The 2008 Lineup Looks Pretty Centrist So Far

My friend John at Power Line has an interesting look at the Republican contenders for the presidency in 2008, and wonders where the conservatives might turn. It’s a little too long to excerpt to any good effect, so be sure to read it in its entirety.
Conservatives appear to have some slim pickings, at least thus far. John McCain, who could reasonably compete as one, instead had better hope for independent and centrist support after his campaign reform legislation curtailed political speech, and his Gang of 14 shenanigans derailed more than a couple of fine judicial nominees. John refers to his willingness to sell out the Republicans in order to feed his own self-interest, and that’s certainly the perception. Even if I was not willing to go as far as John, and I probably am, he’s certainly proven himself fairly unpredictable, even on core issues such as tax cuts.
Romney looks good at the moment, but he’s had to win twice in Massachussetts, and conservatives just don’t do that. He’s made nice with NARAL on occasion in order to keep himself in power. Now he wants to run as a pro-life candidate, and that might convince enough conservatives to keep an open mind, but he may turn out like McCain: too unpredictable to trust.
Giuliani doesn’t play games with his beliefs. He’s a pro-choice Republican who follows in the Rockefeller tradition of the party. Conservatives have every reason not to like him, and yet he attracts the most interest so far. Why? He acts like an executive. He makes decisions and sticks to them, and he projects strength better than either Romney or McCain. He had his detractors in New York, and like Romney he had to make a lot of compromises with a very liberal constituency. However, he still managed to clean up Times Square, lower crime, and when the catastrophe struck on 9/11, put the city and the nation on his shoulders and carried us until we could carry others.
People crave leadership as opposed to management. Giuliani exudes it in a comfortable and approachable way that tends to disarm other considerations.
But, as I said, he’s not a conservative. So far, the only real conservative in the race is Newt Gingrich. John dismisses Newt as a candidate who “carries more baggage than Northwest Airlines”, which makes me laugh and has more than an element of truth. However, 2008 seems to be shaping up as the Year of the Baggage. Rudy has had a messy personal life in office, as well as a bout with prostate cancer. McCain will be 72 in 2008, and has the Keating 5 scandal in his past. Romney, unfortunately, has to answer a bunch of childish questions about Mormon garments from people who style themselves as the sophisticates among conservatives. And on the other side of the aisle, Hillary has Bill, as well as the Rose law records scandal, the travel office firings, Peter Paul’s legal troubles from his fundraising on her behalf, and so on.
I disagree with John about Newt being an accident waiting to happen on the campaign trail, though. McCain has a much bigger problem with keeping his foot out of his mouth than Newt ever did. Newt’s a pretty sharp politician and could have sat out long enough at this point to have his personal peccadilloes and his political missteps forgiven, at least for the primaries. He’s unassailably conservative, so far the only one even close to being in the running. He also engineered the 1994 Republican revolution, and he might be the man to refocus the GOP back to the same core reform principles that led to that surprising victory.
It’s a long way to 2008, but conservatives might want to start thinking of at least one more credible conservative with national impact to draft into the race.

2 thoughts on “The 2008 Lineup Looks Pretty Centrist So Far”

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