Any good presidential candidate will spend time, and order staff to spend time, analyzing all of his/her weaknesses and drawing up a brutal list of things opponents will attack him/her on. Just about every potential participant in the coming Republican presidential sweepstakes will have plenty of good things to cite, so this following list should not be taken to disparage all sorts of personal strengths, points of attractiveness, and electoral advantages that each of the candidates can boast. But, to get out front on the absolutely prime reasons why, from a certain vantage point, nobody is worthy of the nomination, here is the pessimist's view of the potential Republican field.
Mitt Romney should be an absolute non-starter. The very last thing Republicans should do is put up against Mr. Obamacare the guy who implemented an individual health-insurance mandate at the state level. Plus, the guy is plastic. Gong!
Sarah Palin? Get real. Nobody with a 59 percent disapproval rating nationwide can win. Plus, what has she actually accomplished in office? She quit the governorship before any of her initiatives really bore fruit.
Mike Huckabee has no redeeming features beyond his over-hyped wit. His ethics stink. And if Republicans nominate a guy with a pardon record worse than Mike Dukakis, they can retire the name "The Stupid Party" and call themselves "The Hopelessly Moronic Party" forever and ever, world without end, Amen.
Newt Gingrich: Great ideas man. Too radioactive. Too prone to turn off independent voters. And too mercurial.
John Thune looks good. What has he ever actually done? Does he have any signature issues?… What's that? No, I didn't think so. Meanwhile, does anybody remember the fictional Bob Forehead?
Mitch Daniels might have gotten away with a random call, in context, for a "truce" on social issues. But he kept repeating it until it became clear he really doesn't care about sticking a fork in the eye of traditional-values folks. Even clearer is that he has more tin in his ear than the heartless guy who led Dorothy to the Emerald City.
Tim Pawlenty was full of global warming nonsense less than three years ago. Typical politician: Sees trendy issue, doesn't have a clue about actual facts, tries to jump in front of parade. No thanks.
Haley Barbour's biggest claim to fame is that he supposedly handled Katrina well. Oh, really? Has anybody actually driven along the Mississippi Coast from Waveland to Gulfport? In terms of life, there's almost no there there. Vast stretches of empty lots stretch undisturbed by hand of man. Oft-criticized New Orleans has recovered much better than the Mississippi coast. Meanwhile, if you think the national media had fun with George Allen's macaca and Trent Lott's Strom-for-president yearnings, wait until they get done with Barbour's White Citizens Council.
Jeb Bush is a Bush. Two iterations are enough. Hell, Dynasty wasn't even a good TV show.
Rick Santorum lost in his home state by, what, 18 points? That's not much of a keystone. (INTERRUPTION: I just can't stay so uniformly negative. I'm not disciplined enough. Darn it. Read this. And this.)
David Petraeus is too busy running a war. Good man, but no general should run unless his military job is done.
Herman Cain is a great guy with an excellent business record. But he couldn't even force a runoff, much less actually win, the Republican nomination for Senate in Georgia. What is he doing running for president?
John Bolton scares the hell out of people. Children hide in closets and dogs scamper behind sofas when he scowls.
To borrow a disparaging phrase used by my friend/fellow columnist Deroy Murdock way back in the 1980s, Bobby Jindal has "dared to be cautious" as governor of Louisiana. Aside from disaster management, has he actually been an effective reformer in Louisiana? Uh, not really. Besides, hell, he's up for re-election this year: What's he gonna do -- re-win the governorship in November and turn around and run for president in January? Plus, he sounded like Howdy Doody in his response to Obama's speech, whenever that was.
Michelle Bachmann fails the gravitas test. She's a loud back-bencher who hasn't really legislated.
Jim DeMint isn't gonna run. Neither is Paul Ryan. Neither is Chris Christie, who shouldn't run anyway, because he hasn't been governor long enough to prove his bona fides and because he just appointed a dodgy Muslim to the state Supreme Court. Marco Rubio isn't ready. Rick Perry is yet another Texas governor. Mike Pence threw away a golden opportunity. And Harold Stassen is campaigning in the Great Beyond.
There, did all those negatives get you riled up? Believe me that I can, and will, write plenty of nice things about many of these folks (not Huckabee, though) in the coming months. But if you are prone to be so easily riled, just go ahead and get rile-y. Stay tuned.
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