Friday, April 15, 2011

Republican Presidential Contenders Are Cowards

That's what Charlie Cook is saying in today's National Journal, cowards. I think he's probably right when he says:
Given the minefield of Washington politics, and all of the attention being paid to budget fights and the upcoming battle over the debt ceiling, Republican presidential candidates are probably better off lying low for now. They can allow the dust to settle before the press entourages form and start asking them to articulate a position on every issue in the news. Letting House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and their respective leadership teams walk point in these fights is not the worst thing for these contenders. They can talk later about what they would have done in the budget battles.
Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney have been playing a waiting game in order to avoid having to provide any leadership to their party or to Americans. In the last Presidential cycle, both Republican and Democratic fields were well defined by this point. Wesley Clark, the last potential serious candidate started dipping his toes in the Presidential campaign waters around April 2007. Every other candidate, Republican or Democrat in the 2008 cycle had already been out with their own policy proposals, trying to influence the national debate with their ideas by April 2007. Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are taking steps towards announcing that they are running, but honestly have not made an attempt to take a leadership role in the national debate. They'll be glad to follow the lead of Congressional Republicans until such time as they have a clearer idea of what sounds best in hindsight and has been tested in focus groups.

As a result of the hide-behind-Boehner strategy, Pawlenty and Romney are being overshadowed by an attention-grabbing waffler, Donald Trump. Mr. Trump is providing useful cover for the putative leaders of the Republican field, simply keeping headlines with "Romney" or "Pawlenty" from being on the page facing "Ryan's Folly." This is a great service to their campaigns, and Trump is a real mensch for deflecting attention away from the cowards waiting out the presidency. Of course, Trump is far from a selfless man, and he'll benefit immensley if any Republican candidate wins the presidency. He'll get to cash in health care insurance for the middle class on a giant check signed by one of the cowards he's helping overshadow.

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