The Republican Presidential Candidates
Am I the only one who is increasingly tired of these endless republican primary debates? I am convinced I cannot be the only one—the reasons seem fairly obvious to a great many. It just seems like every few days there is another debate on TV pitting these 8 or 9 presidential contenders in some unfortunate American auditorium, and the same boring and predictable talking points are rehashed ad nauseam. Why do they continue to bring us these televised borefests? Your guess is as good as mine, but I am dangerously close to tuning them all out.
The problem, as I have come to discover it, is that despite the shrill calls for Obama’s removal from power, coming from conservative quarters, the GOP has simply not found the perfect (or reasonably close to perfect) candidate that would energize their base and pose a great challenge to Obama. The candidate that would embody all the lofty ideals of the Republican Party (including the Tea Party of course) has just not materialized, even if we agree that the series of economically depressing news have so conspired to make the current incumbent look far weaker than he ordinarily should.
But why is it proving very difficult to find a candidate that would handily command the zeal and hope of the right wing? Why has Obama continued to enjoy a much higher nation-wide poll rating than any of the current contenders even in the midst of sobering economic news? Why is there still a significant degree of hesitation to join the ranks of those who are now thoroughly disillusioned by Obama? – Or by his spectacular incapacity to make good on all the promises and hopes that catapulted him to the White House?
The fact is that despite what we have seen in recent times on the economic front, there is a palpable dissatisfaction with the seeming inability of these GOP campaigns to enunciate a plan that is significantly better than what is currently obtainable under Obama. Obama may not be the ideal president, and he may have gotten a few things wrong with his policies, but the people seeking to replace him have not credibly laid out serious plans that would get the country out of the economic backwoods. It is not enough for these candidates to shout campaign trail slogans and afterwards direct interested persons to some obscure website where the full details of their plan might have been spelled out.
It is in this regard that I must commend Herman Cain for at least attempting to present something for people to mull over (albeit that upon close examination, his plan falls to pieces). Perhaps, rather than bring us the same boring debates where all we hear is “Obama is bad, Obama is worse than bad. Elect me and I’ll fix everything. You just trust me because I sincerely believe in Reagan and his policies”, these candidates should start speaking more robustly about the ways they really hope to be better than Obama at fixing this ailing economy. The time for the talking points are now gone. In case they haven’t noticed, anyone that has listened to a few of these boring presidential debates will unfailing point out that at this stage they all sound hopelessly the same.
But if the problem of the Republicans was merely the lack of a coherent central message, or the inability to present a credible alternative, I daresay that would have perhaps been more forgivable. Sadly, with each passing day, the current cast of contenders (by their own unique actions or inactions) continues to mesmerize the traumatized public with their unique self-combustion. From questions about Newt Gingrich’s injudicious and perhaps unscrupulous spending of campaign funds to Michele Bachmann’s ill-advised anti-vaccine rants and her unique campaign staffing troubles, the people are treated to severely embarrassing and unflattering gaffes that ought to give anyone pause.
What shall we say then of all these women that are now boldly accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment? What shall we say of his bumbling, unpersuasive, gaffe-ridden attempts at damage control? Little more need be said about his utter inability or unpreparedness to give some coherent answer on a foreign policy question concerning Libya. Or should one assume that he was so preoccupied with stopping the sexual allegation steam roller that he had devoted all his energies into presenting answers that were as plausible as they are non-contradictory—to the point that he forgot to prepare himself for questions of a different sort? Or what indeed can anyone say of Rick Perry’s unfortunate but complete memory meltdown in a debate? In fact, the more you looked at the speeches and debate performances of the Texas governor in recent times, the more you wondered why anyone thought he was capable of independently expressing a thoughtful answer to any pressing national questions. You got the impression, if I am not mistaken, that all he was good at is reciting the lines he had been coached by his staffers, hoping that he still had a bit of southern charm and charisma to command your vote.
These unfortunate campaign fiascos detract from the overall appeal of the GOP candidates. At once, it presents a tale of disorganization and indiscipline; it makes people hesitate and ponder on the wisdom of trading Obama for people who have so-far proven themselves incapable of managing a campaign. As a sidebar, you have to wonder loudly why Ron Paul continues to labor under the illusion that he’d ever be nominated the Party’s flag-bearer despite his glaring libertarian preachments. He may ideologically be more conservative than liberal, but his position on a number of issues are undoubtedly frightening to the GOP faithful. You have to imagine that the only way Ron Paul gets the nod is if the current cast of GOP contenders woke up tomorrow and all evolved positions and talking points that lie ideologically left of his position—a remote possibility indeed. Also, it doesn’t take much to see that Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum simply do not have the name recognition, gravitas or the campaign size and funds to effectively compete and as such can only hope to be selected for the VP spot.
In the end, it may be that the only candidate that realistically stands the chance of being nominated, barring any future spontaneous act of self-destruction, is Mitt Romney. Yes, he may have that healthcare issue to explain over and over; yes he may be a Mormon (i.e. not an evangelical Christian); yes he may sound somewhat unconvincing when touting his conservative credentials (precisely because he doesn’t come across as Tea Party material); – but his discipline and consistency may be his greatest asset. In the end, it just may be that despite the fact that Romney doesn’t overwhelmingly excite the Republican field, he is the only one with the consistency, discipline, debating skills, foreign policy mastery, and the sufficient chops on the economy to mount a convincing challenge to Obama—thus necessitating that the GOP faithful hold their noses as it were to nominate him. This is of course based on the presumption that the GOP hopes to beat Obama next year by any means necessary. However, the 2012 November presidential election is still a long way from now; indeed anything can happen before then to alter the present configurations. In any case, we are sure that Sarah Palin and Donald Trump are never going to be part of any future reconfigurations.