Ah. What a relief that the presidential candidacy announcement season is over. I’ve been acting like one of those guys who sits at a table with a bevy of beautiful women but still can’t help scanning the room to check out all the other tables.
As one of those who has been finicky in looking over the crop of GOP candidates, I’ve felt something, someone, has been missing, but I couldn’t say specifically what or who.
I’ve anxiously watched Chris Christie being wined and dined out of the corner of my eye. I say anxious, because no matter how much I adore his no-nonsense approach to combating naysayers, I have little faith that a Republican governor of New Jersey can be anything other than a centrist. (His endorsement today of Mitt Romney rather proves my point.)
Christie’s lurking presence distracted me not because I hoped he would saunter over and take a seat at my table, but because I worried he would. So I breathed a sigh of relief when Christie gave his final “no” and walked out of the room.
I’ve also watched people trying to drag Marco Rubio into the room by his arm. The Tea Party managed to select and elect a stalwart group of young conservatives that can form a powerful core to lead the legislative branch back to sanity. I do find Rubio a very attractive presidential possibility, but we can’t have our true conservatives abandon the Senate before we even gain a majority there.
Fortunately, the freshman Florida Senator put the kibosh on that, eloquently declaring last week that he wouldn’t even accept a VP offer for 2012. Bless him for that.
And then, there was the one I had been awaiting. As my dining companions have jostled for my attention, I kept rudely craning my neck every time Sarah Palin walked by. Here she comes! Maybe she’ll take a seat this time. Aw, there she goes. But she did wink as she passed! Here she comes again. Aw, there she goes. And so on.
The poor candidates already at the table vying for my affection could do little more than talk a little bit louder, be a little bit quippier, move a little bit righter, to try to get me to focus on them.
Therefore, it surprised me that I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I would be by Palin’s announcement that she would not run this time. She would make a superb president. But oh, what a battle that would have been.
The frenzy that the media would have gone into immediately to rip her to shreds would have been massive and passionate. The internecine war between the Tea Party and the Establishment GOP would have gone nuclear.
The 13-month fight to get Palin over the finish line would have been exhausting, and it would have sucked much of the oxygen out of the down-ticket races. Yet, with Palin now in the midst of the crowd with us instead of up on the debate stage, we have an exciting, unpredictable weapon in her to push for electing true conservatives.
All three, Christie, Rubio and Palin, seem to have found the right path for themselves and for us. With their announcements, they cleared the room of all the stragglers and re-considerers.
Now it’s just me and my table. The night is growing late. There’s no one left to distract me from giving my dining companions my full attention. It’s finally time to pit them against one another and choose my favorite from among them. They’re not all beautiful, but each does have attractive qualities.
With the 2012 election deciding the fate of our country, I don’t want to make a mistake and pick the wrong candidate. Therefore, I’m going to give them all a chance again, even those I’d previously knocked out of consideration (hint, hint, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson).
Herman Cain and Rick Perry will be under extra scrutiny now, because if they stay at the top of the pack, there’s no one new that can swoop in and bump them off the hill. I do hope that Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann can make a strong showing in the debate and move up in the set field. I think they got dismissed too early. It didn’t matter so much before because I was still hoping the perfect candidate would enter the race. But in the post-Christie, post-Rubio, post-Palin world, they might hold the best balance of qualities those candidates would have brought.
And if my wandering eye gets to itching, it turns out I can give a once-over to a bunch more declared GOP presidential candidates I’ve never heard of or have forgotten: Fred Karger, Andy Martin, Jimmy “The Rent Is Too Damn High” McMillan, Tom Miller, Buddy Roemer (yes, the former Democrat Governor of Louisiana) and Vern Wuensche.
So the Dartmouth debate will be a very important date. Each candidate has another chance to woo me. I’m looking to avoid the “dud” from the old board game Mystery Date.
I want a long-term plan, not some short-term stimulating fling. I’m not interested in someone who will beguile me with gifts and flattery or whisper sweet nothings in my ear. That’s how we got to where we are. I want a commitment to honesty and straight talk. No gamblers need apply. Baby does need a new pair of shoes, but rolling the taxpayer dice isn’t the way to get them.
All right, candidates, sweep me off my feet. I’m ready to be taken off the candi-date market. Let’s hear your best proposal.
Bonus: If the website links and debate performances still leave doubt on who is the best candidate, Reason Magazine has just hung out a matchmaker shingle to act as e-Harmony for the GOP with its Find Your True Love quiz.