Posted at 12:29 PM on March 9, 2009
by Jeff Horwich
This weekend, John McLaughlin (leading his eponymous "Group") embarked on a segment called "Pawlenty 2012" in which he asked his guests to contemplate a Pawlenty run for president. He made the fairly arbitrary choice to name Pawlenty one of the top five contenders for the next Republican Presidential nomination.
Really? Well, consider the rest of his rather weak-looking list:
* Mitt Romney
* Sarah Palin
* Bobby Jindal
* Ron Paul
Maybe it says more about the limited vision of John McLaughlin than the Republican Party, but it's hard to imagine there won't be a stronger line-up in four years. For the sake of our democracy and a healthy two-party system, one certainly hopes so.
Pawlenty's chances inspired some heated disagreement on the panel. From the right, Buchanan gives him a 2% chance, saying the party will never go for someone so moderate (on policy) and bland (in presentation). From the left, Eleanor Clift puts it at 50-50, on the logic that Republicans are going to have to respond to the national tack to the left if they want to win.
I would add that even more than ideology, I'd imagine a strong impulse to modernize the image of the party beyond the stereotype that (supposed front-runner) Mitt Romney represents (i.e. white, older, blue-blooded, fabulously wealthy, moral conservatives). Pawlenty hits all these points except the first one.
Maybe Jindal will resurrect his reputation by laying low for a while. But Sarah Palin feels like damaged goods after Election '08. And Ron Paul's a statistically hopeless case.
Who else should be on that list?
For such a supposedly boring guy, the governor certainly got the McLaughlin Group panel worked up:
Credit to MNStories for finding (and Tweeting) this video.
Ron Paul isn't a hopeless case. He is America's best case.
Ron Paul: Didn't mean to offer any commentary on his merits as a president or as a candidate.
But, for better or for worse, his electoral and money-raising prospects are grim unless the two parties basically disband and realign along completely different political axes. If the social liberals and the financial conservatives could ever get together and realize what they've got in common, he'd have a chance. Maybe. But that's just not in the cards.
I think Ron Paul is 74 now; I doubt that, even if he ran in 2012, many folks would support a 77 yr old for a first term in the presidency. Which makes it that much more odd that McLaughlin would include him. Notably absent: John Huntsman (Gov-UT), Mark Sanford (Gov-GA), Charlie Crist (Gov-FL). Some have Rep Ryan (WI) as a long shot.
I agree that Pawlenty lacks the charisma chops necessary to make it to The Show. I disagree that he is a moderate, given his taxophobia, anti-abortion and immigrant-unfriendly stances.
Whoever the Repubs tap, it has to be someone who doesn't sound like a Chatty Kathy doll with only two voice tracks -- "Taxes are bad" and "Government is the enemy."
And we have enough white guys running -- or ruining -- things, regardless of age. So a highly viable female candidate would be more than welcome. (Maybe Sibelius will leave the Obama administration and take a run at it...)
Finally, let's all keep in mind that whoever it is, that person by definition will have to be a well-connected millionaire/multi-millionaire, given that it now costs several hundred million dollars to win the Presidency in this so-called democracy of ours.