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These poor Republicans! Here they’ve convinced themselves that the country will go down the tubes if they don’t win the next election, because Barack Obama is an all-powerful, satanic-socialist threat. AND they think that they CAN win because he’s the most vulnerable incumbent since Jimmy Carter. And look at what they drag in.

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Mitt Romney, by consensus of talking heads the most likely to get the nomination, is not in fact the front-runner. That’s because it’s perfectly clear that his views on anything important are not clear. He’s had positions on all sides of the key issues. The hard-line conservatives that make up the GOP primary electorate just don’t want him, even though the polls say he’d be the only candidate to run a close race against Obama.

Conservatives have gotten behind a succession of right-wing alternatives, each of whom to date has crashed. You had Mitch Daniels, who wouldn’t run. Sarah Palin looked like she would run, and kept teasing her supporters, before God told her to stay out of it. There was Tim Pawlenty, who just didn’t catch fire. There was Michelle Bachmann, who did catch fire for awhile before crashing.

Governor Rick Perry was supposed to be the answer to conservative dreams—until he actually started running. The word on the street was that the Bush people were sore at Perry for daring to suggest that he was a better conservative than GWB. But maybe Bush (who had Perry as his Lieutenant Governor in 2000) actually knows something about him.

And Herman Cain! Ann Coulter said, “Our blacks are better than their blacks!” Cain was the non-politician, the successful businessman, the black conservative who liked campaigning. He had all the right ideas, and could counter the party’s weakness among those troublesome, increasingly numerous minorities. But former employees of the female sort reported that his bonhomie went way too far, and he deflated.

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So now they’re left with, of all people, Newt Gingrich! This man has so much baggage he needs a train to haul it. He’s the family values conservative who informed his first wife that he was divorcing her as she was coming out of cancer surgery. I think he’s now on his third (or fourth) wife, and this one is so difficult that his entire campaign staff quit. When he was Speaker of the House he shut down the government rather than compromise with Clinton on the budget. He pushed the impeachment of Clinton, which was ultimately voted down in the Senate. He resigned the speakership and the Congress because his own troops were criticizing him.

They may be desperate, but conservatives will probably realize that Newt is not going to take them where they want to go. Who’s left (sorry, I mean who remains)? Ron Paul is the most principled of the lot, and he actually runs fairly well against Obama. But he’s a foreign policy dove, and he wants to abolish the Fed and return to the gold standard. That’s pretty strong medicine.

John Huntsman, Obama’s former ambassador to China, former governor of Utah, and like Romney a Mormon, is just too decent and smart to be successful. Get real!

Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania, has wanted to run for President for a decade, and this is his chance. He’s a militantly Catholic, far-right social conservative who has gotten no traction. Maybe people don’t take him seriously because Bob Casey took him down quite decisively in 2006.

john peeler

Send in the clowns! Don’t bother, they’re here!

John Peeler