Inspired by a comment I made in one of my comment threads, fellow blogger Alfie prognosticated about whether or not Barack Obama will be challenged in 2012 by a Democrat. I thought I would return the favor by conjecturing on the GOP side of the 2012 Presidential race.
What follows in no particular order are some of the names already being bandied about for Republican nominees. I’ll grade them on likelihood of winning nomination if they decided to run and likelihood of beating Obama on a five point scale. 5 = Extremely likely, 1 = there’s a better chance of finding Nicole Simpson’s “real” killer.
We might as well get the elephant in the room over with. Palin is comparatively young, extremely savvy about controlling the media which she claims to disdain, and very charismatic as evidenced by the huge crowds she attracts on a regular basis. It is very hard to tell how brave her fellow Republicans will be in challenging her in the primaries should she choose to run. If they attack her too sharply they will alienate a major contingent of the dissatisfied electorate. She has proven that she will not buckle down and become knowledgeable on the issues. Still, I’m not sure this would seal her doom during primary season. In the general election, Obama (or any other Democrat for that matter) will clean her clock.
Watching paint dry is a more exciting experience than watching Pawlenty. With more interesting characters from which to choose, Pawlenty does not stand a chance.
Bobby’s Republican response to one of Obama’s early Congressional addresses in 2009 was so awkward and embarrassing that it is hard to believe he could be a compelling challenger. He has been accurately compared to Kenneth the page in the sitcom “30 Rock”. This is another non-starter.
While the former Vice President has sworn he will not seek higher office, his nomination would present a choice of polar opposites for the American people. A Venn diagram depicting Cheney’s views vs Obama’s views would be two circles side by side with zero overlap. Cheney would get 100% of registered Republicans, Obama 100% of registered Democrats and then the fascinating exercise would be to see where the independents line up. For sheer drama, I’d pick Cheney as the next GOP candidate. One interesting question would be how much would his health play a role in his electability?
Since it is highly unlikely that we will have a booming economy in late 2011 and early 2012, Mitt Romney is the GOP’s economy pinch hitter. Romney, a successful businessman who saved the 2002 Winter Olympics games from financial ruin can claim some dollars and cents credibility. He also does very well in every GOP straw poll that has been conducted recently (CPAC and SRLC to name two). He has two major problems from my perspective. If health care reform is as polarizing in 2012 as it is now, Romney has some explaining to do since he championed a similar health care plan in Massachusetts while he was Governor. The “I was for it before I was against it” approach has not fared well in American politics. It also falls into Romney’s reputation as flip-flopper, firmly established during the 2008 primaries. In the general election, I think his Mormonism will definitely hurt him. My guess is that atheists find Mormonism the most detestable of faiths based on their history of racism. I suspect a good many Christians also don’t consider Mormonism a legit religion.
Ron Paul does not stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting nominated much less elected. There is a simple reason why. He is truly the only one on the GOP side bucking the status quo. While America talks a good line about wanting change, the truth is the average American is change-averse. The further we get into Barack Obama’s presidency the more convinced I am of this. The change that Americans wanted to believe in when they elected Obama was really just a desire to return to normalcy (Warren Harding anyone?), i.e. getting back to work. That’s not real change. That’s just restoration of the status quo. Among Ron Paul’s more radical ideas is to bring virtually all our military forces home. He claims we currently are acting like an empire with troops installed all over the world. I have to tell you I like Paul if for no other reason than that he says stuff that is unpopular with the establishment. He also has a strong base among conservative youth. Still I don’t think he can galvanize enough support to be successful.
It seems Newt wants to resurrect 1994’s Contract with America. While Newt is capable of the dumbass statement, such as when he told Jon Stewart that shoe bomber Richard Reid was an American citizen (he was not), overall Newt presents an intelligent alternative to an otherwise dullard bunch. One suspects that if Newt ran he would come to the table with concrete ideas. On the other hand, Newt has a bit of Hillary Clinton disease. When Hillary ran for the Democratic nomination she reminded everyone of the 90’s and there was a sense of been there done that. I think Newt has the same problem. He’s not fresh. Since Republicans have no problem with hypocrisy, the fact that he cheated on his wife while trying to get Bill Clinton impeached for fellatio will not hurt him in the primaries. However in the general election, I’m not sure various independent liberal groups will be so kind.
A good many people say that Jeb was the Bush son who should have been President. I can only base my opinion of him on the few times I’ve seen him speak and the fact that he was a very popular Florida Governor. He also speaks fluent Spanish, America’s second language. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen of Jeb so far. He is soft-spoken which gives him an air of intelligence. He lacks the dumbass swagger of his older brother George W. However he has one major obstacle — his brother George W. If the sour taste of Bush has faded from the American tongue or been replaced by the sour taste of Obama, then I truly think Jeb has a shot at it. He would have to walk the delicate line of “I’m not my brother” while not outright dissing his kin. If he can get past that obstacle, I think he has a chance. (Let’s not forget America’s infatuation with making history. If elected, Jeb would make George 41 the only President to have two sons become President.)
I haven’t heard anyone talk about Tom Coburn, Republican Senator from Oklahoma as a Presidential hopeful but I’m tossing his hat in the ring anyway. When Obama held his health care summit this winter, only two Republicans came to the table with intelligent sounding talking points. One was Paul Ryan, a numbers wonk. The other was Tom Coburn who at least appeared to be there to suggest alternatives and carve out a solution. Recently Coburn made waves at a town hall meeting when he accused Fox News of sensationalizing the health care debate and defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In an age of brain-dead partisan politics, Coburn impresses me as a “fair and balanced” solution man. His having been an anti-abortion obstetrician and Baptist deacon should only improve his cred among Republicans. Despite my general liking for the man, I’m not sure he has the charisma to survive a Republican primary or general election.
Now, I must reiterate that I would not vote for any of the above. Now it’s your turn. Which of these candidates would get your vote in either the primary or the general?