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Warren Graham's Blog

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

Friday, January 06, 2012


So we’ve gotten pastthe silliness (treated with utmost gravity by the Media) that is the IowaCaucus. Now we get to the business of trying to find, among the remaining field, the candidate most likely to take the fight to Obama. It is a virtual certainty that, notwithstanding the abject failure of his presidency, neither he, nor his cadre of believers is going down without a VERY well-funded and vicious fight.

The problem is: who is equipped to withstand the onslaught? More to the point, the question is: who is best suited to make the campaign about Obama and HIS record? Any campaign that can succeed in the latter is destined for success. Thus far, the remaining GOP class seems wanting, to say the least.

Governor Romney, in my opinion, is emphatically NOT the guy. No matter how much money he has thrown into two presidential campaigns, he cannotseem to generate any excitement within the Party. He has shown himself to be a reasonbly worthy debater, but he gives off a certain plasticity and absence of passion. I believe that such a flaw will put him at a distinct disadvantage against a politician who is a master of feigned oratory commitment. Although “Yes We Can” has plainly become “No We Didn’t,” we may be sure that Obama will come up with some new rhetorical flourish designed to pump up the Democratic Party faithful and obfuscate, to the American Public, the utter vacuousness of his 2008 message of hope and change.

Mitt Romney has another problem as well. He cannot hope to defeat an incumbent president without attracting large numbers of independents and so-called “Reagan Democrats.” Before doing that, however, he needs to have an energized and passionate base. And while there is energy and passion to spare within the GOP precincts for the proposition that Mr. Obama has to go, there is, certainly in the more conservative elements in the party, a certain suspicion that Mitt’s newly found conservative values are as fickle as his previously held more moderate and liberal ones were. His explanation for all the successes of a liberal agenda in Massachusetts under his stewardship reduce to the lame excuse that he was hostage to a liberal legislative majority. While that argument may be factually accurate, it does not bode well for the kind of leadership a president should exhibit against an unruly, and sometimes hostile congress. There is no evidence, in fact, that Mr. Romney ever went down fighting against his legislature.

What about the rest of the field? Rick Santorum, the flavor of the week, seems to be a “true” conservative, with not much personal baggage, but he is clearly “not ready for prime time.” He would be a poor match for Obama in a debate. Moreover, his campaign, to date, has largely been about a conservative social agenda, i.e., abortion, gay marriage, etc. While this may energize devoted cadre of evangelicals and other social conservatives, it will not win an election. Indeed, it may be a turnoff to the centrists and independents that are needed by the GOP to assure victory. This coming election is about two things, and two things only: the first is the economy, and the second is….the economy (stupid)! Now, of course, the economy discussion incorporates the question of jobs, and how to create them, and the question of how to revive a private sector economy in which governmenttakes an ever increasing share of GDP and tax burden. Just by virtue of the unbelievable interest obligation, government debt is simply eating this nation alive. And there is no sign among the pols in Washington (yes, this is a bipartisan failing) of any willingness to engage in a fundamental change of direction. For my part, I don’t really believe that Mitt Romney is the man to effectuate sucha change, and Rick Santorum, a one term senator who was voted out of office in a landslide is not that man either. Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, regardless of their respective qualities, are not worth commenting on, as they will almost surely be nothing more than memories after New Hampshire.

Notwithstanding my previous statement that this election is almost exclusively economy-driven, it is not sufficiently so to enable the Republicans to nominate Ron Paul. Senator Paul who is, in essence, a libertarian, puts forth many very appealing positions on domestic policy, and has a most devoted following. But his whacko isolationist positions on foreign policy really make his campaign a non-starter.

So, we come to Newt. Newt has personal and political baggage to spare. It is already well-known to everyone, thanks, in large measure, to the barrage launched
against him by Romney and his minions in Iowa. He needs to put together a strong defense to these attacks, so as to “Newtralize” them. After all, if Romney can evade the sting of “Romneycare” in Massachusetts, and Obama can dissociate himself from Rev. Jeremiah Wright, it should be possible for Newt and his sophisticated political advisors to put together a narrative to explain his personal foibles and his having consulting with Freddie Mac. Once that is accomplished, I would contend, Newt is in the best position to take on Obama on the latter’s record. It is ONLY by
making this campaign about Barack Obama’s dismal record that the GOP can hope
to wrest the White House from him. Sideshows about abortion, gay marriage,school prayer and the like (however sincerely felt) are a godsend for the Democrats, as they pose a distraction from the disaster of Obamacare, the obscene national debt and the gross overregulation of private enterprise that is rendering the U.S. unable to compete in a world economy. Newt has an encyclopedic understanding of these issues, as well as considerable oratorical skills to match (or exceed) those of Obama and, I would argue, is by far in the best position to take on the richly funded Obama machine in substantive debate, if he is able to overcome the inevitable blitzkrieg of character assassination that the Dems will launch. Whether he can do that will be tested in the next few weeks as the remaining GOP candidates slug it out.

Concededly, Newt cannot reasonably hope to prevail in New Hampshire. After all,
that State is in Romney’s backyard and, absent some sort of collapse, the millions
he has spent there should guarantee him a victory. But South Carolina is another matter. It is a conservative State, and its Republicans are rightly suspicious of Romney for the reasons I’ve put forth. And it should be obvious that, among the GOP conservatives, an endorsement by John McCain is probably the kiss of death. The Republican regulars are not content to have Romney shoved down their throats by the party elites, especially by the party’s losing standard bearer from 2008, who was shoved down their throats back then.

Next comes Florida, a HUGE prize for any aspiring candidate. This nomination is far from a done deal. Stay tuned, friends!


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