" Richard Nixon famously said that Republican presidential candidates should run to the right in primaries, then to the center in the general election." But, Polman asks," What happens if they run so far rightward that the cede the center ?" He says" ...Obama may be vulnerable in 2012, but if Rick Perry and his rivals don't clamp down on the crazy talk, they may well blow it .'
Good advice from the center left.
Mark McKinnon, a strategist for George W Bush is quoted " Perry and company.....are pulling the primary contest so far to the right that the party will be far less attractive to the independent voters needed to win the general election." As a case in point, Polman says
"...only 36 % of independents are giving Obama a positive performance after he carried the group by 8 % in 2008 and it would appear these centrist votes are ripe for the taking. But, this is no way to win them over.........."
** Declaring that evolution is " just a theory that's out there."
** Insisting that the scientific consensus on climate change is " all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight."
** Decreeing that revenue increases of any kind are unacceptable under any and all circumstances, and signing a pledge to that effect
** Promising to fill all key Cabinet and executive jobs with foes of abortion, and signing a pledge to that effect.
** Asserting that " it's time for us to just hand America over to God and say,' God, you're going to have to fix this '"
** Announcing in a book that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional and should be scrapped
** Contending that gay Americans are " part of Satan."
** Dissing the Bush appointed Federal Reserve chairman as " treasonous."
** Insinuating that Obama is insufficiently American and insufficiently in love with America
Polman then begins to contrast that kind of rhetoric with Ronald Reagan. " Reagan," he says '".....did not talk like an extremist in 1980, in the mold of Bachmann or Perry. He had no interest in doubling down on crazy."
" Reagan didn't equate gay people with crazy, or talk about them much at all; two years earlier he had opposed an antigay California referendum.
Reagan didn't sign any pledges on abortion; he rarely mentioned abortion.
Reagan never signed any pledges never to hike taxes; indeed, as Governor he had repeatedly raised taxes.
Reagan didn't question Carter's patriotism
Reagan didn't declare he wanted to do away with Social Security and Medicare."
" By contrast," Polman says," the new Republican frontrunner is openly adamant about whacking those federal safety nets out of existence. It would be ffascinating to watch Perry, during the autumn 12 campaign, tout his stance on Social Security and Medicare to audiences in senior - heavy swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania. I also wonder whether his faith talk, his public willingness to name God as his Mr. Fix-It, would go down well in swing suburban enclaves, say Bucks County, Pa, where independents typically prefer their fixers composed of bodily flesh"
Polls show that independents want compromise, not ideological rigidity.
" See the problem?" Polman finishes. " The purity police, who long ago excommunicated Romney as a closet moderate, will abide no nuance in the Republican field. If they ultimately allow a beleaguered Obama to run free on center ground, they'll have only themselves to blame"
Now, I am no fan of the Inquirer and its Editorial page and no great fan of Polman's either. But, his column is a clear summary of the risk the GOP runs in the 2012 election....based upon a tragic misreading of the voters. We can win that election......but, as Polman candidly ( for a liberal ) points out we can surely lose it in spades and have no one to blame but ourselves.
The proof will be in some of the " shots " I will take for this post. They will be symptomatic.
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