Dear Great and Powerful Czar,
I think it is fair to say that you were the first writer I read who broached the subject of the ennui coming from Republicans concerning our Presidential candidates (the specific hook you used was Mitt Romney, but your general point applied to all the leading contenders for the nomination). Since that blog post on March 29th, a couple of other very smart writers have grabbed the baton from you and run with the same theme in their work. First up, I noticed Spengler dealing with the subject in his latest column from April 5:
Never before in American politics have so few offered so little to so many. I refer to the prospective Republican candidates for next year’s presidential elections, not a single one of whom elicits a response that might be mistaken for enthusiasm from the voters, the pundits, or the party’s elder statesmen.
There are a couple of generic governor types like Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota or Mitch Daniels of Indiana, and a long list of has-beens and never was’.
He goes on to make a typical Spenglerish-type argument that deals with economic history, entrepreneurs, investment bubbles, etc. You don’t have to agree with his complete argument to be struck by the overall theme, which he re-iterates in his closing:
The bumptious and ambitious 20-to-30-year-olds of the Reagan era have become the cramped and fearful 50-to-60-year-olds of today’s Tea Party. As long as Americans remain wrong-footed as a people, the Republican Party will search in vain for a charismatic candidate. There are several prospective contenders who could emulate Ronald Reagan with a fair degree of credibility – Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum all come to mind. Unlike Reagan, they cannot simply turn the tax switch and unleash the latent entrepreneurial energies of the world’s lone venue for creative capitalism.
Americans are older, the competition is tougher, and America’s home advantage is long since gone. The message Americans need to hear – study harder, save more, and bring in foreign talent – is a harder sell. No wonder that it’s hard to find the right salesman.
Next, just today I received Matthew Continetti’s Weekly Standard “The Weekly Newsletter” which he begins with the following:
If there’s one thing you hear from Republicans and conservatives these days, it’s the need for fresh faces. No one is terribly excited about the candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich are retreads from 2008 or earlier. Your average conservative wants to see new spokesmen (and women!) for the party, figures who aren’t tied up in past debates.
Continetti then goes on to argue that two potential new spokesmen (and therefore Presidential candidates) could be Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio. Given that Rubio has ruled out a Presidential run, that leaves Mr. Ryan, who you have similarly thought would make an excellent candidate. Now I know you paired him with Governor Christie, who has also ruled out a run, but perhaps there is some other charismatic figure out there we haven’t considered who might make either a good Vice-Presidential candidate (I think Ryan has the chops to go for all the marbles, unlike Jonah who puts him in the V.P. slot) to run with Mr. Ryan? Here are some (mostly crazy) suggestions:
1) General McChrystal – obviously my first choice would be General Petraeus, who won Iraq and is trying his best to salvage the situation in Afghanistan (which, by the way, is the only reason he said the goofy PC stuff he said about Pastor Jones), but he has said repeatedly he doesn’t want to run for office. I think, however, a general in the mold of Petraeus, which McChrystal fits, would be perfect for this moment in time when the entire Middle-East seems about to go up in flames and the rest of the world lacks leadership. America could use a strategic and visionary foreign policy thinker (e.g. someone who is willing to say, “do we really need NATO anymore and/or all those bases in Germany or is it time Europe start paying for their own defense?”) and I think the good McChrystal could play this role (probably as V.P.)
2) Mike Pence – I’m not convinced Ryan is solid enough on social issues or can talk with the same depth and passion on those issues he obviously brings to budget and welfare-state policy (and I definitely think Mitch Daniels, who I love, is wrong about his “truce” idea), so why not pair him with a solid social conservative? Sure, two Midwest Representatives running for two executive positions would be a stretch, but why not if they are both smart and can articulate a different course of action for this country? Pence ruled out a run for the Presidency, saying he was going to run for the Governorship of Indiana, but would he really decline the V.P. slot?
3) Jeb Bush – why not for V.P. like his dad and let the country get used to the idea of a Bush in the White House again? He would need to “see the light” on immigration, but his dad famously flipped on abortion, so maybe there is hope…
4) Steve Jobs* – assuming his health is O.K., for a totally unorthodox choice for V.P., why not Steve Jobs http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/03/steve-jobs-president.html ? Sure he doesn’t have a political bone in his body and he seems kind of crazy, but he is a visionary and he does know how to run an organization.
5) Jon Huntsman, Jr. – George Will says he should be considered a serious candidate and he would bring some foreign policy street cred to the ticket. He also has executive experience and a decent record on social issues. He’s not ideal, but for V.P., he’ll do.
I originally thought Ryan would never leave Congress at this stage in his career to run, but given the seriousness of his budget proposals and the attention they will receive if he does run, this might be his perfect moment – a chance to contrast his good looks and intelligence with Obama’s, the difference being that Ryan’s campaign will actually consist of substance and conservative solutions to the country’s fiscal problems. Imagine that!
*What I’m really going for here is a business-type with no real political experience — maybe someone from the energy sector who has been involved in natural gas exploration and development (one of America’s abundant resources that we need to continue to develop — around 3-4 million jobs are already dependent on natural gas and we could create over 200,000 more if we develop the Marcellus Shale region).