"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fluidity or Coalescence?

The Republican presidential field seems to still be a bit fluid, particularly in the aftermath of Mitch Daniels' decision not to run, although perhaps that is wishful thinking.   Maybe it just seems "fluid" because we can't see the patterns clearly, even though they are emerging below the surface.   Here is a useful summary from Michael Barone:
In, in alphabetical order: Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum.
Of these, the only serious candidates I see who could make a significant run are Pawlenty and Romney.   Hugh Hewitt agrees with this.   Cain took a step backward with his flummoxed response on the Palestinians and their "right of return."   Gingrich imploded with his comments about Paul Ryan's budget plan.   Santorum is a fringe candidate of the pro-Lifers; Johnson and Paul fringe candidates of the libertarians.   So it's Pawlenty and Romney.   Both are flawed, Pawlenty by prior support for cap-and-trade, Romney for Romneycare.   Both have executive experience as governors and, for Romney, extensive high-level business experience.  I think Pawlenty could win Iowa because he's more of a social conservative, but Romney will come back and win New Hampshire big, and Romney's money and organization will likely give him a big win on Super Tuesday.  
Probably in: Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman.
Bachmann could siphon off Iowa votes from fellow Minnesotan Pawlenty, and could score big in conservative South Carolina.  But I see her run as a borderline vanity candidacy, designed to raise money for her PAC going forward and keep her name in front of the public, but not to win.   Huntsman, on the other hand, could be a decent candidate, but I think he lacks name recognition, and will seem like Romney-lite (fellow Utahan) when all is said and done.   Working in the Obama Administration (ambassador to China) didn't help, although the China knowledge (he speaks fluent Mandarin) is an interesting added value.
Probably not in: John Bolton, Sarah Palin.
I'd be surprised if Palin runs.   There's just too much money to be made being Sarah Palin, and running for President now would interfere with that.   I don't blame her; after 2008, who needs another year or so of media piling on.   She's tough, but living well is the best revenge.   Bolton, meanwhile, should be on the short list for Secretary of State in the next Republican administration, but lacks the executive experience and presence to be a real Presidential candidate.   And he probably knows it.
Out: Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Mike Pence, John Thune.
Daniels dropping out surprised many, but his wife's story (leaves him to marry another man, comes back three years later to remarry Daniels) seems a little too weird for primetime.  I can see why neither he nor his wife would want to spend a year explaining that.  
Declared out but still being wooed: Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Paul Ryan.
Christie is not running.   Get it out of your heads.   He's been governor of New Jersey for what?  Two years?   He's not ready and he knows it.   Ryan is only 40.   He's also not ready, and he knows it too.   Both are well-served by staying out for now, possibly getting drafted as VP candidates, although if I were Ryan I'd stay away from that too.   He can do better as the de facto head of Republicans in Congress.  

As for Perry, well, I think he's making moves that suggest he's going to come into this thing late.   Then there will be three ex-governors, from Massachusetts (Romney), Minnesota (Pawlenty), and Texas (Perry).   If he can get his organization in place in time, I think Perry as a Southerner can win that race with a late surge beginning in South Carolina.  

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