Friday, January 20, 2012


I think Thursday, January 19, 2012 will go down in history in American politics. About as officially as anything can happen, the Republican primary battle changed from a race to a farce, with even top conservative voices starting to use the funny-but-deadly analogy that has up to now been the province of comedians and Democrats: "Clown Car."

Perhaps conservative Republican pundit, and former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and Special Assistant, Peggy Noonan, said it best in today's Wall Street Journal:

"We all know politics ain't beanbag, but it's not supposed to be a clown-car Indy 500 with cars hitting the wall and guys in wigs littering the track."

And in a Washington Post op-ed column today, titled THE GOP'S SUICIDE MARCH, conservative icon Charles Krauthammer wrote:

"The President is a very smart man. But if he wins in November, that won't be the reason. It will be luck. He could not have chosen more self-destructive adversaries."

On MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning, former conservative Republican congressman, Joe Scarborough, pointed out a pretty uncomfortable fact, in a campaign punctuated by more fantasy than fact. He noted that the deficit went up by a trillion dollars in 2011, the first full year in which Republicans controlled Congress and the purse strings, and a higher debt increase than in 2010. And their main campaign focus against Obama is that he is a big spending, big government president.

I won't even go into last night's ABC interview with Newt Gingrich's 2nd wife, in which she said he asked her to consider an open marriage as he had another woman in his life. He denied the story when CNN foolishly gave him an opening to get a standing ovation by putting that "he said, she said" question to him as the opener to the final South Carolina debate. And if it's true, I may upset some folks, especially some sanctimonious folks, by suggesting this is more loving and honest than just tossing his wife aside with no options.
If this weren't such a silly season, far more attention and contemplation would be focused on the question posed by leading evangelical spokesman James Dobson, when he asked whether America was ready for a first lady who was a mistress for eight years.

It is no accident that comedian Stephen Colbert's mock Republican run is gaining so much traction. He has a higher favorability rating than any of the current GOP candidates. I admire President Obama's restraint in not going on national television and doing a funky victory dance.

A couple of my furthest far right friends think I am, as they have put it, "an Obama lover." Not true. While I think he has been a far better president and done more to turn the economy around than John McCain and Sarah Palin would have, I also think he has stumbled a lot, not taken charge of his message, not made his mission clear to the American people, and certainly not taken full advantage of the obstructionist Republican House's blatant disregard for the public welfare in favor of stopping him at any costs.

The current disarray of Republican candidates is a direct result of the oafish Anyone But Obama campaign, which spawned the "birther" idiocy, and the fiasco over the debt ceiling and, more recently, the payroll tax debate. I know it's a contrarian view, but I believe that more rational Republicans like Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, and Tim Pawlenty have opted out of running against Obama because they realize, in their wisdom, that once the dust settles and the truth comes out, Obama will be unbeatable. And they'd like to start clean with a run for the White House in 2016.

My personal preference? I would love to see be successful in their efforts to have the first direct presidential election online. This is a nonpartisan, visionary experiment in democracy. The organizers want the presidential and vice-presidential candidates to come from different political parties, and they already have more than half the signatures they need to get their effort on the ballot in all fifty states. It would be nice to have a grown-up campaign. Obama will be on the ballot, but I think we all will be better off is he is having an intelligent discussion with a credible opponent rather than acting as ringmaster for that Indy 500 clown-car race.

No comments: