I’ve been dwelling on this for a couple of weeks. Call it, if you will, the “Carville Rule” named for the consultant who came up with it (at least I’ll give James credit). It is simply that the most optimistic candidate wins.Listening to the debates, listening to the speeches, and listening to the general nature of this election, I have to tell you I don’t think there is much optimism out there. And I don’t just mean optimism among the voters and nation as a whole. There is little optimism in the candidates.As Peggy Noonan noted this weekend, there is some serious patriotism building up in the men and women at work across this country. Right now they just want someone to rally to. They don’t need Reagan, but they need someone with Reagan’s sense of the American ideal.They haven’t found that person.
The President says we’ve gone soft. The Republican candidates are fighting it out over immigration and HPV and who is most likely to defund Obamacare — to hell with you people trying to find a job. That issue just isn’t important richt now. To listen to conservative thought leaders, Texas is a s**t hole, the nation is in the tank, and we’re all going to die bankrupt speaking Chinese. And that’s just the ones who characterize themselves as optimistic.The only candidate who is getting it right and sounding the right notes is Herman Cain. He is the only guy really connecting with people on a vision of the country that views tomorrow as better than today.Frankly, most political analysts and the other candidates themselves, rightly or wrongly, view Herman as a flash in the pan who does not have the staying power to win. Again — rightly or wrongly. But because they view him that way, they are not inclined to emulate him, though I hope these latest polls shock them to reality.It is one reason I actually smiled at the news Mike Huckabee might get in the race. I genuinely like Mike, though I loath what I view as his pro-life statist policies. I’d prefer to put “compassionate conservatism” in the ground once and for all. But Huckabee celebrates a vision of this country that is better tomorrow than it is today. And we need someone in the race to force the other candidates to look up, not down.Romney sounds smooth, but like a technocratic operator easing you into a pink slip (or a new BMW).Has Perry even mentioned America yet or is he still focused on how awesome Texas is?Michele Bachmann has focused on two notes — repeal Obamacare and shut down HPV vaccines.Gingrich could do it, but he has no money to get traction doing it, let alone being yesterday’s news.Santorum is the same, but unlike Gingrich he comes across as too angry and teen-like.Huntsman does not connect with people. Surprisingly since I haven’t care for him much, if you listen to him, he actually says a lot of the right things, but they just don’t resonate.Ron Paul is nuts.Only Herman Cain is hitting the right notes about the future of this country, but he can’t do it all and he is about to get sorely distracted by the media digital rectal exam of his campaign.The President is giving the Republicans every opportunity to shine. But they are all so busy talking down the other guys in the field, they are not talking up the United States. Whether Huckabee gets in or not, I would encourage each one of the candidates to remember that this nation wants and needs someone right now who is not just a fighter, but also a cheerleader — someone who still sees the shining city on the hill.I don’t get that from any of the candidates right now except Herman Cain. They should all be doing that.