Sunday, January 1, 2012

GOP: 2012's Humpty Dumpty (Part 1)

Whether it’s the NBA Finals, my Aunts’ Pound Cake Cookoff, or a Brandy vs Monica track, there’s  nothing like seeing great entities compete… which is why I’m almost sad about the current campaign for Election 2012.

I know several folks believe reelecting Barack Obama is the end of life as we know it. Unfortunately for those people, no one on the other side has a campaign that has proved that they are any better. Each candidate has a flickering moment as the top contender in the lime light and then falters; the “New Car Scent” emanating from the tree dangling from my rear view mirror lasts longer than any of the GOP hopefuls reign over their competitors. Why?

  • That’s always how it is this far out. Remember when Hilary and our current Pres -and every now and then John Edwards- were shuffling spots in the Dem primaries? As the voters learn more about the candidates, their votes shift.
  • It’s pretty hard to unseat an incumbent President (there’s only been 3 one-term presidents since WWII.) Read more about incumbents who’ve lost ---> here.
  • Every single GOP candidate has at least one inescapable flaw that makes it difficult for the American voter base to accept them as president.
Let’s start with my 2nd favorite Republican.

Ron Paul
We all know a Ron Paul. He’s the great uncle in everyone’s family who says something outrageous or maybe something we all want to say, but have the tact to keep to ourselves. I’ll give it to the guy; he’s consistent. He’s so opposed to governmental payments that he won’t accept the pension he earns as a Congress member. He’s so conservative that he’s libertarian (see what I did there); he’s opposed to the U.S.’s participation in the United Nations, NATO, the War on Drugs, abortion, affirmative action and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But...

His Flaws: 
  • You invite your great uncle to the BBQ because you have to, but that doesn’t mean you’d VOTE for him. Ron Paul is 76 years old. He’s old, a little cranky, and can’t handle the pressure of being a President. He nearly flipped on a journalist who asked him a question, while he was eating breakfast quite publicly in a hotel lobby. Dude… you’re running for office; if you want to avoid people, get room service.
  • While his ideas often seem like simple concepts that make sense, they often require a dramatic and radical change in thinking that people aren’t ready for. People (self included) just aren’t ready to sign up for ideas like the decriminalization of cocaine. Nah… not yet.
Side Serving of Flaw: He also has his name on some racist newsletters.

 Newt Gingrich
Someone I really respect said that Newt Gingrich was really smart. This may be true; I just haven’t seen it. I think the best way to really paint a picture of why Gingrich won’t make it the Oval Office is an examination of a recent controversial position/idea he has for “poor kids.” To paraphrase, Gingrich believes that the government should change child labor laws and allow poor children who “don’t see adults working” to gain a work ethic by cleaning toilets and mopping floors. “The families could use the extra money anyway.” 

His Flaws: 
  • He’s not diplomatic enough to be president. When you come up with a solution that requires us to “relax child labor laws” you've lost a good chunk of your audience. When your solution involves putting mop handles in poor kids’ hands Annie-style, you’ve lost even more. (Wonder why he didn’t suggest giving them office or administrative experience? They can’t learn work ethic by running copies; only by being janitors huh?)  Furthermore, when your solution suggests that poor folks have no work ethic, people hear “Gingrich must think that rich people work harder.” Anyone that’s ever worked at at Kmart the day before Christmas knows that isn’t true. I’d argue that in many cases, the work ethic of poor children rivals that of some rich children who inherit trust funds, are given a car on their 16th birthday and who don’t know what Tide is for.  
  • He changes religions and wives like high school students change their Facebook status. He’s been married 3 times, was originally a Lutheran, then a Southern Baptist in grad school, and in 08 confirmed for sure that he was now Catholic. A liberal audience might be ok with this, but the conservative base that he hopes to propel him to the Presidency? Naaaah.
Rick Perry 
I’ll give him this; this guy has guts. He stood before a conservative audience in one of the early debates and stood behind his plan to provide in state tuition for undocumented citizens working to get their legal citizenship. And attendees of these Republican debates happen to be professional booers. Kudos to you Mr. Perry. But you’re not the answer. 

His Flaws: 
  • He’s got no stage presence, or as the urban crowd calls it, “swag.” The guy practically writes entire SNL sketches every other time he speaks. We're all familiar with his HUGE gaffe that made the cover of the Washington Post where he was unable to name the three agencies of government he wanted to eliminate. (By the way, whoever heard of nixing the Department of Education?!? Is he ridiculous!?) But if you need more examples of silly statements, read here.
  • He’s more of a Texan than an American leader, and people can feel it. Back in 09, Perry suggested that Texas could secede and become its own country. He's just not ready for the Big Leagues. 
I’ll address Huntsman, Romney, Santorum, and Bachmann next week in Part Two.

The GOP Hopefuls have something I certainly don’t have: the courage to run for president of a pretty powerful country. But they all have something else in common: an inevitable loss ahead. I’d put my niece’s college trust fund on it. 

What are your thoughts? Do you see any other flaws in Perry, Gingrich or Ron Paul? Are the flaws overstated? Do you think they have a chance?  Let’s talk about it. (Happy New Year!!)