WASHINGTON, February 17, 2014 – Usually in presidential races the GOP waits until it nominates a candidate before committing suicide.
The less than lustrous candidates the party offers are often cadaverous imitations of what the Democrats put up. And these lost souls devote most of their campaigns to rushing toward some imaginary center, where all the “independent” votes are supposedly up for grabs.
These misled candidates typically fall between two stools.
- They don’t rally their base, much of which is found on the right, while making little headway with the other side. And oh yes, these low-octane Democrats are usually picked by multinational corporate donors, the defense industries, neoconservative journalists, and the Republican National Committee.
- Powerbrokers make sure their party repeats the same misjudgment the next time around. It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day,” except that the protagonist in this script never gets it right. The GOP does the same dumb things over and over.
This time the GOP is preparing to destroy itself even before the contest begins. After the media succeeded in wiping out the presidential prospect of Hillary’s most popular Republican opponent by blaming Chris Christie for politically motivated closures on the George Washington Bridge, GOP potentates began the hunt for a presidential candidate who is as “moderate” as Christie.
The reason they are convinced that Christie did so well in polls before the media destroyed his candidacy was his ‘moderateness.” Since Christie won the governorship and was easily reelected in a very Democratic state, supposedly the only Republicans who could win a presidential race must come out of the left wing of their party.
Actually, Christie did well because his personality and style fit the constituency that elected and reelected him. It may have been his contentiousness and his unwillingness to duck confrontations more than his avoidance of conservative social stands which made him a successful politician in New Jersey. But the RNC is running scared, particularly after a new Marist poll came out showing Hillary cleaning the clock of any Republican challenger.
This seemed to confirm a conclusion that those who are unimaginative party hacks and corporate donors are delighted to draw, namely that the only way to remain competitive with Mrs. Clinton is by elevating someone who is inoffensive to the Left.
The name now being floated around belongs to the (sort of) centrist younger brother of George W., Jeb Bush.
No one in his right mind would identify Jeb with the Right. He is a passionate advocate of amnesty, is married to a Latina, and obligingly took over his wife’s religion. Although mildly critical of affirmative action, Bush came up with his own program for the Florida university system. He should prove very appealing to GOP journalists like Charles Krauthammer and George Will, who are eager to provide a road to citizenship for illegals.
Jeb Bush is so tediously innocuous that only Mitt Romney enthusiasts would welcome him as a presidential contender.
And he will be walking on eggs when he talks about his feminist opponent. In this respect, the younger Bush brother will emulate McCain and Romney, who refused to lay a glove on their opponent in their losing presidential bids because Barack Obama happened to be (half) black.
From the Marist poll, it seems that Bush would do no better against Hillary than two interesting alternatives, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Neither of these candidates polls any worse than Bush. All fall about twenty points behind the Democratic front runner. Both of them would be pugnacious presidential candidates and spell out their considerable differences with the other side. Indeed, Rand Paul has already entered the fray by accusing Hillary’s chief advisor, Bill, of being a “sexual predator” who pretends to care about women.
There is no way that a handpicked moderate has a prayer of a chance of winning the presidential sweepstakes. And it’s unlikely that Jeb would not be torn apart by the media as a rightwing extremist as soon as he became Hillary’s rival.
Christie’s mistake was to have tried to accommodate the Democratic media when they started to clobber him. He should have made it clear that he was innocent of the charges that were thrown at him; then he should have called out the other side for shielding Obama and Hillary against the effects of their multiple indiscretions and acts of revenge against opponents. Neither Cruz nor Paul would miss the opportunity of confronting media bias.
Both Paul and Cruz are articulate, vigorous debaters, who would be attacking a wet noodle in the person of Hillary. But their style would not please their party’s leadership, which fears being attacked from the left more than it values standing up for what the party’s base may still believe.
And, worst of all for the RNC, these guys won’t bore us with niceness.