Huffington Post Reader: Here's a curveball.
As a Conservative, I am floored repeatedly when I see how badly Republicans pick their nominees for president. It's absurd. It's moronic.
Like lemmings rushing headlong off the cliff into the sea, Republicans seem to inexorably pick substandard candidates for the most important office in the land.
With the notable exceptions of Reagan & W, we have picked a smorgasbord of wimps, losers and total gentlemen who didn't know how to get down in the dirt and fight a political campaign.
Consider John McCain. Astounding that a brave pilot and American hero, who spent six years in a Vietnamese POW camp, enduring agonizing torture, could not seem to take the gloves off and really fight for the presidency. Sad but true.
Bob Dole was not aggressive when he ran, either, disappointingly so. And George H. W. Bush would have lost to Dukakis had the Massachusetts governor not shot himself in the foot repetitively. Going back to 1976 and Gerald Ford, the Republican Party has consistently -- and weirdly -- put forward the weakest candidates.
The only two presidents to slug it out in tough campaigns were W and Reagan.
The current campaign is not shaping up much better for the Republicans. Again, there seems to be too much choice between too many weak candidates.
Nevertheless, I'll handicap the current field:
- Romney: If he wins the nomination, Obama will be re-elected. Romney's got big explaining to do. American's don't understand Mormonism. Romney must explain (1) why some sects still allow polygamy and (2) the whole radical Mormon incest/child-molestation crisis of a few years back. Clarifying these matters to voters tired of Obama will be an almost insurmountable task. He'll never, I repeat never, be able to convince Conservatives like me, why he would create and sign RomneyCare. The longer he runs the better Obama's chances. Hopefully, another candidate will rise to seize Conservatives' attention in the run-up to the election much as Bill Clinton and Obama did for Liberals.
- Gingrich: Done, toast, finito. And I'm glad. I never liked Newt. Too much baggage. Way too much.
- Tim Pawlenty: A nice guy who cannot win, unless something strange happens and he's catapulted into the spotlight. This is unlikely.
- Jon Huntsman: Another Mormon explanation waiting to happen.
- Gary Johnson: I don't think his Libertarian politics washes with Conservatives so he's not gonna make it. Why is this guy even on the Republican ticket?
- Ron Paul: Give me a break! He's becoming Nader-esque. Why don't Johnson and Paul just start their own party and run on a ticket together? They're certainly not Conservatives and I don't even consider them true Republicans. No chance for Paul.
- Rick Santorum: While a true Conservative and an apparently solid guy, Santorum's political career has been derailed by missteps that culminated in his jaw-dropping loss as an incumbent Senator to Bob Casey in 2006. Santorum doesn't scare anybody.
Now for my three choices as possible 'last-minute power-player winners:'
Either of the two notable women in this campaign could win. Never mind that Palin has not declared yet; she will. I like both their chances mainly because they are both strong, Conservative women and because their Democratic detractors seem incapable of generating anything tangible against them, other than calling both Palin and Bachmann "stupid." That's not good enough. I don't like Hillary Clinton but I never called her stupid because she's not. Neither are Palin and Bachmann.
As Maggie Thatcher said: "I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left." Any opponent reduced to name-calling is an unarmed warrior about to be flattened, and that's why I like their chances. Make no mistake, Liberals and Progressives fear these two women like no other candidates and the pure, infantile name-calling will continue and worsen until it reaches a shrill and unbearable crescendo. This may result in serious unintended consequences for the Democrats.
- Michelle Bachmann: She has the heart of a lion. I like that. With Ed Rollins as her campaign manager, she can only rise in popularity and potential. Raising money and the consistency of her message are keys for her to win.
- Sarah Palin: The media and Liberals have given Palin a raw deal. Like many Americans, I feel they have treated her badly and have been pointlessly inhuman in their shallow criticisms. But I understand why: Obama Liberals feel threatened by Palin more than anybody else. She re-energized McCain's sagging campaign and made it a race. When people are afraid, they choose the first name to call somebody then try to make it stick. Cowardly. But of all the candidates, Palin is the only one who has raised almost as much money as front-runner Romney. In the end it's all about the money. If she declares, this former Alaska governor has the best current chances.
My third possible winner?
- Herman Cain -- I like him. He has substance. Whether he can successfully promote that 'substance' is another story. If he can and gets a few lucky breaks as Bill Clinton did, he could be the first 100% African-American President. Wouldn't that be something?