September 30, 2011

GOP Debates No Help to Futile Five

By Donald G. Mashburn

In our July 31 edition, we listed the GOP “Futile Five,” candidates that we felt had no reasonable chance of being elected and should gracefully bow out of the already crowded field seeking the GOP presidential nomination. The Futile Five, which we think are unelectable, although they seem unaware of it, are Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, and Ron Paul.

Now, after a few debates and some additional insight into what the candidates seem to stand for, we see no reason to change the book on the Five. It will be noted that Giuliani and Palin have not officially entered the race, but they should help clear the political landscape and officially declare they are not, and will not be, a candidate for president

There were, at last count, nine more-or-less credible announced candidates in the GOP field: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann; Herman Cain, a mathematician who served in the U.S. Navy and has since built an impressive resume as a businessman at Pillsbury and other companies, and as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; former Utah governor Jon Huntsman; former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson; Texas governor Rick Perry; Texas Congressman Ron Paul; former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

The half-dozen others that have declared include names like Andy Martin, a self-proclaimed “People’s Attorney General,” and Jimmy McMillan, who has run for various offices as a candidate of The Rent is Too Damn High Party. These and a number of others fit into what some may call the gadfly category.

Since our July 31 look at the GOP field, Texas governor Rick Perry officially entered the race and immediately shot to the top of some polls. But the recent debates have taken a bit of the “shine” off the new candidate, and the race has tightened. Mitt Romney is generally considered to be in the lead nationally, and is viewed by many as having the best shot at beating President Barack Obama in 2012.

So after the “scrubbing effect” of the televised debates held so far, we think the Futile Five should officially declare they will not be a candidate.

For Bachmann that involves getting out after winning a more or less meaningless Iowa straw poll, but having slipped in the national polls. The Congresswoman is a Tea Party favorite, and can generate some excitement among her supporters. But she still makes simple mistakes, and gives the overall impression that she’s still a lightweight trying to compete in the presidential heavyweight class. She should take the long view of the country’s needs and an objective view of her lack of experience to meet them.

Newt Gingrich did fairly well in a recent debate. But his negatives are numerous and he still carries the excess baggage from his time as Speaker of the House of Representatives and from his far from exemplary personal life. Gingrich should recognize that he doesn’t wear well when divisive issues become complex and diverse. He should also realize that his professorial demeanor and overly blunt manner often hint of a lack of common sense, and that he cannot win the nomination. He should withdraw from the field.

Rudy Giuliani is not a declared candidate. But he stays visible, and keeps the speculation alive that he might enter the race.

Similarly, Sarah Palin keeps bobbing about the country, feeding the speculation that she’s might enter, or is at least is awaiting a draft or a supernatural sign to jump into the race. But in her bobbing about she manages to solidify the impression that she doesn’t have either the experience or the “weight” to compete in the present field.

Ron Paul has remained “steady” in the polls – low. He says some things that spark excitement in his small core of followers. But he also says some things that lead more objective heads to conclude he can’t win the nomination, and if he were to win it, he would be a Party disaster in the general election. Paul apparently enjoys his limited celebrity, but he can’t be president and he should realize that and bow out.

We continue to think the Futile Five should take an early opportunity to do something that really counts for their country, by showing they can think about what’s best for the country, not what they want for themselves.

Bachmann, Gingrich, and Paul should take a realistic look at their prospects, and realize that they are possible GOP presidential candidates only in their own minds. Then, facing the realities of the American political landscape, they should take themselves out of the running for the 2012 GOP nomination and help clear their field.

Perhaps their actions would help Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson, and possibly Rick Santorum, to bow out, as Gov. Tim Pawlenty did when he realized he had neither the organization nor the money to succeed in a national race.

The “undeclared” like Giuliani, Palin, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie should stay that way. With deadlines approaching for some primary ballots, it’s late in the day for a candidate to pull together an organization and generate enough commitments for the money it will take to get elected president.

The country could be in much worse shape than having to choose from Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum. This statement assumes that Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, and possibly Rick Santorum, will realize they can’t win nationally, and will drop out.

If voters had to choose a presidential candidate from the short list of Cain, Perry and Romney, they would in a much stronger position, and on more solid footing, than they were in 2008, when a they elected someone with no business or executive experience. Going for glibness and waves of words and platitudes has cost the nation in ways we don’t yet realize.

And the nation’s nearly $15 trillion debt will cost future generations more than anyone can imagine today.

Voters would enjoy a rare experience – and it would a national blessing – if they could choose a president from former governor Romney, with strong experience in both business and government, or Gov. Perry, in his third terms as governor of Texas, or Herman Cain whose business and executive background is exceptionally strong.