Gingrich, Romney, Santorum and “Electability”

The main issue in the Republican primaries has become, for the worst, “electability”. Yet, from a historical perspective, “electability” is nearly all bunk.

Bill Clinton was considered “unelectable” by many people in 1992. Indeed, he was last on the list of candidates thought likely to become the Democratic nominee by most pundits and prophets during that electoral season. However, with help from a MSM which was eager to cover up Whitewater and his zipper problems, with a lot of help from a feckless George H. W. Bush and his minions, and with Ross Perot’s entrance into the race, Clinton became president.

By the same token, John Kerry won the Democratic primaries in 2004 because he was thought to be the most “electable” candidate. He was supposed to be immune from criticism on his opposition to George W. Bush’s military policy because he was a war hero. And, he was supposed to have a strong edge on a supposedly tongue-tied and mentally retarded Bush when it came to the debates. However, there was much less to Kerry’s military service than met the eye, and while Bush may not have been as eloquent as Kerry he bested him in the debates. Kerry proved to be unelectable.

Regarding the GOP candidates and the issue of electability, Mitt Romney has the basic problem that many Republicans have convinced themselves that he is the Anti-Christ. He has flip-flopped on social issues, which is what started his reputation as a flip-flopper, and which is a good reason why social conservatives should not want to support him. He is also a Mormon, which may turn many evangelical Christians off, and which seems to have played an important part in his defeat in South Carolina. However, we are not supposed to talk about that or pretend that in any way it will be an issue in the general election. Apart from social issues, Romney has actually been fairly consistent, and by all accounts he kept his campaign promises when he was governor. So, while he is a lover of government solutions, conservatives should take some solace that he usually keeps his promises, and in this election cycle has committed himself to reining in the government.  All in all, Romney has many issues to overcome in order to be seen as “electable”. However, most of these issues are with Republicans and conservatives. Independents and Democrats who are tired of the mess in Washington may be attracted to him, as he is quite calm, steady, and competent. In order to win, Romney just needs to survive the primaries and actually get GOP support in the general election. Of course, in the end, this may be a tall order.

Newt Gingrich is frankly a joke, and an embarrassment to the GOP. Getting beyond his myriad of flip-flops on nearly every issue, his love affair with big government solutions, his love affair with futurism, his love affair with himself, his lack of conservative principles in his new Contract with America, his tendency to throw conservatives and the GOP under the bus even while publicly grandstanding and pretending to be the conservative flag-bearer, his shameless hypocrisy and demagoguery–getting beyond all this–he is not all that popular–and has never been popular–among the general public. In the latest polls, he is by far the most hated candidate running in either party. Republicans like him at the moment because he attacks Obama and the press. However, it is difficult to see him making much headway in the general election. The press will eat him alive. Even worse, if he is elected and he follows the same path that he followed as Speaker, there will be an attempt to impeach him by the Republican Congress–led by conservatives–before his term is over.  In order to win the general election, Gingrich would have to pull the greatest con job that has ever been pulled on the voting public. Unfortunately, if anyone is up to pulling such a con job, it is Gingrich. Even having said that, it is hard not to see him as the John Kerry of this election cycle.

Then we have Rick Santorum. People do not like him. Further, he actually believes and is willing to stand by what he says. These things seem to be offensive to many people–they prefer demagogues, hypocrites, and people they are willing to have a beer with. However, in a grown-up world, he should be a contender for the presidency as, in the end, there is not a damn thing wrong with him. Unless, of course, you think that being a real Christian disqualifies someone from the presidency.

Finally, there is actually one candidate in the GOP who is unelectable–Ron Paul. That many Republicans cannot distinguish between a fringe candidate such as Paul and real contenders shows that any of these men could conceivably get the GOP nomination.

It also proves that the most unelectable of all the candidates in 2012–Barack Obama–has been singularly blessed by an opposition which cannot get its act together and which may in fact hand the election to him by default.

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