The Republican Primaries

Yeah I know: I’ve said before how much I abhor politics, or more accurately, abhor discussing politics, because 99.9% of the time it accomplishes nothing whatsoever. I don’t expect this to accomplish anything, either: my hope is that my frank assessment of the candidates will spark some kind of recognition that these candidates are awful which maybe, hopefully, will turn into some sort of national movement to put forth some quality individuals who do more than give comedians unlimited material.

Reddit says it pretty well.

I’m going to run through all the candidates and give just a short blurb on each. This isn’t supposed to be an exhaustive comparison of the candidates on the issues, nor is it intended to be a partisan advertisement. I’m approaching this from the perspective of someone who is reasonably self-aware, votes on more than a single issue, and immediately stops listening whenever I hear rhetoric instead of facts, or superlatives in place of concrete plans of action. Without further adieu:

Mitt Romney

On the positive side, he has a record of moderate policies and a reasonable approach to bipartisan legislation. When the primary season is over and it comes time to appeal to the majority of Americans (read: moderates), his record is the most appealing of the Republican candidates.

On the negative side, he is the biggest flip-flopper of the entire bunch. He has proven he’ll say anything to broaden his appeal, regardless of what his track record says. He may have a moderate background, but in bending over backwards to appeal to the Tea Party wing, he comes across as nothing more than your typical political lackey trying to get elected.

The bottom line: he’s going to be the Republican nominee, and he’s not going to be able to excite the far right-wing Tea Party base enough (unless he chooses, a la 2008, a very conservative running mate) to bring them to bear against Obama in November.

Rick Santorum

On the positive side…I got nothing.

On the negative side, this man epitomizes the sort of mentality Josh Lyman of the wonderful show The West Wing was referring to when he said this: “I like you guys who want to reduce the size of government: make it just small enough so it can fit into our bedrooms.” His emphasis on social issues over economic ones not only misses the USS Pragmatism by a mile, but the consequences of his proposed legislation–invasions in privacy, personal liberty, etc–going unnoticed by all his supporters is, frankly, horrifying. This man is no flip-flopper: he’s a true believer in every sense, and the fact that he makes no secret of wanting to legislate morality makes him a non-starter, both personally and on the national stage.

The bottom line: he’ll make a good showing in the primaries, since it’s the hardcore right-wingers that make up the majority of primary voters, but he’ll never garner enough mainstream support to become the nominee.

Newt Gingrich

On the positive side, he actually worked with the Clinton Administration in the early-mid-90s to balance the federal budget. He’s a very smart guy: he belongs in a think tank that drums up policy ideas.

On the negative side, he is by far the biggest slime bag in the Republican field; I wouldn’t trust him with a $5 loan, much less the Presidency. He also talks big but doesn’t and can’t deliver: a moon base by 2020? $2.50/gallon gasoline? he balanced the budget every year he was Speaker? He throws out these ridiculous claims that have no place in a coherent Presidential race as they are either outright lies or otherwise completely disconnected from reality.

The bottom line: his ego will be his downfall. As his campaign almost self-destructed when it started, he’ll go out with a whimper for the same reasons: nobody can work with this guy.

Ron Paul

On the positive side, if you’re looking for the candidate with the best Tea Party credentials, this is your guy. Paul is, hands down, the most principled, grass-roots, and qualified candidate in the race for the Republican nomination. His policy ideas are not only internally consistent with his beliefs, but he’s never wavered on them. Ron Paul is the original and only unconventional politician and Washington outsider. He is the only Republican candidate who truly understands how the government works. If I could vote Republican in the primaries, he’d have my vote.

On the negative side, some of his ideas are so disconnected from reality that you have to wonder what universe he lives in; they’re crazy. He’s principled and consistent, yes, but when those principals are stark raving mad you can’t just hand him the reigns of the Presidency.

Bottom line: no way he gets the nomination. Not now, not ever.

Barack Obama

On the positive side, he’s accomplished a lot in his first term. He’s managed to keep a reasonable promises kept / broken ratio (a la Politifact). His foreign policy record is commendable, and once he got his feet under him after year 2, his Administration has done a pretty solid job overall.

On the negative side, he’s way too quick to compromise (though this is a symptom of the Democratic party as well). Compromise is good; an overabundance of it–as with anything–is not as good. He still has no comprehensive energy policy, which we desperately need for the long term. And his staff really need to help him out with his academic approach to things: it’s good to have that perspective, but at the end of the day when you have to explain your policy decisions, we need to hear “cause/effect” rather than “input/output”. A subtle but very important distinction (Clinton was a master at this).

Bottom line: he wins the 2012 election by default, because the Republicans couldn’t find a serious candidate. Jon Huntsman would have made it an ideas-oriented Presidential race, but alas we’ll have to settle for a circus, as all we have left are clowns.

Conclusion

Politics suck. Lolcats ftw.

I’ll have a post about autoregressive models and the joy of developing a Drupal content annotation module soon enough. In the meantime:

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2 Responses to The Republican Primaries

  1. eksith says:

    If the 2000 election showed anything, it’s to never underestimate the stupidity of the masses. Obama needs to simplify, simplify, simplify. The easier he makes his message to digest, the harder it will be for people to confuse it or distort it. He must never assume people are intelligent enough to grasp his plans.

    Also, the energy policy (or lack thereof) needs far more care and attention than I think he’s giving it. We don’t need more debacles like Solyndra.

    I’ve heard people are voting for Rick Santorum even though they agree with none of what he says. I guess the plan is to help a looney get the Republican nomination so in comparison to Obama, Santorum will seem unelecticable.

    It’s too bad Ron Paul’s ideas aren’t grounded in reality. I have more respect for him than Obama.

    Jon Huntsman was the only other viable Republican candidate in the lot, but the conservatives decided he was too “Sciency” to be president. Classic case of Republicans shooting themselves in the nose to spite their face, just to make sure we’re Takin’ Back America™.

    If Romney does get the candidacy, Huntsman would make a pretty good running mate, although I’m sure there will be some shouting about claiming “conflict of interest” since he’s a Mormon too.

    • magsol says:

      I heard the same thing about folks voting for Rick Santorum as well; something about longtime registered Republicans feeling disenfranchised and that their party was catering too much to the whims of the far-right. Pretty accurate, I think.

      Huntsman was the only candidate who could have posed a legitimate challenge to Obama and made a halfway decent President if elected. Romney is the only one left with the first quality, and none of them have the second. His “sciency”ness, plus the fact that he “colluded with the enemy” in serving as Obama’s ambassador to China, effectively wiped him off the primary map, even though he would’ve done really well in a general election. Really depresses me.

      If Romney got the nomination, as much as I’d love for him to pick Huntsman as his running mate, I see him going more the route of McCain four years ago and picking some absurd religious conservative to “balance” the ticket and pull in both the moderate voters and the far-right wingers. But I’d love to be proven wrong on this; I reallllly don’t want to see Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin returning to the national spotlight.

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