In early 2011, President Barack Obama is a seriously wounded politician. His reelection is vulnerable on virtually every issue and all but the most radical (and ignorant) demographics. He has out Jimmy Carter-ed Jimmy Carter, a feat most observers could not imagine possible. Nonetheless, he will likely be elected to a second term because the Republican Party is offering no electable alternative.
So far, the slate of potential GOP candidates for president – with one or two having actually announced – is a list of smart, likable conservatives, each with their own strengths, but all with a fatal political flaw; they can’t be elected. This doesn’t speak to their credentials, mind you, it’s an observation on the ordnance they can bring to the campaign battle ground and, more importantly, the defenses they can muster to counter attacks from the left.
Michele Bachmann – Moderately charismatic, but duct-taped to the Tea Party and will be characterized as a far right extremist.
Mitch Daniels – There are American Idol contestants that have already been voted off that have better name recognition.
Newt Gingrich – Too “old school,” his personal baggage will weigh heavily and his lack of charisma will be far too much of a contrast to Obama. No crossover and little if nothing from the center.
Mike Huckabee – Huck become far too familiar as a nice guy with a goofy TV show (and, GASP, on FOX at that!). He is too evangelical to be an effective national candidate. Like Palin, moderates and the unaffiliated won’t buy him. Both have constituencies that are too condensed.
Jon Huntsman – Huntsman, like Mitt Romney, is a wealthy, Mormon former governor. Although Huntsman has several conservative political views, he is not considered a staunch conservative. This would play well with the moderates, but may be too much of a problem to overcome in the primaries. Having been President Obama’s chosen Ambassador to China may also associate him too much with the opposition, though that affiliation may actually benefit him. Still, with his ambassadorship ending at the end of April, Huntsman’s ability to build the national network needed to successfully campaign for the nomination will be significantly hindered.
Sarah Palin – She’s been in the Dem crosshairs since 2008 and far too many shots are landing. She has been marginalized by politicians and comedians to the point where she is, unfortunately a caricature.
Ron Paul – The Republican version of Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul is the most fringe of all the Republican candidates. On election day, 2012, Paul will be 77 years old and will come across as what he is, a crotchety old man. He’ll raise more money than many of the other candidates, but has far too much baggage to be a serious contender. His speeches are more like lectures that sail over the heads of his audiences and past racist-tinged writings will collapse any chance for making it to the White House.
Tim Pawlenty – Pawlenty was almost John McCain’s running mate in 2008: is that a good thing or a bad thing? He speaks like a bored preacher – he says the right things, but with no passion. His ability to raise money and solicit votes will be limited to those who react, not those who want to participate. A good cabinet officer, maybe, but an ineffective – and losing – presidential contender.
Rick Santorum – Santorum likely wouldn’t carry his home state of Pennsylvania. He isn’t a particularly popular guy within the party and his campaign style and lack of personal magnetism would doom him in the primaries.
Donald Trump – Trump has decided he wants to be a contestant on the ultimate Celebrity Apprentice. Despite saying all the “right” things, the Donald would not appeal to the necessary moderate demographic and is pretty much nothing more than a caricature.
There are others who have been mentioned: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Chris Christie primary among them. These three – at this point – have more advantages than disadvantages and at least have a chance at being elected.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all these folks would get together and decided it’s for the good of the party and, more importantly, the country, to come together and decide amongst themselves who would be the best – and most likely – candidate to run against and defeat Barack Obama?