--Richard E. Vatz
Sorry for those of you who want the perfect candidate, but as was painfully evident tonight in the Republican debate on CNN, Gov. Mitt Romney is the only serious prospective Republican presidential hope. Want to argue that he was too liberal in governing Massachusetts? Stipulated. Want to argue that his health care program in Massachusetts, even conceding its lack of national adoption imperative, is government-controlled and appallingly wasteful (look at its psychiatric coverage -- oy)? Stipulated.
There is a process of elimination that is a practical necessity: Gov. Perry's knowledge of national issues is limited, and his support of illegal immigrants' educational benefits is itself sufficient to squash his chances. He lacks debating instincts when outside of Texas. Tonight he and Gov. Romney fought for the right of speaking time (Gov. Perry was in the wrong -- where was moderator Anderson Cooper?), but this was an unimportant sideshow, unlikely to affect either one's support or opposition.
Michelle Bachmann, a House member, knows her taxes and is no fool -- not enough. Rick Santorum is at 1%, and his claim that only he can be sure to carry Pennsylvania was simply sad; he should not be in these debates, although he is the only one who brings up critical family issues, such as the need to stigmatize voluntarily fatherless families.
Ron Paul is a very bright isolationist and hard conservative whose views are unacceptable to more than a tiny percentage of Americans. Newt Gingrich personifies why intelligence is insufficient to win presidential elections, but when historical governing issues come up in debates, such as President Reagan and the Iranians, he is unsurpassable.
Herman Cain is so likeable and attractive that no one seems to notice that he does not know the details of his own 9-9-9 plan and can only say to substantive criticisms of the plan, "Look at my website." If he weren't so easy on the ears, his consistent dodge of "apples and oranges" would have begun to make him an object of ridicule.
Gov. Romney would not make the best president of all Republicans, perhaps, but he is the only strong and potentially successful candidate in the Republican field.
If Romney does not get the Republican nomination, it will be due to a politically suicidal urge on the part of conservatives.
Prof. Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University and is author of The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion (Kendall Hunt, 2012)
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
--Richard E. Vatz