Will Republicans Blow It?

 

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that a good catch phrase could stop thinking for 50 years. One of the often-repeated catch phrases of our time — “It’s the economy, stupid!” — has already stopped thinking in some quarters for a couple of decades.

There is no question that the state of the economy can affect elections. But there is also no iron law that all elections will be decided by the state of the economy.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected for an unprecedented third term after two terms in which unemployment was in double digits for eight consecutive years.

 

We may lament the number of people who are unemployed or who are on food stamps today. But those who give the Obama administration credit for coming to their rescue when they didn’t have a job are likely to greatly outnumber those who blame the administration for their not having a job in the first place.

An expansion of the welfare state in hard times seems to have been the secret of FDR’s great political success in the midst of economic disaster. An economic study published in a scholarly journal in 2004 concluded that the Roosevelt administration’s policies prolonged the Great Depression by several years. But few people read economic studies.

This economy has been sputtering along through most of the Obama administration, with the unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent. But none of that means that Barack Obama is going to lose the 2012 election.

Even polls which show “any Republican” with more public support than Obama does not mean that Obama will lose.

The president is not going to run against “any Republican.” He is going to run against some specific Republican, and that Republican can expect to be attacked, denounced and denigrated for months on end before the November 2012 elections — not only by the Democrats, but also by the media that is heavily pro-Democrat.

We have already seen how unsubstantiated allegations from women with questionable histories have dropped Herman Cain from front runner to third place in just a couple of weeks.

In short, it takes a candidate to beat a candidate, and everything depends on what kind of candidate that is.

The smart money inside the Beltway says that the Republicans need to pick a moderate candidate who can appeal to independent voters, not just to the conservative voters who turn out to vote in Republican primaries. Those who think this way say that you have to “reach out” to Hispanics, the elderly and other constituencies.

What is remarkable is how seldom the smart money folks look at what has actually been happening in presidential elections.

Ronald Reagan won two landslide elections when he ran as Ronald Reagan. Vice President George H.W. Bush then won when he ran as if he were another Ronald Reagan, with his famous statement, “Read my lips, no new taxes.”

But after Bush 41 was elected and turned “kinder and gentler” — to everyone except the taxpayers — he lost to an unknown governor from a small state.

Other Republican presidential candidates who went the “moderate” route — Bob Dole and John McCain — also came across as neither fish nor fowl, and also went down to defeat.

Now the smart money inside the Beltway is saying that Mitt Romney, who is nothing if not versatile in his positions, is the Republicans’ best hope for replacing Obama.

If conservative Republicans split their votes among a number of conservative candidates in the primaries, that can mean ending up with a presidential candidate in the Bob Dole-John McCain mold — and risking a Bob Dole-John McCain result in the next election.

The question now is whether the conservative Republican candidates who have enjoyed their successive and short-lived boomlets — Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain — are prepared to stay in the primary race to the bitter end, or whether their conservative principles will move them to withdraw and throw their support to another conservative candidate.

There has probably never been a time in the history of this country when we more urgently needed to get a president out of the White House, before he ruined the country. But will the conservative Republican candidates let that guide them?

 

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM

Thomas Sowell

By

Thomas Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in Harlem. As with many others in his neighborhood, he left home early and did not finish high school. The next few years were difficult ones, but eventually he joined the Marine Corps and became a photographer in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Sowell entered Harvard University, worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University (1958), he went on to receive his master's in economics from Columbia University (1959) and a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago (1968). Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His 28 books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Currently, he is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif.

Crisis Magazine Comments Policy

This is a Catholic forum. As such:

  1. All comments must directly address the article. “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.” (Matthew 12:36)
  2. No profanity, ad hominems, hot tempers, or racial or religious invectives. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
  3. We will not tolerate heresy, calumny, or attacks upon our Holy Mother Church or Holy Father. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
  4. Keep it brief. No lengthy rants or block quotes. “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
  5. If you see a comment that doesn’t meet our standards, please flag it so a moderator may remove it. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1)
  6. All comments may be removed at the moderators’ discretion. “But of that day and hour no one knows…” (Matthew 24:36)
  7. Crisis isn’t responsible for the content of the comments box. Comments do not represent the views of Crisis magazine, its editors, authors, or publishers. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God… So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)
MENU