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Not Anyone Can

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Maybe we are missing the larger picture with respect to the GOP’s preparation for the 2012 election. They are going to lose. They know it. Romney is their only credible candidate, although his candidacy could still be butchered by the selection of another inept vice presidential candidate, the same way that the McCain campaign did. How else can one explain the rise and fall in such short order of the so-called top tier candidates? It is as if each gets a turn at the top.

There is something wrong with the picture and I suspect that it is something so simple that the best and the brightest of pundits cannot see it for what it is. It is the axiom that anyone can become president of the United States. No, just anyone cannot. The GOP suffers from Palinization, rifle scopes and all. As a result the party suffers from dumb-it-down candidacies.

PaulI buy into the idea called dumb-it-down as it applies to communication. Conceptual complexity and argument abstraction that are academic or philosophical are pretty tough to communicate. Just ask President Obama. If an audience gets the bulk its information from television, anything requiring a degree of sophistication comes across as haughty. It will defy the understanding of the middle-of-the-bell-curve. It will not make good sound bites.

As a sitting member of Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann should not be just anyone, but she might as well be. She has been the darling of the Grand Old Party for at least a few months but goes out of her way to demonstrate her lack of competence with such hubris one wonders how she got elected to Congress in the first place. As the leader of the congressional Tea Party caucus and as a token candidate, Bachmann pre-empted Fox commentator Sarah Palin from contending and stubbornly spends money in a losing cause – a realistic bid for the Republican presidential nomination. However, as a vp nominee she could effectively incapacitate a Romney bid, just as Palin did McCain’s.

Herman Cain, on the other hand, is another anyone. He has twice run for but never been elected to a public office. He also has been a party dandy, glib and funny. Unfortunately, he compounds his lack of competence with such narcissism and lack of organization that he will successfully fail in his third attempt at an elected public office, which is incidentally the highest such position in our government. Cain’s Tea Party affiliation is as phony as his bogus 9-9-9 economic proposition. Like Bachmann he is also a token candidate who happily spends other people’s money on a losing proposition. However, he too could incapacitate a Romney campaign if given the vp slot.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is a frightening anyone. Perry entered the GOP contest at the top and has raised almost as much money as Romney. What puzzles me is that no one bothers to point out that under his leadership Texas “faces a projected deficit of $15 billion to $27 billion for the two-year spending cycle” that began in September, according to Bloomberg News. He is proud of his mediocre education and expects to stand pointed-toe to toe with a Harvard law professor, the incumbent. Beavis and Butthead say “knowledge is stupid.” Perry covers his demonstrated laziness with swagger.Fellow Texans

Fellow Texan Rep. Ron Paul is a Libertarian who wants to do away with the Federal Reserve. It is easy to come up with stuff like that in the knowledge that most of the electorate does not know much about the Fed except that conservatives are wont to demonize it. The 76-year-old physician has run for the presidency before, as a Libertarian in 1988 and as a Republican in 2008. He has money and a loyal following, but he is not just anyone. His views aside, the present GOP is stuck in its anyone-can-be-president rut, so Paul’s is a voice in the wilderness.

Not being just anyone especially applies to the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He is the present polling star of the GOP slate, but his baggage will become burdensome as his rise attracts more attention, especially from the right. I remember interviewing Georgia Congressman Gingrich on WJCL-TV, Savannah, after his second reelection. He had successfully graduated from what is called congress’ knife-and-fork-school. He knew how to be interviewed and both dressed and sounded like an elected public servant, then. He is strictly a Gingrich servant now.

As for former US Senator Rick Santorum and former Obama Administration Ambassador to China John Huntsman, you cannot call either of them “anyone.” They suffer a paucity of money and organization. Like Gingrich and Paul, they won’t make the cut in the primaries and will deliver inevitable concession speeches.

Mitt Romney for PresidentThat leaves Mitt Romney all alone as the someone who can become president. He could be “anyone” except for the fact that he is the son of a former governor, George Romney of Michigan, a former governor himself, and he has been running for president for five years. Romney takes a lot of heat for obviously changing his positions with regularity but it is not lonely at the top  when one is running for the presidency.

Romney is the personification of the completed axiom that anyone can become president of the United States. The problem with the axiom is the understanding of what “anyone” means.

Anyone who is committed to public service, who is diligent, who is well financed, well informed, well prepared, well backed, self-possessed, and at the right moment in time may become president of the United States. That cannot be dumbed down by populist rhetoric. Mitt Romney has most of those attributes, which his competitors lack. That is why he will become the GOP standard bearer next year. Unfortunately, the right moment for the Republican Party in 2012 is as much wishful thinking as a Bachmann-Cain ticket. The moment belongs to the incumbent.

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About Tommy Mack

Tommy Mack began his career in broadcasting and is a US Army graduate of the Defense Information School. He worked in Army Public and Command Information and earned a BS in Liberal Studies from the State University of New York, Albany. A marketing communications executive, Tommy became a business management consultant for a major international consulting company and its affiliates before establishing Tommy Mack Organization, a business consulting practice specializing in organization and communications management. A professional writer and blogger, he writes about politics, business, and culture.
  • The election is still far away. Once the major parties have nominated their candidates, the election and debates will move forward.

    Recent elections have favored incumbents for a second term. There is dissatisfaction on the left and the right. How this will play out at the polls is anyone’s guess.

    In a close election, Ralph Nader could have an impact as in 2000. This election, people will be thinking about progress not change. The candidate who presents the best arguments to explain how we move forward on a number of fronts will have the best chance of garnering votes.

    Voters realize that we have to grow the economy by increasing trade, repairing infrastructure and providing incentives for small and intermediate size businesses.

    The retirement of the baby boom generation will provide new opportunities for younger workers-particularly college grads just entering the market.

    Volatility in stocks will make the election decision even more difficult. Uncertainties in Europe may provide another interfering factor.

  • RJ
  • Baronius

    Joseph, you’re clearly pushing for her. I’m not pushing for anyone. (You may notice that I didn’t endorse Romney, Rubio, or anyone else.)

    If you’re going to play out scenarios, the main question you have to ask is, how many votes would Romney/A get against Obama/Biden, versus Romney/B against Obama/Biden. I’d hope that you’d also ask whether A or B would be a better VP, or a better President, but it’s probably more realistic to look at the quest for 270 electoral votes.

    If you’re running the scenarios based on recent history, the first thing you’ll notice is that candidates from Massachusetts have done very poorly in general elections. Kennedy squeaked by, Dukakis failed, Kerry tanked, and Romney lost the last primary. People don’t mind arrogance in their inferiors (which is how they view Texans) as much as arrogance from the well-bred (Massachusetts).

    Everyone loves Southerners. You’d think they wouldn’t, given the anti-South bias in American culture, but Southern candidates do well. Going back to Kennedy again, who won Texas thanks to his VP nominee. Since then we’ve elected:
    Johnson (Southerner)
    Nixon (Cal. Republican)
    Nixon (Cal. Republican)
    Carter (Southerner)
    Reagan (Cal. Republican)
    Reagan (Cal. Republican)
    Bush (New Englander running as a Southerner)
    Clinton (Southerner)
    Clinton (Southerner)
    Bush (Southerner)
    Bush (Southerner)
    Obama beating McCain, the first race without a Southerner or a Republican governor from California in 50 years.

    Old trends aren’t guarantees, but it’s noteworthy that three of the five anti-Romney mini-surges have come from south of the Mason-Dixon line. All of this is a long way of saying that if I were Romney, I’d run as a Michigander myself, and draw a veep from the South (although, as I’ve noted elsewhere, I expect that any Republican candidate would also consider General Petraeus).

    And back to Dread’s point, I don’t see who would vote for Romney/Huntsman over Obama/Biden who wouldn’t vote for Romney/(?) over Obama/Biden.

  • Marco Rubio is a possibility but Congresswoman Candice Miller is a huge vote getter with a lot of experience. The American people have been partial to the incumbents in the re-elections of Presidents Clinton and Bush II. Perhaps, they will apply similar logic in re-electing President Obama.

    This election may go to the candidate with greater credibility on jobs and reducing unemployment. I believe that most people realize the necessity of limiting our commitments in overseas entanglements. Normalizing the debt is an issue for future generations. Tax credits are important; however, most people realize the importance of balancing the budget as President Clinton did.

    This is a difficult period with the baby boom generation retiring in record numbers. I believe that the solution is to engage in more infrastructure, bring back the family farm and support small business as an important growth engine. Large businesses are contracting as evidenced by the 30,000 white collar furlough of Bank of America workers.

    Something needs to be done about derivatives to protect small investors from another debacle as in 2008. Maybe, we need to revamp the securities laws or make improvements to Article 9 of the UCC to cover derivatives.

    Revisiting portions of the Glass-Steagall Act is another possibility as is instituting a margin requirement for derivatives.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I’d say it’s more about balance. The two strongest examples of your theory, Bush/Cheney and Clinton/Gore, were both cases of governors whose lack of Washington experience was offset by their choice of a longtime legislator. Actually, that combination of governor for President, insider for VP has won 7 out of the last 9 elections. And our current VP is very much an insider legislator.

    I’d give the best odds to a conservative legislator from the South, maybe a minority or a woman with Tea Party cred. I think I just described Marco Rubio.

  • Congresswoman Miller sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Transportation Infrastructure Committee.

    She is a big vote getter from Michigan’s 10th Congressional District with a ton of good experience in government. Watch her for a VP selection or a possible presidential choice in a deadlocked convention.

    The next President must work tirelessly to reduce unemployment to about 5.5% or less, promote infrastructure, make progress on alternative energy, exit from Afghanistan, bring back the family farm and do something substantial for health care delivery systems and public outreach. Continued improvement with increasing the foreign trade surplus is another important item on the agenda.

  • A dose of realism?

    The trend in the last couple of elections has been to pick one of your goofier rivals and stick him or her where he or she can’t do any damage (although that didn’t work with Cheney). Huntsman is far from goofy – in fact he is by some distance the most sensible and reality-grounded person in the GOP field – but such is the state of the party nowadays that he is perceived to be “out there”.

  • Baronius

    Dread – Most candidates use the second slot to balance a weakness, or to add something demographic. What would you see Huntsman adding?

  • At this point I think the best ticket for the GOP would be Romney for Pres and Huntsman for VP, although I doubt that a Mormon double-dip would fly for all that many voters – primary AND general.