WHITE HORSE

Well, strike Mitch Daniels.

In a turn somewhat reminiscent of Colin Powell's refusal to run in 1996 (motivated largely by his wife's disdain for the idea) the Indiana Governor removed himself from the list of 2012 GOP contenders. Daniels appeared to be swayed by the "no" votes of his wife and children; I won't rehash all of the unsubstantiated rumors about the Daniels' marriage, but his wife was clearly of the opinion that it wouldn't be pleasant to litigate on the national stage. For the unaware, Daniels and his wife Cheri married in 1978 and divorced in the early 1990s. Then Cheri married some other guy before re-marrying Mitch in 1997. Tons of salacious theories about why they divorced are in circulation.

I still believe that the Secret Ay-Rab (Didn't realize that his grandparents are Syrian immigrants? Yeah, that probably would have "come up" in GOP primary campaigning) represented the best chance Republicans had to defeat Obama despite the fact that Daniels stood little chance of surviving the nomination process. Teabaggers would have torn him apart and religious conservatives are unlikely to have been swayed by his recent look-how-Jesusy-I-am grandstanding at the expense of Planned Parenthood. In the general election, though, his appeal could have been substantial.

Where does that leave the GOP field? Well, it's weaker. And it was already weak. Losing Huckabee and Daniels in rapid succession has left the party with few viable options. The biggest beneficiary of Daniels' exit has to be Tim Pawlenty, who now stands virtually unopposed in the "mainstream candidate who isn't Mitt Romney" role. T-Paw may have the appeal of white bread wadded up and dipped in tepid tap water, but if you're a moderate-ish Republican who can't overlook one of Romney's twin heresies – Mormonism and the Massachusetts health care reform law – you're really running out of options. Who else is there at this point? The Gingrich 2012 rollout has been a stunning failure on the level of the Edsel or Heaven's Gate. Ron Paul is a cult figure. Michelle Bachmann is mentally ill. Jon Huntsman has zero name recognition and twin heresies (Mormonism and working for the Obama administration) little different than Romney's.

A quick perusal of the available options makes it obvious why the GOP is starting to look around for a savior to come over the mountain riding a white horse. We saw this reaction in 2008 as well; when it became apparent in late 2007 that the field was terrible the Draft Fred Thompson drumbeat rose to a crescendo. Similarly, we are now starting to hear much more about "drafting" Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, and Rick Perry into the race. As Mr. Thompson proved in 2008, there are substantial problems with the Savior plan.

First, the candidate probably isn't as good as the panicky rank-and-file imagine him to be. Most other GOP elected officials are currently treating Ryan like he has leprosy; his defining attribute is a proposal to replace Medicare with a voucher and a mandate for Granny to find her own health insurance. Christie probably can't get re-elected in New Jersey and has the look and personality of a Sopranos extra. Perry's tired horseshit might play in Texas but unlike the previous Lone Star State Governor he can't even plausibly fake the centrist/moderate/compassionate conservatism persona. Everything you need to know about the field is encapsulated perfectly in the fact that these three knuckleheads are the "saviors".

Second, it's already getting late for someone to jump into the race. The Iowa Caucuses are six months away. The candidates who figure to be competitive in January have already laid the groundwork for a campaign and have boots on the ground in key primary states. Thompson proved that it's remarkably difficult – let's go ahead and say impossible – to throw together in a rush a campaign good enough to navigate the modern nomination process. Mitt Romney already has nine figures available in his war chest. What will a new Savior have when he declares in mid-June?

The GOP's saving grace might be that the candidate with the least appeal to the party base but the best odds of competing in the general election may win by default. If Pawlenty fails to catch fire – not hard to imagine, is it? – then I can't imagine who other than Mittens is going to win this thing. As nuts as the GOP base is, I have a hard time seeing Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, and Ron Paul being serious contenders as opposed to flag-bearers for a specific faction in the party.

If these were my options, I'd be dreaming up fantastic scenarios involving knights in shining armor too.

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32 Responses to “WHITE HORSE”

  1. Zeb Says:

    I'm conflicted about this. On the one hand, I'm grateful that the GOP will (probably) not nominate someone completely insane and odious… I certainly won't vote for Romney, but I don't hate him that way I hate every other candidate on that list. On the other hand, he is the only one there who presents a real challenge to Obama, and while a Romney presidency probably wouldn't make me want to flee to Canada, it wouldn't bode well for the Supreme Court or any meaningful reform.

  2. eau Says:

    That Daily Caller link was a hoot. "To call it a vaccuum would be unfair…" Yucks aplenty.

    But the comments. The comments. Why do I look? Why can't I help myself?

    Tragicomedy. I think my favourite is "RuPaul" at "9:44 PM 05/22/2011 – 9:44 PM" (Why the time twice, DC?) –

    "again, no fatties please!
    we need attractive candidates like ryan or michele"

  3. Number Three Says:

    The missus and I (both political scientists, although I don't work in the academy) discuss this very topic at length, about three times a week. (We have a very exciting marriage.)

    My take: I cannot see Pawlenty "catching fire." He is, to cut to the chase, a dork, and he comes across as a pandering dork on teevee. But as she is quick to point out, it won't be Romney–twin heresies–so, by default, Pawlenty is it.

    I'm stuck there. Looks like you are, too, Ed.

    And you're right–no savior scenario passes the "and then what" test.

  4. HoosierPoli Says:

    The hilarious part is, Barack Obama has a knockout punch for anyone who runs against him: a big fat bear hug. All Obama has to do is run towards any Republican, lips puckered, and their base will instantly desert them.

  5. Comhradh Says:

    Aww, c'mon, what happened to Rick Santorum?

  6. acer Says:

    Let us not forget that Paul Ryan is a thin-skinned little bitch of a dude. He's made his name on fiscal radicalism but can't take criticism from Gingrich or even Obama, for fuck's sake. He'd crumple like a Chinese SUV under the pressure of a drawn-out national campaign.

    I'm still hoping for an outbreak of Hermania, for entertainment purposes. Or maybe Ron Paul CAN win if the EVMs are hacked by 4Chan.

  7. Middle Seaman Says:

    We are blessed, both parties has nobodies running. 2012-2016 promise to be banana republic years.

  8. Bryan Says:

    I say they’re gonna hold their collective noses and go with Romney. Who, sadly, will have a decent chance because, while he may be the wrong flavor of christard, is at least… uhh… of slightly more European descent.

  9. gee whiz Says:

    Does Ron Paul/Herman Cain/Some other libertarian dude called Gary Johnson really have no chance? The voters only elect the moneyed main stream candidate? Why? I think it could be entertaining to watch Ron Paul vs. Barack Obama.

  10. c u n d gulag Says:

    I'd love to see Krispy Kreme Christie get the nod. Obama can just show pictures of the Taft bathtub, with Christie's face airbrushed in.

    Somewhere, Jeb Bush sits waiting by the phone, cursing his brother, Little Boots.
    And elsewhere, Daddy Bush is cursing at the same time…

    2012 may be too soon for Jeb.
    But I think he'll be a serious candidate in '16. They may yet beg him to run since shat they've got looks like the bar scene from "Star Wars."
    Rubio?

  11. Jimcat Says:

    Having had to live in New Jersey with Christie as governor, I have to say that I hope he runs next year. Since he has no chance of being elected President, that will get both New Jersey and the nation rid of him.

  12. John Says:

    Newt was probably one of their best shots. But no, he had to go and commit the cardinal sin of daring to question teatard ideology, and as such as been excommunicated.

    As an aside: When your "radical right-wing social engineering" is too extreme for *Newt Fucking Gingrich*, you've got some problems.

    I actually would not be surprised to see the GOP put up Cain to buy a few more years of "We're totally not racist in any way whatsoever" defenses. I mean, they're screwed anyway, they might as well put up the no-win candidate that gives them the most points outside the election.

  13. Tim H. Says:

    Some bitter humor here, Obama's seems nearly Republican to this old guy, and his re-election chances are excellent because the right-wingnut's quest for ideological purity is going to prevent any electable candidate from winning the nomination. Do wonder what rough beast slouches towards the GOP nomination next year…

  14. Southern Beale Says:

    I saw Minnesota is putting a gay marriage ban on its 2012 ballot. The GOP has little tricks like this up its sleeve to bring the faithful to the polls in November. Romney is divisive, since so many evangelicals and fundies think the Mormons are a cult. And evidently T-Paw isn't revving up the base.

  15. Figaro Says:

    Does it really matter any more who sits in the White House? Who ever wins will dance to the tune of corporate America; only the marionette will change.

  16. Bryan Says:

    @Figaro: It matters greatly because it has a huge influence on the nature and makeup of those opposing most vocally. Other than that, no, not so much.

  17. punkdavid Says:

    I've proposed the theory that the GOP should let Obama run unopposed, which might drive down voter turnout to such an extent that they could actually win a bunch of seats in Congress that might otherwise be out of reach. It could be their most successful path to thwarting the Obama presidency.

    Of course, I think they're too proud and shortsighted to see this path, but it would be an interesting parry.

  18. HoosierPoli Says:

    Holy shit, I'm so fucking tired of people like you Figaro. The world is a bigger place than whatever your pet domestic regulatory issue is. Goldman Sachs something something banks! You're like a goddamned two-year-old.

    Yes, who the President is MATTERS. You know what else matters? CONGRESS. GOVERNORSHIPS. STATE HOUSES. EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS. Organize. Vote. Lobby. Agitate. Protest. Work your ass off at every level, and you can do ANYTHING. Sitting back with righteous indignation while the world goes to hell so you can say "I told you so" is cowardly.

  19. Southern Beale Says:

    @Figaro:

    Hell yeah it matters. Three words: SUPREME COURT JUSTICES

    Jeezus.

  20. anotherbozo Says:

    From a completely shallow perspective (ie, the American voter's), I think Hunstman could be the gravest threat. Mitt has become a punchline (check out Gail Collins in the Times–who could forget the dog strapped to the roof of the car?) and Americans stop short of electing jokes. He has a fuzzy, undramatic speaking voice and has flipflopped a little too pathetically. T-Paw (!) looks befogged, toothless and clueless. So if we're choosing between Mormons, pick the one without the liberal health plan. My argument is that Hunstman is slender and graceful like Obama (it's all about the visuals these days), in fact handsome as a Hickey Freeman suit model, and seems able to stay awake. Show biz will take care of the recognition factor, and after polling points to him the big money will be on board.

    Of course I'm with Figaro that Obama himself is an agile enough puppet for the moneyed class. But also agree with the adage that it can always get worse.

  21. Southern Beale Says:

    Also, what HoosierPoli said.

    I'm sick of the negative nellies. Most of them are people who have the luxury of living in blue states like California or Vermont, where they can sniff in righteous indignation over what a sellout Obama is and whine about how "both parties are corrupt." Fuck off. I live in Tennessee, here's a taste of what we Red Staters live with every day. Don't think for a moment this shit won't go national as soon as the Republicans get their hands on the White House.

  22. baldheadeddork Says:

    I think it's a huge mistake to dismiss the role the Tea Party movement is going to play in the Republican primaries. They are dormant now, like every movement is after a big win, but when we get close to the primaries they will return at least as well funded and strident as they were in 2010.

    The formula for the Republican dream candidate hasn't changed. They still want someone who is an establishment man but has enough credibility with the social conservative base to pull them along. This is why the GOP players are begging Christie to get in the race. For all of his other flaws he is an establishment player who maybe has enough credibility with the base to lead them instead of simply meeting their demands.

    I think this gets at the fatal flaw for Romney, Pawlenty, and Huntsman in this primary season. Because of their past moderate positions they can't afford to show any nuance on the Ryan budget. They have to fully embrace it or see their campaign die now for being a RINO. They are making the calculation that Christie isn't going to get in the race, so they can deal with the attacks from the Democrats for killing Medicare after they get the nomination. Immigration didn't kill McCain's nomination four years ago. Maybe they can survive this and get to the general.

    But there's one problem: Michelle Bachmann. Yeah, she is certifiably nuts but she's the only candidate with the Tea Bagger bona fides to dance around the Ryan budget without being tagged as a RINO. And if you haven't noticed, that's exactly what she's doing.

    God knows there are a million ways for her to self-destruct between now and Iowa, but right now I think she has the strongest position to win the Republican nomination. She will crush Pawlenty in Iowa, I'm convinced of that. Ron Paul will either win New Hampshire or take enough of the vote to keep Romney or Huntsman from declaring a real victory. Then we're off to South Carolina where Bachmann has been doing ground work for over a year, and then comes Florida and the Northeastern Super Tuesday states where an ability to pivot slightly on Medicare is going to be a huge advantage.

    If Bachmann does falter and a grownup wins the nomination, the picture doesn't get better for the Republicans. If Huntsman or Romney win the nomination, I think there is a very good chance Palin runs as an independent. With Pawlenty it's maybe even odds. $P would kill herself before enduring a primary season, but declaring herself the conservative savior is as easy as organizing a rally next July and it makes her relevant (read: marketable) for another cycle.

  23. bb in GA Says:

    You Lefties just make me go hmm, hmmm, hmmm…

    Don't y'all realize we are just one #8 shot size piece of fat in a cerebral artery or one slug slightly larger in a coronary artery of 4 middle aged to old White guys and one almost senior Black guy to y'all having a 5-4 majority on the SCOTUS right now! How about a good ol' bout of some nasty cancer? It certainly could happen.

    Another four years of BHO could seal the deal for the SCOTUS for another generation as Buzzy Ginsburg could retire and be replaced w/ a Liberal and any other Lib who needs an out.

    Especially if you Lefties can get on your bicycles and stock up on them D shaped Senators.

    Your side can have it all if you're just patient and diligent. My long standing prediction is that the T-party will hand it to you.

    //bb

  24. Ruthie Says:

    I'm just hoping Gingrich lasts long enough for Callista and Michelle Bachman to "mix it up" in a public venue that incorporates lime Jell-o–LOTS of lime Jell-o….

  25. Elder Futhark Says:

    My suggestion would be that some Hollywood Frankenstein start building a GOP chimera – cutting up and stitching together the best parts of the candidates. Of course, that would probably end up being seven miles of rectum with some teeth on it.

    Cthulhu for Prez! A million death simulations in every cranium!

  26. mothra Says:

    Especially if you Lefties can get on your bicycles

    That's right. Only liberals ride bicycles.

  27. DS Says:

    @ Southern Beale. Aren't you making the case for electing more Democratic Senators? You can have the most liberal President in history, but if he can't get 60 votes in the Senate to secure cloture, then his judicial nominations can not get through anyway. For example, there are some 100+ judicial nominations on the Senate's docket right now, but none of them can get through because Harry Reid doesn't have the votes. As an outside observer, it seems to me that American liberals are overly concerned with the Presidency and not focused enough on where their attention should be: legislatures at the State and Federal level. What Conservatives realized several years ago is that gradually taking over every elective office possible – everything from county treasurer to school board superintendent – is the best way to implement your agenda. It seems to me that if Glenn Greenwald and his ilk spent as much time organizing for better candidates at the municipal, state and federal level as they do bitching about how there is no difference between Bush and Obama, America would be in much better shape right now.

  28. Andrew Says:

    You say "Michelle Bachmann is mentally ill" as if that would somehow disqualify her.

  29. bb in GA Says:

    mothra:

    I'm teasing with a stereotype. That thin skin will hurt you next time you take on Godzilla.

    //bb

  30. RT Butte Says:

    "Teabaggers would have torn him apart and religious conservatives are unlikely to have been swayed by his recent look-how-Jesusy-I-am grandstanding at the expense of Planned Parenthood."

    PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT

    Do you hear the derision in that?

    As if the Teabaggers have ever demonstrated even a shred of consistency.

  31. SA Says:

    "Paul Ryan is a thin-skinned little bitch of a dude."

    "Krispy Kreme Christie"

    Well, it's always nice to hear some good old fashioned misogyny and fat-hatred from supposed fellow progressives.

    [headdesk]

  32. Strangepork Says:

    Well, it's always nice to hear some good old fashioned misogyny and fat-hatred from supposed fellow progressives.

    [headdesk]

    Well, it's always tedious to hear a humorless scold who searches for off-color remarks to heap scorn upon as a sad means of polishing their own "progressive" apple.

    Desk-head.