Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Top Ten Republicans with a Future

...according to the WASHINGTON POST. The list doesn’t include Palin or Huckabee, not to mention Gingrich. I agree it probably shouldn’t, at least when looking toward 2012. I tend to think that Jindal, Thune, Daniels, and Romney are the leading lights at the moment, with all those mentioned having promise. With the exception, of Jindal, I’m not sure any of them bring something new, different, and better to the table, and that seems pretty important, of course, for a party that’s been thumped twice in a row. None of them might satisfy the fans of Palin, Huckabee, and Gingrich. (Thanks to Ivan the K.)

Discussions - 11 Comments

I would have switched out Romney and replaced him with Huckabee - not that I like either of those guys for 2012. I think that Huck's ability to empathize with the economically struggling will count for more that Romney's business past.

What is interesting is that Clizza points out that the folks on that list could be important without being presidential candidates. Thune and Cantor are especially important on this score. The Washington GOP is going to need effective spokesmen for the next two years and the top two leaders in Congress just can't supply it. John Boehner looks like an overmatched hack when compared to Nancy Pelosi nevermind Obama. I'm a big fan of Mitch McConnel (he is one of the few Washington Republicans who can match brains with Obama) but he is a black hole of charisma. Thune, Cantor and Paul Ryan should do as much representing of the Republican side as possible. They come across as smart, expert, and look as if they belong in this century. One of the GOP's many problems is that their leaders just look used up. The GOP looks like a party of tired old white men. Being represented by energetic, youngish white men is hardly THE solution to their problems, but it is a start.

One encouraging development over the last few weeks is that conservative writers and GOP politicos seem to have been noticing that one of the big weaknesses of the conservative base, the McCain campaign, and the Republican party (I know those are three very different things but follow me)has been a relevance gap between what most people in the above three groups wanted to talk about and what issues the general public wanted to hear about. We can talk about "mavericks" vs "real conservatives" all we want, but both McCain and Rush were alot more upset about earmarks than the average person. Reconginzing the problem is a key step to fixing it.

I had just read this blog about a Gallup poll on this topic, with Palin being the leading contender, before I came here to read that she is not. A lot can happen in fours years. My daughter looked over my shoulder while I was reading the Clizza article and she pronounced John Thune "hot". She can vote in the next presidential election and that sort of thing counts with young females. I ought to show her more pictures and see what she says.

Pete, I do not know that the GOP problem is that the leaders look used up. The problem is that they are talked out. As one of my students said, "I turn on the TV and all of those politicians just say, like, 'Blah, blah, blah.' and I can't listen."

Maybe this relates to your last paragraph. People do complain about government wasting their money. I wonder what rhetoric would resonate on that topic.

has been a relevance gap between what most people in the above three groups wanted to talk about and what issues the general public wanted to hear about. We can talk about "mavericks" vs "real conservatives" all we want, but both McCain and Rush were alot more upset about earmarks than the average person. Reconginzing the problem is a key step to fixing it.

I read this sort of thing and I think "blah blah blah" - more chasing after the much talked about muddled "middle". And yet, as a professor here has noticed, Obama received 100,000 more votes than Kerry and McCain received 400,000 less votes than Bush in Ohio.

How about some talk about the failure of the GOP to govern something close to their rhetoric instead of the usual tack left nonsense (which is what you really mean when you say "relevance")....

Oh, and when you say “both McCain and Rush were alot more upset about earmarks than the average person.” your just dead wrong – or don't know many “average” persons...or more likely, confuse academic liberals for "average" persons...

On the post - I agree that Romney has the possibility of playing another spoiler role in 2012. Too bad for the GOP. This is exactly the sort of candidate who will follow in the footsteps of other GOP stars like Bob Dole and John McCain...:)

I agree with Pete on Romney/Huck being swapped.

The list has several errors. John Thune at number 2 is one of them. He's weak, in 2006 he was running for the hills and caving to Democrats, as a Senator from South Dakota! He won't lead any principled opposition. Mark Sanford should have been higher-number 2 high. He's got a track record of reform that would make Jindal envious. In fact Sanford might even be my number 1 until Jindal gets a bit more of a track record behind him. Lastly, knock out two of those no-name state officials and plug in Pawlenty and Palin. Pawlenty has won the left-leaning state of Minnesota twice, and has had a successful governor stint going. He is much like Mitch Daniels who is rightly on the list. And Palin. Sigh, I'm not a fan, but only Kathleen Parker hatred could keep her off the list. She's a celebrity amongst a significant part of the GOP, like it or not.

Christopher, I gotta disagree with you on how most people perceived earmarks. How many people do you know, who were not self described conservatives, that considered earmarks to be a voting issue? It is not that most people were in favor of earmarks, it is that most people (from every poll that I have seen as well as personal experience) prioritize other issues above earmarks. When McCain -and not just McCain - kept hitting on earmarks when folks wanted to talk about healthcare, jobs, wages, it made McCain seem out of touch.

And addressing issues that polls (and everyday conversation) indicate are the main concerns of people is not going after the "muddled". Many of those concerns (about rising healthcare insurance costs, wage stagnation, jobs) are very real. Denying the importance of those issues or trying to change the subject, won't get conservatives very far. Just because you think those people are muddled, doesn't mean they are stupid.

Great discussion. I would disagree about Boehner being outmatched by Pelosi, though. I think he's very well spoken, he just needs to get in front of the cameras more, forcing the uninspiring and gaffe-prone Pelosi to do the same. As far as Obama goes . . . I think the GOP needs to adapt a Fabian policy and wait for either his base to screw things up for him or for a Republican Scipio to rise up. I'd put my money on the former.

You guys should just surrender your base and run the moderate Voinovich (what could it hurt against an incumbent?). He'd actually have a shot (but I'm biased - he's usually the only Republican I vote for).

Just because you think those people are muddled, doesn't mean they are stupid.

Not stupid, just liberal (or liberal leaning). Conservatives do themselves and everyone else no favors by going liberal. As to your first example, I present my father-in-law. A registered Democrat, but has voted increasingly GOP since Reagan. Earmarks were a major factor in folks such as largely staying home IMO...

Christopher, several points,

1. People who list health care (among other issues) at the top of their concerns are not all or even mostly liberal leaning. They just have a problem with how the system works and want solutions about how it can work better for them. Conservatives who address this issue (especially in moving to a more free market oriented system) aren't moving Left, they are just applying conservative principles to an issue that many conservatives have preffered to ignore or carp about for the last 15 or so years. These conservatives are in fact doing more to move the economy to the Right than cutting all the earmarks in the world would do.

2. Your father-in-law stayed home because the GOP was too pro earmark? Who is more anti earmark than McCain? Did McCain have to stab Ted Stevens in the chest with a letter opener to make his point? Do you really think even more anti earmark stuff from McCain would have moved the needle in his favor?

3.If the people who list issues like healthcare as more important than earmarks are the liberals and those who worry more about earmarks are the "real conservatives" then the real conservatives are a pitiful minority who are only slightly more likely to win power through elections than the militant vegetarians. The good news is that the appeal of conservative policies and principles can be expanded to influence people whose main concerns are neither earmark not tax cuts.

4. A case in point in how a "real conservative" can handle these issues that most conservative intellectuals and popularizers have preferred to ignore is Bobbly Jindal. Jindal is highly touted both by Prof. Lawler on the one hand and Rush and Hannity on the other. But in his tv appearances, Jindal can't shut up about healthcare reform. Does that make less him less of a conservative, or a conservative who is grappling with the issues of his day and not Jack Kemp's day?

Re: point #4 in Pete's post #10

Nicely said--esp. your last line. Sometimes I get the feeling that there are some conservatives who not only want to learn the lessons of the Reagan years, but want also fight them issue by issue over and over again . . . and other conservatives do this with the 1950s . . . and I won't even get started on the conservatives who do this with the 1850s or, still worse, 1790s. Of course, liberals do this too with 1932 and (insufferably) with the 60s. (But they also seem to have a knack for convincing folks that we are in fact in those "good old days"--at least in recent years.) It's all well and good to learn and know and learn from our political history and to commit to the solid foundation and principles that are eternal in it . . . but not everything close to the foundations or the high lights of our history is equal to the granite.

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