GOP’s best hope doesn’t stand a chance

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

Published:

 

While Clark County folks eye the finish line for Tuesday’s election (don’t forget to vote), let’s review the latest developments on the national political scene.

President Obama is ripe for defeat. His low approval ratings are caused not only by philosophical foes who insist he’s too liberal, but also by many party faithful who insist he’s too conservative. How that drama unfolds remains to be seen, but rest assured, Obama will be the Democratic presidential nominee, barring another monumental economic collapse or some other surprise.

On the Republican side, we see a formidable candidate with broad experience in international affairs, having served under four presidents, three of them Republicans. He won two elections for governor in an ultra-conservative state, taking the second term with 78 percent of the vote. He left that governor’s office in 2009 with an approval rating above 80 percent. Many political pundits believe that — deep inside President Obama’s re-election bunker — this particular Republican is the Democrats’ most feared foe. Remember, radicals might win primaries but moderates win elections, where outcomes are determined by independent voters.

Fortunately for the fearful Democrats and unfortunately for hopeful Republicans, Jon Huntsman remains locked in the trunk of the clown car of GOP candidates. Polls have the former ambassador to China and former governor of Utah languishing in the low-single-digit percentages.

Huntsman’s consignment to irrelevance in this campaign is bad for both parties. It’s bad for lackadaisical or disenchanted Democrats who need a kick in the pants, and it’s bad for Republicans who need a candidate, any candidate, who doesn’t have a red ball on his or her nose.

Setting the bar low

Last week’s news legitimized the clown car metaphor. One of the Republicans’ leading contenders — Rick Perry — felt obliged to explain that, at a recent speech, he was not drunk. Another GOP front-runner in many polls — Herman Cain — spent the week denying that he had ever been guilty of sexual harassment. So this is how low the bar has been set for GOP contenders: Maintain sobriety at the speaker’s podium, and don’t be a rascal with the ladies. That is one notch on the qualifying bar above sustaining a pulse.

Challenging Perry and Cain is Mitt Romney, who was correctly characterized by Huntsman as a “perfectly lubricated weather vane.” Romney has flip-flopped on abortion, health care, global warming and gay marriage. Yet last week he excitedly told an editorial board in New Hampshire that he has been “as consistent as human beings can be.” Well, if you say so, sir.

As these merrymakers tumble out of the crowded campaign car, it’s difficult to understand why the articulate and civil Huntsman cannot compete. But the answer is found in the question. He’s articulate and civil, and there’ll be none of that in a party that is fueled these days by oratorical buffoonery and hair-on-fire rage.

Huntsman should blame, first, himself. He locked himself in the trunk back in June when he declared his candidacy at the Statue of Liberty and confessed to this heresy: “I respect the president of the United States. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help a country we both love.”

Lordy, them’s fightin’ words in the GOP camp. Why, for that matter, Huntsman doesn’t even belong in the camp. In addition to his civil view of the sitting president, he holds many other heretical beliefs, such as the notion that man contributes to global warming, that civil unions should be allowed and that children of illegal immigrants are not criminals and America would be strengthened by helping them go to college. This Huntsman fellow might’ve been king of the conservatives back in Utah, but in this presidential food fight, he’s just a scared cook hiding in the kitchen.

If you want to learn more about the man some experts believe is the best hope for defeating Barack Obama, visit http://www.jon2012.com.">www.jon2012.com.">http://www.jon2012.com. If you don’t want to learn more, well, it’s all very simple. Keep him in the kitchen.

Jon, boy, it was good knowin’ ye.