Back in 2012, the "smart" conservatives told us that we needed a candidate without charisma
(Charles Krauthammer). A good, solid governor
Well, it turns out the current diagnosis of why Romney lost was that he wasn't likable enough. That's what the FoxNews panel of George Will, Steve Hayes, Mara Liasson and Charles Krauthammer said Friday.
Apparently, Barack Obama won over Mitt Romney because he was more likable. Charles Krauthammer said the exit polling was 82% for Obama being more likable and only 18% for Romney. Then why did Obama win by only 2.8%?
[My own view is that Obama won because he got a lot more liberals to turn out
than their actual national percentage (21%) and conservatives turned out 5% lower than their national percentage (40%). In other words, lack of revving up the base was Romney's problem--not likability.]
The panel all agreed that the candidate who wins in 2016 will have to win the likability race or at least be the person voters would feel most comfortable sitting down and talking to. Voters feeling that the candidate is "someone who understands my problems" is regarded as a critical issue.
I'm going to go against them all. I think likability will win nothing--just as lack of charisma won nothing in 2012.
Assuming the Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton, Republicans will need a candidate with pizzazz. Someone who strikes a chord of excitement. In my view that puts four candidates out in front:
* Sarah Palin (great speaker, able to summarize issues in pithy statements, first woman president, only one to have run in a national campaign)
* Ted Cruz (good speaker, very smart, first Hispanic president)
* Marco Rubio (reasonable speaker, first Hispanic president)
* Ben Carson (reasonable speaker, very smart, likable, and second black president)
Strikes against both Carson and Carly Fiorina (who some have talked up) is that neither has won a political race of any kind let alone a major race. But, there is the Eisenhower precedent of a political novice winning in modern times.
Scott Walker and Rand Paul are both fine men. Paul is a more fiery speaker than Walker, but I can't see either of them trumping the romantic idea of electing Hillary Clinton as the first woman president. I know, I know, that the first black president has been a bust. But, the romantic image of electing a first remains.
Hillary will also have on her side the Clinton reputation of moving toward the middle and being able to work with Congress. So, I don't think she will be seen as such a serious danger as Obama was in 2012. Still Obama was able to win because Romney-Ryan didn't inspire conservatives. And she won't have to carry the full load of Obama's failures. She can paint herself as having an alternative agenda.
The Republican candidate will not only carry the weight of running against the mainstream media, he or she will have the anchor of stupid conservative commentators who constantly bash conservative candidates who the Republican establishment doesn't like. Sometimes they do it because it wins plaudits from those with media or money power. Sometimes they do it because they have another favorite. None of them seems very bright about supporting all the conservatives, and letting the voters pick the winner.
Though Palin is at the top of my list as the person best able to defeat Hillary Clinton by sidelining the romance of the first woman president, conservative commentators have stupidly attacked
her enough that they along with the mainstream media will probably make it impossible for people to see the true Sarah Palin.
If 2016 is lost, it will be because Republican and conservative leaders have shown themselves not only incompetent at uniting the conservative base, but actually some of the best instruments at dividing and destroying it.