Five-term Michigan congressman Thaddeus McCotter announced his entry into the Republican presidential primary at a rock festival sponsored by a conservative radio station over the weekend. He knows that for most people, his middle name is “Who?” at the moment, so Stage One of his campaign must involve changing that.
One way McCotter distinguishes himself from other candidates is his willingness to speak extemporaneously. He didn’t use any notes at his announcement speech, much less a teleprompter, and kept his remarks short and sweet. In an age of Twitter, sound-bite journalism, and candidates who self-destruct on Meet the Press, the ability to shoot from the hip without blowing your own foot off looks good on a politician’s resume.
“We here in Michigan understand that our pursuit of prosperity, our American dream, is in danger,” McCotter declared. “We have seen a government that has refused to restructure itself for the future as we have, as our entrepreneurs have, as our families have.” Representing the suburbs of Detroit has given McCotter a good view of death-spiral government.
He made a point of slamming “the myth of cap-and-trade and climate change,” which sets him dramatically apart from Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, who remain firmly hoodwinked by the global warming fraud, and therefore make unsteady champions against job-killing environmental radicalism.
McCotter was stern in listing the failures of Big Government, but he’s no dour pessimist. “The one thing that will not fail, for it is too majestic to ever let down Lady Liberty, is you – the sovereign American people,” he said.
Frequent appearances on Fox’s Red Eye testify to his sense of humor, which was also evident in his jokes about how “excited” his kids were to share the stage with him, and his jokes about the storm that was rolling in as he spoke. “I will be brief today, so that none of you get electrocuted,” he assured the crowd. After he finished speaking, he grabbed a guitar and jammed with the band.
Speaking without notes didn’t keep McCotter from waxing poetic with five “fundamental principles” he believes are key to the true American concept of government: “Our liberty is from God, not the government. Our sovereignty is in our souls, not the soil or a scepter. Our security is from strength, not appeasement or surrender. Our prosperity is from the private sector, not the public sector. And our truths are self-evident, not relative.”
Besides the struggle to make himself known after a late entry into the presidential race, McCotter’s biggest problem is his history of support for pro-labor legislation, most ominously including the notorious “Card Check” bill – a straight-up payoff to union bosses for their loyal support of Democrats, which would rob employees of secret ballots during union elections. He now says that voting for Card Check was a mistake, which he made to cultivate political support in his union-heavy district. He also voted in favor of a massive $165 billion taxpayer bailout of union pension funds.
How could someone who said the things McCotter said during his announcement speech have ever thought those were good ideas? Imposing such massive burdens on the nation, in order to win votes in Michigan, is not “federalism.” He must answer the challenge of squaring his support for the indenture of the private sector to union interests with the majestic principles he expressed over the Fourth of July weekend.
McCotter would be wise to address those issues himself, before waiting for his opponents in a primary debate to throw them in his face. His witty style suggests a degree of humility and self-awareness. Hopefully he is self-aware enough to understand that union greed is one of the central issues facing America today, and he’s got a voting record that puts him on the wrong side of it. I look forward to the speech where he addresses that weakness, and won’t mind if he uses notes, or gives the speech somewhere that he doesn’t have to worry about getting hit by lightning.