Guest Editorial: The Cowboy Libertarian on the GOP Primary

Reagan’s 11th Commandment

“Our 11th Commandment is perhaps more profound than we realize.  ‘Thou shall not speak ill of any Republican.’  To do so means we are inhibited in the support we can give that Republican if he should become the nominee of our party.  Certainly our task is harder if we must challenge and refute charges made by our opponents if those charges were first uttered by us….

“Fight as hard in the coming primary as you can for your candidate, but be against only those we must defeat in November of 1968.  Let no opposition candidate quote your words in the general election to advance statism or the philosophy of those who have lost confidence in man’s capacity for self-rule.”

— Ronald Reagan in a Speech to the California Republican Assembly, April 1967


During the 2010 Primary Election in California Steve Poizner not only ignored Reagan’s commandment, he shattered it on the ground as Moses did the tablets containing the first Ten Commandments.

Poizner ran a scorched earth media campaign right up until the end even though I am quite sure he and his handlers knew weeks ago that their effort had fallen short.

Then in his graceless speech conceding defeat on Election Night he sounded like a bitter, petulant little boy who had just had his head handed to him by a girl in the race for student body president — not a man who had been soundly defeated by the better candidate.

Poizner came onstage in a sour mood and it showed. I guess after spending $25 million of his own money and getting beat like an old army mule by Meg Whitman it is understandable. But from the first time you enter the public arena to the last hurrah, one must demonstrate the capacity to not only celebrate a hard-earned victory but to accept defeat with grace and dignity, congratulating the victor and pledging your unqualified support to defeat the common foe.

Early in his quest to be governor of California, Poizner assiduously courted the conservative activists in the party to shore up a perceived weakness because of his past comments and associations with Democrats like Al Gore. Nothing wrong with that.

But in the process, he seemed to change from a pragmatic problem-solver to a fire-breathing, take-no-prisoners demagogue.

When the Arizona law on immigration passed, Poizner saw an issue to exploit to stir up conservatives. And he went all in making it the number one issue in his campaign.

But right now the main issues concerning Californians is 12.6% unemployment, debt up to our eyeballs, crumbling infrastructure that connects our communities, environmentalists stopping water from reaching our farms and a disastrous overregulated business climate. Plenty there to chew on and campaign on.

Poizner had the opportunity of raising those issues but he chose the other path, no doubt egged on by his high-paid Washington-based consultants who know nothing of the day-to-day struggles of ordinary Californians. But I am sure for them the payday will more than make up for the loss.

In his desire for the Holy Grail of the governor’s office, he sold his political soul. And that is one commodity that is not easily regained.

Now we head to the “big casino”—the general election — and Whitman will have to once again refute claims first raised by Steve Poizner not Jerry Brown.

As for Poizner, he told Whitman June 8 that he wanted to get to know her better, but I doubt the two will be sharing a meal anytime soon. But if that ever happens, before it does, Poizner Steve will need to eat a very large portion of crow.

And, as the Cowboy Libertarian likes to say, when you have to eat crow it is better to eat it when it’s hot. The colder it gets the harder it is to swaller.

Need some ketchup?

(Editor’s Note: The Cowboy Libertarian is Patrick Dorinson of PD Communications in Sacramento. Previously, Dorinson has been a spokesman for NASA, communications director for California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and, most recently, communications director for the California Republican Party.)


Filed under: Venting


  1. Poizner showed his true colors in this campaign. Indeed, he has shown his true colors his entire political life. He mimicked Garamendi for much of his time as Commissioner, and when the political winds shifted, he put up another sail to catch that breeze. It is much better to be a pauper with a large cache of integrity, then to be wealthy man and have no soul.

    Comment by Twice Bitten, Once Lost — 6.10.2010 @ 1:55 pm

  2. The Cowboy Libertarian misses the point that his gal Meg ignored the GOP 11th Commandment AT LEAST as often and to the disparaging degree that he accuses her opponent. In this instance, BOTH the goose and the gander acted in their own self-interest without much concern for their party of registration. Surely in attacking the gander, Cowboy Libertarian is NOT suggesting that the ENDS (the goose\’s victory) justify her MEANS (vilifying her opponent).

    Actually, the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primaries this year made me really proud not to be a Republican.

    Comment by Celtic Snake — 6.10.2010 @ 3:01 pm

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