I think about George W. Bush a lot. More than I should. I think when you look at President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush and President Obama together in a lump, you get this strange illusion of three people trying to manage a strange and changing world. Our society is involving and these three people were and are in the driver’s seat of the country. Somewhat. The importance of the Presidency is over stated, in my opinion. The Presidency, being President, is still super important. Elections have consequences and it’s important that we spend time talking about and thinking about who we elect in our cities, in our counties, in our states and to the highest office in the land.
That’s why the current selection of Republican candidates is a disaster, and we all should be embarrassed.
It’s impossible to look at Santorum, Romney, Gingrich and Paul and say, “You know, any of these guys would be a good President!” That’s not true and it’s obvious. Santorum offends people who don’t believe what he believes and he doesn’t care. Romney thinks that him just standing up in front of people is enough to get him elected. Ron Paul is Ron Paul. And Newt Gingrich is a verbose narcissist who won the lottery and is running for President because he has nothing else to do. None of these men are even remotely interesting, let alone persuasive or even intellectually attractive and none of them could stand next to President Obama during a debate and last three minutes. That’s a problem.
The cool thing about the election of 2008 is that Senator McCain isn’t a bad guy. He had some jerks around him, and his Vice President Nominee was an idiot, but McCain isn’t really that bad. Sure, you can disagree with what he believes. That’s fine. But I could have handled a McCain presidency. President George W. Bush was a smart man when it came to politics. The Afghanistan war was mismanaged, the Iraq war was insane and he is responsible for every problem that America has right now. But that isn’t because he was stupid. It’s because he was wrong. “W” wasn’t and idiot, nor was he a puppet of Cheney or other people around him. He was just wrong about pretty much everything. But I can honestly say that the people populating the Republican field are stupid in one or multiple ways, and I will bet money that none of them will ever get a chance to peep into the Oval Office this fall.
It’s important, for all of us, that we have honest competition. We need strong competition. It’s not fair for any of us that President Obama doesn’t get to tangle one on one with someone his match. Contraception? Earmarks? Moonbases? What the hell are these guys talking about? They have the attention of the entire country, and they spend their time talking about why Gay marriage is bad or why Catholics shouldn’t have the option to take Birth Control or they say something random like, “Our Freedoms are being threatened!” What…I mean, what does that even mean? As a country, we should be annoyed that there isn’t anyone else up for a fight. The worst part is that there’s plenty to hit Obama with. The economy is crap and it’s been crap since he was elected. The new Health Care law only makes sense if you have a PhD. Obama is incapable of working with Congress to get anything done, which is his job, no matter how hard it is. And Obama might say that the Wars are winding down, but he’s far to happy to fire a predator missile at bad guys, even bad guys who are US citizens. Do the Republican candidates even bring any of this up? Ever? Barely. That’s a problem. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. Jonathan Bernstein of the Washington Post, speaking about last night’s debates, says it much better than I do.
Republican voters are losers here because their candidates are showing no ability to actually talk about things that would be central to their presidencies in any kind of substantive, realistic way. Take the foreign policy section — please! There’s no transcript out yet, so I can’t really do this justice, but the world they were describing seemed to have just about zero relationship with the real world. It’s safe to be an enemy of the United States while Barack Obama is president? I don’t think Osama bin Laden or Moammar Gaddafi would agree. One of them said that it’s more dangerous now for Americans than ever before? It’s as if the Cold War never existed. Or basic stuff such as an accusation that Obama has been afraid to ever oppose Iran, which doesn’t square at all with his actual policy of increased sanctions…Republican voters and conservatives are losers because there are certainly strong arguments — mainstream conservative arguments — against President Obama’s policies, whether it’s on national security or the budget or health care or any other issue. But they’re not hearing any of it; they’re hearing third-rate slogans, misleading rhetoric and outright mistruths that would fit right in among the cheaper booths at a conservative convention…And if one of these candidates is elected, then he’ll have very little that he’s promised to his constituents beyond not bowing to Saudi kings, not going on apology tours and not using a teleprompter. It’s just sad.