Last week conservative columnist George Will declared that none of the four remaining Republican candidates can beat Obama. This would be alarming if we had any reason to trust Will’s crystal ball. We don’t.
Republicans spend too much time wringing their hands over the unfortunate fact that no current candidate measures up to the “Reagan standard.” Well, that’s life. Deal with it. In 2012, Republicans don’t need a Reagan to beat Obama, who has negatives almost as high as Jimmy Carter did in 1980.
It’s a mistake to focus too much on the Republican candidates’ mistakes and weaknesses. The 2012 election will be a referendum on Obama.
Of course, Obama wants to run against George Bush again, but that won’t work. Because he has a record to defend, Obama has an uphill battle to win a second term. Democrats know this. Obama is in trouble, which is why his campaign already has the odor of desperation.
It is understandable that veteran Republican leaders, pundits and pollsters are worried by the lack of a clear consensus about the Republican candidate. Conventional wisdom says Republicans should have settled on a candidate by now. Yes, that would be ideal, but that worry is overstated.
We must remember that in 2008, there was a clear consensus and it proved to be wrong: It turned out that the “consensus candidate,” John McCain, was not the best candidate to put up against Barack Obama.
So, let’s put aside the media’s favorite parlor game, the horse-race handicapping of the Republican candidates, and look instead at Obama’s problems. There are at least five reasons he will probably be vacating the White House next Jan. 20.
First, the economy still stinks. That’s not George Bush’s fault, and Obama can’t get away with running against Bush – or McCain or Sarah Palin – no matter how much help he gets from Hollywood and David Letterman to sell that snake oil.
Even if the national unemployment rate continues to fall toward 7 percent from its earlier peaks above 9 percent, Americans see the reality of a stalled economy. In 1984 at this same time, Reagan’s economic recovery from the 1982 recession was creating 700,000 jobs each month, not the anemic 230,000 now being created.
Secondly, Obama’s foreign policy is an utter disaster. Americans are tired of “leading from behind” and watching embarrassing “apology tours” by himself, Secretary of State Clinton and now Defense Secretary Panetta. Americans are tired of seeing their president literally bow before foreign leaders. His Afghan withdrawal plan is unraveling daily, his “Russian reset” is a total failure, his unilateral disarmament of our nuclear weapons capability is lunatic, and Iran is not abandoning its rush to build a nuclear bomb that has one main purpose: to destroy Israel.
Third, Obama’s principal domestic policy achievement, Obamacare, is increasingly unpopular across a wide spectrum of society. Its taxpayer cost is growing exponentially, its mandates to states are increasingly onerous and expensive, and insurance costs are not under control as promised.
Fourth, Obama will not be able to maintain the enthusiasm of his left-wing base while moving to the center to win back the middle class. His neo-Marxism is hard to hide, and he’s not Houdini. His leftist base in the universities and greenbelts likes gas prices above $5 per gallon, but Obama is not going to be able to campaign on that platform in Phoenix, Pocatello or Poughkeepsie.
Finally, despite the fractious and expensive primary campaign that began too early and has lasted too long, Republicans are more unified in agreement about defeating Obama than Democrats are on the need for pushing gasoline prices higher to save Mother Earth from capitalist rape and pillage.
When the dust settles in Tampa in August, the candidates, Ron Paul included, will unite behind the Republican nominee. They will decide that a flawed candidate – and every candidate is a flawed candidate – is better than a Marxist incumbent. Republicans of all stripes and persuasions are unified in their understanding of one imperative: Removing Obama from the White House is more than a political goal: it is a constitutional imperative.
Yes, that Republican candidate will face a formidable Obama campaign, a campaign that will spend a billion dollars and violate every known standard of political ethics and civility. Yet, it will not be enough to persuade Americans to bet on four more years of Obama and his imperial czars.