If the Republicans could put forth a reasonable candidate, he or she would have better than even odds of defeating the incumbent, President Barack Obama, in the 2012 election. The economy — an excellent predictor of election results — is in bad shape.
People are scared and they want change. Incumbents have the potential to get wiped out by the dozens next fall, and party labels are unlikely to matter. No one in DC is safe.
Despite a handful of candidates who might appeal across party lines and attract votes from Democrats and Independents, Republican primary voters seem insistent on nominating whatever impossibly obtuse candidate says the most outlandish, ridiculous things in a given week.
For a while, the flavour of the week was Michele Bachmann, who, shall we say, has a bit of a sanity gap with the rest of the waking world. Bachmann, who sort of serves in the House of Representatives (she doesn’t bother to show up and vote anymore), is about as batshit crazy a candidate as you could dig up.
Naturally, she won the recent Iowa Straw Poll, signifying she was the favoured candidate at the Iowa State Fair this summer.
Next came Texas Governor Rick Perry, who announced his candidacy the same day as the Iowa Straw Poll, in an attempt to usurp attention away from Bachmann’s win. It worked. Republicans flocked from Crazy Eyes Bachmann to Rick Perry like he was the last lifeboat off the Titanic.
Perry shot to the top of the pack, overtaking the relatively moderate Mitt Romney in the number one slot. Then Perry opened his mouth, stupidity fell out, and his poll numbers slipped a bit. After that came the debates. Perry performed poorly in the first debate, and has done nothing but fail even harder since then. His numbers dropped like a prom date, and insiders have all but written him off as a serious contender.
At this point, one might conclude that the Republicans would turn back to the original front-runner, Mitt Romney. It would be the logical thing to do. He’s run a national campaign before, and he’s relatively moderate. His health care plan was similar enough to Obama’s that he can avoid the issue altogether if he likes, instead focusing on jobs and the economy. Plus, he has fabulous hair…and Americans love candidates with fabulous hair. (Oh, how I wish I were kidding.)
But no. Romney is sane and Republicans are not in the mood for a moderate — even if a moderate is who can win in 2012. The Republicans, specifically the Tea Party wing of the party, wants a red-meat conservative. They’d rather get Goldwatered (38% of the vote, good enough to lose to Lyndon Johnson by a score of 486 to 52) than win the election with anyone but a die-hard, burn-it-to-the-ground Republican.
But they’ve already investigated the top tier of crazy candidates (Perry, Bachmann) and found them lacking. They looked at the second tier (Newt Gingrich and the disgusting human being Rick Santorum) and passed.
The corporate, Wall-Street wing of the party refuses to have anything to do with Ron Paul, even though he’s solid on all the core issues and could attract a variety of voters to his campaign. One recent poll even put Ron Paul ahead of Obama in a head-to-head matchup. But, again, he’s not crazy, so he’s not interesting to the Tea Party.
Who, then, do the Republicans turn to? Jeb Bush is conservative, but not crazy enough to run. Chris Christie would rather stay in New Jersey. Paul Ryan (of the “let’s kill Medicare” Ryans) isn’t running. Mitch Daniels (George Bush’s budget guy…aka the reason we have a $14 trillion debt) isn’t running. Sarah Palin is more interested in being Prom Queen for Fox News than she is in running. So who does that leave?
The pizza guy. Yes, the pizza guy. I’m not even kidding. They might nominate the pizza guy.
Tied with Mitt Romney for first place in the most recent poll is Herman Cain, who was the CEO of Godfather Pizza. He’s everything the conservatives seem to want: he hates government, he wants to significantly cut taxes for rich people, raise taxes for poor people, and he may or may not kill and blend puppies into his morning smoothie.
I hate to break it to the Republican Party, but nominating Herman Cain would be an absolute disaster. To quote the philosopher John McEnroe “You cannot be serious!” They seem to think that Cain is the perfect blend of crazy and conservative, with “new” ideas, like his 9-9-9 plan that would raise taxes on poor people while cutting taxes for the wealthy.
Oh, and he’s black…which I guess lets conservatives off the hook for a lifetime of racism and racist policies.
They haven’t mentioned yet if Cain will promise to deliver legislation within 30 minutes, or it’s free…
In the meantime, the sane wing of the Republican Party is freaking out, hoping beyond all hope that Mitt Romney hangs on to win, or that Jon Huntsman breaks through and wins, or, I suppose, that Cthulhu returns and destroys the world before the Tea Party can.
— John Thorpe
You can reach the author by email [email protected] or on twitter@johndthorpe.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.