Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Time to (Officially) Start Worrying About the Next Election
It seems nuts even to a political junky like me, but I am already worrying about the November 2012 election now that Obama has made it official that he is running.
I think Obama can be easily defeated for all manner of reasons that include the way he has begun to lose his liberal Democrat base thanks to the Libyan non-war and the more general electorate thanks to Obamacare, the bailouts, a soaring national debt, unemployment, and gas prices.
What does bother me is what appears to be a fairly lackluster group of expected GOP candidates for the presidency currently gearing up to announce their candidacies. They are not generating a lot of enthusiasm at this point, but there is a lot of time for one of them to catch fire if they make a real case for themselves and against Obama.
Many people are understandably focused on present economic fears and November 2012 seems a long way off. There’s an unrealistic disappointment in the performance of the new batch of Republicans in Congress. Members supported by the Tea Party have barely been in office, but some are beginning to assert themselves.
Within the Republican leadership, there seems to be the view that they need only let Obama and the Democrats hang themselves as the national debt and deficit continues to skyrocket, along with inflation, rising gas prices, and a lingering high unemployment rate.
Republicans are understandably reluctant to be blamed for shutting down the government if they cannot get the White House and Democrats to agree to more realistic budget cuts. The Democrat strategy is to brand them as “extremists” in a shutdown. The mainstream media will reflect this. Some 25-30% of liberals will accept this, but that still leaves a majority of Americans who will not.
The fact remains, even with a Republican majority in the House, the majority Democratic Senate is a major roadblock to solving the financial problems of the nation and the White House can still wield a veto. However, keeping the government going with continuing resolutions based on cutting a few billion from a $14 trillion dollar debt is beginning to look lame.
It is, however, the presumptive Republican candidates that are my concern at this point and, it will surprise those who have read my criticisms of him, but I think Mitt Romney may emerge is the leader of the pack.
The surprise for many who hear him is that Mitt Romney is a dynamic throwback to Ronald Reagan, espousing the same values. When he addresses Republican audiences these days, he makes a lot of sense, particularly when he dissects Barack Obama and when he discusses the role of business in American life. He does so without Tele Prompters and with real passion. If America can elect a black President, they can elect a Mormon. I can remember when fears were expressed about JFK’s Catholicism.
Forget about Newt Gingrich. Too much baggage from his personal life and an opposition research file on him a foot thick means he is not a viable candidate against the likes of Obama.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty strikes me as a nice fellow who says the right things, but few know who he is and those that do can’t figure out why he wants to be President or should be. Too much of what he says comes out sounding bland. The same can be said of Gov. Mitch Daniels. Both are good men, but neither offers a compelling reason to pay them much attention.
Haley Barbour has a ton of political expertise and a good record as Mississippi Governor, but the problem is that he is from Mississippi. He’s “too southern” and, in a presidential campaign, his opposition would show up at every rally waving the Confederate flag and so would some of his supporters!
Then there are what I call the weird candidates, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Donald Trump, none of whom have come out and said they are running for the nomination. Palin excites the far right because the woman is never boring. That, however, is not a criterion for running the country. Former Gov. Huckabee is making a ton of money with his popular Fox Channel and likely knows he’s better off there.
Donald Trump has been playing the media and getting tons of exposure by hinting he might run. He is a combination of real estate mogul, television star, and a celebrity who agreed to be roasted on the Comedy Channel. He’s smart enough to know that being president would be a demotion and cut in pay. He wouldn’t be able to tell Congress “You’re fired!”
Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, is a smarter version of Palin. Both Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, serious minded Congressmen, are too young and too smart to get into the race at this time. Forget about Herman Cain, a pizza magnate; a good man for sure, but not now, probably not ever.
These candidates, individually and in aggregate, probably account for the reason why the name of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie keeps coming up despite his denial that he will run at this time. If the GOP convention were a Hollywood movie, one could see it turn to Christie after a deadlock and draft him to run, but it isn’t and that is not going to happen.
Ronald Reagan had been Governor of California for two terms. He gained political credits when he ran against then President Jerry Ford for the nomination and, after four years of Jimmy Carter, he looked very good. Even the Bush’s, father and son, had the political credentials to run and win, though we need to recall what a squeaker that first George W. election was when we came within a hair’s breath of having loony Al Gore in the Oval Office.
Whoever is chosen to carry the party’s banner had better be willing to tear into Obama and the Democrats because, if he bores us to death, Obama will destroy the nation in a second term.
© Alan Caruba, 2011