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If One Can, Dun-Can (Hunter That Is)

Frank Penn 29 August 2007 No Comment

Please forgive the clumsy pun in the title. You should know something of this remarkable man. Duncan Hunter was born on May 31, 1948, in Riverside, Calif., where his father was a real estate developer. He and his wife, Lynne, have two sons–one a Marine artillery officer who served two tours in Iraq–and several grandchildren. He left college to join the army, and served in Vietnam as a paratrooper with the 173rd Airborne bigade from 1969-1971. He received the Air Medal with clusters for participating in 24 airmobile assaults with that outfit. Gen. Chuck Yeager said this about Duncan Hunter. “Duncan is the best candidate for President that I know of- he has integrity, tenacity, courage, and diplomacy. I have known Congressman Duncan Hunter for over 35 years. Duncan served his country in the Army and is a Vietnam vet. In Vietnam, he served in one of the most dangerous outfits – the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 75th Army Rangers, on advance recce teams of three on patrol from their unit at night.”

He earned a law degree while attending night courses at Western University on the GI Bill, and supplemented his income by working in construction and farming. He worked as an attorney after graduation and set up a private practice in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego. Before any of those who support unfettered immigration accuse Mr. Hunter of having some “nativist” beef against poor Mexicans, Hunter tells the story of his early legal career in San Diego where he set up a storefront legal office and provided free legal services to many Hispanic clients. He insisted on only one thing: that they conduct their legal business. In English.

He was elected to the House from California’s 52nd district as part of the Reagan Revolution in 1980. He is known for his hawkish views and pro military stance, serving on the Armed Services Committee, and, more recently, the Select Committee on Homeland Security. He has been instrumental in keeping the Gitmo prison open to house terrorists away from the clutches of the ACLU, and has helped to raise the public profile of the Ramos and Compean Border Patrol agents case. He has worked to increase military transport capability and has fought successfully against reductions in the size of the Army and Marine Corp.

The American Conservative Union routinely gives Hunter’s voting records high scores for voting for conservative policies and agendas, including a perfect score of 100 in multiple years; conversely, the liberal Americans for Democratic Action has on multiple occasions given Hunter’s voting record a zero score.

Duncan Hunter has lobbied for more controlled measures along the U.S.-Mexico border, including the installation of fences and border crackdowns; his younger brother John launched the Water Station project, in which volunteers lug thousands of gallons of water throughout the border’s desert to prevent illegal aliens from dying in the desert as they attempt to cross into the U.S.

As to my original assertion of what Duncan can do, I think that he can embody the classical principles of Republican conservatism that Ronald Reagan bequeathed to this country, particularly a strong national defense, the protection of unborn human life, the preservation of one man one woman marriage, proclaiming and protecting the nation’s religious heritage, tax cuts, sheer resoluteness in battling the Islamo-Nazi terror war, and unqualified support for the right to keep and bear arms.

I am not saying that Hunter is a new Ronald Reagan. There was only one. No nation can reasonably expect to be blessed with a great leader of that magnitude but once a century. Of all the GOP candidates though, Duncan Hunter best expresses the ability to proclaim that heritage as the beau ideal of the GOP, with its concomitant ability to attract disaffected “Reagan Democrats.”

Hunter is quite capable of the Reaganesque rejoinder. He responded to assertions that the Republican presidential nominee needs to raise $100 million and thus his candidacy was destined to fail. He said he wouldn’t need to raise that kind of money because “most of that money goes to pay for consultants that help them look like they are conservative, and I am conservative already.”

When you have the gravitas and eloquence of Romney or the folksy straight-shooting storytelling of Thompson, it makes life a heck of a lot better. Many might say that Hunter needs more flash and charisma to be POTUS-ready.

I reject this type of armchair candidate coaching. Hunter’s got to be who he is. “Who he is” is a rock-solid conservative, veteran, family man, fighter that people can trust. If he has to become “more animated” (I keep picturing Al Gore doing his black minister impression), you’re basically asking him to become counterfeit. That, in my opinion is the worst thing he could do.

Duncan should be Duncan and let the chips fall where they may. If that’s not good enough to attract enough voters, then perhaps we don’t deserve a man of his mettle, dignity and caliber in the White House.

Right now Hunter is the longest of long shots, polling at 3-4% But in any primary, one should vote for the candidate who best expresses one’s political convictions and embodies those convictions as a desired direction for the party. The classical GOP conservative view has its best advocate in Duncan Hunter. Duncan Hunter is not exactly a household name. But neither was William Jefferson Clinton at this time in 1991.

I am aware that historical trends do not favor Duncan Hunter. He is not a governor or even a Senator. But the Republican Party once nominated a one term congressman who was not holding electoral office when he got his party nomination. The Republican Party didn’t do too badly with Abe Lincoln. So it is fitting to employ the motto of the Army Rangers for their alumni, Duncan Hunter:

Ranger, lead the way!


Frank Penn is a decorated veteran of Vietnam and a former Chicago police officer.

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