The GOP’s 2012 problem: They’re ‘has-beens’?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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It is generally accepted that the 2012 GOP field is weak, while the potential field for 2016 is quite strong.

The modern GOP, it seems, is like a sports team whose success (and lack of foresight) in the 2000s led them to stick with their veterans for too long.  Once it became obvious the glory days were over (2006-2008), the “team” — out of desperation — moved toward a youth movement, aggressively recruiting and nurturing the stars of tomorrow.

But the promising rookies are still maturing.  They’re in the big leagues, to be sure, but they are not ready to start seventh game of the World Series. And so, with the big game on the line, we are left with many of the stale stars of yesterday.

On Fox News, Bill Kristol recently summed it up this way:

[The candidates] who are running are impressive people, but they’re former — Former governor of Massachusetts, former Speaker of the House, former governor of Minnesota — and we have this huge fight going on in Washington and around the country about the future of the nation, about debt and deficits, and spending and taxes.

Ryan and Rubio are in the fight. Governor Christie of New Jersey is in the fight. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is in the fight…

This, of course, does not necessarily spell doom for Republicans.  Presidents Nixon and Reagan, just to name two, were in similar situations when they won the nomination and the White House. And it’s not like the GOP’s front runners are ancient history.  Romney was a governor as recently as five years ago, and Pawlenty has only been a “former” governor for a few months.

But I do think Kristol makes an interesting point — and raises some other questions.  For example, is it possible our modern society has less reverence (or a shorter memory) for past leaders than we used to?  Is it possible that our fickle and youth-worshiping society is more interested in promoting up-and-coming fresh-faced leaders of the future than in salvaging the lessons and the wisdom of the past?