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The president, who has at times been known as Barack Obama, is clearly in trouble.

No president except FDR has ever been re-elected with an unemployment rate higher than 9 percent. The erstwhile Barry Soetoro was an anti-war candidate who currently presides over no less than six foreign wars (three of them of his making), he has betrayed practically every campaign promise he made while running for president and he has apparently never met a Goldman Sachs executive he didn’t want to nominate to his Cabinet. The only surprise about his low approval ratings, 42 percent according to Gallup and -15 as per Rasmussen’s Presidential Approval Index, is that they aren’t even worse.

It is clear that a Republican candidate should have little problem beating Obama in the 2012 presidential election, assuming he even decides to run for re-election. (I have been skeptical of the assumption that Obama would even be on the 2012 ballot since July 2010.) Gallup has the generic “Republican candidate” leading Obama by an 8 percent margin, 47 to 39. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, it cannot put forward a generic candidate, but must select a specific one. And the specific candidates presently running, for the most part, look even less impressive than the generic one.

The so-called frontrunner, Mitt Romney, has nothing more to offer than special-interest money and executive hair. Captain Underoos’ political policies are terrible. He belongs to an impressively weird, if harmless, religious cult, and his appointment of two clueless mainstream economists as his economic advisers disqualifies him as a serious candidate for difficult times. The neocon favorite, Tim Pawlenty, has all the charisma of a corpse on quaaludes. Newt Gingrich is a quixotic little troll who still hasn’t come to terms with the fact that his 15 minutes of fame ended 15 years ago. Herman Cain is an intellectually over-matched candidate who has nothing more to offer than the color of his skin; his Federal Reserve connections alone are enough to disqualify him and the comic disaster that was Michael Steele’s chairmanship of the Republican National Committee demonstrates the ill-advised nature of Republican attempts to play a nonexistent race card.

“Hey, we got one of them too,” is neither a meaningful campaign slogan nor an effective one.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is pro-abortion and therefore irrelevant. Rick Santorum has no appeal to anyone outside of the National Review offices. Rep. Thad McCotter hasn’t been in the race long enough to even begin assessing his candidacy. (Although he does have a five-point message, about which I interviewed him last week.) The only two candidates who presently have any serious grass-roots appeal are Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Ron Paul, but both of them fill establishment Republicans with horror, the former due to her social conservatism and the latter due to his economic realism.

Hence the so-called “conservative” media’s turn toward Al’s Pal and the Fat Man. The latter isn’t going to run; Gov. Christie is justly famous for his stalwart approach toward the New Jersey teachers unions, but he’s too much of an East Coast moderate to harbor much appeal for the rest of the country. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, on the other hand, has been packaged to look eminently attractive to conservatives around the country as an evangelical Christian who is the successful governor of the largest Republican state in the country.

The problem is that Perry is a faux conservative who is very much cut from the same globalist cloth as George W. Bush. He isn’t a Republican so much as he is an opportunistic member of the bi-factional ruling party; he was the Texas campaign chairman for Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 1988. No wonder the “conservative” media love him; it appears that about three-quarters of them are recent converts from the Democratic Party themselves. One reason the Republican Party and the conservative media never make any rightward progress is that both are heavily influenced by former Democrats and liberals who claim to have seen the light, but are always focused on pragmatic compromises rather than principled stands.

Gov. Perry has been a decent governor. Like another ex-Democratic governor, Ronald Reagan, he is good on taxes and bad on borrowing. However, his track record on parental rights and corporate corruption is an awful one, as can be seen by his 2007 executive order requiring $360 Gardasil vaccinations for all Texas girls over the age of 11. Nor did he lift a finger to stop his own State Department of Family and Protective Services when it ran wild in 2008 and kidnapped 468 children on the basis of a single false accusation made by a crazy woman in Colorado. I am not aware of Perry troubling to discipline any of his criminally wayward employees after the fact, either.

This does not mean Rick Perry cannot defeat Obama. Any Republican who wins the nomination has an excellent chance to win the presidential election in 2012. The problem is that a Perry victory would be a pyrrhic one that could be even more damaging to the nation, and to the Republican Party, than George W. Bush’s two victories were. Despite his past success, Perry’s gubernatorial record indicates that he is totally unequipped to deal with the challenge of an economy that has been artificially, and temporarily, propped up by a $4.1 trillion (82.9 percent) increase in federal debt over the last 11 quarters.

The current battle over the debt ceiling clearly shows that this annual 30 percent rate of debt increase cannot possibly continue. Even if the ceiling is lifted and debt is increased, it cannot and will not continue at the same rate. Barring an unlikely reversal in the three-year decline of private credit in the household and financial sectors, this means that the statistical masking of the ongoing economic depression will not only quickly vanish, but in doing so will reveal the situation to be worse than any of the politicians of either party presently imagine. The worrisome thing isn’t that we economic contrarians might be correct, it is that we might be overly optimistic.

Economics always trumps mere politics, and the present economic exigencies are too extreme to risk yet another Republican borrow-and-spender. Gov. Perry is a formidable politician, and it is understandable that he looks attractive to those who are desperate to avoid the continuation of the Barry Soetoro charade. America doesn’t need another superficial leader who will tell Americans what they want to hear. They need a doctor who is stalwart enough to prescribe for them the bitter medicine they desperately need to take.

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