GOP Primary Season: Whatcha Talking About?
It has been an interesting week for the Republican Party since the Mitt Romney rout in the Granite State. So, for those of you who have been living in a hole, or perhaps just returned from another dimension within the past seven days, here are some random observations to ponder.
The creative spin machines of the Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum campaigns on their under 10% New Hampshire finishes: Whatcha talking about?
How do you make fourth and fifth look good, especially after the guy in third dropped out? (Huntsman) Didn't you guys realize New Hampshire was a week after Iowa? Just what's up with that?
Future presidents are supposed to be organized. Future presidents play in all the contests because they wish to be president of all of the United States. They don't skip primaries, and they are on the ball with staff enough to be filed in each and every state. Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and Rick Perry have failed this test in several states already, with Virginia being the most notable.
One of our most organized presidents came from Virginia – George Washington. When you read about our first president you will plainly see he was detail orientated and would have never missed a primary, even though primaries didn't exist then.
It is also a little laughable to hear these people who were ranked number three in the Senate (Santorum,) the former Speaker of the House (Gingrich) and the former chairman of the Republican Governor's Association (Perry) whining about "insiders." Seriously, how much more inner circle could you be?
My guess is that each of the prospective nominees has equally long tentacles into the pool of both the Republican National Committee members and Washington insiders. I think these "insider" politicos placed their bets early, when Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich were bumping along the polls in single digits... pre-November 1... like, after the eighth or ninth debate.
If you want inside politics read about the presidential election of 1824. John Quincy Adams won after a three way Electoral College tie. The contest had to be decided in the House of Representatives! Do not believe for a minute that outcome was not political insider dealing at the highest level. Especially after Henry Clay ended up with the plum appointment becoming Adam's Secretary of State!
The craziest part of the 2012 GOP campaign so far is the super-PAC discussions. These PACs are giant pits of money with no Federal Election Commission rules – and the sky is the limit. They can run whatever ad they wish because they are protected by the First Amendment – the only freedom they waive is coordination with the candidate and the campaign (said with a smile and a wink.)
When the candidates talk about Super PACs they are like students in elementary school. They know right from wrong – but can't lie too well. Each candidate has decried the Super PACs of the other. They are big, mean, nasty playground bullies randomly picking on the other candidates. Yet each has its own wealthy bully to protect them as well.
Sure they all claim the evils of the Super PAC and publically try to convince us that if they could they would stop them. Alas, they end the conversation feigning ignorance saying "we are not allowed to communicate so... our hands are tied." Yeah right. Jon Huntsman's Super PAC was run by his father! Really, do you think he and Dad don't get along?
They should each stop whining – just man-up and look your opponent in the eye and tell him your thoughts. There are some people who just need to hear – and answer for their prior acts, or maybe they just need to answer for incompetence. Come on... we're vetting a president, they have to be tough.
President Andrew Jackson was tough, the victim of the alliance between John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay in 1824. He got into fights and even killed a man in a duel under the guise of protecting his wife's honor. Do you think he would have cared one wit about a Super PAC? More likely he would have brought dueling pistols to the debate – or at least called an opponent out into the alley behind the debate forum. It’s doubtful he would buy into the political correctness of today.
Saturday's primary election in South Carolina will be interesting. The braggadocios there lay claim to having picked all Republican nominees since Ronald Reagan in 1980. We will see their prowess this time. No GOP nominee has ever won the first three primary states – and as of today's polls, it looks like former Massachusetts Governor Romney could go four for four in January with Florida next on the agenda. We'll see.
One thing is for sure. In this game you win or lose. Elections are zero sum competitions. The guy in second is not the winner. (Ask Andrew Jackson!) If you continue in second during the primary season you will never be the big winner.
Perhaps a duel about honor is crude by today's standards...but it's more respectable than super PACs spending millions of dollars on negative ad campaigns.