With all the subtlety of a cartoon anvil hurtling down on Wile E. Coyote, it has dawned on Karl Rove and what is left of the mainstream Republican leadership that unless Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann can be muscled aside, President Obama could cakewalk to a second term despite a sucky economy.
Even if Mitt Romney, the one-time putative front runner, grows a spine and begins acting presidential, he will remain unacceptable to the Tea Party cum Christianist base, which leaves who?
Paul Ryan or Chris Christie, that's who.
Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, probably has the chops for the job even if his conservative credentials are not a solid as Perry or Bachmann, but his signal accomplishment was an unmitigated disaster: A Reverse Robin Hood Plan to reduce the budget deficit by taking from the middle class and poor and giving to the rich while deregulating Wall Street. This fiscal lunacy led directly to the loss of a once solid Republican House seat in a special election and could still be trouble for Republicans whose disdain for the Have Nots isn't playing well with senior citizens and the disabled.
New Jersey Governor Christie's signal accomplishment is to ram a fiscal austerity plan through the Democratic-controlled Legislature, but he is short on experience and his health is bound to be a major issue since he suffers frequent asthma attacks and seems to be one meatball hoagie away from exploding.
Can you say Newt Gingrich? No? Well, there's always Rudy Giuliani.
A disconnection between the mouth and the brain is a common ailment among politicians -- especially those with an eye on the Oval Office. Rank hypocrisy runs a close second and Perry is no exception in both cases.* * * * *
After a gaffe filled week which resulted, among other things, included an apology for threatening bodily harm to the "treasonous" Federal Reserve chairman, the current darling of the Republican presidential field appeared to be on his guard, but then let slip the loudest of all the right-wing Republican dog whistles: Barack Obama is not sufficiently patriotic even if, gosh darn it, he may have been born in the good old U.S. of A.
This from a man whose own patriotism is highly questionable because he has often threatened to get Texas to secede from the union.
In retrospect, there may have been no more successful federal government initiative over the last 40 years than cleaning up the environment. The skies over American cities are clearer, rivers and lakes are cleaner, toxic agricultural runoff has decreased and polluters are regulated. Well, at least to an extent.* * * * *
It was a Republican president by the name of Richard Nixon who got the ball rolling with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, the year that the first Earth Day was celebrated, but now as with so many other things many of the GOP presidential wannabes want to roll back the clock.
Yes, Perry, Bachmann and Gingrich, among others, reiterated this week that they want to return to the bad old days by halting all EPA regulation for the implausible reason that the economy will improve if polluters are allowed to dirty things up. Maybe jobs or something will be created because of all the messes that would have to be cleaned up.
Besides being lousy economic and social policy, padlocking the EPA flies in the face of a public, most Republican voters included, who are concerned about clean air and water and believe the EPA is fulfilling its mandate. Heck, even the Roberts Supreme Court has validated that mandate in recent rulings.
Then there's the party's stand on global warming. Sigh.
Christie is joined by two other Republican governors -- Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio -- in trying to balance state budgets on the backs of unionized state employees. Yeah, like teachers and in some instances policemen and firefighters.* * * * *
The results have been mixed, but it is fair to say that Republicans in the Cheesehead and Buckeye states rue the day they decided that kneecapping public employes by curtailing their collective bargaining rights was good politics.
In Wisconsin, that effort led to an unprecedented series of recall elections. When the dust had settled this week from the last of those elections, Republican control of the state Senate had shrunken to a single seat and Walker may still face a recall effort.
Meanwhile, in Ohio Kasich and Republican legislative leaders with an eye on their political futures said this week that they will offer changes in the state's tough collective bargaining law to keep a repeal measure off of the November ballot.
* * * * *Finally, a pertinent factoid: The Gallup Presidential Tracking Poll is the Rock of Gibraltar of political polls and has been since FDR's first term.
Lest some Republicans become smug about their chances of retaking the White House, every president beginning with Truman and excepting only Eisenhower has had lower Gallup ratings than Obama, many considerably lower.