Monday, May 28, 2012

The Grass is Always Greener....

You know what's amazing to Michael Gerson? That the Republican saviors of the party who ran for office and tore each other apart, often revealing themselves in the process to be deserving of little more than rubber noses and clown paint, no longer look as good as the wunderkind who haven't yet gone through the wringer.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rob Portman are among the more accomplished, knowledgeable, ideologically balanced political figures in American politics. The same could not be said of Rick Perry, Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann.
Gerson is smart enough to acknowledge that it's "easier to appear qualified and dignified" when you're untested, but fantasizes,
But there is more at work in this obvious stature gap. Part of the explanation is structural. Presidential candidates are largely self-selected, which favors ambition and self-regard above, well, all other traits. A vice presidential field results from a party’s consensus on talent and competence.
So... J. Danforth Quayle, George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney... no ambition or self-regard, simply the best their party had to offer (like Spiro Agnew). If Gerson believes the same holds true in both parties, I wonder if he's still crying in his coffee about Al Gore's disappearance from the national stage, or if he dreams of an alternate universe in which John McCain had not picked the stellar, non-self-promoting Sarah Palin and had instead picked the stellar, non-self-promoting Joe Lieberman as his running mate.

Gerson is engaging in a typical sort of wishful thinking, never mind the actual facts, in which we can easily predict which of a party's rising stars will be a presidential candidate four years from now. Because four years before-the-fact everybody knew that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama would be their party's nominees. If, that is, "everybody" means "nobody". Just like four years before-the-fact everybody knew that Jeb Bush would run for President, but he lost his first run for governor, his brother won in Texas and.... Yep, it's all 100% predictable.

Gerson hopes that, of all people, Mitt Romney chooses Chris Christy as his running mate. Odds are that, if he's not muzzled, by the end of the campaign they would be measuring him for the clown suit and rubber nose that Romney's primary competitors worked so hard to earn. Gerson likes Christie's bombast, and the fact that he's not a moron:
At the same time, Christie would represent a move to the ideological center. He is not a global warming skeptic. He supported an assault weapons ban in his state. He is an immigration moderate and has friendly relations with New Jersey’s Muslim community.
Actually, support for an assault weapons ban puts Christie not in the center, but to the considerable left of Obama. Acknowledging science, that immigration has both pro's and con's, and that not all Muslims are evil? It merely means that his IQ is at or above room temperature. Gerson's damning his party of choice with faint praise.
What other choice would cause Republicans to pray for 10 vice presidential debates?
They can pray for ten, they would get one. With Joe Biden, trademark bemused smile on his face, not getting even slightly ruffled by Christie and calling him out on such things as... his mediocre jobs record and the massive deficit his state now faces. And even if we were to fantasize that Christie would somehow "put Biden in his place", in the same manner that Lloyd Bentsen put Dan Quayle in his, remind me what impact that debate had on the Presidential contest again? Oh yes... absolutely none.

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