What if the GOP primary, with its staggering number of debates and sheer length of the campaign, has managed to weed out all of the good, solid candidates and left us with the worst and weakest ones?
Consider the candidates who either declined to run due to one issue or another, or who have dropped out:
1. Successful governor of midwestern state, known for being strong enough to battle the government unions, and conservative and steady in his temperament. Declined to run for family reasons.
2. Successful tw0-term governor of midwestern state, known in office for cutting taxes and vetoing bad legislation. Helped change his state from blue to reddish. Dropped out after lackluster debate performances, losing a straw poll in Iowa that turned out to be meaningless.
3. Successful governor in his second term of a southern state. Known for cleaning up his state’s politics and fostering policies that promote free enterprise, and for battling with Obama admin over BP oil spill aftermath. Declined to run; conservative punditry mocked his early foray onto the national scene.
4. Successful long-time governor of large southern state, which has weathered the Great Recession by creating more jobs than the rest of the nation combined. Has overseen his state’s transition from Democrat to Republican. Dropped out after poor debate performances and gaffes.
5. Successful governor of blue state, in which he has built a reputation for taking on the public sector unions while shoring up his state’s financial situation. Inspiring leader and public speaker. Declined to run for president.
6. Successful governor of northern state, was at one time the most popular governor in America thanks to reformist policies and personal charm. Ignited the GOP ticket in 2008, but came under assault as many questioned her intellect, despite solid record in office and knack for speaking to the GOP’s hearts and minds. Resigned mid-way through only term to be able to fight off groundless ethics complaints brought against her by the left, and declined to run for president.
Setting aside their names, just looking at the bullet points, all of those candidates look pretty good.
Consider who is still in the running, in no particular order.
1. Congressman and gold bug who trucks in conspiracy theories and whose foreign policy is to the left of most in the Democratic Party. No executive experience, other than managing a newsletter that published material causing problems for him today.
2. Former speaker of the House who achieved historic successes but who resigned in disgrace. Has hit the hat trick on marriages, and spent the past decade in Washington in serial betrayals of conservative principles. Questionable temperament leading to expectations/fears that he will inevitably destroy his own candidacy again.
3. Former two-term senator of a swing state, in which he set a record for the largest margin of defeat in that state in his last election. No serious executive experience, questionable electability beyond the social conservative base.
4. One-term governor of blue state where he enacted policies friendlier to progressivism than conservatism. Uninspiring stump speaker, adequate but not great debater.
I don’t know about you, but I would trade any of the first six for any in the last four, in a heartbeat.