Let us not mince words. There are at most five plausible Republican presidents on the horizon – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
— George Will March 6, 2011
With the 2012 presidential election still about 20 months away, the issues which will likely frame the race are coming into focus. The issues, I believe, which will play a decisive role in 2012 are Obamacare, energy, and fiscal issues (deficits, debt, and taxes). For Republicans to accomplish the historically difficult task of unseating an incumbent president, it’s imperative that they nominate a candidate who is strong on all of these issues and can thus draw a sharp contrast with Obama. This is particularly so since the majority of the electorate disagrees with Obama by significant margins on these issues, even if, as liberals constantly assure us, Obama remains "personally" popular. None of the potential GOP candidates is better positioned on the above issues than Governor Palin. Certainly better than any of the usual establishment suspects to whom George Will gives his predictable fealty above.
Despite claims to the contrary by Democrats and their lapdogs in the mainstream media, the unconstitutional Obamacare remains unpopular. This is due not only to the bill itself, but the corrupt process by which it was forced down the throats of an unwilling electorate. If the GOP nominates a candidate who is not solidly against Obamacare and the taxes and mandates contained therein, regardless of whether those mandates occurred at the federal or state level, they will be effectively removing one of Obama’s greatest vulnerabilities from the table. Why would any party interested in anything other than unilateral disarmament and electoral suicide do this? Why would they even consider nominating a candidate whose own plan served as the "template" for Obamacare? Even Paul Ryan had to admit that Romneycare was ‘not that dissimilar to Obamacare’.
Of course it isn’t, and Obama will use the estimated $1 billion he’ll raise to remind voters of that fact over and over and over, as he’s doing already, should Republicans be dumb enough to make Romney the nominee (if they do, they’ll richly deserve the disastrous electoral outcome that awaits them). Even if we ignore reality for the moment, and assume that Romney beats Obama, what then? Notwithstanding his recent pronouncement to a room full of New Hampshire establishment pols, does anyone seriously believe he would put any effort into repealing Obamacare? I know I don’t. At best, he’ll flip flop again and insist that Obamacare is salvageable, if only someone with his self-touted managerial acumen is there to provide the correct tinkering around the edges.
With Governor Palin, though, there’s no question where she stands on the concept of government-controlled health care. There is no single person in America more associated with the effort to stop Obamacare than her. From the moment she joined the debate with her brilliant "death panels" metaphor to describe the inevitable rationing which must occur under Obamacare, she has led the battle against this disastrous and unaffordable power grab by Obama and his fellow travelers on the far left.
I have yet to hear anyone from the GOP establishment argue otherwise. I can’t recall, for example, hearing Charles Krauthammer or George Will praising the role Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, or Jon Huntsman played in the effort to stop Obamacare. Maybe if Governor Palin had had a little help from these so-called leaders, the effort could have succeeded. One thing, though, I do remember is the hysterical reaction Democrats had when Governor Palin entered the debate. So effective was her leadership in the effort that the so-called leader of the free world was compelled to attack her in a speech before both houses of Congress, though later she was vindicated by Obama’s own budget director, among others.
Energy, of course, is in Governor Palin’s wheelhouse more so than any other political leader in America. As oil soars above $100 per barrel and gasoline prices continue to skyrocket, it’s becoming increasingly clear that her all-of -the-above approach to energy development is not only the best approach, but the only approach with any chance of working.
None of the other GOP pretenders can touch her on this issue. Mitch Daniels is for an oil import tax. Though he claims to have pulled a Mitt Romney on carbon emissions, Tim Pawlenty signed cap and tax legislation just over three years ago. Jon Huntsman thinks cap and tax is a fantastic idea. In 2005, Mitt Romney claimed cap and tax was "good for business". Now he’s against it (of course). Well, sort of. I now know why his fans call him a turnaround artist. It does sound better than flip flopper, after all. And George Will’s other candidate, Haley Barbour? I have nothing against Barbour and think he was a great RNC chair in the ’90s, but let’s not mince words: the probability of him ever being elected president is somewhere south of the probability of me beating LeBron James in a game of one-on-one.
Obama is utterly clueless on energy, and this issue should be a silver bullet for Republicans in 2012. But not if any of the above cast of characters is the nominee. As noted earlier, Team Obama will have at least a billion to spend and, with that kind of war chest, it won’t be difficult for his campaign to neutralize this issue vis-a-vis these guys. How can Republicans argue that Obama’s "energy policies" are causing high energy prices when they are all on record supporting policies that cause… high energy prices. The short answer is they can’t, and the Obama Campaign will have virtually unlimited resources with which to make that point.
On the other hand, such an ad campaign would have zero chance of working against Governor Palin, as her position is as well known throughout the country as it is unambiguous. It also has the added virtue of being the only approach that will, you know, actually increase energy production and lower energy prices. With the far left already looking to exploit the disaster in Japan as yet another excuse to delay the development of nuclear energy production, America needs to be developing our proven and abundant natural energy resources now, not after another presidential commission complete with "breakout groups", whatever that is. Governor Palin stands head and shoulders above the rest of the potential Republican field as the best candidate to make this case and take advantage of Obama’s colossal vulnerability on this issue.
The fiscal hole into which this administration has spent the country is nothing short of an existential threat to America. We all know the statistics: a $14.5 trillion national debt, a deficit this fiscal year of $1.65 trillion, and trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. Obama and his party can’t even muster the will to cut funding for cowboy poetry, and claim that cutting any more than o.28% out of a $3.7 trillion budget is impossible.
As Republicans, all of George Will’s beltway boys should be solid on this issue, right? All of them, after all, at least claim to be fiscal conservatives. But are they really?
The only serious long-term deficit reduction plan that anyone has put on the table so far is Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future. None of the above mentioned Republicans have endorsed it. Governor Palin has. Washington Republicans are quibbling over whether or not to cut $50-$60 billion from this years 1.65 trillion deficit. Keep in mind Obama’s deficit was $223 billion in the month of February alone. Where do Will’s beltway boys stand on this pathetic attempt at deficit reduction? Well, we don’t know. None of them have taken a position that I can find. Or have they and I missed it? Governor Palin made clear where she stands the other night on Hannity:
"I am kind of embarrassed for some of the GOP, for them to be assuming that the American public believes that this is a serious discussion, when we are talking only about $54 billion in cuts that they have on the table,” Palin said. “We need to be looking more along the lines of a [Kentucky Sen.] Rand Paul $500 billion cut – and granted that is more long-term than just these continuing resolutions, and the cuts that we need to make there just to sustain our government.
“We need much greater cuts – and a more pro-growth development, pro-industry agenda – being plugged into these budgets,” she said. “They need to be bold and strong, and they need a steel spine. They need to keep Americans believing that the GOP principles will be able to be those things – when they’re plugged in appropriately – to get the economy on the right track.
“We are going to lose faith in the party, if we just take these little, tiny baby steps – and if that takes a fight, then hopefully the GOP leadership is willing to fight for America’s future.”
On the most famous example of fiscal irresponsibility, Obama’s $800 billion Porkulus, where did Will’s candidates stand? Tim Pawlenty, to his credit, claimed to be against it and even had an interesting take on accepting the funds for Minnesota, but his opposition to Porkulus was decidedly muted. Mitch Daniels? Well, let’s just say he was for it before he was against it. And let’s not forget that it was Daniels who, as White House Budget Director in George W. Bush’s first term, presided over the exploding budget deficits of that era. Jon Huntsman thinks the problem with Porkulus is that it wasn’t large enough. Enough said. And that brings us to Mitt Romney. What position (or positions) did Romney take on Porkulus? Well, at least his inconsistency is consistent. Governor Palin, of course, took a very public stance against Porkulus, urging Obama to veto it on national TV, and backing up her words with deeds by vetoing part of the bill when it reached her desk (note: Alaska’s porky Republicans ultimately overrode her veto and chose to spend the money anyway).
Fiscal issues, of course, can’t be analyzed in a vacuum. They are closely linked to both energy and Obamacare. Obama’s complete lack of a realistic energy policy will slow the economy, perhaps even pushing it back into recession. Slower or negative economic growth will inevitably result in more government transfer payments…and still more debt. The creation of the biggest entitlement program in history, namely Obamacare, when our existing entitlement programs are going bankrupt, will only exacerbate our already dire fiscal outlook.
On none of these issues does anyone other than Governor Palin have the right position, and credibility of that position, to draw the sharp contrast that needs to be drawn against Obama if Republicans are to take back the White House. In addition, Governor Palin possesses the necessary executive experience and charisma to get it done. To be sure 2012 is still 20 months away, and that can be an eternity in politics. Any number of unforeseen issues or foreign policy crises can and probably will occur between now and then, but it’s impossible to see anything taking the above three issues off the table. Only Republicans can remove them…by nominating one of George Will’s candidates.
Governor Palin has consistently led on these issues. She doesn’t need pollsters to tell her where she should stand on them…she knows in her soul. America has for too long allowed itself to be ruled by a self-anointed ruling class drawn from a small minority of individuals who live in an Ivy League Fantasyland who have put the country on the brink. We simply can’t afford another George Will approved generic Republican in 2012 who, in the unlikely event he beats Obama, will do nothing more than slow America’s decline. We need to reverse it before it’s too late. We need a leader with a steel spine who has the authenticity, practical experience, and strength of conviction to do what needs to be done. Republicans — and America — should demand nothing less at this critical point in the nation’s history.
Update: Surprise, surprise. It appears George Will’s favorite candidate, Mitch Daniels, also has an Obamacare problem. Michael F. Cannon at National Review has details here and here. And Jon Huntsman? Ditto.