Republicans are having a hard time getting the nerve up to challenge President Obama:
“Right now, just three Republicans (Cain, Pawlenty, and Roemer) have formed exploratory committees, and no one has yet to formally announce a presidential bid. By comparison, at this point in the 2008 cycle, at least 17 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates had already formed their exploratory committees or had officially declared they were running for president…
Okay, so maybe the problem isn’t spineless waffling. Perhaps they are suffering an epidemic of reality, with advisors pointing out the hurdles: huge fundraising requirements, tough odds against Obama, and a very red G.O.P. primary (as in, a bloodbath). The entire picture might be overwhelming.
Whatever the cause, the lack of action is starting to mess things up. The first Republican primary debate for the 2012 presidential election cycle was supposed to be held on May 2. It isn’t going to happen and is being moved to mid-September.
My sense is that the compressed schedule will not work in the Republican’s favor. First, it will provide an expanded platform for the political nutjobs to launch quixotic campaigns. We have a growing list of crazies hinting at a run—including Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Rand Paul…. And most recently, The Donald, has been working diligently to establish credentials as a bona fide birfer loon. The lack of a serious mainstream candidate can only embolden these people.
This cycle we will see the nutjobs soaking up a lot of press attention, later into the season, leaving a deficit of press attention for more mainstream candidates.
Another possible negative consequence is that whoever is eventually selected may not be fully vetted. Vetting takes time, and must encompass multiple dimensions—fundraising prowess, mistresses on the side, past indiscretions, pregnant unwed teenage daughters, gaffe proneness, lack of charisma, bouts of irrational decision making, lack of any coherent vision, etc.
In other words, the late start of the election season maximizes the opportunity for Republicans to end up with a flawed candidate. They did pretty well in that regard in 2008, even with a long, bruising election season. The first sign of McCain’s “gambling problem” became evident when he gave the G.O.P. establishment, including his former rivals, a great big “fuck you” and took a desperate gamble on an entirely un-vetted running-mate. The results weren’t pretty.
Man, what great material us bloggers got from it.
But more than I want good blogging material, I really do want a large field of serious, solid candidates from both sides, and plenty of time to evaluate them. I want this because, in principle, that is what is best for America.
In practice…I am not convinced that there is any Republican politician who is actually good for America.