Ticket punching

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 44 views 

Riff Raff, by Michael Tilley
[email protected]

The gaggle of Republicans hoping to get their chance to redecorate the Oval Office in early 2013 participated Thursday in what these days passes for a debate.

Not willing to limit themselves to attacking the easy target that is President Obama, the GOP candidates attacked each other and, probably in a hope to gain some real points with voters, attacked a couple of the media panelists.

There was briefly a temptation to predict that the GOP slate of candidates — including johnny-come-lately-pretty-boy Rick Perry — doesn’t have a chance. But the GOP nominee will face a President who has proven so feckless on domestic and foreign affairs that his indirect killing of Bin Laden is not likely to keep him from being a one-termer.

Also, it is unlikely the economy will get a head of steam between now and November 2012. Even more unlikely is any scenario in which Congress behaves in an altruistic and responsible manner that restores fiscal sanity to the nation’s finances. Therefore, folks on Wall Street and Main Street will remain nervous, because they realize that each time Congress shoots itself in the foot, the bullet often ricochets off the marble halls of government and kills another percentage point or two of GDP.

To be sure, there is political blood in the water.

As an aside, President Obama could use a ticket upgrade. He should drop Biden and choose for vice president a Democratic politician with damn-near unassailable credentials, and is a Washington outsider who is about as conservative as a politician can be without being a Republican. But it’s doubtful our Governor would agree to an Obama-Beebe ticket.

But with respect to overall political skills, ability to make a compelling case and coming across as a person who wouldn’t pick a Joe Biden or a Dan Quayle for vice president, there were no Ronald Reagans or Bill Clintons in the GOP debate group.

Let’s briefly review each GOP candidate.

John Huntsman
He was once the governor of Puerto Rico or Utah or Boys State. Who knows. Who cares. Huntsman, who once served in the Obama Administration as ambassador to China, is betting on an Obama defeat and is in the race so as to reaffirm his GOP credentials in the hopes of obtaining a plush cabinet post.

He’s easily the smartest and most accomplished — in terms of broad government and policy work — candidate in the race. If elected, he could be a great president. But this is the modern political era of tweets and soundbites and pretty posters and have you SEEEEN Gingrich? He’s just barely more attractive than a website journalist. And after about 45 seconds of him explaining what’s wrong with pages 153 to 179 of the federal tax code, the typical voter is already 40 seconds into doing something else.

Michele Bachmann
When Hollywood does a remake of “Fatal Attraction,” she should be cast as the crazy mistress. Rabbit stew, anyone? OK, that’s not much for serious political insight, but, I mean, ummm, well, uhhh, really!? Are we supposed to give her serious consideration? Really? In terms of political experience, Bachmann is the Barack Obama of the GOP. And, yes, she won the Iowa (Ames) straw poll. Big deal. Ronald Reagan did not win the straw poll in his 1980 bid for the White House. And Bill Clinton got trounced in the Iowa caucus in 1992.

Rick Santorum
He’ll look the other way while bad apples in corporate America screw whatever they can, but he’ll want to have a say over who you screw in your bedroom. And he might even solicit Bachmann’s husband to pray away our collective gay. We shouldn’t let this theocratic wannabe anywhere near the White House.

Tim Pawlenty
Apparently, he’s allergic to the Iowa strain of straw.

Herman Cain
Cain is a legitimate leader. He took a near bankrupt pizza company and a little more than a year later had it back in the black. He’s a name taker and an ass kicker and make-it-happen kind of guy. Which means he doesn’t stand a chance. But I like him, and would recommend he change his campaign slogan to “Cain is Able.” He’s a little vague about how he would turn the national economy around in 90 days, but, hey, you find me a political candidate who isn’t vague with their proposed economic policy and I’ll come to your house and burn your supper.

Ron Paul
This country could use a good dose of libertarianism. Paul would be an overdose. Of the lethal variety.

Mitt Romney
He has extensive business and political experience. He has helped turnaround several companies. He saved the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Romney, who found his political legs in Michigan and Massachusetts, is more of a Rockefeller Republican – which makes him a target for extremists in the Tea Party. He’s a mix, in my view, of Rockefeller and Reagan Republicanism, although some may argue that’s mixing oil and water. To be the nominee, he must survive being a frontrunner and the real and/or perceived horrors of his Massachusetts health care plan.

Rick Perry
Governor Perry missed his calling to be a TV evangelist. We need someone to lead a country, not a pentecostal revival. As he gins up his campaign and badgers Obama about the national deficit, please know that Perry’s administration grew Texas’ debt from about $14 billion to more than $34 billion. For those keeping score at home, that’s a larger percentage increase than the federal debt during the same period. Frankly, one former Texas governor presiding over a debt increase is enough. Politically, this former Democrat is all hat and no cattle.

Based on the political environment as of Aug. 14, a Romney-Cain ticket may be the best play for the GOP in November 2012. Such a ticket is not likely because Romney and Cain are too practical, too pragmatic. Their success in the private sector is likely no match for the relatively inexperienced candidates who pander to hardcore conservative Republicans/Tea Partiers and their Jihadist passions on social issues.

Conventional political wisdom is that Obama is not likely to win re-election. Based on what I’ve seen so far in the GOP race, it’s not a stretch to believe that the uber-conservative GOP/Tea Party folks may yet hand Obama a ticket he can defeat.