Seven Rules for a 2012 Victory

The mainstream media has pronounced last rites on the Republican Party.

The Republicans have no ideas. (All the stimulus plan suggestions and alternate health care plans don't count.)

They lack viable leaders. (None of the governors qualify.)

They should really just pack it in, we are told.

Well it's only six months into the Obama presidency, his poll numbers have dropped sharply, the public doesn't like his big spending ways, the unemployment numbers are skyrocketing, and the congressional generic poll shows Republicans neck-and-neck. So it may be premature to declare the GOP obsolete already.

But we have learned something in the last six months from watching the president and his Republican critics. Based on what we have seen we would suggest that those seeking to lead the party back from the wilderness should abide by seven rules. Those who follow them are not guaranteed to grab the 2012 nomination, but if a contender can't even manage these simple guidelines, he or she really needs to get off the stage.

1. No drama. We don't care if the drama is self-inflicted (Mark Sanford) or follows the contender like a magnetic rain cloud (Sarah Palin). If you can't control yourself, your family, your finances, and your own life, people won't trust you with the party or the country. Maybe it isn't fair to penalize those who are victims of a hostile media storm, but if between now and 2012 People magazine has more material on the candidate than the Economist, it really is time to exit.

2. The "Look Ma, No Experience!" fad may have passed with the election of Barack Obama. The race in 2012 will be a referendum on Obama. The argument from the GOP will be that he has bollixed up the country worse than George W. Bush. If that's the theme, then it may be time to elect someone who knows something about something. He or she need not know everything, or have expertise in every conceivable area of public policy. But having demonstrated competence on some topic could well come in handy. A general, a governor, a business person, or a foreign policy guru will at least have some standing to say, "Obama got X wrong. I saw X coming a mile away and know how to fix it."