In a shocking announcement this week, Newt Gingrich has announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Ok, so it wasn’t really that big of a surprise, especially considering that Gingrich has been making the rounds on the cable news shows.
However, the former speaker of the house is just the latest in a string of uninteresting GOP nominee hopefuls. It is unlikely that any of the current Republican candidates could achieve a victory in a presidential challenge, with or without the support of the Tea Party. If anything, the Tea Party movement has splintered the conservative base.
Some see the group as nothing more than a right wing extremist organization, though they are largely credited for the undeniable turnover of power that followed last year’s midterm elections. The problem faced by the GOP is one of confidence and qualification and an apparent lack of consensus within the party.
At this point, the list of republican presidential hopefuls reads like who’s who of mediocrity. No matter what they do, it seems the GOP just cannot seem to get it together and their most prominent figures might as well be cartoon drawings for their lack of substance.
According to a new CNN poll, fifty-nine percent of Americans dislike former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Gallup reports that the only voters likely to support her are those earning less than $24,000 per year. Palin’s lackluster finish as John McCain’s running mate combined with her blatant, self-aggrandizing media coverage has done little to shore up confidence in her qualifications for occupying the Oval Office.
It is hard to imagine that Palin has any hope at all of earning the 2012 GOP nomination. Resigning from her position as governor made her seem flaky and indecisive. Having publicly berated her daughter’s boyfriend for going on a reality television show, Palin then turned up on a program of her own, making her look petty and hypocritical.
I believe that Palin is trying to appeal to whoever it is she imagines to be the regular people out there and she goes out of her way to sound “folksy” to them. In the end, she just sounds unintelligent and uneducated. People want a smart, articulate president, not someone who constantly seems befuddled. We had eight years of that with George W.
Speaking of inarticulate publicity hounds, the CNN poll also noted that more than sixty percent have a negative opinion of big business man and presidential naysayer Donald Trump. Most people I have spoken with see Trump’s presidential bid as little more than a ridiculous publicity stunt.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, have more favorable ratings than their conservative companions but neither are well known to most of the country. Romney is considered to be the favorite, however, among more liberal to moderate conservatives.
Huckabee, a best selling author who is the favorite with the Christian Right, also hosts a cable talk show and therefore has higher visibility. As a Harvard Law grad, however, Romney is perhaps better suited to take on President Obama’s Ivy League background while maintaining a connection with blue collar conservatives.
Unfortunately, many pundits see Romney’s Mormon upbringing as his Achilles ‘ heel, making it hard for more religious conservatives to accept him. Historically, no Republican can earn the presidential nomination without the support of the Christian Right.
The bottom line is that the GOP has a long way to go. While preparing this column, I searched for the best way to describe the Republican strategy at this point, but the only adjective I could come up with may not even be a word – “bumfuzzled.” The party’s leadership seems disorganized and desperate.
There’s no question that the Bin Laden execution (it’s time to call it what it was) gave the president a popularity bump. However, with another year and a half before the 2012 election, it is not likely to be not enough to overshadow lackluster economic growth.
Either way, it will take more than a high recognition candidate to beat an incumbent with an Ivy League education and four years on the job. Hopefully, the GOP will get its act together soon enough to at least give the Democrats a run for their money.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown . More at www.gerydeer.com.