GOP Race Isn't Blah But Republicans Deserve Far Better

Published 2:55 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

As someone who has voted for Democrats and Republicans, I am disappointed in the menu of declared GOP presidential hopefuls. The nomination process has been unpredictable and exciting but the quality isn't there and the unpredictability is the result of no knock-your-socks-off candidate.

Sure, if the 2012 GOP nominating race were the Kentucky Derby, the track announcer would be hoarse by now.

Every bookie would be saddled with anxiety.

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As it is, Gallop, and every other polling, require more sequels than Star Wars.

The candidate widely regarded to be the prohibitive favorite has triumphed in but two, not counting Maine, of the seven Republican contests so far.

Sure, Mitt Romney has more committed delegates, more money and a better organization. But try telling that to Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or even Ron Paul.

Just when you think you've got it all figured out, Mr. Santorum sweeps Minnesota, Missouri and, most surprisingly, Colorado, which seemed clearly in Mr. Romney's back pocket. The former Massachusetts governor had his “victory” party in Denver. Oops.

Every dog's had its day during this madcap GOP nomination process that's had more twists and turns than a bag of pretzels.

The biggest twist may come at the convention, however, if Republican voters haven't rallied enthusiastically around one of today's contenders. A candidate could come out of the weeds-Jeb Bush, for example-and answer a call to run. Someone, like Bush, who could unify and energize the GOP faithful and campaign, undamaged by a primary process that seems destined to produce a flawed, uninspiring and unelectable candidate.

A good deal of the remaining plot to this novel process, of course, will be written on Super Tuesday when 10 states, including Virginia, hold primaries. But given the course run so far, three candidates will probably win three of the primaries, providing no separation on the way to the convention. And there will be a three-way tie in the tenth state.

Supporters of President Obama, meanwhile, are certainly enjoying the acrimonious GOP conflict.

Each verbal jab and negative ad the Republicans aim at each other opens up a vulnerability for the president to capitalize upon in the fall. The tense emotion and high stakes of the GOP nominating process is also bringing out verbal gaffes that will undoubtedly fill the airwaves in October. Mr. Romney's “I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net here. If it needs repair, I'll fix it” statement was jumped on by his Republican opponents, none of who can cry foul when President Obama holds the words up to the light of October and November days. As he should.

Mr. Romney immediately sought to backtrack when challenged by CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien, who said, “You just said I'm not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. Can you explain that?”

Romney told her, “Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I'm not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.”

No, Mr. Romney, you did not say “I'm not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net.” You said, “I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net here.” A subtle by significant difference and it is interesting that seconds after making a statement he was claiming he had said something else. But not so strange for a politician.

Just a couple weeks earlier, Mr. Romney had rubbished the safety net. During an appearance on NBC's Meet The Press Mr. Romney declared that because of overhead expenses “very little of the money that's actually needed by those that really need help, that can't care for themselves, actually reaches them.”

Let's translate:

Very little, according to Mr. Romney, actually reaches the very poor that Mr. Romney is not concerned about because we have a safety net that, according to Mr. Romney, is so full of holes the very poor fall through them.

And then we have Newt Gingrich who continuously refers to President Obama as “the Food Stamp president.” Putting aside the ugly racial overtones many feel that phrase contains, President Obama hasn't put anyone on Food Stamps. Because of the economy more Americans are receiving Food Stamps, the vast majority of them white.

Mr. Santorum, of course, was understood by many to have said, during a campaign stop in Iowa, “I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

Three days later, Mr. Santorum would actually claim he had said “blah people's lives.”

Yes, such a crazy race for The White House.

In Iowa, 84 percent of the Food Stamp recipients are white, according to CBS News, and nine percent are black.

There is no statistic for Blah people.

The Republican Party can do far better than this and Republicans deserve a far better nominee than the current field of candidates.

No wonder folks voting in GOP primaries, caucuses and straw polls are confused and unable to decide which among the candidates is strongest and deserving of the nomination.

Perhaps none of them are.

The Kentucky Derby is for thoroughbreds.

There may be one waiting in the Bushes.

Even supporters of President Obama should want a stronger Republican opponent, just in case the GOP wins in November. America, all of us, deserves the best that both parties have to offer. The GOP hasn't given that to us yet.