Politics again… already?

It’s been silly season for a while, but I’ve been carefully avoiding topics of this nature for a while. But, like I said… silly season is here. And if it already isn’t too much upon us, it’s about to be even more so.

Last presidential election, President Obama pretty much broke about every record in the book, especially in terms of fund raising. Surely it is only going to go up from there. So here’s my current position and standing on the *major contenders,  including my thoughts on “electability” scored as a percentage of my opinion of their chances of winning, NOT their estimated pull at the voting booth.

*Major Contender is being defined as someone with the potential to make the final ticket.

President Obama

I make no small opinions when it comes to my dislike of Obama. I think NoSurfGirl said it best on a recent visit: I’m not sure he’s the right president for our crises.

Well ain’t that that truth? Problem is, I’m not sure he’s the right president for any crisis.

I heard another person once say that the crisis truly defines the quality of the president. No matter how much he is admired for his speaking, for his eloquence, and for his charisma, I have difficulty believing he would be right for any crisis. He clearly showed incapable of leading us out of this recession with strength mostly, in my opinion, because he spent the first half of his presidency ramming Obamacare down our throats despite the clear opposition of the majority of the people. Then he offered little to no leadership during the debt ceiling crisis this last year. So where are we? Well, we’re left with a pretty talker who leaves us with helpless and wimpy sound bites but no real leadership.

And don’t get me started on his attempts at “compromise” and especially his campaign promise to add transparency to the government.

The Left would say that he’s caved too often to the conservative agenda (tax cuts on the rich, Bush Tax Cut extension, etc.), but the Right would equally say that he’s stone-walled on critical negotiation points, refused to compromise on Obamacare, and been otherwise fairly partisan. So what’s the truth?

I personally think Obama has played a fairly solid centrist line, which is appropriate except that he wasn’t hired on the centrist platform (if you talk to the Left) and the Right is unwilling to accept that platform. Add to it that while he’s played nice with the world in foreign policy, he has done so in ways that seriously concern Conservatives while simultaneously ignoring critical Liberal talking points, such as closing Gitmo.

I know many who still think Obama is the best president and hope for our nation. I know many who think Obama is the spawn of Satan and that he is hellbent on leading this country to ruin. I think neither. I think he is an honest, passionate man who is in over his head. I think he is incompetent in certain areas (economy being the biggest) and more or less competent in others.

All that being said, I don’t like him. I didn’t vote for him then (I didn’t vote for McCain either), and I wouldn’t vote for him now.

Is he electable? Infinitely so for two key reasons:

  • He’s the Democratic ticket and despite his shortcomings, I seriously doubt even the Dems who are truly angry will vote Republican.
  • The Republicans haven’t quite settled on a centrist ticket that could sway the ever-crucial Independent Vote, and as long as the Tea Party keeps offering up what many see as Right-wing Extremists, the Independent Vote will stay center or even possibly lean left. That means Obama at this point.

Chances: I’ll give him a flat 50% chance of being elected simply because of the confusion on the GOP side. If that settles out with a clean, palatable option, I’ll lower his chances from there.

Ron Paul

It seems appropriate to start here…. I like Paul. I haven’t always, but he grows on you for one simple reason: of all the candidates, he talks the toughest on debts and deficits and comes across as believable in his ideas. He’s also remarkably stable in his message. Few politicians can claim consistency in their goals and platform like Paul can. Having said that, Paul is virtually unelectable for two key reasons:

  • He’s a Tea Party candidate and, like it or not, will always come across as slightly crazy for it.
  • Many of his other ideas, such as eliminating the Fed and the Dept. of Education, are based in logical and sound principles but sound utterly extreme to a great number of Americans. That doesn’t exactly lend any help for the first point.

I think Paul’s ideas are correct when he talks about the National Debt and the Deficit. I even support many of his ideas regarding the Fed. In many ways, he represents the Libertarian movement as a defacto leader, which is a movement that I think has a ton of potential on the local scale. Libertarianism tends to fail for me when it goes to the national scale. Frankly, it’s not designed to work there. It requires too much inherent involvement and localized control for a Macro-scale government to function. Note: I’m not saying that’s bad. I’m simply pointing out that Libertarianism will always struggle on a Macro-scale.

Where Ron Paul fails me is in the one-trick-pony phase. He tends to hit on a few major talking points and not really move from there. What else can he offer us as a candidate? I also am more or less contrary to his ideas regarding foreign policy. I’ll admit that this part of my political psyche changes frequently, and it is not quite firmed up enough to have true, legitimate, arguable opinions. Right now, however, I find myself standing on the opposite side of the fence from Ron Paul.

Is he electable? On the GOP ticket? Yes. General election. No.

Chances: I give him a 10% chance of pulling the GOP ticket and 5% in the general election.

Jon Huntsman

I… I… sigh…. I’ve never really liked Huntsman. There. I said it.

He comes across as… running a popularity contest? I watched one of the debates, and the way he accused Santorum of treason was just plain juvenile. It was said to get a talking point on the air, and it was painfully obvious. And his face when he said it was even worse. It was wimpy, like the kid with his hand in the cookie jar.

Having said that, he is probably the most centrist of the candidates. He, more than any other, is a dark horse who could come storming out of the night to take this election by surprise. Do I think he will? No. He’s too unknown, and too disliked by the Far Right to ever be fully electable.

Huntsman’s primary issues are these:

  • The Right sees him as too close to Obama. I personally like someone that can reach across the aisle, but that will not fly with the Conservative base.
  • He is an unknown.
  • He’s a latecomer, and has shown himself to be unprepared. Maybe another way of saying this is that he’s politically immature on a national scale.
  • He’s in over his head and has yet to show any credentials that would grant him the keys to the White House. Yes, he was a beloved and respected governor in Utah and one I even voted for in that election. However, governing a state and governing a nation are not the same thing.

Among the negatives, he does have one very large positive that sits in the background: His relationship with China. Another election and that will become a major positive for him. Perhaps 2016 when he’s matured a bit.

Is he electable? On the GOP ticket, no. General election? Surprisingly I would say yes.

Chances: For the GOP ticket, I’ll give him 5%. For the general election, I’ll toss him 10% simply because he has an appeal to him that just might swing the Independent vote. That and, given the choice between Obama and Huntsman, I think the GOP votes Huntsman. They may not like him much now, but should he win the GOP ticket, I would not be surprised to see the GOP unify behind him.

Michelle Bachmann

Michelle, Michelle…. I think I said once before that I thought of her as a talking head. I stand by that. I’ve seen nothing original or inspiring come from her. And that is not a sexist statement. I could say the thing about any number of the candidates, but since she’s the only one in this category that is remotely viable….

I think she drops out of the race soon simply because she has no distinguishable platform and especially because she, much like Biden, tends to say things that damage her.

Is she electable? No, on both counts.

Chances: I grant her a simple 15% on the GOP ticket because she does have her fans, and she is widely liked by the Tea Party. For the general election, I’ll toss her a 5%.

Rick Perry

When Perry announced his candidacy, I assumed he’d run away with it. The more I see him, however, I recognize that while his chances of pulling the GOP ticket are still quite strong, he simply doesn’t have the cache with the rest of the nation. More to the point, people are starting to see through him and identify him in ways that make him kind of scary. If anyone thinks Obama is in it for the glory (I could see that, but don’t think that is his primary motivator), Perry is definitely in it for the personal glory.

Watching this e-mail scandal over the last few days has convinced me that Perry is also one who is unwilling to compromise and especially that he is not going to work with others. To quote Perry (paraphrased), when asked why he deletes state e-mails after seven days, his reply was basically because that’s what he wants. When the interviewer asked him why not thirty days, Perry’s answer could basically be summed up as, “I don’t want to, and I’m the boss, so it doesn’t matter what you think.” He came across as abrasive, defensive, and frankly a little domineering. None of those are qualities I want in a leader, especially one who would stand as a peer among the many greats we’ve elected in times past.

And that doesn’t even begin to consider his political stands.

Perry faces several severe uphill battles as well as some major positives. His battles are as follows:

  • He performs poorly in the debates. Those watching the debates don’t come away with a sense of leadership. He looks good, sure, but he doesn’t have that… thing. That hidden element that Obama had. That Reagan had. That JFK had. Confidence? No… I can’t quite put my finger on it….
  • He’s back-pedaled on a number of issues to make himself palatable. That might work for some, but the Independent Vote is quite intelligent and informed, and Perry won’t fly there. He’s also a bit too far right for most independents.
  • His e-mail scandal is a terrible embarrassment that he could resolve quite quickly by holding e-mails for a more appropriate thirty days. It’s so easy, and yet he doesn’t do it. It screams of control issues that, from a potential occupant of the White House, is frankly scary.
  • He has angered the Tea Party and Conservative base with some of his thoughts on immigration. Is it enough to push their vote away? No clue.

His positives are as follows:

  • Governor of a very large state with a tradition of rich politics.
  • Created the most jobs during the Recession. (Note: It’s pretty much proven that these jobs were menial labor at terrible wages, so take that as you will.)
  • Very attractive to the Bible Belt, arguably one of the most significant votes in America.
  • Bonafide conservative. Despite everything else about him, I’ve heard few argue against his conservative credentials.

Chances: For the GOP Ticket, I give him a 40% chance. For the general election, I gave him 30%. I do not like a Perry-led ticket has a chance against Obama. He doesn’t offer enough difference in key areas (economy, debt) to really make a splash. If he picked the right running mate, that could certainly be different.

Note: As of now, his star seems to be fading. Come election season, it won’t surprise me to see him gone.

Mitt Romney

Last but not least…. Mitt comes in as the most electable and most prepared of all the challengers. Mitt technically dropped out of the 2008 race, but the truth is that he has never stopped campaigning, and it shows. He’s funded, he’s popular, he’s on message. More than that, he appears completely unflappable despite dropping from front runner to playing catch up to Perry. Many think, as do I, that come primary season, Mitt will win.

Remember that thing I couldn’t identify that Perry doesn’t have? Mitt does have it. It’s not fully developed, but he has the look, the stance, the aura of a president. It’s a hidden quality of leadership… trust?… expectation?…. I still can’t quite pin it down, but Mitt is the only GOP challenger with even a sparkle of this.

Mitt offers a strong positive that few other candidates offer: a history of turning around failing corporations and organizations. He saved the 2002 Olympics in SLC as well as several major firms. He is recognized as an industry leader and as a talented businessman with an eye for cost cutting and rebuilding companies. If this nation has any one priority right now, it is the economy, and Mitt is not arguably the best candidate out there, he is the best candidate in the arena. Period. REPUB or DEM.

Another strength–and weakness–is his time governing in Massachusetts. There are those on the Right that paint that as a negative, which it is for them, especially Romney-Care. However, his time in Massachusetts has done one critical thing for him: it has captured the attention of the Independent Vote. Independent Voters are tired of the fighting on the Hill, and if any one thing will sway their vote outside of the economy, it has to be the ability to compromise and work with a diverse House. Mitt Romney is the only GOP option that has proven he can do that in a valid and verifiable means.

His negatives are as follows:

  • He’s Mormon. Yes, so is Huntsman, but Huntsman has actively removed himself from his faith. It’ll cost him Utah, but might make him more palatable to the Bible Belt. Romney on the other hand has not. It’ll win him Utah, but, unfortunately, there is still a portion of people who simply cannot move past the bigotry of religious profiling.
  • Romney-care.
  • He’s more-centrist leaning.
  • His flip-flopping on certain key issues for the Conservative base. He’s offered adequate explanations, as all politicians do, but it’s unremarkably easy to label someone a flip-flopper and have it stick.*

*I’ve never understood the problem with switching your opinion or point of view. In my mind, that shows a person who has strength in their convictions but is also open to conversations and dialog about issues. The fact that a politician matured over their career is a sign of growth and strength, not weakness. Note: This is of course not talking about those who truly do flip-flop. I think that is the difference between the flip-flopping claims leveled against Romney and Perry. Perry honestly appears to change his mind to appease voters. Romney appears to change his mind based on genuine changes in philosophy as he ages and grows as a person. I cannot abide the prior.

When all is said and done, I do believe the GOP will elect Romney as their representative. If I’m being honest, I hope that is what they do. Sadly, I actually believe that although that will happen, the Tea Party will push for a third candidate. That candidate will be the anti-Romney in ways that Obama never could be and will primarily pull only supporters of Mitt Romney. So he’ll split the votes with the third candidate, and Obama will march into victory. Interestingly enough, if there is a strong third candidate and Romney carries the Independent Vote (as I think will happen), there is a distinct possibility that no one candidate will pull the majority of electoral votes needed to be president. Should that happen, the next president will be elected by the House of Representatives, which is currently controlled by the GOP.

Wouldn’t that be interesting? Yes… yes it would. It would also lead to rioting in the streets. Let’s not do that.

Chances: For the GOP ticket, I think Romney has a solid 50%+ chance, especially if Perry continues to fade. For the general election, I’d put him toe-to-toe with Obama at 50%. If the economy continues as is, I think he takes it. Not a landslide by any means, but a victory nonetheless.

If there is indeed a third candidate that pulls enough votes to send it to the House for a decision, I think Romney has good opportunities there, although I genuinely worry about how that would go down. In that situation, it is VERY likely that the general election could end up with Obama in first, Romney in second, and Candidate X in third, but the House, being GOP controlled, would probably consolidate their votes to guarantee a Republican President (Romney). How would the nation react to the obvious second place finisher taking the presidency? It’s impossible to say, but I think we can all agree that “negatively” would be a universal descriptor.

Let the silly season begin.

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One Response to Politics again… already?

  1. I have to agree with you on all points except for one sticky one… you and I disagree, Dave…

    on foreign policy. Significantly. So that’s the reason why I feel Obama is right in some crisis. In a foreign policy crisis. Or I would, if he did what he said he’d do. But instead, he continues to wage war/get involved in stuff that ain’t our business. But we have that discussion going on another post, somewhere else on the internet… 🙂

    Huntsman–he’s smoochy at the camera. Eeewww. Smoochy. I like his policy though.

    Romney–again, agreed in all but foreign policy, but that puts a huge crick in things for me.

    Paul–Ironically, my choice for candidate. He’s most electable to me, because he’s a fiscal conservative and a social liberal (which is about what I am) and the ways in which we disagree significantly are things he’ll never get passed (eg end the fed.) 😀

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