Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Latest Thoughts on the GOP Nomination

I miss Tim Pawlenty.  Yes he was awkward and a bit of a wimp.  But I liked him.  I felt like if you vote for Tim Pawlenty you really know what you are getting.  A true conservative who also wouldn't scare anyone, partly because he was so bland.  As others have noted, he is as close to being a generic Republican to oppose Obama as you can get (given that the "generic Republican" candidate leads Obama in the polls by 6%, this is pretty important).  Unfortunately, very few, if any, people got excited about Tim Pawlenty, mainly because he is just not the kind of candidate you ever can get excited over.  It reminds me of the part of "When Harry Met Sally" when Sally says she had great sex with a guy named Sheldon, to which Harry responds:

No you didn't. A Sheldon can do your income taxes, if you need a root canal, Sheldon's your man... but humpin' and pumpin' is not Sheldon's strong suit. It's the name. 'Do it to me Sheldon, you're an animal Sheldon, ride me big Shel-don.' Doesn't work.

Basically, if you want to run a state or country, Pawlenty is your man, if you want someone to be excited over, he clearly isn't. 

Regardless, I will have to vote for someone when the primary comes around though the more I think about it, the more indecisive I get.  If I didn't have my small government ideals, I think Romney would be the easiest one to vote for.  He certainly looks like a Presidential candidate, debates very well and says all the right things (this time around, there are plenty of YouTube videos saying some very wrong things just 3 years ago).  He is also popular enough with women and independents that even deep blue Connecticut would be in play according to the Democratic polling outfit PPP.  There is a good chance that if Romney is nominated, we will see the most states go Red since the 1980's with all the associated coattails (there are 23 Democratic Senate seats up in 2012 and only 10 GOP seats so coattails will be important).  I'm tempted to vote for him just for the euphoria of election night and the inevitable articles about the demise of the Democratic Party.  Unfortunately, the hangover will be terrible.  This is a guy who created the model for Obamacare for heaven's sake, so I am just not convinced he will actually work for repeal as vehemently as would be necessary.  And if we don't have someone like that in charge, we might be stuck with it FOREVER, which would be a major travesty for this nation.  I also, don't like his answers with regards to Israel.  He seems to criticize Obama because he publicly has criticized Israel instead of attacking the President for the beliefs themselves.  I'm just not sure he wouldn't try to pressure Israel to go back to the 1949 lines and give up the Old City of Jerusalem.  Whether it is done in public or private won't really matter in the end.  I can just see Romney as President being another 4-8 years of complete frustration, with none of the reforms we really need.

Perry is someone I could get excited over but as a candidate he really needs to improve and fast.  If it's not a completely canned response he has a high likelihood of messing it up, badly.  I want to see our nominee break Obama in the debates, not someone who will at best get a "draw" (like with McCain and W).  I'm just not looking forward to the possibility of constantly having to defend his gaffes.  I also don't think he is going to be a great help downticket  In terms of policy, he definitely makes me nervous (though not nearly as nervous as Romney does obviously).  His whole "have a heart" response on the DREAM Act was something I expected to hear from W, not Perry.  The Executive Order on Gardisil is another big issue.  So you saw a cancer patient and therefore you wanted to mandate that every teenage girl in Texas be vaccinated?  What happened to individual liberty?  Is he going to do this every time someone pulls on his heart strings?  Are we going to get a Medicare Part E? 

Cain is someone I am warming up to, but there are just so many holes he needs to fill as soon as he possibly can.  He really needs to steal a better campaign staff from someone.  How does it make sense that he hasn't been to Iowa in a month?  Doesn't he understand the path dependent nature of the nomination process?  It's all about momentum in these things.  Granted the exact order of all the primaries are unknown but traditionally the winning candidate had to win either Iowa or New Hampshire and then take South Carolina.  The latest polls in Iowa are more than a month old but it looks like if Perry is collapsing there like other places, his votes are up for grabs.  If Cain doesn't take them, Romney just might.  Imagine if Romney takes both Iowa and New Hampshire?  He might be close to unstoppable due to the momentum that would generate and even if Cain takes South Carolina, it may not matter.  Also, while I really like the 9-9-9 plan, I'm just wondering how wise it is to have to defend a flat tax and a national retail sales tax at the same time?  Obama is going to be campaigning about raising taxes on the rich and giving it to the poor and Cain is going to be campaigning on raising taxes on the poor and lowering them for the rich.  Many independents won't actually look at the details of the plan and therefore won't realize how great it is, they will probably be swayed by meatball-over-the-plate soundbites from the media.  Also, Cain really needs to brush up on his foreign policy.  On Fox News Sunday he talked about how much he supported Israel but then looked like a deer in headlights when asked about the Palestinian Right of Return issue.  He clearly had no idea what it was.  Luckily, this is all stuff that can be fixed with the proper staff in place.  The only other issue I have with him is that I just don't know what I'll be getting.  He has never held elected office so how will he act when he has real governing responsibilities?  How much will he compromise?  While supporting TARP, he railed against "free market purists".  I know why he felt the need to support it, but why attack believers in the free market?  That is not something that gives me the warm and fuzzies.  I'm certainly leaning in his direction right now, but I'm just not sold yet.

Gingrich has done so well lately, I've almost forgotten how batsh*t crazy he is.  If I just focus on the Gingrich I've seen in the debates and not the Newt of the past, he is clearly very impressive and can really go toe to toe with Obama in any debate.  However, as someone who has pissed off just about every person in the GOP at one point or another, is this someone who will be able to get enough people behind him to win the White House and take back the Senate?  Maybe if he stays on his meds, which is something he hasn't been able to do consistently.  Also, it's unclear what his path to the nomination will be.  He is currently in the low single digits in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Santorum is also someone who has done well lately, being one of the top performers at the debates.  I definitely would feel very comfortable with him as President from a policy perspective as his conservative bona fides are strong (though obviously not spotless).  Unfortunately, other than a few pundits, nobody seems to like him.  Maybe it's because he comes across as mean/constipated all the time?  He almost seems like the Tim Pawlenty who overcompensated for his own inherent blandness by becoming an attack dog. On the off chance though that he does survive long enough to be a contender in the NJ primary, he would have my vote based on what I know now.

The great thing about Bachmann is that you know where she stands.  If you vote for her, you know what you are going to get.  Unfortunately, I wish she were a better candidate.  She reminds me of a boss I had who was very intelligent but would occasionally get these ideas in their heads and it took a herculean effort to get it out.  How much press/debate time did she waste linking Gardisil to autism?  You only get so many gaffes in a primary, especially one this competitive.

I love Ron Paul when he talks about economics, I hate him when he talks about foreign policy.  It's very hard to vote for someone like that.  Though I do admit, given our dire economic and fiscal situation, I am tempted to stomach is horrific foreign policy just so we can have someone like him guiding our fiscal policy.  In reality though, I probably would only vote for him if the other choice was Jon Huntsman, who is just as leftist on foreign policy and not as free market on economic policy.

So, long story short (yeah, I know, too late), my vote is pretty much up in the air.  I'd like to vote for a Cain or a Santorum, but will they even last long enough to make it to my primary? 

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