Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Handicapping The Presidential Candidates...Part Two

Rick Perry was at one time an attractive candidate, that time being before he was an actual candidate. Here was a tall, handsome, and successful governor of the large and important state of Texas. And let’s face it, there’s something about Texas that Americans grudgingly admire and envy. Texas is what the entire country once was, aggressive, proud, and going places. The rest of the country might be falling apart but those Texans are still kicking ass somehow. So when Perry finally entered the race there was great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, in his debate performances, an old Texas saying comes to mind…”all hat and no cattle”. There was one particular clip I watched that wasn’t even about him but rather showed Ron Paul in full throat-ed passion about the dubious constitutional origins of the Federal Reserve with Perry looking on with an expression that was part astonishment and part bewilderment. It was as if Perry was thinking to himself…”Wish I woulda paid more attention in Econ..” Perry is the sort of guy who looks much better from a distance. He probably needs to spend eight years attending state funerals as the VP or something while he reads up on the problems facing the rest of the country before we hand him the keys to the White House gym. Plus, there’s that whole “Rick” thing. I rate his chances at 50 to 1.

Mitt Romney knows one thing and that one thing is that it’s his turn. Mitt knows the Republican party like the back of his hand and he knows that the Republican party always nominates guys like him who have paid their dues. This is the party that nominated old Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan in 1976, the party who trotted out old Bob Dole in 1996, and John McCain in 2008 because it was their turns. Mitt is the establishment guy with the great suits, impressive resume and central casting smile, and he ran and lost in 2008 so now it’s his turn. No one doubts that he would at least be a competent President since by all accounts he’s smart and has both business and governmental executive experience, skills that would have served the current occupant well. With Romney, the question that lingers in the mind for me isn’t his Mormonism. In fact I would probably prefer it to the Protestant potpourri of Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Baptist doctrine that would be unleashed in the Ron Paul White House. Can you imagine the theological confusion that the Paul kids had saying their prayers at night growing up? No, the problem with Romney is that nobody really knows what he truly believes about stuff. Movement conservatives are convinced that no successful politician from Massachusetts could possibly be one of them. Liberals are equally suspicious of his business background and his personal fortune, for them, evidence of membership in the evil 1%. But Romney is a man of actual accomplishments in life and seems by all accounts to be free of vices both major and minor. If the Republican party holds true to form, this guy will be the nominee. I place his chances at 3 to 1.

Newt Freaking Gingrich. In a previous blog entry I laid out the case against Newt. But this guy has overcome a total lack of money and being abandoned by his staff. He has overcome everything for one reason…the debates. The first time I ever saw Newt on TV was back in the late 80’s on C-Span. That’s back when he was a back-bench bomb thrower. He was smart, witty, and an intellectual heavyweight who would give long speeches to an empty chamber extolling the virtues of free enterprise. Once he became Speaker of the House, by crafting the Contract With America it was all downhill from there. The very skills that got him that job made it impossible to govern effectively. Since leaving government he has made a fortune first as a lobbyist and adviser to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored enterprises at the heart of the mortgage collapse, and then as a historian and author. He has probably written more books than Rick Perry has read. In the debates he toys with the other candidates, knowing that he has the intellectual chops to wipe the floor with any of them at will. He goes out of his way to humiliate the press, having long ago given up any hope that any of them will ever give him a fair shake. Newt is always the smartest guy in the room and can be annoying as hell because of it. But maybe the times we find ourselves in require us to consider a guy like Gingrich. This dude knows where all the bodies are buried. He’s forgotten more about underhanded political tactics than the rest of the field has ever known. Someone who is tactically ruthless, a brilliant practitioner of situational ethics, and unhindered by a desire to be liked by the press may actually make a serviceable President after all. If we will all drop our insistence on electing Presidents that we personally admire, Gingrich might work out. Don’t we all want someone who can go into a room of politicians and blackmail and browbeat them into submission? Aren’t we tired of getting rolled by two-bit dictators and United Nation types? Aren’t you tired of hearing your President apologize for our many national sins? Wouldn’t it be great to hear a President call a reporter from the New York Times an idiot for asking such moronic questions? Yes, yes and yes! But there’s still something about Newt that bothers me. He’s one of those guys who believes in American Empire more than the American Republic and this is not a distinction without a difference. Newt loves his country a little too much for my blood. I’m done with the empire stuff. I’m ready to drop the global cop routine, reinstate the Monroe Doctrine and be done with it. Newt will give Mitt a run for his money but his chances are only 10 to 1.

So, there you have it. I would take any of these guys over Obama….wait, except Bachmann…or Santorum….Huntsman…or…whatever.