Saturday, February 26, 2011

Race for the White House 2012

This week in world affairs has seen massive tumult in Libya, as long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi (pick your own spelling) struggles to hold on to power and to his very life. Frank Drebin would be able to take care of him once and for all. We have also seen continued battling in Wisconsin as Governor Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans continue to stand firm in the face of the Democrats' new "Flee Party" strategy, which has now spread to Indiana, as Hoosier Democrats also have taken sanctuary in the Land of Lincoln.

To think, the party that is so opposed to filibuster attempts by the Republican minority in the U.S. Senate wants to accept as morally acceptable, running away from the state to avoid arrest, rather than actually do what they were elected and are paid to do. I continue to believe that these Democrat tactics (as well as the heavy handed protest techniques being used in Madison) will continue to reflect poorly upon the party and that they will suffer politically, while not getting what they want anyway. Voices on the left are calling for Barack Obama to live up to a primary campaign pledge he made to "put on comfortable shoes" and walk a picket line. Needless to say, the President would be very ill advised politically to get involved further.

Instead, his focus ought to be on the situation in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. While most Republicans, included myself, largely praised him for his handling of the Egypt situation, he has been far too timid in dealing with Gadhafi and the atrocities he has perpetuated against his people in recent days. We all ought to be grateful that the policies of President George W. Bush, including launching a preemptive war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq scared Gadhafi several years ago into stopping his WMD production program. Had that program not been done away with, even more deadly weapons would have been used this week to suppress the revolt by his people.

With much of the focus domestically still on the weak economy, only time will tell how prevalent foreign affairs will be in the national debate leading up to the nomination process and general election in 2012.

Back at home, South Dakota Senator John Thune did not surprise too many people by his announcement that he would not be a candidate for President in 2012. While he may have been seen as someone with potential among establishment Republican types, he realized that due to GOP primary history, he would have had a tough go in getting the nomination. However, that still puts ambitious politicians like him in a bit of a bind, because in order to become the Republican Presidential nominee one day, a candidate typically has to run at least once and lose first. With Thune's exit, and the potential for him to advance in the Senate Leadership, it does signify that it is very likely that no U.S. Senator will be a candidate for President of the United States in 2012. Has that ever happened before?

Another Republican, former Arkansas Governor and current Fox News personality Mike Huckabee is also believed to be more content to remain in the private sector rather than run again for President, but he has very high name recognition in the party, support among Evangelical Christians, and is at or near the top in all national polls at this early stage. With a new book out, he has been making the media rounds this past week. Some have speculated that if he runs for President, his main and perhaps only reason, might be because of a personal vendetta against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The two squabbled in the 2008 primary season and have not come close to making amends. Some think that Huckabee could be willing to give up large amounts of private sector money to run for President again, simply to try to stop Romney from winning the Iowa Caucuses.

This week, Huckabee called on Romney to apologize for his health care program in Massachusetts, which since the passage of Obamacare nationally, many on the right have lumped together, despite significant differences. The nascent Romney camp responded by saying that the Governor remains proud of what he accomplished in Massachusetts but continues to support repealing Obamacare and leaving the health care issue to the states to decide for themselves.

In his last Presidential campaign, Romney was often labeled as a "flip flopper" for position changes on issues like abortion between his previous Massachusetts runs and the ground he took running nationally. This time, the likely candidate appears to be banking on standing firm on what he did on the health care matter. Many pundits across the spectrum think it could be a major stumbling block for Romney in getting the Republican nomination in 2012, and it will be quite important for the campaign, when it really gets under way, to spell out the differences between the so called "Romney Care" and Obamacare.

If Mike Huckabee decides to run and makes it an issue in the campaign, he can certainly expect to be called to defend many of the decisions he made as Governor of Arkansas..... and there could be a lot of problems for him in that regard.