Travel, travel, travel. Phone, phone, phone. Read, read, read. Listen, listen, listen. And occasionally there is a dash of sleep and a lovely meal. I was asked an interesting question tonight… why is my point of view so different from my friends, and why can’t they count on my vote or my voice in 2008?

It’s pretty simple. I love my friends. Think they are brilliant strategists and pollsters and fundraisers and communications gurus. But they are not the ones on the ballot. If they were – I would go to the mat holding Nero’s fiddle. I used to write direct mail. I can’t be persuaded by it anymore. Even though I am happy to send some private sector business their way. Goodness knows campaign wells are tight this year, especially in Congressional races.

Essentially, it boils down to this:we should only be electing grown-ups and not pretending to respect a guy who is a self-funding bankroller. It’s not that he’s good on an issue – it’s that the consulting retainer will clear the bank. I get it. But be honest about it. AND – my fellow Republicans are not the single-shareholders in moral clarity & ethics. Frankly – they need to stop whining.

A few weeks ago, one of the contributors here railed against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and all Republicans who are moderate – as in, not Evangelical Christian Activists. Instead, Texas was painted as the model of all “Conservative” things.

Okay. Let’s do this little exercise. Arnold was twice elected. He found the centrist political road in California, won all those independent and disaffected Democrat voters under the big smoking tent – and secured their faith in him. Because he delivered.

Governor Rick Perry, who I practically worship, also found the political center in Texas – which is different than the political center in California – then won re-election in the same year Arnold did. Both men won re-election in a year when the Republican Party lost Majority Status in the US House, the US Senate, state legislatures, and executive mansions. Republicans lost their arse in 2006 – but Perry and Schwarzenegger prevailed.

Arnold is a phenomenon unto himself. I am doubtful any other GOPer can fill his shoes. Certainly not from the current crop of folks breathlessly waiting in line.

Perry demonstrated real courage after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He was competent in every way that the Feds & Louisiana officials were not. Mississippi’s Governor Haley Barbour easily won re-election as well in a post-Katrina world. The CNN/Anderson Cooper viewpoint on NoLa may be prevailing wisdom — but the voters are not biting it. Despite re-electing NoLa Mayor Ray Nagin and Congressman William “Cash is in the freezer” Jefferson— Louisiana’s Governor Kathleen Blanco couldn’t get elected dog catcher. And so… in a post-Katrina world, it was Republicans who won the confidence of folks – enough to be sent back into roles of Executive leadership. Not Democrats.

Being a Republican is a lot different than being a “conservative.” I think Barry Goldwater’s vote against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not an act of “courage” – not do I believe it was about some profound concern for the US Constitution. It was wrong – plain and simple. It ruined the legacy of the Republican Party because it gave the Dixiecrats a new place to call home.

Any time a political party becomes beholden to one idea, one issue, one leader – and ultimately one set of consultants – it is a recipe for failure. Hard core conservatives like Tom DeLay and Denny Hastert and Mark Foley and David Vitter and Larry Craig and Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed – are the same lot who cost REPUBLICANS the majority. The war in Iraq was not the problem last year. The midterm exit polls showed one issue – corruption – far outpacing other concerns among voters that voted to re-elect President George W. Bush in 2004. Those voters cast their ballots for Democrats in such high numbers that the GOP was stripped of its majority.

Those same conservatives are now attempting to sway Republican primary voters in the presidential election. They don’t understand why they can’t kill off the Giuliani candidacy. Or the Thompson campaign.

It is simple. Republicans are voting for Republicans again. And conservative ain’t on the ballot.

— Media Lizzy