Herman Cain seems to have more or less survived his sexual harassment accusations, and Rick Perry failed to disgrace himself (thus doing much better) in last night’s debate at South Carolina’s Wofford College, but the evidence is clear that neither of these two likeable guys has the substantive knowledge or the communication abilities needed to be elected.
Michael Brendan Doughtery, just a couple of days ago, drew up a little list of Newt Gingrich’s sins, and asked How is Gingrich an improvement on Mitt Romney?
But if one accepts the viewpoint that the process is meaningful, the long series of Republican debates have seriously raised Gingrich’s status and claim to represent the viable conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. Other candidates who inspired hope have delivered disappointing performances. Mitt Romney has been polished and smooth. But only Newt Gingrich has demonstrated a superior ability to discuss issues and policies with a penetrating and original intelligence and with wit and humor. Gingrich is frequently a pleasure to listen to.
Hayward makes the point which has occurred to me as well, that Gingrich is significantly redeeming himself precisely by the old-fashioned and unconventional way that he has chosen to seek the nomination and the presidency.
Newt is doing something interesting and maybe profound: he is trying to run for president according to an older model that stresses substance over sound bytes and gimmicky, targeted campaign strategy. … It is a bid to see whether presidential politics can still be conducted along the line of the old republic that would be more familiar to the Founders, to the style of public argument more akin to what Hamilton had in mind in talking about â€œrefining and enlarging the public viewâ€ through â€œreflection and choiceâ€ in Federalist #1.
It seems increasingly evident that we are going to have to oppose Barack Obama with a lesser figure than Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater. We simply do not have a peerless champion of Conservatism that we can nominate. But, God knows, even a mediocre, unprincipled Republican, some would argue even a syphilitic camel would represent an enormous improvement over Barack Obama.
If push came to shove, we would have to support Mitt Romney over Obama. It seems impossible to avoid concluding that the best hope of a more seriously conservative nominee is going to be Newt Gingrich. (There. It hurts, but I said it.)
Paul Rahe is getting nervous about the 2012 election contest. He doesn’t think that the most prominent Republican contenders have sufficiently focused their campaigns on moving beyond the Progressive Welfare State era of Big Government, and he’s alarmed that dithering by genuinely conservative potential nominees may wind up crowning the media’s first choice and every conservative Republican’s last choice (excluding Huntsman) by default.
Is it not odd that, in a time when the country is increasingly open to the suggestion that the administrative entitlements state is on its last legs and that the moment has come for rolling back its encroachment on the prerogatives of the states and the rights of individuals, there is not one seasoned Republican officeholder capable of articulating the argument for limited government who is willing to step forward, shoulder the burden, seize the opportunity, and take the bull by the horns. What has this country become? Greatness beckons, and no one genuinely qualified rises to the occasion!
Paul Ryan! Mitch Daniels! Your phones are still ringing. If you do not answer, I am virtually certain that we will be left with the last man standing â€“ and given the intensity of Republican dissatisfaction with that option, I would not be surprised were he to lose in November, 2012.
Is there anyone apart, from his co-religionists, thrilled at the prospect that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee? When members of Ricochet say that they would vote for a syphilitic camel over Barack Obama, do they not have Romney in mind? Come November, 2012, how many of our fellow Americans will be willing to swallow a syphilitic camel in a good cause?
I, for one, will be willing â€“ but I shudder to contemplate the consequences.
I think Mr. Rahe is getting a bit carried away. It is early days yet. But I agree with his preference for a decisive clearly defined campaign identifying “the end of the New Deal and the post-WWII Welfare State once and for all in the interest of Growth and Prosperity” as its theme.
Romney gave a good speech on foreign policy. Maybe Rick Perry can offer him the same deal Hillary received.
Bill Kristol is perfectly right. Conservatives need to field serious candidates capable of debating the fundamental choices for this country’s future direction. 2012 is a potential watershed election in which the voters will be looking for a real alternative to deficits, inflation, and submission to national decline.
The current Republican field does not present many principled conservatives, and Sarah Palin has not, so far, demonstrated that she has the ability to debate Barack Obama and win.
There are no safe choices. And the 2008 election proves that the politics-as-usual conventional next-in-line approach to presidential nominations can be a certain recipe for failure.
Young, vigorous, and dynamic candidates have terrific voter appeal. Both Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio represent the best leadership of the Republican Party, and we should field that leadership in this time of national crisis.
———————————– James Pethokoukis, at Reuters, is also climbing on board the Ryan for President bandwagon.
Itâ€™s not just Bill Kristol, gang. Thereâ€™s desire at the highest ranks of the Republican Party, according to my reporting and sources, to see House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan seek the 2012 presidential nomination. Hereâ€™s why:
1) Since Democrats are determined to hang Ryanâ€™s bold â€œPath to Prosperityâ€ budget plan around the neck of every Republican running for office in 2012, why not have its author and best salesman advocate for it directly vs. President Obama?
2) Ryan â€” to borrow a favorite Simon Cowell phrase â€” is â€œcurrent.â€ Heâ€™s smack in the middle of budgetary and ideological clash between Democrats and Republicans and would immediately energize conservative and Tea Party activists.
3) Ryan is a strong national defense conservative, as well as pro-life.
4) Ryan is from a battleground state, Wisconsin, and a battleground region, the upper Great Lakes.
5) Ryanâ€™s youth, vigor, likability and Jimmy Stewart persona â€” well, a wonky version of George Bailey â€” would be an immediate shorthand signal to voters that heâ€™s a different kind of Republican. He also has a compelling life story to tell.
6) Obama suddenly and unexpectedly to Washington insiders looks beatable â€” by the right candidate.
Jon Ward, at HuffPo, pitched Kristol’s Ryan-Rubio trial balloon as a failure, but conceded that the idea has real appeal to some conservatives.
An attempt by conservative author Bill Kristol to excite interest in the idea of a presidential run by Republican congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) â€“- with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as his running mate -â€“ fell flat with the conservative political establishment on Monday.
â€œSounds like an idea my good friend Bill Kristol would float, but that is not the nominating process of the Republican Party,â€ said Mel Sembler, a major Republican fundraiser and businessman. â€œPaul Ryan has already stated he is not interested in running and Marco Rubio just got to town as senator.â€
â€œI guess Bill Kristol will just have to stick to prognosticating,â€ Sembler told The Huffington Post. …
Yet a broad cross section of GOP political figures â€“- many of them in off-the-record conversations — echoed Sembler’s opinion, even as they sang Ryanâ€™s praises. Some even admitted that Ryan is one of the few Republican politicians who they think could beat Obama in a debate, pointing to his exchange with Obama at last yearâ€™s health care summit.
In withholding their support, they cited Ryanâ€™s unwillingness to jump into the 2012 presidential race, his lack of executive experience, and a strong belief that the Republican primary should proceed methodically and traditionally, without the kind of disruption that a surprise candidate would bring.
â€œIf people want to run, let them run and subject themselves to the rigor and scrutiny of the process,â€ said Jim Rickards, an economic analyst who works with top GOP politicos in Washington. â€œThis business of anointing unvetted fantasy tickets seems a bit sophomoric.â€
Nonetheless, Kristolâ€™s second try at floating a Ryan-Rubio trial balloon â€“- after first doing so in early January -â€“ is just another indication of how unsettled many conservatives are with the quality, or lack thereof, on the partyâ€™s 2012 roster of potential presidential candidates. …
Despite the pessimism among the political establishment, there are small signs that Kristolâ€™s desire for a compelling alternative to the current field -â€“ and to the other much-discussed dark horse candidate, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey â€“- is catching on, at least among conservative writers.
Jennifer Rubin, at the Washington Post, agreed with Jim Pethokoukis and added that the unattractiveness of the current field of candidates required a solution
With fewer candidates than expected in the race, there is plenty of campaign talent around. (And did anyone notice how professional and effective was the â€˜campaignâ€™ to roll out his budget?) And, I suspect, that should Ryan enter the race heâ€™d have no problem raising the needed cash.
Ryan has said he doesnâ€™t want to run, but sometimes the question of â€œwant to runâ€ is a luxury. There are times when the moment presents itself, the party and the country are receptive, and there is no one else quite as compelling. Think Bill Clinton in 1992. Ryan has some time, though not much, to decide whether he wants to fill the obvious gap in the GOP field. And if party activists, insiders, Tea Partyers and operatives think Ryan is the man, then theyâ€™d better start making their wishes known.
Donald Trump is manifestly not all that bright. Educationally, he makes Sarah Palin look like Erasmus, and he has truly execrable taste: running to the Mafioso Miami school of interior design and that signature combover hairdo. But he has lately been doing great in Republican polls, while amusing a lot of the country by taking potshots at the mystery of Barack Obama’s unwillingness to release his long-form birth certificate.
David Brooks describes why Donald Trump strikes a deep cultural chord.
[T]here has always been a fan base for the abrasive rich man. There has always been a market for books by people like George Steinbrenner, Ross Perot, Bill Oâ€™Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Bobby Knight, Howard Stern and George Soros. There has always been a large clump of voters who believe that America could reverse its decline if only a straight-talking, obnoxious blowhard would take control. …
He is riding something else: The strongest and most subversive ideology in America today. Donald Trump is the living, walking personification of the Gospel of Success.
It is obligatory these days in a polite society to have a complicated attitude toward success. If you attend a prestigious college or professional school, you are supposed to struggle tirelessly for success while denying that you have much interest in it. If you do achieve it, you are expected to shroud your wealth in locally grown produce, understated luxury cars and nubby fabrics.
Trump, on the other hand, is utterly oblivious to such conventions. When it comes to success, as in so many other things, he is the perpetual boy. He is the enthusiastic adventurer thrilled to have acquired a gleaming new bike, and doubly thrilled to be showing it off.
He labors under the belief â€” unacceptable in polite society â€” that two is better than one and that four is better than two. If he can afford a car, a flashy one is better than a boring one. In private jets, lavish is better than dull. In skyscrapers, brass is better than brick, and gold is better than brass.
This boyish enthusiasm for glory has propelled him to enormous accomplishment. He has literally changed the landscape of New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas and many places in between. He has survived a ruinous crash and come back stronger than ever.
Moreover, he shares this unambivalent attitude toward success with millions around the country. Though he cannot possibly need the money, he spends his days proselytizing the Gospel of Success through Trump University, his motivational speeches, his TV shows and relentlessly flowing books.
A child of wealth, he is more at home with the immigrants and the lower-middle-class strivers, who share his straightforward belief in the Gospel of Success, than he is among members of the haute bourgeoisie, who are above it. Like many swashbuckler capitalists, he is essentially anti-elitist.
Now, I donâ€™t mean to say that Donald Trump is going to be president or get close. There is, for example, his hyper-hyperbolism and opportunism standing in the way. …
But I do insist that Trump is no joke. He emerges from deep currents in our culture, and he is tapping into powerful sections of the national fantasy life.
In my own hyper-elitist way, I am every bit as anti-elitist (when our so-called elite is in question) as Donald Trump, and I have been enjoying the spectacle of Trump giving Obama a hard time.
I’d be delighted to have the GOP National Committee agree to give Donald Trump a special bit of air time late on election evening of November in 2012 to point his index finger, and on behalf of America, say “Barack Obama, you’re fired!”
But Donald Trump falls decidedly into Glenn Reynolds’ syphylitic camel category of candidates. We just have to hope hope that The Donald is sufficiently patriotic to get out of the way of a more serious Republican contender and does not decide to play the role of a Perot.
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE is not enthused with the Republican field. Well, based on the past two years Iâ€™d vote for a syphilitic camel if he ran against Obama. But Iâ€™d rather not have to. But remember, itâ€™s early yet â€” at this point in the previous cycle, it looked like it was going to be Hillary vs. Rudy. And Barack Obama was just a nice young man whoâ€™d given a speech at the convention.
GEORGE WILL IS not so hot on Huckabee, Gingrich. I would vote for a syphilitic camel over Barack Obama in 2012, so therefore I would even vote for Huckabee or Gingrich. But I might try to talk the camel into running one more time.
I voted for John McCain, whom I despise slightly more than Huckabee and Gingrich, in 2008 myself, but that syphilitic camel had better take care to choose a good running mate. Without Palin on the ticket, I might very well have written in Donald Duck.
Fortunately for the camel, the ideal Republican VP choice is very obvious: Marco Rubio.