“You can’t beat somebody with nobody.”
--“Nobody” (maybe Nicholas Murray Butler)
So Chris Christie won’t run. Christie, the man with a Reagan-like ability to talk straight and make people laugh. And Rick Perry, the big-state governor with an impressive job-creation record and strong conservative credentials, the guy who looks like Reagan did when Reagan was 61? Well, we found out that when the TV lights are on, he can’t string complete sentences together. So Republicans in 2012 won’t have the next Reagan riding in on his horse to take care of Obama. Reality sets in.
Does that make Mitt Romney the GOP guy, in the pattern of George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, each one a “last man standing” in their time, all of who lost (H.W. in 1992 after first winning in 1988)? Is Romney truly it? Jon Stewart Wednesday used a string of old clips to go after Romney, an all-world flip-flopper. Stewart even found Romney flipping himself into the middle class!! The funnyman just gave us a great preview of how Democrats will skewer Romney. Oh my.
Let me offer 5 observations:
1. Republican hero-presidents are rare—4 in 150 years. The GOP had Lincoln (1860), Teddy Roosevelt (1901), Eisenhower (1952), and Reagan (1980—Reagan seemed an ersatz hero who only played heroes in movies, yet was a true hero who saved dozens of lives as a high school lifeguard). Republican heroes only come along once a generation. Of course, that means the party is due.
2. Weak Republicans do win. Best example of a weak two-term winner: Nixon. He won in terrible times when Democrats fought an internal civil war over Vietnam. George W. Bush sort of won twice, though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000.
3. Herman Cain wouldn’t be the first Republican nominated for president who never held major elected or appointive office or high military rank. That honor goes to Wendell Willkie, nominated by Republicans in 1940. Of course, Willkie lost 38 states and 85% of the electoral vote to Franklin Roosevelt.
4. This is no time for an objective read on the GOP field. Democrats are fighting a life-or-death struggle to preserve big government. The media are the Democrats’ powerful air force, and are strafing and bombing every single Republican candidate who sticks his/her head out of a foxhole. In the fall of 2011, the only battle underway is for the GOP nomination, so the media are working over any Republican who looks like a threat to Obama. Meanwhile, that small portion of the New York/Washington punditry calling themselves Republican have picked Romney, and are piling on media attacks aimed at Romney’s GOP opponents. Once the caucuses and primaries begin, voters take over from the media in picking winners.
5. Republicans need to redefine the presidency. Perry moved in that direction when he said he wanted to make Washington as “inconsequential” as possible. We don’t need a hero. We need a president who will work hard to get government out of the way, so that business can create jobs.
And at the same time, Republicans should claim the word “compassion.” A compassionate government wouldn’t look like Obama’s, constantly getting in the way of entrepreneurs. A compassionate government would focus on the dignity and individual worth, as well as the shared prosperity, that comes from holding a job. Harry Truman believed in full employment as a national objective. He just failed to appreciate that business creates the jobs, with government on the sidelines keeping the competition fair.
Compassion = jobs.