Too Soon for GOP Despair

Riehl World View: The GOP: A Party Without a Face, Just a Bunch of Asses

I like Dan Riehl, proprietor of Riehl World View.  I had the opportunity to meet and chat with him at the BlogCon blogger conference in Washington, D.C. last year, and can wholeheartedly say that his reputation for being irritable and ornery is entirely undeserved.  Nice guy.  Very funny.  Super knowledgeable.  While he and I have very, very different styles when it comes to writing, his commitment to blogging and reporting is something that I could only aspire to.

Unfortunately, with regard to the small post linked as Assigned Reading above, Dan seems to be grandstanding a little bit when it comes to the chances for Republican Party victory in 2012.

With the White House held by an increasingly unpopular Democrat, just how hard should it be to mount a decent-looking early challenge to him right now?

Dan’s initial question is one that I have heard time and time again as the GOP field has unfolded, and even as election season last fall drew to a close.  We should have a bona fide frontrunner by now, people are saying, and the lack of such a candidate is worrisome to many.

The initial question stems from such a concern–we should be capitalizing on the president’s vulnerability, dammit!–and insofar as timing is cause for worry, whether or not timing-related worry is appropriate depends upon the measuring stick used to assess the pace of this cycle’s GOP primary.  2008 was an anomaly, not the norm, and relative to 2008 any election cycle is going to look compact.  Furthermore, even if 2008 is an appropriate measuring stick, recall that at this time during the 2008 cycle neither Barack Obama nor John McCain were thought to be the next nominee for their respective parties.

It is early.  That’s not to say that we don’t want a rigorous primary season–we need iron to sharpen iron so that we may pick the most conservative candidate that can feasibly prevail over an incumbent Obama in the general election–but it’s also important to recall that the best eventual GOP nominee will not necessarily be the candidate that most garners independent votes, but rather the candidate that can best assure the base on the American right that their values and concerns will not be forsaken, either during the election or afterward.  At this point, insofar as timing is concerned, Dan’s worries are a little presumptuous.

Yet, Gingrich continues to implode and Huntsman can’t even spell his name correctly. Pawlenty wants to talk tough to Romney, so long as he isn’t in the same room with him, while Romney can’t even buy pro-Life votes with the largest campaign chest out of everybody.

Meanwhile, half, or more of the GOP’s allegedly now prominent media pundits are morons, as per previous link. Did the circus lay-off causing all these idiots to become Republicans, or did it close up, leaving some of the usual suspects with nowhere else to go?

Now, here is where Dan is right to be concerned.  I don’t think that there’s a true conservative or mainstream Republican alive that doesn’t wish we had a Ronald Reagan just waiting to be nominated.  The simple reality is that we do not.  However, Dan himself pointed out the vulnerability of the president at this point in time — considering that vulnerability, I would venture to say that any of those currently in the GOP field could give President Obama a run for his money, if not send him packing outright.

The field sure is not perfect.  Gingrich is a fan of the individual mandate, and a believer in man-made global warming.  Romney is saddled with RomneyCare, and is a believer in man-made global warming.  Pawlenty initially supported cap-and-trade, and his argument that he’s “not running for Entertainer-In-Chief” is cute but has been largely ineffective in terms of generating–or compensating for lack of–voter interest.  Bachmann has been sharp, but is so feared by the left that she will certainly be mired in an assassination of character rivaling that which befell Sarah Palin.  Cain suffers from the same problem that candidate Barack Obama was saddled with: he is a great speaker but is often short on specifics, but this time around America has had its fill of rhetorically gorgeous ambiguity no matter how artfully conveyed.  Huntsman’s middle-of-the-road ways will make him a darling of the mainstream press, but will leave him dead in the water when it comes to gaining the nomination in the age of the resurgent right. Paul is Paul, in that he is hauntingly correct 90 percent of the time but his fervor and filter-free approach with regard to the other ten percent renders him unelectable.  And Santorum … well, he’s just Rick Santorum; his vote in favor of the Medicare prescription drug benefit should be cause for worry among anyone concerned with the proper role of government, he comes across as overly defensive, and he was incapable of even winning Pennsylvania, a state best characterized as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.”

Even if some wonder candidate emerges to win the day, the GOP primary and the 2012 general election, all of the above and more will still represent a significant portion of the Republican Party. There is good reason for conservatives and Tea Party-aligned folks to be worried about America. No matter what happens in the immediate political future, obviously, those worries aren’t going to simply go away after November 2012.

For me, that wonder candidate might be Texas Gov. Rick Perry.  For others, it might be Sarah Palin.  And while Dan is right to express concern that the various factions above will all be fighting to remain under the GOP big tent, I don’t think that the seemingly fractured nature of a political party currently trying to sharpen its message and revert to first principles despite backlash from entrenched pols and pundits is fatal by any means.  If conservatives and Tea Party-aligned folks have reason to be “worried about America,” come time for the general election any worry caused by the lack of an inspirational GOP candidate to date will pale in comparison to worry caused by the prospect of Barack Obama as a lame duck president.

We need the debate between Republican Party factions.  We need John McCain to come out and scold primary candidates for being too isolationist, just like we need Ron Paul to turn McCain’s words on their head and ask what the GOP–and America as a whole, for that matter–has gained by way of the McCain crowd’s interventionism.

This is part of the primary process.  I’m sure that, on some level, Dan Riehl understands that.  If I may play armchair psychologist for a moment, I cannot help but wonder whether Dan’s pessimism comes from his incredible involvement in the political process.  He has sources that I do not.  He is infinitely more plugged-in than I can hope to be given my current situation, and I cannot help but wonder if that extra involvement has brought despair along with it.

Given that I quoted his piece in full above rather than taking a short excerpt, I already owe the guy a drink next time our paths cross.  Should he remain so pessimistic with regard to the nature and potential of the current GOP field, I think I’d better make that drink a double.

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Comments

  1. ReaganTMan says:

    If everyone would have stood behind Sarah Palin after the media tried to destroy her two and a half years ago, we’d have a front runner. We have too many “trembling tigers” in the GOP who are “afwaid” that the media might make people vote for Obama again.

    If we would have had a friggin backbone and stood up to the media early on while Sarah Palin was getting her ass kicked by DNC inspired bloggers and ethics violation complainants, then we wouldn’t be sitting here waiting for her movie The Undefeated to put the truth out. We’d already know it.

    I know a lot of good conservatives on here, and Dan is one of them. He has stood up for Palin when many in the mainstream as well as the Fox media wanted to turn their fair and balanced debates into arguments about gravitas. The fact of the matter, Palin has been through more shit than any other presidential candidate. She’s worked harder and put in an amazing effort at keeping herself viable, no thanks to some on our side.

    We can sit here and whine all we want that we have no front runner, no Reagan. But she’s been under our nose the whole time.

  2. Jeff Schreiber says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Dan has been fantastic, as have a number of other new media types.

    Without new media support, the groundwork may never have been laid for a movie to be made. Without folks like Dan (and we tried to do our part here at AR, too) the actions of the MSM would have gone completely unchecked.

    Thank you for stopping on by. Dan is good people, and any friend of Dan’s is a friend of mine.

    Jeff

  3. Jordan Bell says:

    “I don’t think that there’s a true conservative or mainstream Republican alive that doesn’t wish we had a Ronald Reagan just waiting to be nominated”

    There is. His name is Ron Paul. A collection of interviews can be found at his website to find out more information about him:

    http://www.ronpaul.com/category/ron-paul-interviews/

    Also a fairly good read (with video) on how Ron Paul would fix the economy.

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/11157398/1/how-ron-paul-would-fix-the-economy.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEN

    Also, why is being an isolationist, as in not interfering in other peoples business and getting involved in their affairs, such a bad thing?

  4. Linda C. says:

    Agree ReaganTMan. I’m a big Palin fan and agree that no one stood up. But, if no one likes these current candidates (and who can) — I have two words: Allen West. Get on board on the draft Allen West campaign. We need him – someone with his patriotism, integrity and knowledge of the issues both foreign and domestic – now.

  5. bobupton says:

    The left is very skilled at the art of political warfare. They know how to divide and conquer (think Perot). They know how to use libel and slander for fun and profit (think Palin and Bush). They know how to rewrite history (think civil rights, Reagan’s record, Clinton’s record). They know how to ignore their own faults (think Teddy, Clinton, Murtha, Waters, Rangel, et al).

    The conservatives’ greatest strength is our greatest weakness, namely, principles. We individually look for a candidate who mirrors our individual principles and reject candidates who fail the reflection test. We tend to be independent in our ways, and our thinking, and have difficulty with the “big tent” idea.

    The left has no such struggle because the liberal collective principles are their guide rather than individual principles. Being an ideologue is more important to them than being an individual. They can completely overlook a candidates faults, history, qualifications, competency and disregard the nation’s well-being in exchange for victory in the voting booth. It’s all quite Faustian when you think about it.

    We cannot abandon our principles so we must educate those who are principled but are voting a party which has traded in their principles long ago. We must prevent our party(ties) from trading their souls as well.

    We mustn’t overlook or discount people who have run a gauntlet like the one Sarah Palin has and come through untarnished. She may not be our answer, but someone whose character can withstand such scrutiny and attack is our answer. She’s no Wiener.

  6. Dr. Loren Bryant says:

    I wonder why everyone seems to overlook Michelle Bachmann. She seems to step up where others have fallen down. I think a Bachmann/Rubio ticket would be the dems greatest nightmare.

  7. bobupton says:

    @Dr. Loren 7:17

    Marco Rubio is, unfortunately, Constitutionally ineligible for the offices of Vice-President or President. He is a 14th Amendment citizen by birth but he is not a natural born citizen as required for the office of President and Vice-President. His parents were both still citizens of Cuba at the time of his birth.

    Those that believe that “14th Amendment citizenship” equals “natural born citizenship” apparently would believe that Osama Bin Laden’s pregnant 5th wife can come to our country, give birth, take the child to Yemen or Iran for his education, return him to the US for fourteen years and have that child eligible to be elected to the office of President of The United States. I think not!

    Of course, considering the current disregard of this Constitutional requirement, anything is possible.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Linda C.,

    I was really liking Allen West, when in one youtube video someone asked him if he had one question to ask Obama, what would that question be? He replied “Mr. President, what passport did you visit Pakistan on”….. I went, yes…… now I see a report that he says LTC Lakin was ‘led astray’ as to inquire about Barry Soetoro’s eligibility…… sounds bipolar to me.

    I’m back to really digging the women candidates.

  9. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Bob,

    The issue of birthright citizenship is still up in the air, unfortunately. Your interpretation of “natural born” is just that — an interpretation. Whether or not I agree with you, I think it’s not quite fair to come down authoritatively in saying that Rubio is ineligible.

    Jeff

  10. bobupton says:

    Jeff,

    Point taken regarding the fairness of the application of my interpretation of natural born citizenship.

    Since the writers of the Constitution thought it important to specify that “citizens” of a certain age and tenure be eligible for office as Senators or Representatives but the office of President be held only by a “natural born citizen” there obviously exists classes of citizenship. The 14th Amendment was indisputably written to confer to all native born former slaves freed by the 13th Amendment the title and rights of a “citizen”. Individuals subsequently born on American soil are “citizens” as are those that are “naturalized”. Illegal immigrant births are another topic.

    “Natural born citizen” obviously means something more than “citizen”. Natural born citizenship is a Constitutional requirement to the office of President and Vice-President.

    My opinion is just my opinion, but is it not high time that an official interpretation be made. Since this has not been adjudicated we are currently operating under someone’s opinion. That is not acceptable if we are to remain a free republic and a nation governed by Constitutional law.

    Bob

  11. Jeff:

    The problem with the 2012 GOP presidential candidates isn’t that your party has lots of mediocre candidates; it’s that the GOP has become a party of kool-aid drinkers.

    There is substantial(though arguably debatable)evidence that global warming is happening and being caused by humans pumping huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Whether to accept these conclusions and take steps to reduce carbon emissions should be a debatable proposition within a “conservative” party (after all, shouldn’t conservatives err on the side of caution?). However to even suggest we do something about reducing carbon emissions is apostasy within the GOP. I would argue that a carbon tax is a conservative position, especially if offset by tax cuts elsewhere.

    No one argues that our current system of paying for health care is rational, cost effective, or sustainable. Further, since the consensus is that we will not let folks go without necessary life-saving health care due to lack of funds, the issue of “free riders” on the health care system requires some resolution. An individual mandate is one method of solving the “free rider” problem. Unless the GOP is interested in having a debate on whether we should let sick folks die from a lack of health care, it needs to have a debate on how to handle this “free rider” problem. However, no one in the GOP can have a serious debate on this issue (“market based solutions” does not solve a free rider problem unless we are willing to let these folks die) without being attacked for apostasy.

    The GOP has plenty of good presidential candidates. It is your party’s rank-and-file and its requirement of fidelity to untenable positions that makes these candidates appear mendacious, uninspiring, or merely stupid.

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