A friend of mine called me after the Iowa caucuses and asked, “Why isn’t John Huntsman getting noticed in this race? He’s the most intelligent candidate in the field!” I would say the GOP nominees are much like what we say in Texas about the weather. If you don’t like the weather right now, wait five minutes.
GOP insider and strategist Charles Krauthammer recently tagged the 2012 Republican candidates as “embarrassing.” To the contrary, I believe the GOP has good candidates who have A: failed to learn from their predecessors mistakes in 2008 and/or B: suffer from a timid, frantic, backbiting GOP establishment who distrust the minds and intellect of the conservative voter and the power of conservative ideals. Therefore if Huntsman can wait on the GOP to choke on Romney he will by default he get his turn and perhaps just in time. How is that for embarrassing?
The problem for Republicans in 2012 election isn’t a fleet of poor candidates. The lack of support and backbone from the Republican establishment that would allow them to play to win is killing us. The GOP is choking. In tennis, choking happens most when the better player realizes he should and can win. Instead of going for the shots that got him in a winning position, he plays not to lose hoping his opponent will give him the match. One backhand in the net or one forehand sailed long, and he is immediately thrown off course, convinced that he must play it safe. This has been the GOP for the past nine months which explains the ushering in and out of every running Republican candidate where no one has shown the longevity to make it to the final.
Each GOP candidate has found a way to self destruct at the moment of their ascent with their base helping them to the door on the way down. Of late, it is Santorum who after being non-existent in the media’s and voter’s eyes (at least it appeared) followed Mitt Romney by a mere eight votes in Iowa. Santorum placed well because he is a true family values candidate who isn’t afraid to put God, family, faith, and conservative values first. But look at Santorum now. Not only are his GOP allies saying that he cannot win, but he helped support that theory by using black and welfare in the same sentence. A rookie mistake for any white conservative candidate running against the first black President. With the NAACP and Hillary Clinton on his tail and unwillingness by conservatives to have the courage and will to take a hit for a candidate in the face of controversy and trouble, someone may as well cue the “nana na-na, nana na-na, hey hey hey…
It isn’t that Santorum is alone. Just look at how quickly Herman Cain’s bags were packed as soon as the media told the establishment he had to go. Though Cain’s infidelity scandals were circumstantial and a matter of he said she said folly the media told us we could not abide immorality. The GOP establishment balked – since they never approved Cain anyway – and the media got away with the same scam they pulled in 2008 with Sarah Palin. (The truth isn’t that the media objected to the affairs but that they couldn’t risk all those white Iowans handing Cain a significant victory.) Win for Obama.
Did we learn nothing from the media with McCain/Palin in 200? The media initially tolerated McCain because they knew he was no threat to Obama. And the establishment approved of McCain because they approved him. Nothing to see here. But as soon as McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate bells rang. The media sniffed defeat at her strong conservative values and outsider appeal. With that the media wore McCain and the base down with their scoffing of Palin. The fact that the media was all over Palin should have told McCain that he was finally cooking with hot grease. Instead, he choked. The uncertainty and fracturing of the party was toxic to the voters. Win for Obama.
With Cain out, Newt Gingrich was next on top. Voters found Newt Gingrich’s quick wit and insider experience reassuring imagining he could cut Obama down to size in the debates and lend common sense to getting the country back on track. He’d had affairs but was forgiven by the media, the establishment and conservative voters. (The media knew they couldn’t replay the sex scandal card so quickly after Cain so they let the GOP base do their work for them.) The establishment quickly warned voters of Newt’s deception: his wisdom, arrogance; his experience, political profiteering. And, his mood and temperament volatile and explosive. Before Gingrich could have the “courage to run a positive campaign” as he instructed Mitt Romney, his campaign bled out to fourth place in Iowa. Win for Obama.
At least Cain, Gingrich, and now Santorum were given some credence for a spell whereas other candidates peaked too quickly or were over rated before they took the stage. Michelle Bachmann who won the first Iowa straw poll and debated gaffe free for nine months was foiled from the start for being a woman. Ann Coulter made it clear that Republicans are not willing to take any chances on “making a Congresswoman the first female President” no matter how sensible and sound her platform and judgment. Win for Obama.
Governor Rick Perry was someone the establishment could get behind until they couldn’t. When Perry made the gaffe at the debate where he forgot a department of Government he would cut, he was immediately off the list. The establishment turned away as the leftist media licked Perry’s bones clean. The point was made clear that while a good ole boy Governor was good enough for Texas, it wouldn’t do against Obama and his teleprompter on the national scene. His Texas twang is just too risky. Perry had the record, the name, and the money, but in the end lost the backing of the GOP establishment over a delay and a drawl. Win for “57 states” Obama.
Which leaves Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and John Huntsman. In Romney’s case the GOP is firmly behind him as they believe he can win: he has the money, looks, charisma, some conservative ideas – when he needs them – and experience. What Romney does not have however, is the confidence of the core conservative voter. The fact that Ron Paul was a close third in Iowa proves as much. While establishment conservatives approve of him, something about RomneyCare, even if it is in Massachusetts, and his slick ways from his hair to his tongue holds back the approval of the average American conservative. Still, Romney has yet to double fault or put a backhand in the net so he lives for now. This is still a win for Obama since Republicans are betting on Romney by default (admittedly so) and for all the wrong reasons.
Instead of making these last nine months about how any one of these candidates run circles around Obama in class, values and experience, the GOP participated in childish infighting against their own that actually made Obama appear all grown up and Presidential. It is not that we are missing prime candidates; rather our candidates are being thwarted by a disloyal and conformist base. While Obama can do no wrong in the eyes of sycophantic Obamaphiles on the left, Republicans demand that candidates not use “um” and “you know” in a debate. A pointed finger, or a curious tilt of the head towards the candidate in question and the GOP is unsure, unsteady and on the defensive.
And, then there is Huntsman yet to get his due. With no one for or against him at this point, it’s a win for him. Only thing is he will have to peak at just the right moment and wait for the establishment to see that the only reason no one on the left is picking on Romney is because they are not threatened by him. Or, he can hope that conservative voters get a backbone and listen to their gut and not the media, right or left. This would finally be playing to win.