Carol Platt Liebau

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Adam Nagourney delves into the lack of enthusiasm among GOP'ers for their prospective presidential candidates, and compares it to the Democratic love-fest for Senators Clinton and/or Obama.

The whole discussion is a moot point, of course. Just as polls aren't helpful when they measure an incumbent's standing against a generic opponent -- because what voters ultimately have to measure is two real-life candidates together -- it isn't terribly insightful to understand that a race against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama (who is farther left than most Americans yet know) will do much to give Republicans fire in the belly.

In the past, of course, when Republicans have been enthusiastic about their candidates, the press has portrayed that fact as somehow attributable to the candidates' putative problem with reaching out to "the middle," i.e. that Reagan or George W. might be "too conservative" to win. Funny that the reverse calculus isn't performed, even though it's entirely likely that both Clinton and Obama might be "too liberal" to prevail, especially in a contest with Giuliani, Romney or even McCain (if he somehow won the nomination).

The fact is that Bill Clinton won in 1992 and 1996 not because the electorate was so totally enamored of him; in fact, he never mustered a majority of the popular vote. Rather, Americans were even less enchanted with George Bush in '92 and Bob Dole in '96 (and, of course, Ross Perot helped Clinton in '92). The same "lesser of two evils" scenario could, in fact, work in Republicans' favor this year, even if their candidate isn't setting them (or the country) on fire -- although given that many Americans don't yet know much about, say, Mitt Romney, it's not even sure Republicans would have to rely on such a hope.


Blogger gcotharn said...

I disagree with the common wisdom that the field of Repub candidates is weak. I look at


and I see excellent communicators. I see men (maybe Thompson excluded, so far) who are proven performers in a hostile media environment. These four stack up well against all other Presidential candidates of the last four decades - excepting Reagan, who was an fabulous candidate; and maybe excepting Nixon, who was also an excellent candidate. However, compare the skills of Romney, Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson against all other candidates of the last four decades:

Bush, Jr.
Bill Clinton
Bush, Sr

The skills and policy positions of Romney, Giuliani, McCain and Thompson stack up well against that list of candidates.

1:58 PM  

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