Editorial: Shallow pool of GOP candidates
It’s mid-March, and the Republicans still don’t know who they want for their nominee despite all the “conventional wisdom” which says former governor Mitt Romney has the thing wrapped up.
Of course, the pundits and the national press have been on board the Romney express since before the Iowa Caucuses or a single ballot had been cast. But Republican voters across the country have denied Romney a landslide path to the nomination, making him work for every delegate as the majority of voters bounce their support around all the other candidates.
Earlier this year, it seemed that Texas voters, cheated out of any meaningful say in the 2008 primaries, would also have no opportunity to make a dent in this year’s Republican selection. The whole federal court mess over our state’s redistricting raised the possibility that Texans wouldn’t get to vote until sometime in late June. But with the court challenge settled, May 29 has been set as the date for the Texas primary, and there is a chance that Lone Star Republicans could have a real impact on who will be their party’s nominee.
The choices they will have, however, aren’t very good. The field wasn’t real strong to start with. Then one front-runner after another was chewed up by the national media, and then there was the embarrassing debacle of our own governor’s venture onto the national stage before he finally tucked his tail and came home.
And so Republicans are left with four not-so-glamorous candidates – Romney, former speaker Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul, and former senator Rick Santorum.
Paul would frankly be my choice just because I would love to have a president for once who would do nothing more than follow the letter of the Constitution. Yes, he’s off base on many levels of foreign policy, but he couldn’t screw that up more than Obama already has. But Paul is never going to be the nominee. Even if all the other candidates fell off the face of the earth, the GOP would still nominate someone else. The party simply won’t have someone who is not hawkish on foreign policy.
Gingrich would be my second choice. He’s the smartest man in the race to be sure, and he is the only one who has successfully balanced the federal budget. It seems like such a distant memory, but when Gingrich led the Congress, they passed, and President Clinton signed, a few balanced budgets. Not just balanced budgets, mind you, but budgets with surpluses. The former speaker does have a lot of personal baggage, but many great presidents had that same trouble. JFK, LBJ, and others had vices, but that was a different time… and they were Democrats.
Santorum then is left as the apparent “conservative choice” in the race. This is the guy that was almost as ignored as Ron Paul was earlier in the campaign… a nice fellow who appeared to have no chance to win. Watching him in the debates, he reminded me of Richie Cunningham from “Happy Days” and his positions always sounded like that episode where Richie ran for student council president and thought it would solve the school’s problems to just angle the parking spots in the parking lot. Now, this guy is one of the top two choices for the Republican nomination and he’s being painted as a guy who either hates women or wants to keep them barefoot and pregnant their entire lives. How the voters of Pennsylvania missed that when he was their senator is still a mystery.
And then there is Romney, who, God help us, is still apparently the odds on favorite to be the nominee. He has the support of the old guard, blue blooded Republican establishment, the political pundits, and of the national media. He says he’s a conservative, but he’s really a moderate. And that’s what drives his campaign. He supposedly has that ability to appeal to those “independents” who we are told really decide presidential elections. The arguments in his favor we have heard before. Nominating the “safe” candidate has been done before, and each time it has led to defeat in November. Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, and John McCain were all the safe bets compared to more conservative alternatives… and they were all defeated. But when Republicans have nominated a true conservative with solid convictions – like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, they win.
Given the field, it is reasonable to wonder if any of the Republican candidates can beat President Obama in the fall. The man has his supporters, and he’s getting enormous amounts of cash donated to his campaign, which will be used to broadcast lies, distortions, and half-truths about whoever the GOP nominates. Just look at how successfully liberals have managed to change the national debate over the last few weeks. Gas prices are approaching $4 per gallon and higher, the national debt is threatening to destroy our country, the southern border is still a problem, and America’s strength on the global stage is weakening. But the most important issue facing our country, apparently, is birth control, and the Republicans are portrayed as being against contraception. What parallel universe are we living in now?
This all seems to be geared toward destroying Santorum’s candidacy given his adherence to Catholic doctrine on contraception. Of course, no one is supposed to talk about Romney’s religion or Obama’s. That’s all off limits. So again, the advantage is Mitt Romney’s. That’s who the establishment wants, it’s apparently who Obama wants, and that should be reason enough to vote for someone else.