May: A Better Republican Candidate Assessment Predictions And Preferences For The Republican Nomination Winner
There’s a lot to talk about here. Mitch Daniels, whom I thought would enter the race and was going to discuss, bowed out over the weekend, saying he loved his family even more than he loved his country. I thought Daniels would have been a strong candidate with an established record of taming the fiscal situation and having won reelection in Indiana, a Republican-leaning state that Obama did win, however. And I think he could have gotten beyond conservative reflexes against his verbal formulations that have called for “a truce on social issues,” and the “need to be liked,” which some conservatives take as a red flag of compromise. Daniels is pro-life, but thinks Republicans should not repel Independents but focus on appealing to them on the extremely precarious fiscal situation. And in terms of needing to be liked, that’s just a fact, and does not necessarily imply compromise. Even the Biblical instruction for spreading “the good news,” advised seeking first the fruit of the spirit; that is, a decent an unimpeachable character in the messenger. But the truth is not compromised. For instance, Daniels was detaching public unions from the power of legal coercion before it was cool. But Daniels’ competent record and clarity of speech might have been adequate if Obama were still in trouble by fall 2012. But what if unemployment has trickled down even to the low 8 range, and the money and media parade are in high gear? Competent and clear, Daniels is. Electric, he is not. Is it not plain that the 2008 election was decided on almost 100% electricity and practically zero substance? That now looms as a huge consideration with the field that remains, which I will discuss.
There are two candidates that I have already discussed who need to be mentioned in the context of potentially winning the nomination. I mentioned Herman Cain as one who could possibly win, but probably wouldn’t. He has now announced his candidacy, and I had said that Cain is one who has that potential of becoming a phenomenon that inspires the people. And in the past few days, a Zogby poll showed Cain trailing only NJ Governor Chris Christie as a Republican favorite. Similar to the matter of Daniels’ questioned verbiage, I don’t have much time for the hand-wringing about Cain’s failure to jump on the question this weekend about a Palestinian “right of return.” We geeks know exactly what that refers to and why there’s no way Israel can absorb all descendants of Arabs who lived in the region of Palestine before ’49. Herman Cain has been doing more with his life than being glued to the language of Middle East tensions. Nor am I troubled by his explanation that he would consider the counsel of a president’s advisers who know what he doesn’t about Afghanistan. What executives do is make a decision on information from people who have paid more attention to operational details than he has. Cain is an executive. Critics are policy nerds. In fact, Monday on Hannity, Cain addressed the “right of return” question head on, saying yes, he was caught by surprise by Chris Wallace, not expecting the question, but still thought it was not for Americans but Israelis to answer. And he said as chief executive he would have the counsel of competent advisors. Christie by the way, has only been governor for 2 years and has consistently repeated that he will not be a candidate. But Cain could quickly show that political “experts” might prove to be not so expert after all.
Speaking of that, talk-show host Michael Medved has already declared it a 2-man contest. Medved is extraordinarily informed on history and is truly a free-enterprise conservative. But, he’s another longtime political observer that I think may not have adjusted to some new realities. I listen to him regularly but he’s pretty quick to mock people he regards as too unconventional. But one of Medved’s Big Two is Mitt Romney, whom I have also discussed, as one I would strongly oppose. As I said, it’s true that such a state mandate as in RomneyCare is constitutional while ObamaCare is not. But, even in a domain the size of Massachusetts, he should have resisted the bad consequences of restricting both personal and commercial liberty, and foreseen the problems for cost and medical practitioners. It’s hard to count out someone with a standing campaign infrastructure, tens of millions of dollars, and a barrel of ambition. He’s been tame so far, but I’m not sure if Romney can resist going very negative to the point of deception, about his rivals. He might assure that Republicans have a battered nominee. And, I think he would be a big target for Democrat smearing as an out-of-touch rich guy. I think Romney can build from a 20% floor of people who (wrongly) think he’d be a genius for the economy. But he may also have a ceiling of around 30%. He won’t be bringing the electricity either, in a conservative environment that is desperately looking for it. The conservatives must avoid splitting up the conservative vote so that Romney might win with 25%.
Medved thinks the other contender is Tim Pawlenty. And Monday, Charles Krauthammer also narrowed the competition to the same two men. I like Pawlenty all right. And I think his instincts are conservative, though he’s dipped a toe in some liberal ideas that he has since disavowed. But some conservatives call him a RINO or even a liberal. It seems that, like liberals, some conservatives won’t deal with reality. Pawlenty was the 2-term governor of MINNESOTA. I like to shorten the reality of Minnesota to words like “Jesse Ventura” and “AL FRANKEN.” Really: need I say more? Pawlenty wouldn’t be a danger with a Republican US Congress. But today, we don’t need to avoid danger. We need an executive to lead us out of big trouble. And if I think he’s a nice guy, Pawlenty won’t be that electric leader, either. Can you imagine how deflated the ardent voters who brought the big victory of 2010 (by the way, a strong conservative narrowly lost the MN governor’s race) will be if we emerge with Romney or Pawlenty as a Republican nominee? To me, that has the smell of defeat, for both the election in the short term, and for America soon after. Someone must come on with sparks flying to overrun them. Talk about Christie persists, along with Paul Ryan, who has also ruled out a run. So has Rick Perry, who says the real action is in Texas. But…hold that thought.
I’ve said that Cain could catch fire. And so could Michele Bachmann, even though only James Garfield in 1880 was elected President directly from The House of Representatives. But Bachman chairs the new Tea Party Caucus in The House, has opposed many of the “compromises” in The House, and is an evangelical Christian in neighboring Minnesota who could make an impact in Iowa. She has 5 biological children and with her husband took in 23 foster children. Sure, she’ll be violently attacked by the left. Chris Matthews is sure she’s a bubble-head wing-nut. And Bill Maher said she’s “for people who find Sarah Palin too intellectual.” Don’t you love Bill Maher? But Bachman has two law degrees and is a lot more intellectual than Bill Maher. And such criticism can and should be played as an advantage; certainly in the primaries and even the general election. She would be a strong and assertive candidate and President.
Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann could provide that electricity that Republicans need. But only Sarah Palin would bring an ardent established following and name-recognition. Besides being more capable than Maher, I’d make her better than 50-50 in a fist fight with him. Now, that would be fun. I’ve never ever seen a Republican candidate draw fervent crowds like Palin did in 2008 and since at book-signings and campaigning for others. She was an assertive executive in Alaska. I point to her profit-sharing plan for oil leases in Alaska, which shared profits with taxpayers. When she laid out the plan, ExxonMobil, one of the largest corporations in the world, objected. Like Reagan with Gorbachev in Reykjavik, she told them to take it or leave it. And like the Soviets, when they saw she meant business, they took it. I ask you: who do you want negotiating with Iran, North Korea, Russia, China and others? It seems like a no-brainer to me, though the media have disabled a lot of brains. She has effectively campaigned for candidates around the country, including Governor Rick Perry in the Republican delegate treasure of Texas, and also for Governor Terry Branstad, Senator Kelly Ayotte, and Governor Nikki Haley, In IOWA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, AND SOUTH CAROLINA. Hmmm. For anyone who isn’t aware, those are the first three delegate selection contests. It’s all lined up for her and she says she has the fire in the belly. And someone is buying a nice new digs in Arizona; a base of operations?
Palin has been effectively beaten up in the media, and has high negatives along with her high positives. It would be her job to change that. But I think she can. She should favor public exchanges over private interviews that can be manipulated and edited. She should be their strongest candidate, if she runs and only family concerns should be able to hold her back. She and Bachmann should coordinate to not hand the race to another. Republicans booted the chance to nominate the first black presidential candidate. Though there is ever more melding, blacks are now between 12 and 13% of the population. If Republicans could win even 15-20% of that vote, they’d be hard to beat. Women are over half of the population. Very roughly speaking, men vote around 60-40 Republican-Democrat and women around 60-40 Democrat-Republican. If Republicans gained even a 50-50 split among women, they would win in a landslide. In 2012, the most inspiring Republican candidates are one black and two women. And the “experts” write them off with little discussion; often none in the case of Palin. If Republicans don’t surprise the experts, they may once again be proven “The Stupid Party.” I said to hold the thought of Rick Perry: if he could be convinced to run as VP, he might make any of these three almost unbeatable.