Sunday, February 19, 2012



Mitt, Rick, Ron and Newt. Seriously?

There are roughly 158,842,912 Americans 35 and older, making them eligible to run for president. Of the total, 75,637,212 are men — halve that you get 37,818,606 leaning right.

So that means that Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are the … very … best … four … men out of the nearly 38 million in America to be president. (And women, before you get all, “Yeah!” let’s just note that of your roughly 41 million right-leaning, eligible-aged sisters, you put forward Michele Bachmann, a caricature of a conservative candidate that even “Saturday Night Live” couldn’t have made up).

So let’s recount just how we got to this pathetic point, shall we? Back in August, Mrs. Bachmann nipped Mr. Paul to take the Iowa straw poll. All of a sudden, the Minnesota congresswoman was the front-runner. But wait, what? “There is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact or not,” she says? What century is this? How did the 2012 Republican nomination race morph back to 1925 to replay the Scopes trial?

And her husband, a trained clinical psychologist, reportedly used “conversion therapy” to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals? It’s the 21st century, can’t we all just move on, people?

Exit Michele; enter Rick Perry. Among mass disillusion with the available crop of candidates, the cowboy-boot-shod Texas governor came riding out to save the day. The only problem was, he forgot to prepare for a presidential run.

“Let me tell you, it’s three agencies that are gone when I get there. Commerce, Education, and the um, what’s the third one there? … The third agency I would do away with … the … ahh … Education … uhh … Commerce, and, let’s see, uhh … I can’t, the third one. I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”


His collapse opened the door for pizza man Herman Cain. Republicans rallied. Here’s a guy we can all get behind, they collectively thought — conservative, not a career politician, and he’s got a great “9-9-9” plan, whatever that is. The newcomer sought to inspire America with a quote from “a poet”: “Life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, it’s never easy when there is so much on the line. But you and I can make a difference.”

Turns out the quote was from Pokemon, a children’s cartoon. His campaign suffered blunder after blunder until his foreign policy knowledge came into question: “When they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know.” Reassuring. And after a couple of sexual harassment accusations, a woman charged that she’d had a 13-year affair with the pizza magnate. Just like that, he went from 9-9-9 to 0-0-0.

His demise, in turn, gave rise to another serial adulterer, Mr. Gingrich. Once the most hated man in America, the former House speaker vaulted to the top of the pack to fill the vacuum. He soared as his debate performances outshined the other marble-mouthed hopefuls, then crashed, only to rise again. But then Americans remembered what a divisive leader he’d been in the 1990s, and he fell off the charts.

So, it was Mr. Santorum’s turn at the top — the conservative core had fully shifted into anybody-but-Romney mode.

But it didn’t take long for the White House to sucker him into a pointless debate on contraception, which he opposes. (Can’t you just see the White House bigs sitting on the Oval Office couches saying, “Hey, let’s make the Republicans talk about contraception for a couple weeks”)? That whooshing sound was the former Pennsylvania senator’s electability flying out the window.

Throughout, Mr. Romney and Mr. Paul have floundered along. Mr. Paul, the perennial presidential candidate, has never topped 15 percent in national polls; Mr. Romney has spent much of the last year hovering between 20 and 25 percent. Like Donald Trump says, Mr. Paul is unelectable — it’s simply a fact. And few in the party base are jazzed about Mr. Romney, who couldn’t even defeat The Weakest GOP Candidate In The History Of Politics — Sen. John McCain.

Which brings us to today, and the new talk of a brokered convention where someone other than the Fab Four emerges to snatch the nomination. Who? Talk swirls around Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (who cited “family constraints” when he announced he would not run in 2012) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (who also chose to skip this year’s race).

For some reason, the party’s top players think a first-term governor — of New Jersey, no less — is just the guy America needs. Also mentioned is former Florida Gov. Jeb. Bush. Seriously. And Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor who quit mid-term to make millions on the speaking circuit.

Whatever happens, someone will win the nomination. But Republican voters have already made clear that they’d just as soon vote for “none of the above.” Not exactly the way to win a presidential election.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at jcurl@washingtontimes.com.

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