With every passing day, President Obama displays a temperament incompatible with the office bestowed upon him nearly two and a half years ago. Whether it's berating a reporter for having the temerity to correct him, complaining about the quality of the White House phones, or gracelessly telling House Republicans to their face they intend to take away health insurance from 50 million Americans, Obama is demonstrating he is not up to the task assigned to him by the American electorate.
Yet those of us who desire that Chief Justice John Roberts administer the oath of office to someone other than Barack Obama on January 20, 2013 should temper this great wish with the realization that his successor could be even less suited to be Commander-in-Chief. I realize that for many such a notion is inconceivable. But it is all the more reason for Republicans to choose wisely about who will face off against Obama next year.
I don't want to leave the impression that I am an admirer of President Obama. In fact, if you were to ask me how to describe President Obama I would call him a petulant, preening, thin-skinned dilettante who thinks he is beyond criticism. But if you were to ask me how to describe Donald Trump, well, I would call him a petulant, preening, thin-skinned dilettante who thinks he is beyond criticism. The only appreciable difference between the two is that Trump would probably equip the White House with "really cool phones."
Of course, one could make the case that entering 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would probably be a step down for Trump. Let's face it. Anyone who owns half of New York is used to getting his way and anyone who is used to getting his way doesn't think he can be unreasonable much less subject to constraints. If Trump gets to exchange his view of Central Park from Trump Tower for a view of the Rose Garden from the Oval Office, then we can expect him to give the Constitution, Congress, and the Courts the same regard he's given his ex-wives. Do we really want to go from Barack to buffoon?
Don't get me wrong. President Obama richly deserves the criticism for his performance in office. Yet Trump made the conscious decision to center his criticism of Obama on what he was doing out of his mother's womb in 1961 rather than what he is doing in the Situation Room in 2011. Even if Trump were never again to raise the question of Obama's birthplace, he cannot put the cat back into the bag. Once it's out, it stays out free to roam around. The fact that Trump would have even entertained opening the bag makes me question his judgment. It is also an indication that Trump surrounds himself with yes men. And where there are yes men there is no one to tell him no. Then again if someone dared to tell Trump no, The Donald would be sure to reply, "You're fired."
Perhaps we can take comfort that it is not everyone's ambition in life to be Donald Trump's apprentice. Nor is it everyone's ambition to take the safe path. Some people go against the grain. I would place House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan in that category. Possibly better than anyone, Ryan understands that it is insufficient merely to oppose President Obama's policies. You have to be prepared to offer your own and the Wisconsin Republican has done that and then some. First, in 2009, Ryan introduced his alternative to Obamacare -- The Patients' Choice Act. Let's not forget how Ryan went toe to toe with Obama at the Health Care Summit in February 2010 and put to shreds the President's claims that Obamacare would reduce the deficit. And then there are his proposals for the federal budget.
When asked to comment about Ryan's budget proposals, Trump said Ryan's proposed cuts to Medicare have made senior citizens afraid and "made the Democrats so happy." So what does Trump propose? Well, nothing. Perhaps I would be more inclined to take Trump seriously if he were to use his vast resources to publish a policy paper on health care and the overall state of the federal budget rather than to send investigators to Honolulu to find a fifty-year-old birth certificate.
Now it is entirely possible that neither Donald Trump nor Paul Ryan will present themselves as a candidate for President of the United States. Yet both men represent a diametrically opposed approach as to how to unseat a Democratic President. While Trump is content merely to disparage President Obama (and for that matter any other Republican not named Trump) and provide easy answers to complicated questions, Ryan has a proven record of putting forward viable conservative public policy alternatives and isn't afraid to tell people the answers to even the simplest of questions aren't always easy. Next year, Republicans will have to decide if we are the Party of Ryan or the Party of Trump.
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