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Warren Graham's Blog

Postings by Warren on a variety of timely and (hopefully) interesting topics

Friday, December 23, 2011

THE GOP NOMINATION: DO THE VOTERS GET A SAY?


It becomes more apparent each day that the “Republican Establishment” is determined to ram Mitt Romney down our throats, despite the inconvenient fact that a single vote has yet to be cast. Remember, friends, that these are the political geniuses who brought us Bob Dole and John McCain, both first-rate in their delivery of concession speeches.

It is profoundly troubling that, at a time in which Barack Obama is so vulnerable, that the GOP seems determined to self-destruct. On the one hand, the “tea party” freshmen in the House, so convinced that they were brought to Washington to effect “change” have, perhaps, succeeded, in that the Republican majority in that body is at risk. This is exacerbated by a Speaker who seems to have no ability to mobilize his troops, and who thus has been outmaneuvered by a President who, by all rights should be on the ropes.

Meanwhile, on the election front, there is no clear nominee emerging. This, Thank God, is true despite the iron determination by what was once referred to as the “smoke filled room” leaders, that it should be Mitt Romney. Romney, they all tell us, is the only one who has a realistic shot at defeating Obama in the general election. Frankly, it is hard to see that, given that he can’t even muster any excitement within the rank and file Republican voters. I believe this is true because he has a “plastic” demeanor about him, and although he answers questions well, he lacks evident passion. He’s sort of like the GOP version of Michael Dukakis, the Dems 1988 candidate, who couldn’t even muster any real (or even contrived) feeling when asked how he might react to a physical assault on his wife. Aside from this, of course, many Republicans are distrustful of Mitt’s rather recent conversion to the conservative cause.

Here, in the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I am unabashedly a Newt Gingrich supporter. Clearly Newt comes with a great deal of baggage, both personal and political, but, by any metric, he is head and shoulders the smartest of all the GOP candidates. I concede that being the smartest is not enough, or perhaps not even so important, as any president worth his or her salt is going to surround himself or herself with smart people (Barack Obama being one notable exception). But I believe that a profound understanding of the nature of the United States (at least as it used to be), and a deep comprehension of world affairs makes Gingrich the logical choice.

All that politicking aside, I rather resent the fervor with which Romney’s inevitability as our nominee is being sold by the “fat cats.” I hope that such resentment is being felt in the GOP ranks as well. Regrettably, Romney has enough money to sell Iowans a bill of goods about Gingrich over the airways, and Newt lacks the funds to respond adequately. Normally, I would not be concerned about Iowa (recall that in 2008, Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucus). But if Romney wins there, and wins (as he is likely to, having spent megabucks) in New Hampshire, the aroma of inevitability may infect such early primary states as South Carolina and Florida, very rich sources of delegates.

All of this is further complicated by the change in primary rules, in that delegates are awarded proportionately, rather than in the old “winner take all” method. The result of this is that candidates like Rick Perry, who has lots of money to spend, and Ron Paul, whose base is small, but rabid, may be able to stay in the race for quite some time. It is hard to see who, in the party, benefits by this prospect, but it is an absolute certainty that Barack Obama wins just a bit more for every day that the Republican wannabes are slinging it at each other.

There are two conditions, in my opinion that the GOP needs in order to recapture the presidency, hold the House, and perhaps achieve a majority in the Senate. The first is that its nominee must be one who can “take the fight” to Obama. The Marquis of Queensbury rules simply won’t cut it, and we may be certain that the Dems will fight will a no-holds barred strategy (after all, Obama will find it hard to run on the merits of his record). The second is that all Republican regulars need to line up wholeheartedly behind that nominee, as then, the battle for the presidency will be entirely about gathering the independent vote.

Alas, neither of these conditions is anywhere even remotely in evidence. The starker the choice in 2012, the more likely, I believe, Barack Obama will be a one-term president.Personally, I would spring for a pay-per-view airing of a Gingrich/Obama debate. Obama, I concede is a wonderful orator and a pretty good debater. But this time, the debate (if the Republicans play it right) will not be about George W. Bush; rather it will be about the abject failure of the Obama Administration to bring any relief to a nation beset by serious financial woes, and its relentless sacrifice of the futures of our children and grandchildren on the altar of misguided giveaways. Aside from the obvious fact that these schemes will bankrupt a country already in peril, they do something even worse: they threaten the basis tenet of a nation, the success of which has always been built upon individual achievement and self-reliance. Where's the answer to that Mr. Obama, without a teleprompter?

The Republican Party needs, unabashedly, to stand for its principles, so as to present a real and visible choice to the American People. As for myself, I am not the least bit interested in listening to another concession speech, unless it is delivered by Barack Obama.

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