Washington: At the risk of being erroneously labeled a “Libertarian” (capital “L”) or even a “libertarian” (small “l”), let’s get this out of the way: Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul. Indeed he did officially if not embarrassingly win the recent CPAC presidential preference poll (what “winners” get booed?”). The only thing that could have been worse would have been Sen. John McCain winning: ugh.
If Richard Nixon proved there are second acts in politics (more Americans voted for Richard Milhous Nixon for either president or vice president than any other candidate in history), perennial candidates like McCain, Paul, even Al Gore, eventually join Harold Stassen as political jokes.
If Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is the United States Senate’s “Dr. No,” Rep. Paul has been doing his residency as “Dr. No” in “the other body” for some time now: God Bless both of them for doing so.
But even Paul, who ran unsuccessfully as the Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, now needs the Republican Party as a vehicle to achieve whatever his agenda is these days.
Oh, how we hear so many of what Mark Levin refers to as “the back-benchers” of the Republican Party chanting that George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush spent too much money, that they long for a candidate like Ronald Reagan, want the nation to return to what the Founding Fathers intended, and wish the Chicago Cubs would win the next World Series.
Yes, as vice president, Bush was, next to Dick Cheney, one of the best we’ve ever had: as POTUS, he left a lot to be desired and as a presidential candidate up for re-election he was a disaster (we staffers called Bush/Quayle 1992 “The Titanic Campaign”). His most brilliant moment of clarity was when he asked his huddled advisors if he was the only one who thought he could still win. Dittos for former governor and heir apparent George W. Bush: two squeakers do not a mandate make. As Sen. John Kerry supposedly so aptly quipped, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy”.
Another candidate I worked for, Sen. Bob Dole, could have said the same while losing to Clinton: Dole does not quite join the Harold Stassen Gang, but he was the wrong candidate at the wrong time. While a most decent guy, his campaign could have been the sequel, “Return of The Titanic Campaign.”
So in a way, the Republican Party has not really had a presidential candidate of Reagan’s equal since he ran: the party has also not had as well run a presidential campaign as Reagan had in both 1980 and 1984. Republicans looking for a repeat of this perfect storm are delusional: there will never be another Ronald Reagan as God broke the mold.
Whether the Republican Party is going to be made up of “Tea Party” participants, “Reagan Republicans,” RINO Republicans, or Sino Republicans makes no difference: it will take all of that and then some just to remain competitive with the inept but always dangerous majority Democrats.
You betcha that Sarah Palin was wise to sit out CPAC: She didn’t have to bear the shame of losing the straw poll to Paul by having been there in person and she remains a desirable mystery to many within the conservative movement. But in my view, Palin, having endured one presidential campaign as the party’s vice presidential candidate, is not only the one to beat, she has in many ways, earned the right to be the heir apparent to the 2012 nomination.
May I also suggest that a perfect Republican power duo in 2012 would be Sarah Palin for President and Michele Bachmann for vice president (Bachmann did attend CPAC as well as Tea Party gatherings). Oafs like Keith Olbermann, Eugene Robinson and Robert MMM will deem them “Dumb and Dumber” at the risk of offending all women, the Democrats most fear Palin anyway, and they are both easy on the eyes.
And just forget about the good doctor, bad politician, Ron Paul: just say “no.”
Nicholas Thimmesch II is a long-time media and communications consultant to numerous campaigns, government representatives and public policy organizations, serving in the Reagan White House as a staff writer.