Monday, September 26, 2011
There's no such thing as a perfect candidate, and the recent furor over the Republican contest proves that, if not much else. No one's close to making the sale yet.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, the front runner stumbled badly in last week's debate and if he has another couple of bad outings, he could very well fade away. Not only were a number of his answers weak, but he failed to take the battle to the other candidates, leaving people wondering how he'd actually do against President Obama.
He continues to double down on the Gardisil question, and his vulnerability on the illegal alien issue has become evident and was exploited handily by Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum last week.
Not only that, but when the foreign policy finally reared its ugly head at long last, he flailed around badly:
BAIER: Which brings us to this, Governor Perry, if you were president, and you got a call at 3 am telling you that Pakistan had lost control of is nuclear weapons, at the hands of the Taliban, what would be your first move?
PERRY: Well obviously, before you ever get to that point you have to build a relationship in that region. That’s one of the things that this administration has not done. Yesterday, we found out through Admiral Mullen that Haqqani has been involved with — and that’s the terrorist group directly associated with the Pakistani country. So to have a relationship with India, to make sure that India knows that they are an ally of the United States.
For instance, when we had the opportunity to sell India the upgraded F-16′s, we chose not to do that. We did the same with Taiwan. The point is, our allies need to understand clearly that we are their friends, we will be standing by there with them.
Today, we don’t have those allies in that region that can assist us if that situation that you talked about were to become a reality.
Is Governor Perry saying that we're going to ask India or Taiwan what to do? Fine, the alliance with India definitely needs work, but we're talking about an emergency situation - our enemies just overthrew a government that wasn't at all friendly to us anyway and got themselves a nuclear arsenal.
This is not the sound of a president-in-waiting.
Former Senator Rick Santorum's answer was almost as bad:
To answer the question on Pakistan, which I’m not too sure was answered. The bottom line is, that we should be establishing relationships in Pakistan with allies of ours, folks like relationships with President Musharraf who we had in the past with others in that country so if in fact something like that would occur we could work in concert to make sure that that coup could be overturned and make sure those nuclear weapon do not fall in those hands.
But working with allies at that point is the last thing we want to do. We want to work in that country to make sure the problem is defused.
Talking about not answering the question! So in Senator Santorum's world, he's just been informed that the Taliban, the Haqqani Group or Lashkar-e-Taiba just took over Pakistan's nuclear facilities in Waziristan and he's going to depend on deposed President Musharraf to help us out? "Quick, get Pervez on the phone.Maybe he can put together a counter-coup."
The fact is that when you have a 3 AM call like that, 'defusing' the problem is already too late and so is talking to 'allies'. It means there's been a civil war,and our enemies just won. My answer, had I been on that stage would have been to say that a faction who are not our friends taking over Pakistan's nukes is quite probable, and as president I would have had a contingency plan ready and waiting with our military for destroying them completely on the ground the minute they fell into questionable hands. The fact that two presidential candidates would go into an Obama-like dithering on something this basic is scary, frankly.
Herman Cain, however likeable has yet to prove that he has the chops needed for the Big Job. The FOX moderators did him a great kindness by not asking him any deep foreign policy or national security questions, since he's already shown that isn't his strong point. And his 9-9-9 plan on taxes which has some merits also has a number of those awful devils in the details. That 9% national sales tax, for instance. Anyone whose seen how politicians around the world have handled a Value Added Tax ( which is essentially what Mr. Cain is proposing) ought to be damned wary of implementing it. Here's a hint; just like sales taxes in your state, they tend to go up, up, up. And it might also be noted that Cain's plan would eliminate the tax break on mortgages, thus putting the boot into an already depressed industry. My prediction is that his straw poll win in Florida will have about as much effect as Muchele Bachmann's in Iowa.
Mitt Romney is an old hand at campaigning by now, and it shows. His answers to questions are clear and obviously well thought out. Unfortunately, he has a habit of only answering half a question and glossing over the rest, and that's going to become more noticeable as time goes on, especially if he overtakes Perry as frontrunner and assumes Perry's role as punching bag for the rest.
His support for the Obama administration's Race to the Top education program is going to come back to haunt him, as will his insistence that RomneyCare's individual mandate only applies to 8% of the population. Actually, that law applies to everyone in Massachusetts. And he's also going to have to figure out how to defend himself on Bain Capital's record on outsourcing jobs.
Speaking of Michele Bachmann, as likeable as she is, she's also proven that she's not quite ready for the Top Job yet. Her positions continue to devolve into talking points, she's shown an unfortunate tendency to be gaffe-prone and continues to be willing to die on questionable hills like the one about how the Gardisil caused retardation in a child.
I'm not even going to discuss the other marginal players. None of them are going to be the GOP nominee,let alone get into the White House.
But I have a feeling that applies to the others as well, at least at the present time. None of them, in my opinion, has really made the sale yet. None of them appears to be an obvious choice for President yet, although Mitt Romney has done a fair job thus far of at least coming close. Plus, it's still very early days and the support of each candidate is still pretty soft.
The 2012 election is the GOP's to lose, but I still think we haven't seen all the candidates. With the first major test being the Iowa Caucus in February, there's plenty of time for someone else to get in.
Actually the deadline is pretty clear. To get your name on the ballot in Florida,you need to pay filing fees by October 31st. And to participate in the South Carolina primary, the last date in November 1st.
I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a major trick or treat in the Republican race before Halloween.