Thursday, April 21, 2011

And In This Corner?

Doyle McManus has a rather simple thesis for his latest column in the Los Angeles Times. Donald Trump may be getting plenty of ink and electrons in connections with his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, but he's not going to get too far.

Here's a not very bold prediction: Donald Trump won't be the Republican presidential nominee next year. He's not a credible national leader. His strategy for restoring American economic vigor boils down to threatening China with a trade war. It's not even clear that he's a conservative; he once backed Barack Obama, and he appears to favor abortion rights. The GOP can do better, and will.

Trump's success so far (some recent polls suggest he's second only to Mitt Romney) is simply a measure of disgust conservative voters have with the current crop of putative candidates. Like the Democrats in the 2008 election, Republicans are looking for real change. They want a leader who will end the gridlock and who will favor broad swaths of the citizenry rather than just the special interest groups who have appeared to have bought the government. Ultimately, Trump will not satisfy enough of the party regulars in that regard.

Less politely, it means that none of the potential candidates now testing the waters — Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, to name the most prominent — has caught fire yet. The GOP voters who told pollsters they would favor Trump listened to that list of names and replied, in effect, "none of the above."

Moreover, a look at the poll numbers shows that Trump's support comes at the expense of potential candidates whose standing has eroded in recent months: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Gingrich.

In other words, the race for the GOP is still wide open, and, in the McManus view, so is the 2012 election. I suspect he may be right. President Obama has certainly turned out to be someone entirely different than candidate Obama in all sorts of ways. He inherited a plateful of problems, but he has not successfully solved any of them. He also has adopted some of the worst parts of the Bush administration as his own, thereby showing what suckers his base turned out to be.

So, we're apparently in for a real bruising election season, or will be once the Republicans finally get some formally announced candidates.



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