My (Very) Early Predictions for GOP 2012

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.

Sarah Palin

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.
Nomination: 4
Election: 1

Tim Pawlenty

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.
Nomination: 2
Election: 1

Bobby Jindal

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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.
Nomination: 2
Election: 1

Dick Cheney

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?
Nomination: 4
Election: 3

Mitt Romney

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.
Nomination: 4
Election: 2

Ron Paul

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.
Nomination: 1
Election: 1

Newt Gingrich

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.
Nomination: 3
Election: 2

Jeb Bush

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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.)
Nomination: 4
Election: 3

Tom Coburn

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.
Nomination: 2
Election: 2

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?

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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Lessons Learned from Election Night 2009

With 20/20 hindsight, nothing that transpired last night at the polls should have surprised anyone. Let’s look at some of the lessons learned:

It’s the Economy, Stupid

None of us can forget that day in late September of 2008 when John McCain said he would suspend his campaign until the economic crisis had passed. In particular, he was suggesting that his upcoming debate with Barack Obama be cancelled. Obama responded that a President needed to be able to do more than one thing at one time. Well, ten months into his first term, one has to wonder if Obama has taken on too much at one time. Last night’s election of Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell in Virginia signal that there is one overwhelming concern among average Americans and that is jobs, jobs, jobs. McDonnell ran with the moniker “Bob’s for jobs” and Christie promised to lower taxes. I think it’s fair to say that most people aren’t connecting health care reform with improving the economy. Unless we escalate our war on terror on a par with one of our old World Wars, we won’t see the “war industry” employing lots of people the way it did in the 30’s and 40’s. The push to go green has not yet produced substantial employment opportunities. So with Obama focused on health care, Afghanistan and climate change, many Americans are left scratching their heads on where the jobs are coming from. These gubernatorial elections should send a message to the White House that some economy/job focus needs to happen fast … and show results fast.

Don’t Take Moves from the Republican Playbook

2008 was the year of campaign silly season, led by the Republicans who threw every ridiculous charge at Obama that they could (charges that persist ten months after his inauguration). Sadly, neither the Corzine nor the Deeds campaigns learned that, particularly in serious times, you don’t run trivial campaigns. Corzine made fun of Christie’s weight and ran nasty ads about supposed criminal wrong doing gone unpunished. Deeds made a big stink about some paper McDonnell had written over 20 years ago. If you can’t battle your opponent on current issues, you ought not to be running.

Wash off the Wall Street Stink

This one is easy. Americans hate fat cat wall street veterans with a passion right now. Corzine’s history as head of Goldman Sachs might not have hurt him in his first run, but now it is virtually the kiss of death unless you have a very good story to tell in the “now”. With a very low approval rating, Corzine’s current story couldn’t wash away the Wall Street stink.

Don’t Embrace Endorsements from Ass Hats

In the NY-23 race, the minute Doug Hoffman got his Facebook endorsement from Sarah Palin, he should have known it was over before it started. Then Glenn Beck jumped on the band wagon. Before you know it, Hoffman was being lauded as the Tea Party Candidate. When Republican Dede Scozzafava got pushed out of the race, she had the good sense (and the courage) to back the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens. Hoffman didn’t understand that when people are hurting they want a serious representative to take up their cause in Washington. They don’t want a perceived wingnut. Of course, it is no surprise that Hoffman eagerly accepted the support of Palin. He was essentially a male version of Palin: totally ignorant about the local issues important to his potential constituents. Of course it didn’t help that he was a carpet-bagger. But even carpet-baggers like Hillary Clinton could succeed with hard work, learning about their adopted home, as she did with New York. Hoffman was not that smart.

The RINO You Have is Better than the Wingnut You Don’t

The fact is Newt Gingrich was right this time. Sure Scozzafava was not chosen in the ideal way (i.e. by primary) but the bottom line is no matter how liberal she was, she was unlikely to buck the Republican caucus in the House all that often. She would have been a reasonably reliable vote. Now thanks to the interference of Palin, Beck, Pawlenty, Armey and others, the 23rd district will send a Democrat to the House for the first time since 1873. This should be a wake up call to the GOP that moderation is not a bad thing.

Liberals are Lazy

Without the galvanizing motivation of putting a ground breaking President in the White House, liberals sat on their asses last night. You can’t win if you don’t play.

The Age of the Referen-dumb

If we had decided civil rights for blacks and women by referendum, we would probably still have a Jim Crow south  and women not voting today. Why in the world are the equal rights of homosexuals being decided by “popular” vote? The gay activist groups need to get this issue before the courts quickly so that eventually the Supreme Court can rule marriage discrimination unconstitutional and be done with it.

The overall lesson learned this year is that voters are not interested in right-wing or left-wing extremism or trivia. They are looking to people to solve problems and the biggest problem right now is finding employment and keeping your home. It’s a bi-partisan lesson that better be learned by both parties as we move into 2010.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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Another Fine Moment for Republicans

As if it weren’t bad enough that our President apparently could not be trusted talking to our children, last night he was called a liar not once but twice on national television.

The first incident, called by some the insult heard ’round the world, was when Obama told a joint session of Congress that health care reform would not cover illegal aliens. After some rumbling from the crowd, South Carolina Republican representative Joe Wilson shouted “you lie.” I’ve watched my share of presidential addresses to Congress, and folks older and more seasoned than I have confirmed my belief that this kind of rudeness was never displayed to a President before during a joint session.

Many are ready to move on because Wilson issued an apology before the night was over. Trouble is that in his own words, he did so after being urged by senior members of his party. It did not occur to him on his own that you don’t call the President a liar on national TV while he is giving an address? Some (like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough) say this was out of character for Wilson, who is normally mild mannered. Others say this is the real Wilson. Regardless, the current mood in our country made Wilson feel comfortable telling the President of the United States that he is a liar. Wilson will get his comeuppance as his challenger for the 2010 election is already raking in the dough, in protest against Wilson’s unbridled insolence. Of course, Wilson’s behavior should not overly surprise us as he is a”deather” (supporter of  Sarah Palin’s delusions), a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and is on record criticizing Strom Thurmond’s bi-racial daughter for bringing “shame” to him by revealing her identity.

The lying accusations did not end there. After Obama’s speech, we got treated to the Republican response. The last Republican response was the infamously awkward response delivered by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. For reasons known only to the geniuses in the Republican party, they went to the Louisiana well again, this time choosing Charles Boustany, an LA representative to deliver the response. Boustany within a minute of speaking referred to the “government takeover of healthcare” in direct contradiction to Obama who stated there was no such thing afoot. Wow I guess Obama told lots of lies last night.

But it gets better. Boustany, a heart surgeon, has been sued three times for malpractice. (In his defense, many doctors are sued in this litigious society … but three times?) And now … wait for it …. Boustany is … keep waiting …. a birther! Yes you read it right. The best the Republican party could do in finding a speaker last night was someone who doubts Barack Obama was born in this country.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday, Tom Friedman made the following remark regarding the “Obama will indoctrinate our children” kerfuffle:

What it needs is for people to stand up and say that’s flat out stupid, ok? That’s flat out stupid what you’re talking about.

Indeed the Republican party has graduated from the Party of No to the Party of Stupid. Instead of universal condemnation of Wilson’s outburst, we get near silence from his fellow Republicans. Instead of asking Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney or even the slightly unpredictable Mike Huckabee to deliver the Republican response, they turn to a deservedly unknown incompetent doctor who as a birther is at best stupid and at worst racist.

While I am a liberal to my core, I am almost rooting for a resurgence of the Republican party in the intellectual corridors of the northeast and the west. Intelligent men in the mold of William F. Buckley seem to have disappeared from the Republican party and what is left is a bunch of backwoods, south-will-rise-again, would be secessionists. Perhaps I should be delighted at  this development? Let’s face it, because of idiot Joe Wilson, very little attention has been paid to what even ultra-liberal MSNBC and Huff Post contributor Lawrence O’Donnell felt was an underwhelming speech by Obama. People are not talking about how Obama will pay for healthcare. They’re talking about the  House Rep who stepped out of a scene from “Deliverance” into the House chamber last night.

Yet I’m not delighted. Last night’s display is another in a series of incidents that show our country to be on very shaky social ground. While it is true that the office of the Presidency has not regained its luster since the debacle that was Richard Nixon’s second term, never has the level of disrespect risen to this level, this very personal level, where the President is a threat to our children and a liar in the eyes of our elected officials who are willing to humiliate him in public to make their point. On MSNBC’s “Hardball” the son of the Great Communicator, Ron Reagan warned that we are headed down a dangerous road.  He is right.

How can we expect the general public to control their darkest impulses when we can no longer expect civility from those who set an example, our elected officials? The Republicans need to clean up their act and fast. It is only so long before the fuse that they keep lighting eventually runs out and the resulting explosion has consequences for which they alone will be responsible.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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