Put Down the Sticks, The Bush Has Had Enough Already, Guys

or: Everyone’s Waiting to See What Obama Does When Santorum Pulls a Newsom

or: No, you go first and then I’ll go first after you. Yeah, I’m totally going, but after you go first and then I go…like five months after you and you’ve already got your foot lodged in your esophagus, and are dead in the water before Iowa, then I’ll totally go

The rumblings are out there in the media. The blogosphere is abuzz with information of those seeking a bid. Everyone is speculating on the odds, the rankings, and who is either a contender or a pretender, as we go forward from here. No, I am not talking about the March Madness and Selection Sunday. I am talking about the possible nominees for the GOP bid for President in 2012. Yes, with a scant 21 months to go before election day, potential GOP nominees are beginning to dip their toes in to the icy waters to possibly, maybe, “forming an exploratory committee to,” make a run at the primaries next year. Though the list is pretty long now, and set to change dramatically as time goes on, there are a handful of interesting candidates; some with a shot, some without, and those that are just rife for skewering on a daily basis. With the field dancing around the issue, on one wanting to be the first cat out of the bag, this is the most fun time to speculate as to the merits of some of the GOP shoe-ins playing coy for the moment, looking to come in a little late when they see that no one else is going to be able to fuck this up as well as they can.

The list is a veritable who’s who, and who is that, of once and future kings. CBS has a list of eleven, but I hereby determine that said list is too long when you look at who will have the staying power to be on the ballot as a GOP candidate, or who can even garner the votes necessary to win the nomination outright. The obvious pretenders are folks like former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain; Haley Barbour, who is a self-proclaimed “fat redneck”; Mitch Daniels, who is fiscal enough for the base, burt his stance on social issues and the personality of wet cardboard is what will alienate him from nomination. There is also everyone’s favorite Tea Party Caucus founder, and resident right wing nut job Michelle Bachmann who is basically the poor man’s Sarah Palin, but she is our favorite for her complete inability to look directly in to a camera; her face goes all nazi-arc of the covenant if she does. Jon Huntsman might be the guy to give Obama a run in a general election seeing as he has worked with the administration and his pro-business/socially moderate views might play well overall, it’s a tough road to hoe if he wants to get the GOP go ahead as a Mormon and too liberal for the right’s taste. Gary Johnson and Ron Paul are kind of the same guy in the scope of voting. They would only take votes from one another, and ol’ Gary is a “whack job” Libertarian in the eyes of the GOP, he would have to run Independent if he had any shot at staying on a Presidential ballot to the tune of 8%.

The contenders are not the most likely to get the nomination by any stretch. I list all of these people as possible GOP nominees because of their past work, their appeal, their built-in base of supporters, and the fact that they are household names already, without having spent a dime for the election. They are: Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney. These are the insidious six that have juked and shaken their way around the question of running in the past few weeks yet never said anything remotely like a no for the answer. I like a lot of these people, for a myriad and vast reaching number of reasons, but I find it odd that not one of them will take a stand against the President they seem to think is taking this country in a full gallop toward the End of Days. Each has a laundry list of issues and has just as long a list of qualities I might even want in a President, and all of them have a better than decent shot at getting the nomination, which is the most important first step in running and the topic of this commentary.

Let’s break ‘em down, shall we, in no particular order.

Mike Huckabee

The Huck! Join the HuckPack! Oh, the soft and gentle truncheon of the GOP arm of the government. This little guy has some years behind him and a failed GOP nomination run where he finished second to, of course, John Mccain. He was Arkansas governor from ‘96-’07 and did some interesting things there that I might venture left the state in good hands when he exited the position. Huck is a former pastor as well, which will resonate in the bible belt and beyond. He plays bass guitar in a “rock” band, Capitol Offense (what a good name) and has even headlined the House of Blues in New Orleans and opened for the likes of Willie Nelson.

Huck of course has Huckabee, a program on FOX News (you’ll be hearing that a bit) as well as a radio show and is promoting his recent book on a 43 city tour called A Simple Government. In and around his words on the book he is basically saying that this is his plan, this book is his blueprint with which he plans to move forward and campaign on. He has the media savvy, the chops, and the proven ability to make the GOP run, given there is no one better (also a theme here).

What does the Huck stand for? Well he is all about cutting spending, reducing costs, possibly breaking down public employee unions, and transferring a lot of the power back to the states in a nod back to Jefferson; he does like those Bush tax cuts though. He wants states to be allowed to experiment with self-governing and be able to keep the money from the people in their states, not deal with the minutia of federal mandates, and hold everyone accountable. His is not as vocal on social issues as he is on political issues. It is wise on his part to really avoid this kind of talk, to a point, being that the GOP is a bit in flux as the spectrum of left leaning conservatives widens.

The Huck is probably my favorite Conservative for the tone he keeps. Like Mister Rogers went to Washington, he has the most soothing way of spelling out some truly horrifying social and political views that would honestly keep me up at night sometimes. “Well hello there, neighbor. Today in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe let’s pretend that Curious X the Owl is proposing an end to the Bush Tax Cuts. Of course, King Friday XII has an issue with that since his personal wealth far exceeds the provision of homes over $250,000 in income. All the while our good friend Trolley has been taken off the tracks and replaced by an all-electric public transportation system bought with frivolous public works money that came from a big-government stimulus package which is not even doing what it is supposed to, and is crippling the lives of our yet unborn children. Can you all say TORT reform? Let’s see how the king is going to respond to liberal Curious X’s proposal…” Indeed.

He has the ability to defend himself and his statements while still being able to get his real message out; this will be crucial in a campaign. I can see he really does want to be able to honestly answer a question most of the time, but he plays the game well of giving the right answers, and this does make me a little suspect of him if we gave him the Presidency. Liberals are always more tolerant of a candidate telling the truth even if it might rub some people the wrong way; we respect brash honesty, just look at Barney Frank.

Mike is a nice guy, I’d like to meet him and have a sit over dinner. Speaking of diet, the man is a proponent of a healthier America, he also wrote a book about that, after being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes; he did an amazing job of equating obesity with a crisis of national security on Fox News Sunday, which was a very impressive misdirect on his part to get back to a hot button issue. He runs marathons, hunts, fishes, and has numerous awards from magazines like Time, Governing Magazine, and Outdoor Life. I know, they all give awards and they’ve all given one to him, cool, right? Mike has the conservative line to pull in the nomination, the safe bet for the party to not get embarrassed by comments by him, while he represents them well, but the safe bet might not be the right bet right now; you might need a pitbull…with lipstick.

 Sarah Palin

Where to begin? You know me, I write about this woman often and think her ridiculous on the level of something out of a horror b-movie; “oh c’mon, you can totally see the zipper on the back of the monster,” and that is why I like watching those flicks; they’re just unapologetically bad which makes them so good.

Let’s not kid ourselves, this woman has been campaigning for the GOP nomination and presidency ever since McCain conceded to Obama in 2008. Every single moment on Fox or any other network has been about “the American people” and “no-nonsense politics” and my favorite “heading down the wrong path,” like there are only trails in the forrest we’re not allowed to stray from; God forbid a country about 230 years old go bushwhacking to see if something interesting might work.

Palin has the GOP sex appeal vote by the balls. That is one folksy hockey mom everyone on both sides of the aisle would not mind tagging. Let’s not kid ourselves, she’s hot in that way your childhood buddy Timmy’s mom made you feel funny in your pants; she’s just appealing in a way you can’t articulate yet. That’s where the buck stops with me and most sane folks though. She has Bachmann beat on the front of Tea Party support yet she has managed to keep from tying herself to them synonymously. Palin has always found an outlet for her vague message and family values in the time since her campaign as VP and she is still on the tip of everyone’s tongue if you asked them.

She has a massive base to draw from, but it is enough though. The traditional conservative base shuns her a bit, but with fundraising on her own merit she will be fine getting the word out, not to mention her constant media presence in twitter and other jagoff wastes of time. She doesn’t pull any punches, despite the fact she has no idea how to box. This is a woman who couldn’t name a newspaper she reads, and of course was there as a 2/3 Governor to keep an eye on Russia and keep up foreign relations with them, by osmosis apparently. This is the same woman that somehow made the Tucson Massacre about her, and lashes out on Facebook like a 14-year-old with an acne problem, “those guys can be so mean to me. Stop picking on me!”

Yet she keeps coming back for the punishment; she’s clearly the woman with the broken finger in the doctor’s office. She has had a meteoric rise in the media with her appearances on Fox News, Oprah, her reality TV show, a best-selling book, and her ability to interpret everything that happens, even shootings, as a cheap jab at her. She is the most recognized household name in the GOP rolodex right now, bar none, but I would expect to see her on Ice Skating with the Stars before I would expect to see her on a Republican ticket for President.

Sarah Palin’s fan base, despite the fact they can’t even spell her name correctly at a Tea Party protest, is undying and loyal to a great fault. They follow her blindly no matter the flub, the ineptitude, and the harsh “woe is me” attitude. After graduating early from her Governorship of Alaska, some how being able to serve the American public more efficiently without legislative power (still don’t get that) she has kept up her down home, tundra farmhouse wisdom. She is the political answer to Dr. Phil. No matter what she says or how little sense it makes, her people seem to take it at face value without a second thought. “I always say, a bullfrog with one leg will be able to out run a coon dog with one good eye almost every Sunday.” Huh? “Just because the sink is full of dishes don’t mean the pots and pans belong in the bathtub.” What? “I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.” That one’s actually true.

Despite her seemingly endless appeal in the entertainment sector, Palin faces a tough battle trying to garner support for her presidency before she can expect to win a nomination in her own party. There is a lot of doubt, and negative impressions of her out there, and she might be partially to blame for that. Her words are rarely ever taken out of context or “misunderestimated.” She shoots off at the mouth almost as badly as G. W. Bush did with his inability to get words out correctly, or to speak eloquently. She has rousing support in the Tea Party movement, but I feel that the GOP is trying to keep that base at arm’s length a bit when it comes to their next run at the presidency. They have got to get a candidate out there that doesn’t mince words, a Time man of the year, and the rock that still totes on the tragedy of 9/11…a guy with a lisp…

Rudy Giuliani

I don’t really feel I need to run down his resume for you. Former Mayor of New York during the attacks of 9/11. This country loved that man, voted man of the year by Time Magazine. His face and his speech impediment stood as a beacon of a man that represented the city he loves so much, and embodies the tough and resilient spirit he feels that his city is built on. He is New York tough on crime, terrorism, and is fiscally conservative. He is the smiling face that the GOP might want to hang in the White House if they want to take it to Obama.

I don’t know though. Giuliani still beats the 9/11 drum pretty hard, and I am betting poles would show that no one really likes the beat anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it was a number one hit for like 312 weeks. If all else failed and you want to sell an idea or a new plan, just work that little jingle in to the mix, or attach some 9/11 inspired legislature on to a fraudulent bill, and BOOM, you have got yourself a working model for success. After the attacks it was like McCarthy searching out Reds in the US. We were turning over every stone, loading every bullet, and unwrapping every turban and taqiyah in search of the bastards. Giuliani was untouchable.

Though he still doesn’t pay for a hotdog in NYC, he ran an unorthodox campaign in 2008 and fell far short of a nomination. He has some extramarital issues in his past (who doesn’t), and some questionable association in his post-mayoral time. He was an early frontrunner in national poles, but he seemingly avoided campaigning in early voting states and smaller demographics, failing to see the importance of winning states to shore up the view of you as a candidate in the national picture; you have to some states to win others, it’s like a state seeing the other picking the winning team, well you naturally want to be on that team.

It is unclear if he will run, but if he is going to it might as well be now. This is an opportune time for a socially moderate and fiscally conservative Italian Republican to take out Obama’s knee caps with a one-two shot from these ball-peen hammer platforms where Obama is weakest (real stretch to make a mafia joke, but I stand by it). If he does campaign he is going to have to very carefully work around his time as mayor in NYC. He did a lot of good things for the city in alleviating crime and cleaning the joint up, improving living conditions, but he cannot use 9/11 like a comma. In his 2008 bid he peppered it in to almost any single subject and speech, no matter how far off base it took him. Like so inanimate monkey he just crashes the cymbals of 9/11 while Americans have moved on and are focused on the economy, growth, and items of infrastructure like schools and state and federal budgeting crises. If he sticks to his strengths and focuses on the issues of today, not wailing away on a dead horse of a decade ago, then he might have a shot; might wanna campaign in Iowa, too. 9/11

Newt Gingrich

Ah, the elder statesman. You know why they call him that? Cause he’s fucking old and he’s been doing this a long time. I will go in to his chances a bit more, but if you want to stop right now and move to the next I wouldn’t blame you, we will never elect a man named “Newt.” This is just a simple fact we all need to face, especially you, Gingrich.

He’s an old man, and has a laundry list of issues to contend with from his past. You can’t teach an old dog news tricks, but some of his old tricks might have actually come back in to style. He’s a divisive man, as Speaker of the house he went toe to toe with Clinton, and was the perceived, and actual, loser in government shutdowns he basically orchestrated. He might be enjoying some early pole numbers currently over the likes of Huckabee and they yet to be vetted Santorum, but he’s got to make up a lot of ground over his past; baggage which includes three wives and two affairs that led to wives two and three. He even served his second wife her divorce papers while she was in the hospital battling cancer.

He won’t be winning and contested for decorum and good timing, he might be able to win the hearts of a beleaguered nation. He can show a decisively conservative fiscal view and an experience in the ways of Washington, which might sit better with people after the experiment of a lack of experience we took with Obama which has been ho-hum at best. In the vacuum of joblessness and budget woes, he would be a clear leader for the nomination, but we don’t live in no stinkin’ vacuum.

Gingrich, along with Santorum, were suspended by Fox News where they are regular commentators, because of the rumors of possible runs for presidency in 2012. They are both making regular trips to Iowa, and Gingrich himself has publicly stated that he has assembled an “exploratory committee” to see if there is support out there for him. There might be support, and there probably is, but that is the Gingrich base that will short of write his name in on a ballot. His chances at gaining very much ground in a real race to the nomination is slim since the views of him are already set in stone, and it’s no easy task sanding that down and starting anew, not at 68. He would have to convince and fear monger this country in to thinking the Gingrich rope is the only thing we can grab to keep this country from floundering in to ruination; with his experience at Fox News, he might still have some juice in him after all.

Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty might be the right man for the job, all things considered. He is evangelical so you know the right likes that. He has 18 years in Minnesota government, yet he’s only a verile 50 years old. He is tough on core American values (whatever those are) and a constitutional conservative. He has the winning looks of a John Edwards minus all that sticky mistress/baby stuff he got himself in to. By all accounts Pawlenty is a legit runner.

He really has been doing his homework. He is championing a fight against the spending, which he did pretty well in Minnesota, but mostly he is fighting the Obamacare bill. He is promising already to overturn that “mistake,” not to mention the “cap and Trade” reform and to bring America back to it’s roots. He is running a lot of lines about uniting conservatives under one flag. In his mind it doesn’t matter if you’re Tea Party conservative, Reagan conservative, or mainstream conservative, his ingenious platforming is that we (and by that I mean “they”) can come together to simply elect whoever the hell isn’t a democrat.

I like this kind of thinking from the opposition, because it instills in me a clear disconnect between voting for just any one and voting for the right one. I think it also echoes the feeling of the GOP at this early juncture, “who the hell do we have? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?” The thing that might hurt Pawlenty just as it hurt Edwards or Kerry is the lack of star power. There is just very little about this guy to really get excited about. He has the charisma of a high school science teacher and the demeanor of a youth pastor, a crappy one. It is in question whether he has the zeal, the pep, and even the commanding voice, to pull off a untied front of conservatives like he talked about at the ND GOP. It takes a very charismatic and clever character to stir the cockles of a nation in to action, and we know the history of how often a nation jumps political ship mid-war, so getting Obama out is gonna take that x-factor the Pawlenty doesn’t have; he’s just too damn nice, in a republican way. (needed a qualifying statement there)

Mitt Romney

The playboy with a smile of gold and a skin tone of freshly roasted almonds. He’s got that salt and pepper Clooney thing going on and just “looks presidential.” This country would be comforted in his strong arms as we are held against his barrel-chest and told everything will be alright…and conservative-ish.

Romney is the GOP playboy. Though a stunning 63, he could be 45 in even the least flattering light. A former candidate for the nomination in 2008 he ran in to more than a few roadblocks, none that will be any less derailing this time around, and some new ones that will make it worse.

For a conservative party chanting for a return to traditional American values and morals, the call of Mormon is going to be a tough ticket to get punched on a ride to the GOP nomination. The party is all about the new face, rebranding, and getting the base back under one big umbrella of a fiscally conservative, God-fearing nation once again, like our racist anglo-european forefathers would have wanted. The idea of a Mormon still freaks people out; Big Love sends a powerful and confusing message even I stare quizzically at some times. Seriously, I’m like a dog staring at the answering machine when it hears your voice when you call home.

That hurdle was there before and it is an even bigger problem now, trying to depose a sitting President that hasn’t yet ushered in the End of Days the party was really hoping for. The second issue that will unequivocally destroy his chances at appealing to the conservative base in the RomneyCare plan he has instituted in Massachusetts. Yes, Obama praised Romney for his plan, telling other states to look to Massachusetts as a blueprint for locally run government healthcare. I think this was a wise move on Obama’s part. How better to ruin a possible opponent in the coming election than by highlighting his socialized medicine plan. How savvy to basically alienate a potential GOP nominee than to point out to his constituency that he’s doing a great job doing something you think is evil and the end of the world; like a black man forcing a Nazi to take a picture with him, “your friends are gonna love this, say cheeeese!”

Mitt Romney may have the looks and the breeding for the office, his father served to the Nixon presidency (at least it’s something) and his mother was also involved in politics. He went to BYU, Harvard, a year at Stanford, and is an accomplished businessman and politician. By all accounts his jib is the right cut to win…but not over Obama to be re-elected. This is the caveat. He might look the part, but his version of socialized medicine and his religion will make many uncomfortable, and incense everyone, in his party. Next to that, I don’t think Christians want a Mormon president representing our Christian values. It is a sad state of affairs, but with a party terrified of the Muslims, Gays, Liberals, Commies, etc. taking over, I think they will be more than happy to lump the Mormon take over in with the lot of them; sorry GOP Ken, better luck in the next one.

So what the hell have we learned? Well we can see that every candidate has their merits in the long run, but too many pitfalls pock-mark the landscape for them to possibly make the journey. We know some are too conservative while others aren’t conservative enough. If they aren’t lacking in charisma then they are of the wrong religion. They might be able to learn from past campaign mistakes, but they just might not look or sound the part of a president. They might be too crazy, or not crazy enough, or crazy about all the wrong things. A candidate might look good on paper with all the right credentials but just doesn’t wear the right suit; or maybe the candidate is just from Alaska.

What is important to note is that no one wants to be the first runner in Pamplona. Not one of them, despite years of hate speech, rhetoric, death panels, Obamacare, repealing DADT, stimulus packages, and one thing after another that has Glenn Beck in seizures on a nightly basis, not one of these people that was running their mouth since Obama started campaigning, wants to step up and go blow for blow with the sitting president. Each one is telling the other to jump while they don’t want to. Sarah Palin literally said that she would run if “there was no one else out there with the right ideas to fix this country.” Well if you’ve got the right ideas then step up to the plate or sign up for Celebrity Apprentice and shut the hell up.

Let’s look at the mold, what does this nominee need to look like and sound like? If we were able to create the perfect political kryptonite to an Obama re-election, what would it be?

We need a chiseled chin, broad shoulders and a man no older than 55. We need a Christian, Evangelical if you got one laying around, and a family man with two kids and loving wife who is only a little better than a “7” in good light. He needs to have been married at least 15 years and have graduated from prestigious state-side universities. He needs a good voting record and at least ten years in both state and federal politics, yet with all this time in politics he can’t have any baggage that can’t be explained away in press release. He needs to have served in the military voluntarily. Salt and pepper hair with a winning smile. He needs to be eloquent but not too well-read for fear of making a large base of republicans feel stupid. We need a fiscally conservative, small government minded, business friendly, upper 1% pandering, man of the people who can quote both Reagan and Jefferson without sounding like a total tool; pro guns, pro life, and pro death penalty while anti-gay, anti-arab, and anti-accountability. He also needs to be against unions, but for teachers, while still cutting funding to schools and increasing the defense budget to “keep America safe.” Not to mention a long list of Hollywood friends and endorsements up the wazoo from every kind of business person and lobbyist in the nation. Finally he needs to be able to lie to the American people and tell them with a straight face “this is on a need-to-know basis, and you don’t need to know.”

Wow, I don’t even know if that person exists in politics today. Such a finely crafted machine designed to glad hand and kiss babies. The perfect rhetoric machine gun able to tow the conservative line while sounding progressive and inclusive to anyone willing to register republican, whether we like them or not. A non-stop fundraising machine, half stand-up comic, half philosopher of the forefathers. The kind of man that men want to be and women want to be with…Good luck with that! Haha. You haven’t a prayer of finding that creature out in the world today. Though Obama might be fucking up left and right, he is a sitting president on the upswing in the middle of a war, they don’t get deposed. It will take something of a vetting miracle to find the right horse to draw the wagon because I am no fair weather fan and I’m not jumping off the home team just because we’re down at the half. You can have your little parade of elder statesmen and reality TV stars, setting the debates up by the Hornberger system, but short of going all Weird Science and birthing the right candidate from a diabolical machine to “refudiate” the president and guide “Reagan’s country” back on the “doggone” right path, things are looking fuckin’ bleek. (that first one’s real…ah hell they all are. Thanks, Sarah!)

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