People are very impatient – especially when it comes to predicting the end results of sporting events and political races. Analysts and self-proclaimed experts could spend weeks and months guessing what will happen during an activity that could start and end in as little as two minutes. For the most part, it is all in good fun, since there is always some unforeseen incident that could render the guessing and “what ifs” void.
Presidential races, however no longer end. Political strategists on the losing side “reevaluate” where they went wrong as soon as possible, not as an attempt to correct the breakdown in logic that flawed their planning, but to implement damage control in time for the next election.
If anybody is talking about a second run by Hillary Clinton, it doesn’t appear to come from Democrats.
Let’s see: take the losing candidate from the last election – someone who has become somewhat of an institution in their Party, and force that person down the throats of that Party’s voters under the premise that the candidate in question deserves to become President; no explanation need be given – you, the voter owe it to that candidate to vote for him or her; this candidate is entitled to become the next President.
This line of thinking doesn’t have the traits of the brainchild of a Democrat strategist, since it has been in the Republican playbook for a long time.
Here is a brief rundown of Republican candidates since 1988, and the GOP’s reason why they “deserved” to occupy the White House:
1988 – George H.W. Bush
He was Ronald Reagan’s Vice-President, so voting for him is kind of like voting for Ronald Reagan. Plus, he wasn’t that guy in the tank.
1992 – George H.W. Bush
He may have denied that the economy was in a recession until he was confronted by an American citizen in a Chicago restaurant – on camera during the 1992 campaign, and he may have ignored the atrocities committed by the Chinese government in Tiananmen Square in order to help that country win Most Favored Nation trading status, and he may have abused the trust of the Ronald Reagan conservatives who had voted for him. Oh, and he may have broken his “no new taxes” pledge, but at least he wasn’t Bill Clinton.
1996 – Bob Dole
He helped the ethanol industry for a few reasons, one of which was to win votes in Iowa, and you, the Republican voter owed it to him, because he wanted the job for the previous forty years. Oh, and he wasn’t Bill Clinton.
2000 – George W. Bush
He was the “most electable” candidate, according to Republican strategists, and he wasn’t Al Gore.
2004 – George W. Bush
Fighting a war is not a good time to change leaders, and he wasn’t John Kerry.
2008 – John McCain
He may not be campaigning like he wants the job, and he may be slow responding to attacks from the Democrats, and he may not believe that our border security is a pressing crisis, and he may not have much in common with conservatives – in fact, he insults them from time to time, but at least he isn’t Barack Obama.
2012 – Mitt Romney
He may not have been able to defeat John McCain in the primaries in 2008 – you know, the guy who lost to Barack Obama in the general election, and he may be campaigning like he is indifferent to the results of the election, and his mannerisms may have some similarities to John Kerry, and he may have instituted a government health insurance program in Massachusetts, but at least he isn’t Barack Obama, except for the health insurance part.
In all fairness, George W. Bush had displayed leadership skills when he was unable to confide in the Party strategists. When those people did offer their advice, it seems as though he was torn between what he wanted to do, and what he was advised to do.
The 2012 election happened less than one year ago, but the 2016 primary season really isn’t that far away. In the coming months, several names will be tossed around for the Republican nomination. A few weeks ago, a poll was briefly discussed on a radio talk show (I can’t remember whose show it was, since there was a fill-in host.) This poll named the early GOP frontrunners as Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and another forgettable favorite of the most-electable-mentality wing of the Republican Party. This poll – if legitimate and not an elitist Republican Christmas wish list, is an indication of how much trouble the Republicans may have created for themselves during the next two elections.
Before 2016, at least two things need to change within the Republican Party: the primary field needs one strong conservative candidate, not several conservative candidates who end up splitting the conservative vote – and ultimately handing the nomination to a weak “all things to all people, except conservatives” candidate, and the strategists who have been pushing for these GOP elitist candidates need recognition as discredited snake oil salesmen.
We could talk about what may or may not happen in November, 2016, such as who will face-off against who on election night, but there is always the possibility of that one unforeseen incident. Could the rift in the Republican Party lead to a three-way race? Will the elitist Republican prediction of a Hillary nomination end up as nothing more than speculation, and an unexpected but tough Democrat contender could once again leave the Republican strategists scrambling to explain why they didn’t factor that into another loss by a “most electable” Republican candidate? Establishment Republicans have a history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, so perhaps it’s time to let them sit this one out.
Image: Hillary Clinton; http://www.flickr.com/photos/secdef/8473078743/sizes/o/in/photostream/; author: Secretary of Defense; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license