with the Huffington Post, (Sen. John) McCain referred to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) as ‘wackos’.” (Washington Post 3/8/13)

Paul about McCain: “You know, I think he’s just on the wrong side of history …” (Washington Post, 3/8/13)

Fiorina about Bush: “[Jeb Bush] is dead wrong on comprehensive immigration reform, he’s dead wrong on Common Core,” Fiorina said. … “He’s dead wrong about government being too powerful — I think government is too powerful, I’m not sure he believes that.” — MediaITE 4/14/15

King about Cruz and Paul:  “Rep. Peter King called Sen. Ted Cruz a ‘big mouth’ who ‘basically led the Republican Party over the cliff’ and dismissed Sen. Rand Paul as an ‘isolationist’ on Monday as he said their party should ignore those two candidates for its 2016 presidential nomination.   … ‘To me, he’s (Cruz) a guy with a big mouth and no results.’” (CNN, 3/25/15)

Graham about Cruz:  “Another potential GOP presidential contender took aim at Cruz on Monday. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, scoffed when asked how a President Cruz would handle a nuclear crisis.  ‘Ted with nukes, Ted with nukes, let’s see …’ he joked, drawing laughter from the crowd. ‘I dunno what Ted would do, but he should come up here and answer these questions, don’t you think?’”  (CNN, 3/25/15)

Walker about Bush: “When (Walker) recalls the story of his parents growing up on a farm without indoor plumbing and boasts about using his Kohl’s points to score a department-store sweater for a dollar, Walker is implicitly striking a distinction from Bush’s privileged patrician upbringing.   ‘Unlike some out there, I didn’t inherit fame or fortune from my family.’” (Politico, 7/26/13)

Christie about Paul: Referring to Sen. Rand Paul, Chris Christie says “this strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought.” (Politico, 7/26/13)

Paul about Christie: “Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom.” (Politico, 7/26/13)

So it seems that the Republicans are back to just the 10 Commandments.

But wait, this just in:

Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2015. “Bush Avoids Fights With Party Rivals.” “It is a contrast with most other Republicans, … who are trying to show that their swords are drawn and ready to fight for the issues most important to the party’s activists … Bush, on a swing through New Hampshire Thursday and Friday, continued to strike that more accommodating tone.”

(See footnote three paragraphs down.)

As we move down the road to 2016, it’s likely that the Democratic presidential candidates who are not named Clinton will say some interesting things about Mrs. Clinton. Martin O’Malley has suggested that she flip-flops. I will be surprised if Hillary goes negative with her fellow Democrats, but you never know. Democrats have pretty much never been interested in an 11th commandment, since we sometimes have more fun beating up our fellow Democrats than beating up Republicans.

None of this is to say that people in either party have always been strict adherents to the original 10 Commandments.

Finally, a footnote to all this. Wikipedia (is there a more authoritative source of information since we all threw away our Funk & Wagnalls and Encyclopedia Britannica sets?) reports the following about Reagan and the eleventh commandment:

“Reagan followed this ‘commandment’ during the first five primaries during the 1976 Republican primary against incumbent Gerald Ford, all of which he lost. He abandoned this approach in the North Carolina Primary and beat Ford 52–46, regaining momentum and winning a majority of delegates chosen after that date.”

So what is the moral of the story? Probably as most politicos know so well, it’s nice to be nice, but attack ads are what voters remember. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in 2016.

Louis J. Russo

Louis J. Russo, who played major roles in the Erie County government administrations of Ed Rath, B. John Tutuska, Ned Regan and Ed Rutkowski, passed away last week at the age of 91. Lou consecutively held the offices of budget director, deputy county executive and administrator at the Erie County Medical Center. He was a strong and effective leader for county Republicans, and while he worked for the administration, he also held considerable sway over the party’s members of the Legislature.

Lou was often a very tough person to deal with because he was smart and was not shy about expressing his opinion of things. But he was also honest and reasonable. Rest in peace, Lou.

One More

On March 28th I posted a version of a March Madness bracket for would-be presidential candidates (see post below). There were 23 Republicans on the list and 6 Democrats. Potential candidate number 30 just arrived. Former Rhode Island governor, former Republican and independent, Lincoln Chaffee, has announced that he may contest for the Democratic nomination. We’ve all been waiting for this one!

Playoff Time

The NHL playoffs have begun and the NBA games tip off Saturday night. This brings back fond memories about when Buffalo had major league basketball and hockey teams.

Progressive Issues

The folks at Albany-based NT2 have another interesting post, this time about “progressives” and education issues such as “opting-out.” Take a look: