The Travails of the GOP Establishment
Republican elites' motto: "Never too late."
August 27, 2011 - 12:00 am
What about Jon Huntsman, you ask? Don’t. The former Obama ambassador to China’s deer in headlights debate performance along with his rather curious ideas about making the Democrats’ case for them against the other Republican candidates have many in the establishment tip-toeing away, hoping nobody noticed their boosterism for a guy who makes Bob Dole look exciting.
Is there hope for a new establishment candidate to make an entrance into the race when we’re barely five months out from the start of the nominating process? Pollster Nate Silver thinks so:
One seismic factor affecting Republicans’ decision is that Barack Obama is now exceptionally vulnerable for an incumbent president. If you’re a Republican and you think you can become president, that’s doubly important for you; not only does it mean that those aspirations are more likely to be fulfilled this time around, it also means that they’re less likely to be realized in 2016 or 2020 because there’s now more chance that some other Republican will already occupy the Oval Office by then.
So real estate in the Republican primary field has become more valuable. And, despite Mr. Perry’s entry, there’s still some available for the taking. Not much of it is prime real estate, but like the nooks and crannies of Manhattan, it may still be in demand.
Silver thinks most of the “real estate” is of the center-right variety. Three candidates have been prominently mentioned and would almost certainly meet with the establishment’s approval to one degree or another: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former New York Governor George Pataki, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Unfortunately for the Ralph Lauren set, both Christie and Pataki have declared themselves out of the race, while Guiliani is still mulling things over. Besides, even if they changed their minds, the challenges facing each of them would be immense.
Each candidate would be starting from scratch with no organization, little money, and not much chance of catching fire in Iowa. For Giuliani and Pataki, their abortion rights position would be difficult for conservative voters to ignore. Christie has his own problems with the right with his denigration of their positions on global warming and teaching evolution in schools, as well as problematic stances on gun control and Muslim coddling.
Christie has said he would rather commit suicide than run, and Pataki has now officially declined to enter the race. Giuliani’s plans are unknown. Some suspect he is maintaining his name on the active list in order to keep his speaking fees high. His personal baggage is almost as bad as Gingrich, his gay rights stand actually angers social conservatives, and it’s not clear where he can differentiate himself from any other Republican on budget and fiscal issues.
George Pataki might have been the establishment favorite of the latecomers. He might be considered a poor man’s Mitch Daniels. Not as policy oriented or wonkish as the Indiana governor, Pataki nevertheless offered some intellectual heft not seen in some other GOP candidates. He is a thoughtful man, prudent in his public pronouncements, and has an enviable track record of accomplishment in a very Democratic state. For the establishment, what’s not to like?
Well, a dead fish would give him a run for his money in a personality contest for one. And his oratory has been recommended by doctors as a sleep aid. Other than that, the establishment had to ask itself if the ghost of Tim Pawlenty is someone they seriously wanted to back.
So while there may be room for more candidates in the GOP field (Sarah Palin may eventually stop her “Dance of the Coquettes” and declare one way or another), the bad news for the establishment is that there is no one on the horizon who could fill their aching hearts and heal the breach in their souls as they survey the 2012 Republican field.
They are stuck with dopes, jokes, and frauds and they better get used to it.
Also read: All signs point to a Palin run.