If McCain Loses...
Not to be depressing, but odds are John McCain won’t wake up November 5th as president-elect of the United States. Obama holds a reasonably comfortable poll lead, and it isn’t shaping up to be a good year for Republicans in general. It’s not all bad news for McCain—Barack Obama’s lead has slipped in recent weeks, and the economy has gotten better lately, and polls historically seem to favor Democrats, but still, the smart money is on Obama.
After George W. Bush won the presidency, Republican congressmen were told to vote with Bush or get crushed. Most voted with Bush, and since George Bush isn’t Ronald Reagan, the results weren’t very impressive. That’s what would happen under an Obama presidency—except a hundred times worse, since the Democrats don’t even pay lip service to ideas like fiscal responsibility and low taxes.
Even after an Obama victory, conservatives can’t afford to despair. Politics has become a 24/7/365/4 occupation, the time to start looking to 2012 will be November 5th. 2012 could be a good year for Republicans. America faces some tough times right now, especially given the weak economy, and whatever party is in charge of dealing with them will be forced to make some unpopular decisions.
Since unpopular decisions drive voters away from the party in power, the GOP could have a pretty good shot at dominating in 2012.
But the Republican party must have a better crop of candidates than the bunch who ran this year. Rudy “9/11” Giuliani, the comatose Fred Thompson, and the most unlikable candidate since Dukakis, Mitt Romney formed the most depressing corps of also-rans since, well, the 2004 Democrat primaries actually, but still pretty bad. And I didn’t even mention Mike Huckabee, who seemed to step straight out of an especially corny cartoon. (“How should we improve education?” “Use weapons of mass instruction”) John McCain didn’t win the nomination; everyone else lost. The Republican party can’t afford to run such as weak slate again.
Fortunately, the Republicans have a much stronger set of candidates on the 2012 horizon. Sarah Palin will almost certainly run, and with four more years of experience (either in the White House or in Alaska, depending on McCain’s fate), she will make a much stronger candidate than she is now. Some of the 2008 also-rans, such as Sam Brownback (remember him?) and Mike Huckabee (seriously, he has some good points), could be good candidates too. There also might be someone who is more or less unknown now fated to see his star rise over the next four years—maybe someone like Michael Steele.
It is, of course, far to early to decide the best candidate. But I think it might be Governor Bobby Jindal. Jindal’s already planning his 2012 run—he just happens to be speaking at the Iowa Family Policy Center’s annual banquet next month. Jindal is starting his Iowa-pandering early.
Jindal’s got a lot going for him—he’s young, smart, and conservative. But he has one attribute that may be more important than any of those: he is articulate. He can speak spontaneously and well; during Hurricane Gustav, he would give press conferences during which he would recite dozens of statistics off the top of his head. He didn’t get flustered during the crisis, and he sounds good on TV and while making speeches.
The last Republican presidential candidate who could really speak was Ronald Reagan. George H. W. Bush made his son sound like Cicero; Dole was flat and boring; Bush II suffers from a terminal failure to communicate; and McCain is an awful speaker. Sarah Palin can’t give a meaningful response to a simple question.
Jindal can. He can give impressive speeches, and answer interviewees well. Communication is his strong point, and given the Republican party’s failures in that area, it may prove a key element in his campaign.