Tuesday, May 24, 2011

For The GOP, It's Time To Start Counting The Weeks, Months & Years Until 2016

Like the White Queen in her youth, the contemporary Republican
politician must be capable of believing as many as six impossible
things before breakfast.
Props to Mitch Daniels for listening to his family and deciding they were more important than his party and that the prospect of non-stop proctology examinations by the news media and his opponents outweighed the glory of a presidential run.

But funny thing, when I took a quick spin around the political blogosphere, I was struck by the almost total absence of Sarah Palin's name as a take-seriously contender for the Republican nomination.

Palin's stock, of course, has fallen as precipitously as Daniels' had risen. Her approval ratings are in the toilet, no one takes her seriously except for the hardest of the hard-core Republican base, and news that she may have bought a house in North Scottsdale, Arizona, a more suitable home base than Wasilla for a presidential run, has gotten less attention than her daughter's recent plastic surgery and new reality TV show.

Because almost no one takes seriously wannabes Michele Bachmann and Herb Cain, as well, this leaves the rather unappetizing choice of Mitt Romney, who is raising buckets of campaign cash but is detested by that hard-core base, and Tim Pawlenty, a lightweight who will have to cheat on his purity test to have a chance at the nomination.

Beyond the flame-outs, notably Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, the paucity of take-seriously Republican candidates at this stage of the game is not surprising despite all the harrumphing among the punditocracy.

The biggest problems for Republicans are hiding in plain view:

* The need for wannabes to get their tickets punched by that hard-core base. This group is electoral disaster writ large -- determinedly out of touch with Main Street, in deep denial about global warming, and unwilling to stop fighting culture wars over issues like abortion and gay marriage that stopped tripping most voters' triggers years ago.

* Barack Obama, who is well on his way to earning a second term. Despite some missteps, the young president has delivered on much of his agenda, pulled the nation back from the economic brink, has been an able commander in chief, and has exhibited a kind of leadership and gravitas sorely lacking during the first eight years of the decade.

So what's a Republican to do? Start counting the weeks, months and years until 2016.

Image by John Lund/Getty

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