Parsing the GOP candidates

It is what it is. We have an amalgam of personalities that are all desperately trying to posture themselves as the “conservative” GOP candidate. Why do they all seem to fall short?

I’ll get to my impressions of the candidates shortly. I’ve ordered the list based on current polling and NOT based on my opinion of their candidacies. This is the order that RealClearPolitics ranked the GOP candidates as of November 29, 2011:

1. Newt Gingrich – 23.8
2. Mitt Romney – 21.3
3. Herman Cain – 15.5
4. Rick Perry – 8.0
5. Ron Paul – 8.0
6. Michelle Bachmann – 4.8
7. Rick Santorum – 2.3
8. Ron Huntsman – 2.3

This is not intended to be an attack on any candidate, it is only my impressions of their potential as the chief executive of the United States of America.

1. Newt Gingrich – I like Newt. He impressed me when he crafted the “Contract with America” and was able to regain the House of Representatives for the GOP. I was very disappointed at his ridiculous attempt to make Bill Clinton “blink” over the budget shutdown. Clinton played him for a fool and the liberal media followed the Clinton line until a GOP capitulation. Gee, who would have that would happen?

Newt’s blind obsession with his policy acumen turned into a laughable exercise in plain-speak. Newt lost and Clinton won. I worry about his tendency to “get in the weeds” on policy during an election. That tendency will lose people that don’t follow politics but once every 4 years. Spare the electorate your policy details, they only want to hear sweeping, consistent statements. Save the policy details for your website.

More than anything, those “sweeping, consistent statements” should uplift the electorate and give them a glimpse into the principles that you stand for, not a recitation of section B.2.a.ii. of your budget plan.

2. Mitt Romney – I must say that I liked Mitt back in 2008. I have to add, however, that I was looking at ANYONE besides John McCain and Mike Huckabee. When Huckabee knee-capped Mitt and tossed his delegates to McCain, I was bewildered. I only came around to McCain when he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Unfortunately, the more I learn, the more I worry. How can you claim the mantle of a conservative when you can’t articulate a consistent belief from one minute to the next? I have real concerns about Mitt and worry about what path he’d take if elected. I want to support a principled individual that is able to articulate those principles in a concise, consistent manner.

3. Herman Cain – Businessman, self-made success, articulate in speaking to conservative ideals, yet an amateur in national politics. Governing is not the same as managing and the skill-set is different. You still need an ego, but your ego has to take a back seat to your sense of importance. You’re trying to convince people that you’re serving their interests, not convince them that your ego will prevail. We’ve all seen how far a big ego can get you in Washington, D.C. After all, you aren’t talking to a board-room full of people that were hired to support and oversee you. You’re talking to a host of Congressmen and Senators that want to take you and your agenda out! You’d better be able to articulate a position that your constituents demand and support. Your constituents are now your Board of Directors. Do them proud and bone up on the details. Your ego won’t overcome your lack of preparation.

4. Rick Perry – Governor of a conservative state, blessed with economic conditions that other states do not have and able to maintain a certain status quo. Perry’s situation in Texas reminds me an awful lot of Bill Clinton’s tenure in Washington. After Clinton had his hat handed to him due to Hillarycare, he chose to stand back. Since he had inherited the best economic conditions of any President in the history of our nation and to his credit, he did very little during rest of his term to derail those economic conditions. He just couldn’t stay out of his own socialist leanings, however, and accelerated the disaster that the Community Reinvestment Act would reek on our economy after he left.

Rick Perry’s in-state tuition grants for immigrants is his Hillarycare. The difference is that he’s not currently in the Oval Office, so he doesn’t have the ability to pivot from a bad policy to get a second chance. The American electorate is very forgiving if you keep the economy humming along. If Bill Clinton had to answer to Hillarycare during the election of 1992, he never would have been elected.

5. Ron Paul – A fringe candidate who appeals to a vocal swath of the electorate with his libertarian views. Unfortunately for Ron Paul, libertarians cannot win an election in a country where the majority of the electorate considers themselves to be conservative. In addition, conservatives view the United States as a force of good in the world. Paul’s tendencies toward isolationist policies don’t sit well with those that champion our armed forces for their sacrifice. We are not a country of wimps and we will not support a candidate that acts like a wimp.

6. Michelle Bachmann – A conservative firebrand that is saddled by her limited tenure in national politics. A sitting Representative from Congress has only won the Presidency once in our entire history and that was over 100 years ago. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

7-?? Still trying to gain traction. Good luck!

All in all, I’m about as unimpressed this year as I was in 2008.

The conservative base in the Republican Party is currently grasping at straws. They’ll hold their nose and vote, but I’m not sure they will do so in sufficient numbers to keep Obama from getting re-elected. In addition, I worry about short coat-tails. The GOP should be able to hold the House and capture the Senate, but they’ll need a good candidate at the top of the ticket to do it.

With all this uncertainty, you can be assured that we’ll see a 3rd-party candidate enter the race. Why not? They can’t do any worse than any other 3rd-party candidate in the past and if they have a good message, who know what might happen.

The only course for the current GOP field is to become a vocal advocate of reform, both sudden and relentless. There are legions of people that supported Sarah Palin’s message and continue to do so. In my mind, the front-runner of the GOP candidates better get their head out of their ass and recognize that her supporters are not going to support them just because they lead the pack. In addition, I fervently believe that they will need her support to win.

As Sarah Palin said herself, “The challenge is not simply to replace Obama in 2012, the real challenge is who and what we will replace him with.”