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The Expansionist
Friday, December 30, 2011
 
Horserace, Shmorserace. What is wrong with the media today? All the talk about the Republican Party candidates for President is about the polls, and speculation about what will happen in the Iowa caucuses next week. Almost NOTHING is said about the IDEAS of the candidates or the PROGRAMS they would pursue if they were to become President. How does all this "horserace" nonsense contribute to the public consideration of candidates? It's like a high-school class-president campaign, which amounts to nothing more than popularity, in that a class president has absolutely no power. But the President of the United States does have power. A lot, if he chooses to use it — something President Obama should think more about.
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Right now, Newt Gingrich is down in the polls. A month ago, he was on top. Ron Paul is high in the polls, but hasn't a prayer of becoming the nominee of the Republican Party. Moreover, he hasn't a tenth of a prayer of becoming President of the United States, even if he runs as an independent after being repudiated by Republican primary voters. Why? Because he is a Radical Libertarian. In his case, people really are aware of his principles, and reject them.
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Ron Paul is a very unsympathetic character because he is not empathetic. He is widely understood to have a rigid, inhuman value system that holds that if people cannot provide for themselves, they should suffer, and even die, because no one else has any obligation to help them. That is Radical Libertarianism, obscene selfishness camouflaging itself as principled behavior.
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But what role do the ideas of the other candidates play? What are the voters thinking about the direction the Nation is headed now and would be headed if Romney or Bachmann or Santorum were somehow, magically, to become President?
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Bachmann cannot possibly win. Santorum cannot possibly win. They are both too Far Right, and their values are not the values of the majority of voters.
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Gingrich almost certainly cannot win the White House, and thus probably cannot win the Republican nomination, because voters might be willing to overlook his sexual peccadillos and even his proposed amnesty for illegal aliens if they thought he could win against Obama. But most serious observers cannot see any way Gingrich could win against Obama, since lukewarm support or outrite disaffection by the Republican base would produce low turnout of the Republican True Believers, and without them, no Republican can win the Presidency.
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Romney has three huge problems, which are also probably insuperable in the general election, even if, by some miracle, he should win the nomination. First, he is a Mormon, and evangelical Christians regard Mormonism as a non-Christian cult, even worse than Catholicism. Catholicism, after all, believes in the same Trinity as Protestant evangelicals, whereas Mormons do not accept a tripartite Godhead, and even talk about "gods" — plural. For conservative Christians, Romney's Mormonism rules him out of consideration for President.
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Romney's second problem is his prior statements in favor of amnesty for illegals. He has tried to wiggle out of the inescapable conclusion that he does favor amnesty — or, tellingly, DID publicly declare in favor of amnesty, tho he now claims not to do so — but his words are there for everyone to see.
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Romney's third big problem may be the one that is truly insuperable: he is a world-class flipflopper. He inflicted an individual mandate upon the people of Massachusetts with his universal-healthcare law, known as "Romneycare", but now claims to oppose the exact same kind of individual mandate in "Obamacare". How can Mr. Romneycare lead the charge against Obamacare?
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In like fashion, when he was Governor of Massachusetts — and how on Earth did that happen? — he toed the liberal/moderate line on things like gay rights. Romney ordered court clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in accordance with a court ruling that he did not appeal.
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He ran for Governor on a "pro-choice" stance on abortion, and his current muddled stance is not acceptable to the bulk of Conservative Republicans.
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In Massachusetts, Romney ran as a Liberal Republican; now he pretends he has seen the lite, and become a Conservative Republican. Nobody is buying that.
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Who's left? Huntsman and Perry. Perry is a dunce, who has embarrassed himself and his party repeatedly with his dopy mistakes in various debates. Stupidity, however, may not be a crucial issue for Republican voters, since they understand that there is a collective leadership in the Party that will advise and possibly override the decisions of any Republican President.
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Huntsman, who might be regarded as the best candidate overall, is too moderate, and he is also a Mormon, so he twice offends the Republican base.
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At this point, the possibility of Republicans getting their act together and defeating President Obama appears to be nil. Some other candidate would have to come to the fore, during the primary season or at the convention if the convention can, somehow, deadlock. If my state's governor, Chris Christie, were to jump in, that would certainly shake things up — and that is not just a fat joke. Christie, like Romney, got into the governorship of a Liberal state as a fluke. He might be defeated if he runs for re-election. But his popularity in NJ, or lack thereof (I have been at an event where he was both applauded and booed), does not alter the fact that he appears to be popular outside NJ. Still, he is a relative moderate, from the Liberal Northeast, and that might be enuf to turn off the Republican base.
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Donald Trump is famous and rich, but widely detested. His views on conservative touchstones like abortion and illegal immigration, are unknown. And he has been married three times, so the family-values crowd would have a real problem with him.
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Who else? I can't think of any nationally prominent Republican who stands a real chance of defeating Obama, esp. with the stock market up 6% this year, unemployment down, consumer spending up, gasoline prices down, and the Iraq War over.
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A successful candidate would have to be socially and fiscally conservative; competent; already famous, since there is no time for an unknown to achieve name recognition and wide popularity; well-financed; what else? No extremist can be elected by the Nation. Is it equally true that no moderate can be nominated?
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(The current — final? — U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,484 — for Israel.)



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