Saturday, June 04, 2011


In recent months, when people around me have questioned whether Barack would be re-elected, I mostly just laughed. If Barack were running against Reagan in his prime, then sure, the President’s re-election would be in peril. But the last time I checked, the suitors for the Republican nomination were Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey, Happy, Bashful, Grumpy and Doc. And I just didn’t see any of those Lilliputians having a chance to unseat one of the most talented politicians of our lifetime.

It still seems to be a good bet that we'll see a successful re-election campaign come November 2012. Now, though, for the first time, I’m beginning to see a glimmer of hope for the GOP. Ironically, I’m seeing hope for one of the dwarfs at a time when the mainstream media has been pointing out just how badly he is doing in jump-starting his campaign. Then again, his problems supposedly involve appealing to the Republican base, and this election is not likely to be won or lost based on appeals to the Republican base. Rather, it should be determined by the views of independents, most of whom are concerned about economics first and foremost. It is in that domain where this dwarf might be able to gain some traction as someone with a record of responsible stewardship and expertise. The question is, will the GOP electorate support him, one of the other six dwarfs, or will they nominate an eighth one (say, by combining Sneezy and Sleepy into Sleazy, aka Newt Gingrich)?

The dwarf I have in mind calls himself Mitt Romney, but to me, he goes by the name of Doc. He comes across as smarter than his peers, which is a good thing, but he also seems more chameleon than human, which is not such a selling point. Indeed, it has been widely reported for some time that Doc is roundly disliked by the other dwarfs, and this was borne out in the past few days. While he was in New Hampshire announcing that he would run for President, two of the other dwarfs – Happy (Sarah Palin) and Grumpy (Rudy Giuliani) – were busy addressing the media about exactly why Doc is in no position to represent the Republicans at their next convention. You get the impression that even Dopey (Michelle Bachmann) or Sleepy (Ron Paul) would be more popular candidates among the dwarfs than would Doc. Hell, even Sleepy’s father (John McCain) might be given another shot at the big prize – anything, to keep the spotlight away from the one dwarf who actually could appeal to Americans who are concerned about their job situation and their health care insurance, and are looking for someone who has experience in bringing about a responsible health care package and in running successful businesses that employ people.

It says a lot about Doc that he was elected Governor of Massachusetts. But the odd thing is that to most of the dwarfs, Massachusetts isn’t even part of the United States. If that’s the general view within the GOP, I would agree that Doc’s candidacy is in trouble. The issue is whether the Republicans will realize that their only path to the White House is to elect someone who actually believes that America has 50 states and who appeals to Americans in all 50 of them. Doc may be just the chameleon for the job.

Check out what Doc said yesterday during an appearance in New England. "I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that. It's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors."

That comes from a man who once said he supports the substance of Roe v. Wade and who signed into law the same type of health care bill that the Republicans are now lambasting as "Obamacare." So one day, Doc comes across like Gloria Steinem, the next day, he comes across like Barack Obama, and yesterday, he started talking like “Algore.” What’s next: will Doc advocate an economic policy based on the principle “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”?

Clearly, Doc is not the favorite dwarf among the Tea Partiers. And just as clearly, to the extent Doc has been receiving any traction among his party’s elders, their continued support is about to be put to the test. He is running the risk of moving away from GOP front runner status and heading towards the position not of John McCain in 2008 but John McCain in 2000 – the plain-spoken, independent-minded challenger who is willing to take on the establishment on behalf of truth, justice and the American way. Frankly, that approach worked for Reagan in 1980. But ever since then, the Republicans have demanded much more orthodoxy from their would-be nominees. Speaking out against global warming is not exactly the kind of orthodoxy I’m talking about.

Still, if the Republicans are smart, they might want to reflect a bit on just how electable the other dwarfs are. Do they really think that Happy can win the White House making statements like the following gem, which she said in North Carolina: "We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.”

Or do the Republicans think that Bashful (Tim Pawlenty) can win the White House simply by staying under the radar screen? Correct me if I’m wrong, but Americans elect candidates with name recognition. Just because Bashful hasn’t offended anyone doesn’t mean that he is even recognizable at a Vikings game, let alone outside of the great state of Minnesota.

No, my friends. The GOP has a fateful choice. Do they want Barack Obama to waltz his way into the White House in 2012? Or do they want to put up a guy who might actually beat him? And do they want the latter badly enough that they are willing to nominate a chameleon who is permitted to run away from the Rush Limbaugh party line and appeal to American centrists – to people who believe that there is a legitimate non-military role for the Government, that corporations have to be regulated, that tax codes have to be equitable as well as efficient, and that urbanites who love the WNBA are every bit as American as small town NASCAR aficionados? Because if they want the White House badly enough to put away their devotion to right-wing orthodoxy, if they let Doc change his color back towards where it was during his Massachusetts days, and if the economy does continue to remain in the doldrums as many are predicting … then, as they say in sports, “we might have ourselves a contest after all.”

Personally, I’m betting that whoever wins the nomination will be forced to toe the line … and Barack Obama will be re-elected by the same kind of margin that Clinton had against Dole. But that's just a prediction. As the Miami Heat learned on Thursday evening, it ain't over until the fat lady sings.


Mary Lois said...

Ever since the last campaign it was clear to me that Romney would be the Republican candidate in 2012. He has all the right creds, including being the guy they owe the nomination to because of his shabby treatment the last time out. That seems to be the way the Republican party operates. This time it would give Obama a worthy candidate to debate and ultimately defeat. I don't know if he can overcome the big hurdle of convincing his party that he is one one of them, however. This year they seem to want a candidate that embodies the anger of the Tea Party. I could see a Romney-Cain ticket if Cain's early positives last, and if he gets the imprimatur of Palin-Bachmann (which does seem unlikely).

Daniel Spiro said...

Mary Lois,

I don't know enough about Cain to speculate about his chances. I look forward to learning more about him -- assuming the media takes him seriously. It seems almost arbitrary which candidates the media decides is serious and ones are essentially ignored.

Clearly, one candidate to which they pay attention is Palin. Every move she makes is given media attention. Talk about insanity.