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I Have a Confession to Make ...
It may be a bit late for confession, but here goes anyway: I never felt comfortable with any of the Republican candidates for president. Not after they opened their mouths, anyway.
I could be wrong but I get the feeling that Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum would turn the country into a theocracy if they had the clout to get away with it. I thought Rick Perry might be someone I could support, until he started talking – about anything. Jon Huntsman, the liberal media’s favorite Republican, oozes sanctimony whenever he pontificates, which is not an attractive trait. Herman Cain never had the chops to be president, sex scandal or no sex scandal. As for Ron Paul, he’s not as crazy as a lot of his critics make him out to be, but he’s crazy enough. That leaves Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
I really wanted to like Newt. But the man with a million ideas ought to keep a few of them to himself, like the one about inviting judges to Washington to explain decisions that Newt doesn’t like. And if they don’t come voluntarily, hey, what’s the U.S. Marshall Service for if not to round up judges and haul them before Congress to explain themselves? Sorry Newt, that was a bridge too far. But honest, I’d still vote for you if I thought you could win. But I don’t. The presidential election should be about one person – Barack Obama. If Newt gets the nomination, it’s going to be about him.
What about Mitt? Well, his critics are right – he’s not a principled conservative. And you do get the impression that he’ll be for or against whatever he has to be for or against in order to win. Not admirable stuff, even for a politician. But can he beat Barack Obama? Let’s just say, he’s got the best shot.
But I don’t simply want the guy with the best shot. I want to be excited about the GOP candidate. I want to think he or she is one of America’s best; someone who inspires us. I’d feel that way if William F. Buckley were alive and well and young and were running. I’d feel that way, too, if Bill Bennett were the Republican candidate. Or Chris Christie. Or Paul Ryan. Or Haley Barbour. Or Charles Krauthammer. Or Marco Rubio in a few years. But since none of them are running, it looks like I’m stuck with the guy with the best shot.
Just about everyone who identifies himself as a conservative will vote for the Republican nominee, whoever it is. They can whine all they want about how “I’ll never vote for such-and-such” for whatever reason, but if they dislike the president as much as they’ve been telling us they do … they won’t sit out the election. They understand that that would be a vote for the man they desperately want out.
A smart friend of mine – I’ll call him Burt (because that’s his name) – tells me not to worry. “I just don't see how Obama is going to win this time,” he says. “One, he won't be running against McCain or Bush; two, the economy is his; three, in none of the polls is he above 50% against Romney, Gingrich or a generic Republican; four, nobody who didn't vote for him in 2008 is going to vote for him this time around, and a great many people who voted for him then have learned their lesson; five, no group that supported him by huge margins in '08 -- be it Hispanics, young people or Jews -- shows any sign of doing it by the same margin in 2012. Hard for him to improve on the 91% vote the post-racial candidate received from blacks. And, for good measure, the GOP has won a great many Senate seats and governorships in the past few years, especially in so-called toss-up states.”
Makes sense, on paper anyway. But I’m not sure I’m buying it. Despite the weak economy, despite the high unemployment numbers, despite the fact that most Americans think we’re on the wrong track, despite all of that, Barack Obama, I think, still has a chance to win re-election. Actually, I think he’s got a lot more than just a chance.
Burt tells me “It’s just nerves.” Boy do I hope he’s right.