But What Does Poll Mean?
In a stunning upset, libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this weekend, defeating previous three time winner former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. As the establishment favorite, Romney's defeat left observers wondering about the significance of the results, as reported in the Christian Science Monitor:
Despite Paul's significant victory, boos rang out from the convention hall when the poll results were announced. And many in the blogosphere quickly discounted the results.
"We can thank Ron Paul for showing just how worthless straw polls are," wrote RedState blogger Erick Erickson.
"There’s never been a poll Ron Paul couldn’t win, unless you count a presidential primary race," adds the guys over at Little Green Footballs.
Hang on, writes the National Review's Robert Costa. Paul knew what he was doing. There may have been some boos, but Paul was by far one of the more popular speakers at CPAC this year," Costa writes. "While Paul mingled with his acolytes, the big guns — Pawlenty, Romney — were often shrouded by aides or mingling backstage," he adds. "Believe me: CPAC folks noticed. And now, thanks to the straw poll, for a moment, Paul’s opening line from his address is true: His 'revolution is alive and well,' at least this weekend."
In case you thought that today's event meant that Paul had actually won the presidency, FOX News offered this helpful reminder: "The straw poll is not binding."
So what do I think? Here are the official straw poll results and my take on each contender:
Texas Rep. Ron Paul - 31 percent
Now 74 years old, Ron Paul is not going to run for president in 2012. However, his victory over more credible contenders is a powerful ideological statement that the Republican Party ignores at its peril. It is time for the libertarian wing of the party to take over from the Bush social conservatives.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- 22 percent
If John McCain had the sense to make Romney his running mate in 2008, he'd be president now. Today Romney is clearly the current front-runner for 2012, but he still carries the baggage of his authorship of the failed Massachusetts universal health law and his unattractive socially conservative Mormon background. Still, if he moves in a more libertarian direction, Romney may yet redeem himself.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- 7 percent
A fascinating media personality, but not a credible presidential candidate.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty - 6 percent
He's actually running for Vice-President, and would be a good pick.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich - 4 percent
The leader of the revolution of '94 is getting too old.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- 4 percent
Wears his religion on his sleeve too much to be electable.
Indiana Rep. Mike Pence - 5 percent
Mike who? First he needs to get known outside of Indiana.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune -- 2 percent
Talented enough that with the right moves he could break into the big time. Definitely prime veep material.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels -- 2 percent
Another unknown dude from Indiana.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum -- 2 percent
Despicable gay-basher is completely unacceptable.
Mississippi Gov. Hailey Barbour - 1 percent
Likeable and smart but no one from Mississippi is electable to the presidency.
Other - 5 percent
Sometimes the "other" category can produce some real surprises.
Undecided - 6 percent
Considering that 2012 is two long years away, those who marked their ballot undecided were probably the most sensible folks in the room.
Meanwhile, Springfield political rising star Joe Flebotte was at CPAC and took this picture of Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.
He also took this pic of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
View out the bus window crossing the Calvin Coolidge bridge this morning.
Wise words in a Hamp window.
The Music Section
No one would be surprised if I said that my favorite Pine Point guitarist is Karl Mayfield of Martian Highway legend, and of course I have a fondness for Destiny's Defeat, the first true Pine Point rock band. But no musician from Springfield's Pine Point section has had greater commerical success than Tony MacAlpine. I remember him best as a piano player and violinist. But it was as a fiery fingered guitarist that MacAlpine rose to the status of an internationally acclaimed musician, with an especially strong following in Europe and Japan.
This is a picture of MacAlpine (center) at my house in 1985, getting friendly with my genuine human skull Elvira.
Here's the Pride of Pine Point in action:
Easthampton guitar wizard and Valley Advocate dude Tom Sturm is in Miami, where apparently the manniquins are extra large.
Inevitably more video has surfaced from the concert Friday at UMass featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead. This sorta captures what it was like near the front of the stage.
One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.