A case could be made that any of Guiliani, Huckabee, Romney, McCain or Thompson could get the nomination this year, although the latter two are longshots. Conventional wisdom, and Tony Blankley, say oh no. I say great.
The Republican Party primary so far has been an exercise in none of the above. In their turns, Sen. McCain, former Mayor Giuliani, former Sen. Thompson and former Gov. Romney seemed to be or seemed about to be front-runners -- only to fall back as the party's likely voters got a sharper look at each of them. Even my old boss Newt Gingrich, without even announcing, had a handsome surge from 4-5 percent to 18-20 percent in February -- before falling back to single digits.
Now former Gov. Huckabee -- for the moment surging to the front -- is on the receiving end of withering intraparty fire applied with a rhetorical violence usually reserved by Republican polemicists for a Clinton or a Kennedy. Just as social conservatives earlier this fall threatened (for a couple of weeks) to run a third-party candidate if Giuliani got the nomination, so Washington GOP elites are willing to misrepresent parts of what Huckabee has said and written in a savage effort to destroy any chance he might have of being elected.
It is as if each faction of the Grand Old Party feels a stronger passion to defeat its intraparty rival factions than to defeat the Democrats in November. This maximum instinct to deny victory within the party may be a sign of a philosophical rebirth (as in the Goldwater nomination and campaign of 1964), but it is also a sign of a party likely to lose the next general election. ...
I don't have a candidate yet. I either disagree with each on important points or have doubts about the electability of each. But most of all, I fear our intraparty fury will destroy all leaders and send us off to a brokered convention -- and from thence, probably to defeat. If the Democrats have their candidate by February and we are campaigning harshly until August, we surely would start in a deep hole.
Conventional wisdom says that not knowing who your candidate is until August would be way bad. But what the GOP needs is to generate interest and enthusiasm. The only Republican signs or bumper stickers I see these days, and only a couple of those, are Ron Paul stickers. He is the only guy people are not afraid to say they support, because he's not a mainstream Republican. Republican voters are laying low and staying quiet. Concentrating people's attention to the last few months of the campaign year, which is really when a lot of people start paying attention anyway, could be just what the GOP needs. All the enthusiasm is on the other side right now, but we are a long way from the election. Like heading into the playoffs, you want your team to be peaking at the right time, and by August won't we have already heard and seen more than enough of the Clintons?
Tony B. and I don't have a candidate yet. I would rather wait for a good one, tempered and molded by the process, than to try to coalesce around a bad one just to have it done.