I am coming late to this party, but I am just glad to be here.
George Will explained concisely in his Sunday column why any Republican with a set of working neurons is really nervous about 2012. Let me start where Will finishes:
Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
So the Republican winnowing process is far advanced. But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons.
Notice that Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich are not on that list. Will delineates with precision that these two men have fallen on the Obama-is-not-a-real-American sword in such a way that they may not only impale themselves but also the rest of the party.
Huckabee disappoints the most as he first panders to two far right talk show hosts about Obama’s birth place. Huckabee first told Steve Malzberg that the current President grew up in Kenya, then later after being called on the error, said he simply meant Indonesia and went on a bit to the second, Bryan Fischer, about Obama and community madrassas. Will dismisses the excuses and notes that such episodes have consequences:
Republicans should understand that when self-described conservatives such as Malzberg voice question-rants like the one above and Republicans do not recoil from them, the conservative party is indirectly injured. As it is directly when Newt Gingrich, who seems to be theatrically tiptoeing toward a presidential candidacy, speculates about Obama having a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” mentality.
Let’s pull over and park here a minute. There in a nutshell is my point about why GOP candidates are digging themselves a hole by doing puff interviews on the American Family Radio network with Bryan Fischer. The current crop of contenders is so intent on injuring Obama that anything goes, and in the process, the critic is injured more than the target.
Will then dismisses Gingrich’s affair with Dinesh D’Souza’s theories about Obama.
To the notion that Obama has a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview, the sensible response is: If only. Obama’s natural habitat is as American as the nearest faculty club; he is a distillation of America’s academic mentality; he is as American as the other professor-president, Woodrow Wilson. A question for former history professor Gingrich: Why implicate Kenya?
Reading Gingrich further, he calls Obama’s world view “factually insane” and says the President “is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works.” In addition to Will’s correction of Gingrich’s picture of Obama, I offer this. Gingrich’s hyperbole obscures any serious consideration of his ideas from those he most wants to reach. He is talking trash to the choir; most others dismiss him after the first sentence or two. Gingrich, Huckabee, Malzberg and Fischer almost make Obama look appealing by comparison, even to some of the choir.
Now let me end where Will began:
If pessimism is not creeping on little cat’s feet into Republicans’ thinking about their 2012 presidential prospects, that is another reason for pessimism. This is because it indicates they do not understand that sensible Americans, who pay scant attention to presidential politics at this point in the electoral cycle, must nevertheless be detecting vibrations of weirdness emanating from people associated with the party.
Color me pessimistic.