Reassessing the GOP
by Stewart Pollock on Friday, December 9th, 2011
It would seem the proverbial pendulum has swung back around for the Republicans. When I last wrote, it looked like the race had been whittled down to two candidates: Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Several gaffes, attack ads, and one pizza magnate later, the race once again appears to be anyone’s game.
Tragically, Mr. Perry, shortly after being declared the next big thing, promptly proved true the old adage: “it is better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Especially painful gaffes, like his inability to remember which federal agency he planned on cutting during a recent debate, have done a tremendous amount to diminish his standing in the eyes of voters. Although he still possesses a well-funded operation, he has since spiraled downwards in the polls, leaving an opening for another not-Romney candidate to fill.
The first such candidate was Herman Cain. There is little I can say about this man which hasn’t been said already. Every aspect of his campaign, from the bizarre television ads, to the allegations of sexual harassment, to his apparent pride in his utter lack of experience when dealing with foreign policy has already been covered and mocked ad Nauseam.
Cain has recently announced that he is “reviewing” his bid for the presidency, which is usually code for “so long, suckers.” Given that this “review” follows more allegations of sexual misconduct, this time involving an extramarital affair, it seems that Herman will soon be taking a walk down Ross Perot Boulevard into the realm of the also-rans.
Speaking of extramarital affairs, the GOP has once again found their new golden boy: Newt Gingrich. I will admit that I really didn’t see this coming. (I had already written off Gingrich, Santorum, and Huntsman from the race). Newt’s closet may be brimming with skeletons, but that hasn’t stopped him from shooting up in the polls to fill the void left by Herman Cain. His solid performances at debates, coupled with his widespread name-recognition, have allowed him to surpass even Romney.
Newt recently received another boost following his endorsement by the New Hampshire Union Leader, an important conservative newspaper within the Granite State. Romney likely hoped to use the New Hampshire primary to shake off opponents such as Bachmann and Perry, but instead it appears as if Gingrich, or maybe even Huntsman, will give him a serious run for his money.
I do not know where all of this is leading: media attention does not always translate into votes, and Romney still seems like the most likely candidate. The meteoric rise and fall of candidates such as Perry and Cain speaks not as much to Romney’s faults, but instead to the unrealistic expectations of the Republican base. They have not yet realized that a candidate’s conservative credentials do not always give them an edge up in the general election. Yes, Romney is (or at least was) a moderate, and yes, he flip-flops more than a fish on a trampoline, but he has something most of the other candidates lack: he can stand up to the President and win over moderates and independents come next November.
To put things bluntly: Bachmann and Perry are dumb, Paul is (or at least many of his ideas are) borderline crazy, Cain is incompetent, Huntsman is too moderate, Santorum is too conservative, and Gingrich is a washed-up adulterer whose greatest success happened in 1994. These people are not presidential material.
Romney is not just the most electable candidate; he is the only electable one. If Republican primary voters don’t recognize this and accept the inevitable, then they will have no one to blame but themselves when Barack Obama gets re-elected.
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