Word out today says Mitch Daniels doesn’t plan to run for President in 2012. With Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour deciding not to make a go of it, that leaves only Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman in the “suit” category of believeable Republican candidates for the 2012 election.
So far, the only declared candidates have been PeeWee Herman’s twin brother (Tim Pawlenty), a businessman who is living proof that bigoted assholes come in all races, religions, colours and creeds (Herman Cain), and the (a)moralist Newt Gingrich. The other possibilities are strictly your lunatic variety – that eminent historian, Michele Bachmann, and that syntactical grammatician and all-round mean girl, Sarah Palin.
Oddly enough, the Republican party seems eerily calm at so weak a display of candidates. The winner of the nomination will be whoever can accumulate the number of delegates and super delegates, primary by primary, beginning next January. All well and good to talk about who should be the nominee. In 2008, the nominee should have been Rudy Giuliani, but in the end, it was John McCain.
Those in the know say Huckabee was the potential candidate the White House feared the most. He was Southern (always good for the rural South and the Midwest), articulate, from a pretty humble background, attractive to the Evangelicals, and on the face of it, a pretty nice and presentable fellow (apart from thinking we all should be forced at gunpoint to listen to the skewed historical teachings of David Barton). Now, on the face of recent incidents, maybe those in the know might be contemplating Romney or Huntsman, but I’m not so sure.
Romney is associated with the prototype of healthcare reform which the Right love to call Obamacare, which is based on Romney’s plan effected in Massachusetts during his tenure as governor. Huntsman served the Obama administration as Ambassador to China. Such cognitives don’t bode well for the GOP nominee. Then, both men are Mormons, a religion at which the important base areas of the South and Midwest are most likely to cast a wary eye. Too many people still have trouble accepting Mormonism as a Christian denomination instead of a cult.
Take away the Romney-Huntsman factor and the morally conflicted dog whistler known as Newt, and that leaves PeeWee Pawlenty. Or Palin. Or Bachmann. Or Cain.
I recently came across someone who speaking about the dearth of strong candidates for the Republicans, who put forth the idea that maybe, just maybe, the GOP is giving the White House a bye for 2012. Instead, their tactic would be to retain hold of the House and win the Senate.
Actually, that tactic makes sense, and it’s just the sort of sneaky manoeuvre someone like Frank Luntz would promote.
The GOP have a big enough majority in the House that they can expect to lose some seats, but retain a lesser majority. The big prize is the Senate. With so many Democratic Senators retiring this year from states that lean red at worst and show purple at best, means they’re in with a shout at taking a majority. Even some of the Democratic Senators running for re-election are facing a climb up a steep hill – I’m thinking of Sherrod Brown. Virginia is definitely going to be a major battleground, just as it was in 2006; make no mistake: the Senate battle there is really a battle for the political soul of the Commonwealth.
If the GOP capture the Senate and retain control of the House, they can afford to lose the White House. Such a stranglehold would render the President virtually a political prisoner in that he would become a minority party President. There would be no way a controlling party of “No” would agree to write or enact any sort of proposed legislation without major concessions on the Democrats’ part as the party now in Opposition, but retaining the White House. If Congress wrote and passed anything repealing any of the laws enacted during the President’s first term, the veto pen would come into play – but if big enough majorities exist in Congress, vetoes can be overridden.
We would, effectively, have a government of stalemate and gridlock for the next four years. With people’s short-term memories, it wouldn’t take long for the buck of blame for any and all inaction to stop on the President’s desk. Four years down the line, and we have the likes of Daniels, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Crown Prince Jeb Bush, ready to take up the mantle. Serious, believeable and dangerous candidates. No dingbats. No batshits. No looneytunes.
This time, the battleground is in the Congressional districts and in the 23 states whose Senators are up for re-election. The GOP know that the President can beat any of their candidates with one hand behind his back. How can you hope to beat the man who shot the Liberty Valance of the Middle East? I suppose there is hope, the more the Teabaggers’ spiritual brethren of the Left, the Firebaggers, carry on stirring up rifts and divisions amongst the Democratic Left and whoever is claiming to be its base on whatever given day and hour, longing for the primarier to step forth and put a nail in the Democratic coffin; but really a GOP victory in claiming the White House would be a bonus.
That would simply mean that cultural Armageddon would begin four years earlier, as opposed to a gridlock delay; still, in the words of Meatloaf, for them, two out of three won’t be bad.