Four years ago at this time, Rudy Giuliani looked like a shoe-in for the GOP nod. Eight years ago, Howard Dean was riding high. I ain’t making no calls this time.
I usually support the candidate I’d most like to see in the White House on the first pass regardless of how long a shot they are. Last trip my man was Congressman Duncan Hunter, a decorated combat veteran from ‘Nam with enough time in D.C. to know where the light switches were, and a principled record to stand on. He also didn’t stand a chance. This trip I have another magic wand choice I’ll name a little later, but here’s my take on the field.
From the bottom, former governors John Huntsman and Gary Johnson. Both were good governors in Utah and New Mexico, with the edge to Johnson, who had a Democrat legislature. Both are ideological outliers among the current center of the GOP. Huntsman’s service in the Obama administration doesn’t help.
Johnson is a libertarian with views similar to Ron Paul. He’s superior to Paul for two reasons – he actually knows how to govern and he has a sense of humor. Both Huntsman and Johnson will continue to be invited to debates as long as they can pony up the entrance fees host outfits charge.
That phony Iowa Straw Poll has many spin-offs, all designed as fundraisers for the groups sponsoring them. As Michael Barone noted, the weakest part of our political system is the way we nominate presidential candidates.
Iowa Straw Poll irrelevance brings us to Michelle Bachmann. She’s almost as annoying as Ron Paul. She blew it on the vaccination issue leaving some to wonder how she feels about polio and smallpox. And I don’t wish to hear again about all those kids she raised weaved into every other answer.
Her candidacy gives her a future problem. Sitting House members seeking the White House who fail tend to get in trouble back home. Mo Udall faced stiff opposition in 1978 after his 1976 run, and California’s Bob Dornan lost his seat in 1998 after his try in 1996. Some voters see it like the old girl friend you dumped for the cheerleader who later dropped you. Hard to go back.
What annoys me most about Ron Paul is his sheer cluelessness about human nature. He somehow believes you can engage in normal relations with psychopaths based on their recognition of their self-interest. Even Jefferson figured out early on with the Barbary Pirates, you can’t avoid fighting lunatics.
Jihadist sects like the Wahabi were not formed in response to CIA intervention in the Iranian election of 1953. Suicidal nutcases don’t care about mutually assured destruction.
The Big Two for now are governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. Perry can claim more success but he had Texas and a friendlier legislature. Both are competent, and both have some philosophical deviations from current GOP norms, but I could support either against the present incumbent with no problem. I’d prefer the one with the best chance of winning.
The other three I really like. Senator Santorum shows a passion and depth of knowledge beyond his early pigeonhole as a social conservative. Herman Cain is delightful and could be the Mike Huckabee of this cycle, and we have elected Presidents in this century who never held elective office, Taft and Hoover. But, for now I’m with Newt Gingrich. He upstages at every debate, and I would love to see him head to head against Obama’s teleprompter.
Unfortunately, neither he nor Cain nor Santorum have much of a chance, but never let that stop you from voting your real choice.
As Kinky Friedman noted in his endorsement of Rick Perry, he’d vote for Charlie Sheen over keeping Obama. I’m not quite that far along. But then, Obama’s got another year to work on me.
Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1030 AM.