Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It Could Happen

President Gingrich?

It could happen, according to David Horsey's latest column.

No matter how much money Mitt Romney spends, money can’t buy him the love of conservatives. His awkward and often tone-deaf performance on the campaign trail has brought him close to becoming an object of ridicule – the kiss of death for any politician.

Rick Santorum’s claim to the hearts and minds of those same conservatives was rejected in South Carolina. And, Monday night during the debate in Florida, his glee at the prospect of war with Iran did not come across as tough, it came across as scary.

And Ron Paul? Well, he performs a great service by injecting an occasional reality check into the debates – as he did on Monday night by knocking down Gingrich’s claim to have willingly and nobly resigned from the speaker’s job in the wake of GOP losses in the 1998 election. But Paul’s anti-war libertarianism will never prevail in the party most enamored of the military industrial complex.

And so there is Gingrich. He has become a contender because he is unusually articulate, spouts lots of intelligent-sounding big ideas and channels the anger of the core Republican electorate. For now, they are overlooking or forgiving his many personal flaws.

Mitt Romney is no longer the "given" in the GOP campaign for the reasons Horsey lists and for one he didn't. After finally giving in and providing his tax returns we learn that Mitt and his wife did in fact pay nearly 15% of his income (all of it apparently from investments)in taxes. The total paid: $3 million, which is more than most Americans earn in a lifetime. When that fully sinks in, no doubt with the help of his Republican opponents and the Obama campaign, a lot of Americans are going to be turned off.

There is a chance, then, that absent a brokered convention, Gingrich will be the Republican nominee. That's a scary thought all by itself.

Does that mean it should be a walk in the park for President Obama?

Not exactly. As Horsey points out, a lot depends on the state of the economy come November. If unemployment and underemployment hasn't eased and if Americans sink further into debt with no hope of ever catching up, they will be in a foul mood. And if President Obama can't pin the failure to grow the economy on an obstructionist Republican party, he will justifiably be held accountable.

Last night's State of the Union address shows that the president is aware of what has to be done. The trick will be to get it done, or at least be seen to have made a valiant effort to do so. That means he has to stop his "get along" approach, and I'm not sure he's capable of doing so.

Needless to say, I would love to be proved wrong.



Blogger Charles said...

Since I focus on theme and structure of a speech, I wasn't much impressed with the SOTU. On Eschaton, I joked that Obama's message was everyone should join the Army so that they'll know how to be a real American. The speech had no other coherent theme, and it wandered from place to place.

As for a brokered convention, I think that's a realistic possibility. It used to be that one couldn't put together a campaign team on short order, but with Citizens United, those days are over. They have a permanent team on the ground, just waiting for money and orders.

6:11 PM  

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