Friday, February 11, 2011

Grading the Contendahs: 2012 GOP Pres Candidates

Now that the 2010 midterms are passed, we're now into an interesting part of the election cycle where the various contenders come out and show themselves. In 2007, I was blogging on MySpace about the 2008 elections, so its about time I kick things in gear. Anyway, here are my thoughts:

Dead on Arrival

Newt Gingrich: Sorry Newt fans (all three of you), the former Speaker and leader of the conservative takeover of the House in 1994 may run for President, but he isn't going anywhere.  Yes, he's smart, and a ruthless politician, but like all ruthless politicians, he has A LOT of baggage.  There's the dumping of his first wife when she was in cancer surgery.  Then, the financial scandal that drove him from the House, and then dumping his second wife, and so on.  Anyway, I get the feeling that conservatives have more or less moved on.

Rudy Giuliani: Again, totally DOA and the world has moved on without him.  Plus, Biden's remark about, "a noun, a verb and 9-11," pretty much ended his schtick.  Also, he's too liberal for the GOP base.

Tim Pawlenty: For a guy who's been talked about as a Presidential contender for the past three-four years, Pawlenty has yet to make an impression on me.  No, wait, there's his blatant pandering to the right wing.  Not Romney blatant, but still. . .speaking of which

Mitt Romney: There was a time when Romney scared the hell out of me.  He was so. . .smooth.  Telegenic, a pretty good to great speaker (seriously, his voice is almost Reaganesque), Romney has all the tools.  But. . .there's no there there.  Seriously, the guy flip-flops on every issue to the point of erasing sections of his book to comply with modern conservative ideology.  He's also very, very weird - to the point of the more you get to know him and his family, the more you want to run the hell away.

Rick Santorum: Telegenic, conservative as all get out. . .but he got his ass kicked in his last race, and has a huge, huge Google problem.  Plus, he's just not that compelling.

Donald Trump: He flirts with running for President every four years, but never has jumped in.  He might now, but if he was too liberal for the base in 2008, he's WAY too liberal for the base in 2012.

Mostly Dead, But Influential

Mike Huckabee: The old Huckster is back with his folksy racism charm and whatnot.  Huckabee, unfortunately, could have been the most dangerous Republican in the field in 2012. Imagine a candidate running to Obama's left on economic issues (jobs), but running to his right on social issues.  Of all the GOPers, Huck is the guy to do it. . .if he hadn't spent the past three years moving to the right on economic issues.  Still, he'll keep pushing the group to the right on social issues.

Ron Paul: Like Huckabee, Paul is not going to win the nomination, but his candidacy will keep the rest of the group on their toes when it comes to economic issues.  He has a solid base, and that's enough to stay in the running.

Mike Pence: Another economics guy.  I don't see him holding much promise and its virtually impossible to get elected from the House to the White House.  Not happening, but he will push economic issues.

Interesting in Theory

Mitch Daniels: No idea who he is, but if Indiana is in any decent shape in 2012, he's a contender.  
John Thune: Again, I don't really know who he is, but the establishment likes him, and that says a lot.

John Huntsman: Sort of a rich man's Mitt Romney.  A conservative technocrat, willing to serve his country even under a Democratic President, Huntsman looks good on paper.  But will the base like him?  No idea.

Jeb Bush: Jeb might run, but he's the brother of one of the most unpopular Presidents in recent memory, a guy who can't travel overseas for fear of being arrested on crimes against humanity.  I kinda wonder if Jeb looks back at the 2000 elections with some degree of regret.  Let's say for the sake of argument, that Jeb ratfucked his brother, ordered all the votes be counted, and that lead to Gore's victory.  That sets Gore up for 2000 and maybe 2004, and Jeb can run for President free and clear of Dubya's screw-ups.  Moreover, he would be the guy who screwed his brother for the good of the country.  And in many respects, Jeb is the guy the GOP should have at the top of the ticket.  He would move the Republican Party away from its xenophobia and move it towards a party based on social and economic issues, make huge inroads with minorities, etc. Instead, he's probably not going to run for President. . .phew.


Michele Bachmann: There are two levels of crazy when it comes to people in the public eye - "Charlie Sheen" crazy, where the person in question does something incredibly odd, or has a breakdown caused by drugs; and, "Ron Artest" crazy, where the person in question is legitimately mentally ill.  It took Ron Artest jumping into the stands in Detroit for everyone to understand that he needed help (which he got, thank God), but that leads me to this point: Michelle Bachmann is Ron Artest crazy.  I'm not even joking about this.  There is a delusion in her eyes that is absolutely terrifying.  

And here's the problem with the GOP of today - Bachmann's got a legitimate shot at the nomination because so many Republicans are equally delusional.  A majority of Republican voters believes that Obama is a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya, that global warming is a hoax, and that evolution has never happened.  That's why Glenn Beck makes so much money hocking gold - there's a whole lot of delusion on the GOP side.  Yikes.

Sarah Palin: Unlike Bachmann, Palin has the advantage of not being crazy.  Palin strikes me as an opportunist.  She has come into the fold because there's a vacuum at the top and she's more than willing to fill the leadership gap.  At this point, I don't think she'll win the nomination, but she will deeply influence the primary.

Final Thoughts

I have, no doubt, missed a few names, but by and large, I think I've gotten the big names out there.  Right now, there really is no front runner.  What's interesting to me is that for the first time, the GOP is starting to look a bit more like the Democratic Party, where the base is starting to push the old guard aside.   That's going to make for a rollicking primary. 

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