What do John Kasich, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, John Bolton, Hayley Barbour, Susannah Martinez, Paul Ryan, Bill Bennett and Tim Scott have in common? If you answered “nothing with Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann”, you are only half right.
How is it possible that it took Mitt Romney ten primaries to separate from the republican field. Bachmann alone limped through the debates without looking mentally unbalanced (Gingrich/ Paul) or hopelessly uninformed (Perry/ Cain). Santorum survived the debates, but you can’t run for president as the rain at the parade. How bad was the Republican primary? Michelle Bachmann is a smart lady, but a bad politician. In the primary debates, she was the adult in the room. Unfortunately, the room was a kindergarten classroom.
The nine people mentioned in the opening sentence share some desirable traits. Each has a reservoir of real world knowledge that can be accessed without referring to notes, talking points or political spin. They are capable of handling adversarial press or an unscripted question from an undecided voter. Simply put, they can usually speak without creating unfortunate political news. For these new breed Republicans , a press conference or interview might actually be a tool for attracting voters.
Articulate republicans are about as common as sightings of white whales. There are some encouraging signs. In addition to the aforementioned, Chris Christie has had some good public moments, likewise Kristi Noem and Mia Love.
Thomas Sowell has noted that the economic facts almost always favor the Republicans. Still, a Republican with good facts is like a bad lawyer with an innocent client. A hold-your-breath moment at best.
I waited all year for someone to take issue with President Obama’s demand for raising tax rates on those in the top brackets. I waited for a Republican candidate to say that history tells us the that last three major tax cuts in American history generated competitive increases in federal tax revenues. I waited to hear someone argue that history reveals that the wealthy expose less money to taxation when rates are increased. Not a single Republican uttered that tax rate increases do not always guarantee increases in tax revenues.
When I was a young man, I remember Ronald Reagan debating William F. Buckley about U.S policy in the Panama Canal. In 2012, we had brain freezes, 9-9-9 and kosher food funding for nursing home residents.
The Republicans should field a better team in 2016. If we want better candidates, we should raise our expectations. We should start now.