Flawed GOP field thrills Democrats
LAURA WASHINGTON LauraSWashington@aol.com August 21, 2011 8:43PM
Updated: November 3, 2011 11:19AM
For Democrats, the current Republican presidential front-runners are a fortunate triplet: Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. That could be the lineup that rolls out of the gate in the 2012 presidential primaries: Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman, will take her home state of Iowa; Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, will dominate New Hampshire; South Carolina cozies up with Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
As the Republican contest ratchets up, this trio is emerging as the leading contenders for the GOP nomination.
Democrats should be cheering them on. In this case, good things come in threes. These musketeers of small ideas and flawed policies could add up to a winning scenario for the Democrats.
President Barack Obama’s ability to get anything done in Congress is dubious. His 2012 re-election fate may hinge on a new brand of “hope.”
Democrats are hoping, for example, that Obama’s opposition will remain substandard and lackluster. Progressives and liberals may wring their hands over their cool president’s lack of ardor for battle, but they’re waving hallelujahs at a 2012 Republican primary lineup that will remain divided, disheveled and maybe even dead on arrival.
Another hopeful sign: My brother-in-law, a suburban Republican, is dismayed by his choices. He is nervous about the extremist ideologues that are fronting for his party. Bob fears for the prospects of his small business, but he is even more jittery that the Tea Partiers will trash the Republican hallmarks of moderation and fiscal responsibility.
No wonder. Last week, Perry, the longtime Texas governor, suggested Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke might be a traitor because of his efforts to avert a double-dip recession. Perry is the same guy who once argued that Texas might secede from the United States. (Now, this is the state that produced the Bush political dynasty. Still, I will resist the temptation to urge them to “go right ahead.”)
Is this hypocritical and knuckle-headed rhetoric enough to get moderate Republicans to ditch the GOP? Go right ahead.
Perry, a fresh and untested face in national politics, made a big splash when he entered the presidential race on the eve of the Iowa straw poll and nearly stole the show.
Romney, the longtime presumed Republican front-runner, has spied Perry in his rearview mirror. And Romney knows that “objects are closer than they appear.” So the moderate Republican and former Blue State governor is assiduously perfecting his political pirouette to the right.
At a recent meeting with steelworkers in northern New Hampshire, Romney was asked whether he considers himself a Tea Party member. “I don’t know that you sign a membership,” he replied. “What I consider myself is someone who is in sync with the Tea Party.”
I can see it now: The Mad Hatter, March Hare and Alice sitting at the Wonderland table, as Mr. Mitt joins them for tea and crumpets. Team Obama already has that commercial in the can.
Meanwhile, Bachmann is a top-rank contender, thanks to her first-place showing in the Aug. 13 Iowa straw poll. Her Hawkeye State heritage helped, but her win, with 28.5 percent of the 16,892 votes cast, was aided by her unimpeachable Tea Party credentials and popularity among conservative and religious voters.
God bless Michele Bachmann. Her most valuable contribution to America so far: Keeping former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin out of the race.