When a couple of the more popular maybe-wannabes bowed out of the pool of potential Republican candidates; it left a field of still wannabes that (being kind) could only be called “lack luster”. Mike Huckabee and the Trump at least had something that attracted T-Publicans with some degree of enthusiasm. The Huck was number one among the most committed Christian evangelical conservatives by virtue of his being a big old country boy of a preacher plus his not quite believing in evolution. The Trump was the top darling of the angry, let’s get tough with everybody we don’t like, group that composed the core of the T-Party/birther/how’d Obama get into Harvard gang. But alas the Huck lacked that fire in his heart and the Trump assured America that it was more important that he help some has-beens get further humiliated and others get some kind of a job and see hopefully get his picture on the cover of TV Guide.
But then the Republican race looked it might get heated up from lukewarm to sort of hot when Newt Gingrich, the old Democrat baiter from the nineties, entered the race. Well the Newt entered the race (sort of) by going on a cruise to the Greek Isles; and who could blame him, they are truly lovely in the spring. Well his entire senior staff apparently could blame him, or so they said. So they upped and quit en mass and thus made themselves available for the potential campaign of Texas Governor Rick “the Haircut” Perry, should he decide to join the fray.
With the former Speaker of the House in the line up the GOP was ready, or least went forward to show their potential challengers to President Obama to the broad general public in a sort of debate. There was; the default front runner former Massachusetts Governor Willard Mitt Romney; former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum; Texas Congressman and perennial libertarian favorite Ron Paul; Minnesota Congresswoman and T-Party caucus leader Michelle Bachman; and former pizza chain CEO Herman Cain, rounding out the field. This not so magnificent seven spent the first half of their answer to every question blaming President Obama for whatever the subject of the question was. They then spent the second half of their answer telling America they had the solution; by restating the problem the question addressed and elaborately avoiding giving a detailed explanation of just how they would save America from whatever trouble Obama had gotten it into.
Pawlenty avoided confronting Romney over Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan which Pawlenty had just called Obomney care the day before. Paul, ever the master of vague answers to real problems; said that some kind of non-governmental help would step in and take care of a sick five year old child of illegal immigrants. Bachman assured states righters she would let the states take care of same sex marriage; but if they didn’t ban it she would force every state, willing or not, to live under a Federal ban. Herman Cain told America that all the problems were big and interrelated (as if we didn’t know) and the answer involved identifying the problem (as if we hadn’t). Romney told America he had sons and looked very much ready to take his turn as the Republican candidate. Rick Santorum told America he had some kids too. Bachman then said she had more kids than all of the others on stage put together, so there. Bachman was declared the winner because she managed to get over a very low bar without tripping herself. Pawlenty was declared the loser because he didn’t stand behind his Obomney care criticism. All in all it wasn’t a very exciting or interesting debate.
However, just when it looked like Romney, the default candidate was going to win the nomination by default, along comes John Huntsman. Huntsman is yet another former governor, this time from Utah, and yet another former Mormon missionary. Huntsman did his missionary work in China, while Romney did his in France, giving Huntsman a few extra points over Romney, if and when people get to know who he is.
The rest of the wannabes will make sure the first thing America gets to know about John Huntsman is that he worked for Obama for the last two years as Ambassador to China. Huntsman’s rivals will also be certain to mention the strong praise he gave to Mr. Obama; which the former Ambassador has since slide away from saying — he thought Obama was a “remarkable” President when he was picked for the China job, but has since changed his mind now that he might be the guy the T-Pubs pick to take Mr. Obama down.
And it is with the TEA gang of the T-Publican party that Huntsman will be having the most trouble with. The T-folks want a real red meat; no holds barred; go for the jugular, kind of candidate. That’s why Michelle Bachman, who has called the President varying shades of not like real Americans, is so popular with them. Huntsman is very much not a liberal baiting, mudslinging kind of a guy. He is what would be known as an old school moderate Republican, if there was such a thing anymore. He is nowhere right-wing enough for the core of the T-wing of the GOP. On such issues as same sex marriage for example; he supports civil unions. Huntsman is also much more of an international globalist trade supporter than many members of the isolationist GOP wing that supports Ron Paul. They see our current trade policy style with China as a detriment to regaining the well paying manufacturing job America has lost; and they are right. But the big money corporate entities, that provide the hundreds of millions of dollars required to run for President, very much want a “free trader” like Huntsman at the helm of the U.S. economy. As for the evangelicals in the GOP; as far as many of them are concerned a Mormon like either Huntsman or Romney is a non-starter entirely.
And so along may come Texan Rick Perry, who is standing in the wings, being pushed on stage by the very powerful Texas contingent of the GOP. He has all the things that Huntsman or Romney, the two putative front runners don’t. Perry has exhibited the ability to say the kind of extreme things that the hard core T-folk want to hear said. The things that are at or over the edge of reasonableness; such as when he verbally dabbled with the idea of his great state of Texas once again seceding from the U.S. because he didn’t like the way things were going in Washington. How a secessionist might handle the same implicit threats when seated in the Oval Office, is a question Perry will have to unhappily answer. Some his other ideas about the rugged independence of the state when it comes to interference from Washington will also have to addressed in a Presidential run. Things like the issues that many “get Washington off our back” T-Publicans will have to face like; how much aid, if any, should come from the much feared and maligned Federal government when disaster, either man made or natural strikes? Or should the FDA be eliminated or beefed up when other states refuse to accept any produce from Texas or Texan owned farms south of the Rio Grande, due to Salmonella bacteria being found in that produce? Or can states make their own immigration policy and laws which either allow some low wage employed illegals to stay and/or force all or some unemployed illegals to leave their state?
It’s possible to be as ultra-Right wing as Bachman or Perry or Paul and, even on some rare issues, as quasi reasonable-Right as Huntsman or Romney or Pawlenty when you are looking to snag the nomination of the GOP. It is something very much else when you are looking to appeal to the broad, diverse, multi-ethnic group of people that are the voters in America, coast to coast. In a nation race you can’t just play to the T-Party or the evangelicals; you have to find a way to attract the diverse middle of the citizenry. On the other hand, who else are the T-folk et al going to vote for; certainly not Obama. So is someone like Bachman or Perry, who really may be too extreme to pick up independents, a bad bet to beat Obama? Or conversely, is someone not very extreme like Romney or Huntsman, who might pick up some independent voters, too tame to actually get the T-folk out to the polls? Is America ready for another governor from Texas in the White House? Are the Christian conservative evangelical silent majority of the GOP ready for a Mormon? Will Sarah Palin sweep in with her patriotically decorated bus and allow herself to be drafted to save the GOP and America? Well okay, that one is not too likely, but who knows what the GOP might try!
So we’ll all just have to watch and see if the Grand Old Party can find the next Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, in their ongoing search for Mr. (or Mrs.). Just Exactly Far Enough But Not Too Far Right.