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Wild Card Republicans

While Barack Obama undeniably ran an effective and energized campaign, it's plain by now that the McCain campaign of 2008 was a lot like the Republicans in general during 2008 - sloppy, disorganized, and frustrated. Now that he has lost the election and the most liberal candidate in more than a generation is the President-elect, Republicans and especially Conservatives have decided to tie John to a pole and set up a firing squad. Some republicans have opted for the full inquisition and tried to go after Governor Palin, only to find out Madame Governor is no docile scapegoat, and is inclined to return fire when attacked.

The problem for republicans, and especially for conservatives, is that there is no standout leader for 2010 or 2012 (thinking about the next go for rebalancing Congress, and of course things have reached the point where someone is bound to have already started planning the 2016 campaign). That's not to say that there are not some good people, and some potential stars waiting to be discovered or for their time to arrive. But in the main, we have known ahead of time about big-league republicans and conservatives:

George W. Bush was a major GOP player as far back as 1994. Some said he was being groomed for the White House when he first won the governorship of Texas.

George H.W. Bush was a major candidate in 1980, and no one doubted that he would be the front-runner in 1988 when Reagan finished his two terms.

Reagan's speech to the GOP Convention in 1976 laid a strong foundation for his 1980 run, as many republicans discovered what the RNC already knew as early as 1972; that Ronald Reagan was a rock star waiting for his stage.

It's hard to believe in these post-Watergate days, but Richard Nixon was very well-respected all the years between 1952 (when he became Ike's veep) and 1968, a man not much liked but understood to be a formidable force in politics and campaigning. It's not generally recognized that many successful politicians learned from Nixon's campaign disciplines.

You get the idea. While democrats have sometimes picked up their candidates on the fly, republicans tend to pick their winners pretty far in advance. The ones that get the nod late in the process - Ford, Dole, and now McCain - do not tend to fare well in the actual election. As a result, even though there should be opportunity in 2012 for a solid candidate, it is not clear at this time just how the GOP could hope to find a clear favorite. The primary season of 2007-8 was pretty dismal, in review. Few real conservatives ran at all, and the ones that did showed surprisingly little energy for the fight. Besides McCain, who ran his primary campaign on the strength of independent and crossover-democrat support (which did not show up for him in the general election), the main contenders in the republican primaries were Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, good men both of them but neither of them a true Reaganite. Thompson carried the hopes and prayers of many a conservative, but while he had the belly, he lacked fire in it.

It would seem that for 2012, the early cast of republican contenders comes in three flavors:

First, there are the 2008 contenders. Not to be mean, but if we ran McCain again, or Romney or Huckabee or Giuliani or even Thompson, we would only assure Obama's re-election. I just do not see any of these gentlemen developing the requisite qualities which were lacking in this last election.

Second, we can look to the new generation. Certainly there is hope there, in such people as Palin, Jindal, Cantor, Putnam, Pawlenty, or Thune. But if we choose that road, we have to answer better for the onslaught of attacks that we saw leveled against Sarah Palin this time. Any of these contenders will need a lot of preparation and coaching, yet they have to remain the same pure essence of conservatism and energy that makes them attractive in the first place.

Finally, we can always hope that someone will demonstrate outstanding leadership in the House or Senate, someone as yet unknown who will make the case for conservatism in a way that we have not seen in a generation. I cannot say who that would be, and indeed at the moment I cannot imagine any of the present members of the House or Senate in that kind of heroic role, but then again, miracles can and do happen, and if we are granted one we should not overlook the grace of it.


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Comments (26)

Palin, or no one.... (Below threshold)
The Exposer:

Palin, or no one.

Newthe should have... (Below threshold)


he should have run... but he must have known anyone would have lost this year.

I believe he'll be younger than McCain was this year.

I think Romney could be an ... (Below threshold)

I think Romney could be an attractive candidate in 4 years especially if the economy is still having tough times. While he came around on social issues late, he has them correct for the social conservatives--at least as he talks. I think he is a candidate that could keep together the social conservatives and the economic conservatives.

If the economy is still bad he would also have the opportunity to run as an outsider--almost a Perot type on economic issues. I think the question for Romney is what can he do the next 2 years to enhance his standing to make another run for the Presidency.

DJ,Pawlenty will b... (Below threshold)


Pawlenty will be another lost election. He is not a conservative. Worse, he seems to enjoy poking his finger in the eye of any conservative he meets just like McCain. Let's just nip that candidacy in the bud right now. If we are going to run him, we might as well run a McCain/Graham ticket in 4 years.

There is a clear lack of up of people ready for the stage. There are people who will be on the stage someday, but most just aren't ready yet.

Action items for the next cycle:
1) Fix the nominating process. No more early open primaries.
2) Work to develop future candidates on the farm teams.
3) Get back to basics! Be conservative. Be proud. Articulate conservative ideas.
4) Get to work winning back local and state offices.
5) Tell the RINOs to learn to swim 'cause they are going over the side. We must stop being democrat lite and start offering voters a clear choice.

I really wish Haley Barbour... (Below threshold)

I really wish Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, would run agains Obama in 2012. I was disappointed that he opted out this year, because I thought he would make a good candidate, one who would not sell out conservatives at the drop of a hat, but one who also seems comfortable in his own skin, looks good on television, and speaks well and with deliberation.

Jindal is a nonstarter beca... (Below threshold)

Jindal is a nonstarter because he advocates teaching religion in public schools. No way could such a candidate win the general election.

Gingrich is a nonstarter because he has too much baggage. His blunders killed the Republican Revolution of the 90s almost before it began, and the Democrats beat him to a bloody pulp with the flail of his own misdeeds.

Palin could do it, except that the McCain campaign's inept handling of her, and the media blitz against her, made her a laughingstock for the foreseeable future. We need a new face with even less baggage than she has.

We need to get the candidat... (Below threshold)

We need to get the candidates to step up and start talking about traditional conservative values. The mere talk will focus the argument.

New NH Moto -- "LIve for free pie".

DJWhat did you thi... (Below threshold)


What did you think of Duncan Hunter? I liked him in the early going, he didn't get much play in the news, just curious.

Palin will be fine. She ne... (Below threshold)

Palin will be fine. She need to set out CORE BELIEFS that Americans can rally to, like these:

(1) America is NOT the "problem" in the world, i.e. her faults (current and historical) do NOT even come close to outweighing what America has done for the world
(2) Individual thought, will and freedom of action benefits mankind more than socialistic group-think and government control
(3) "Peace at any price" is a guarantee of war and/or slavery
(4) We are a sovereign nation, entitled to enforcable borders, and thus control of who is and is not allowed to come in, and who is and is not allowed to remain here
(5) The Right to Keep & Bear Arms shall not be Infringed

Make the Left confront THOSE! Stick to those Core Beliefs that UNITE true Americans!!

do yourselves a favor....dr... (Below threshold)

do yourselves a favor....drop this discussion right now and urge all of your conservative friends to do the same. it is absolutely impossible for a candidate to hold up over 4 years of expectations and scrutiny so if you have any hope of any of those mentioned above on 2012, drop the speculation right now, talk about something else!!. remember guiliani?

DJ said: "Finally, we can a... (Below threshold)

DJ said: "Finally, we can always hope that someone will demonstrate outstanding leadership in the House or Senate, someone as yet unknown who will make the case for conservatism in a way that we have not seen in a generation. ...I cannot imagine any of the present members of the House or Senate in that kind of heroic role, but then again, miracles can and do happen..."

What about Jim DeMint or Tom Coburn? They are both heroes to many of us, as they have stood up firmly for conservatives and against numerous pieces of objectionable legislation that many other Republicans were willing to support so they could "go along to get along" with their Democrat counterparts.

I would definitely vote for Jim DeMint for any office, anytime, anywhere.

Reagan toiled in the... (Below threshold)

Reagan toiled in the wilderness from 1972 -1980 while Republican moderates eviscerated him (until he cinched the 1980 nomination) with rumors of his supposed lack of intelligence (voodoo economics), unsophisticated style and worrisome aggressiveness (he called the Soviets on their intentions).

The Republican Party will regain power in Washington when it starts acting more like a Reagan, Eisenhower or Truman.

I find it enlightening that Palin's critics are centered in the moderate wing of the Republican Party. She scares the hell out of them. Something about their anonymous comments reminds me of what I heard about Reagan in 1976 (and later from types like Sam Donaldson and Tip O'Neil after the 1980 election).....not smart, not prepared, dangerous. All these comments were accompanied, often, in fact, prefaced with the obligatory "what are we getting ourselves into with this man?"

DJ makes a good point about the well groomed, well known Republican candidates. They are all consistent in one respect. They lose, with exception of GHWB, who rode the amazing wave of Reagan popularity until he incredibly flip flopped on taxes (he apparently really believed that voodoo economics line).

Two mistakes: Your continu... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:

Two mistakes: Your continued insistence that Huckabee is somehow similar to McCain and your inclusion of Pawlenty in the mix of genuine conservatives. I don't know what your thinking is on either of those.

I personally expect that th... (Below threshold)

I personally expect that the voters will give Barack Obama two terms to change America and improve the economy, and any GOP contender in 2012 will likely do even worse than John McCain. I don't expect Obama to fizzle like a Jimmy Carter, who had a golden opportunity, but just wasn't up the the challenges. But it will be up to the Democratic congress to show real results with the economy or they could face some setbacks in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016.

My best guess is that the smart money says that no GOP contender will beat Obama in 2012, so the best GOP candidates might avoid this year and then make a more serious run four years later when the opportunity might be better. Certainly the GOP needs to nominate someone in 2012, and since they can't win in 2012, could just throw away the election with the nomination of some political lightweight like a Sarah Palin who can't win anyway.

The political problem for Republicans right now is that their wandering in the wilderness might be a long one, or at least eight years, and maybe even longer if the Democrats show real results in strengthening the economy and restoring the nation. Economic conditions are now so similar to the Great Depression, and Obama in a similar position as Roosevelt. And Democratic rule lasted 16 years due to that. History might be the same again.

Hooosan says... (Below threshold)

Hooosan says

Economic conditions are now so similar to the Great Depression, and Obama in a similar position as Roosevelt. And Democratic rule lasted 16 years due to that. History might be the same again.

Economic stats don't even approach the last Democrat recession in 1981-1984, much less the Great Depression. And yes, Paul, just to remind you , it was a Democrat recession in 1981. But what economic statistics from 1981 would dissuade you from demagoguing the current economic climate? Please keep your answer to thirty words or less. Better yet, don't answer...you already have.

We'll see soon if Obama and his Congress turn this economy into a depression.

While they are doing this take a primer on economic analysis. Math is difficult to spin: compare today with 1932-1940.

If we get abother lets take... (Below threshold)
Thomas Jackson:

If we get abother lets take the high road candidate rather than one who will meet the tactics and spin of the dhimmierats we will not win. Second, we need ideas, not slogans. No more compassionate conservatives or unity.

How about an agenda for what the government will do as Newt proposed in 1994? We also need to insure that Obama's ballot stuffing doesn't work again nor the fund raising in Burma, Iran, and Hamas centers around the world.

Finally we need to purge the RINOs who know what we can't do (advocate vouchers, pro life, pro gun, anti gay agendas) but can't offer anything. The limosine RINOs never vote for the GOP anyway, just smear our candidates. The Huckabees, Guilianis and other out of touch Washington insiders need to be put away in the bad memory chest to rot along slide the Slade Gordons and Specters. If we can't run on our principles and have to adopt those of the Libertarians there is no reason for the GOP to exist. Hell, just look at the state of the Libertarians. A party of dopers and losers.

HughS, you do know that Rep... (Below threshold)

HughS, you do know that Republican Ronald Reagan was president in 1981-84, during those bad economy years that you're talking about. Regardless of that, it is the performance of Democrats that will determine how long their rule is more than real efforts by the Republicans at this point in my view.

Barack Obama talked about the economy. John McCain talked about Bill Ayers. Republicans aren't likely to win much in the near future until they also talk about the issues that really matter to the voters. In my view, they're likely to be America's #2 party for quite some time. But how long their rebuilding phase goes on for is more up to the performance of the Democrats than anything in my view.

Most normal voters aren't going to turn out a Democratic politician who talks about jobs and delivers, or helps them avoid home foreclosure, etc., in favor of some Republican who merely runs against Gay rights or other fringe issues. Even most bigots prefer to have a roof over their head if the truth be told. The Republicans need better issues and candidates both, but they are not quite as bad off as after 1964 by any means. Down but certainly not completely out. They still have a decent base of support in the South and some parts of the West. But the stakes were very high in 2008, yet they put such a pathetic effort that will be very difficult to recover from for some years in my view.

I've deliberately avoided many comments here since the election because I have no desire to make my Republican friends here feel bad. But I just think that the GOP is in a weak position right now, and some like Sarah Palin certainly are not the real future of that party. The party needs to count on a terrible Democratic failures as well as offering more attractive candidates and issues, otherwise their journey in the wilderness will be indeed very long.

Here's an idea: let's assoc... (Below threshold)
Otis Neimancan:

Here's an idea: let's associate Sarah Palin with Adolph Hitler! Well after all, Mr. Hitler believed in private enterprise. Hated Communists. Espoused the same values Ms. Palin does. So?

Palin has been tested in th... (Below threshold)

Palin has been tested in the arena, she has been consistently conservative, she is loved by the people. I disagree with your premice that there is no clear focal point in the Republican arena. Palin is definitely a focal point and a positive one!

I need the Republicans to g... (Below threshold)
James H:

I need the Republicans to get on their feet, and to get on those feet fast. I lean toward the left, but I count on the Republicans to check the Democrats' urge to overly expand the federal government's scope and/or intrusiveness or increase spending.

Problem is, the current generation of the Republican Party did a really, really lousy job of reining in spending and the size of the federal government and its spending over the past several years. So, well ... I couldn't vote for Republicans this time around.

In my own case, I would very much like for Republicans to refocus on core conservative values, particularly those that antedate Roe and the gay-rights movement. Individual liberties, caution on new programs, and a foreign policy founded on a hard-headed assessment of US interests are all winners in my book.

I really do believe that the recent focus on abortion, gay issues, and class warfare has seriously hurt the Republicans' credibility on other issues.

We'll have to wait until Ne... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

We'll have to wait until Neil Young writes us a song!

HughS, you do know th... (Below threshold)

HughS, you do know that Republican Ronald Reagan was president in 1981-84, during those bad economy years that you're talking about.

Of course I do. If you read the whole thread you would know that.

Reagan fixed the Carter recession.

I thought a Romney-Giullian... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

I thought a Romney-Giulliani ticket would have been a nice 1-2 punch. (economics-security) I still don't know what happened to those guys.....

Paul, you do know that Reag... (Below threshold)

Paul, you do know that Reagan was sworn in in 1981? I hope so. He inherited the crashing economy from Carter and a democratically controlled congress. The same will happen again. Democrats only know how to tax and spend. Also, Obama did not talk about the economy, he only said we need change. Cheesh, were you even paying attention.

I think we have a real shot at the congress in 2010 with already the economy crash hanging around the necks of the current democratic leadership. They have had oversigh for two years and they did nothing to prevent or warn us. This is the demo's crash. ww

Wildwillie, I blame ... (Below threshold)

I blame the current crisis directly around the necks of Chris Dodd and Barney Frank and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Had there been regulations imposed on them when Bush and McCain were sounding the warnings banks wouldn't be afraid to loan money now; however, the Republicans didn't help themselves by spending like democrats this time around. There were simply NO conservativeleaders in this race this time.

How about Michael Steele? ... (Below threshold)

How about Michael Steele? Or Gen. Petraeus?






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