The politicians are beginning to shuffle into place for next year’s presidential contest. (Or out of place: Haley Barbour announced this week that he won’t try for the Republican nomination.) So whom do we have?
We have Barack Obama. I see no sign that anyone in his own party will challenge him. This might change. This time next year, with unemployment at fifty percent, the dollar trading at par with the Laotian kip, and Chinese landing craft coming ashore on Guam, things might be different, but let’s go with what we currently have.
The field to ponder is therefore the GOP presidential field. Herewith some notes:
The National Question. I don’t want to end up having to vote for a candidate who is squishy on the National Question. This primarily involves matters of immigration, citizenship, and border control, but also issues relating to national cohesion—race preferences, multiculturalism, and maintaining English as our single national language.
Taking immigration policy as the main index here, it looks as if I’m out of luck. None of the 2012 hopefuls rated by NumbersUSA gets better than a B-minus on immigration, and the median there is a D.
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson hasn’t made it to the NumbersUSA list yet (he only declared last week), but to judge by his National Review interview, he’s an immigration dim bulb who thinks the main problem is that it’s too hard for foreigners to get work visas and that “it’s not a matter of welfare.” (Oh, no?)
Johnson’s published policy statements are even worse than that, calling for “a temporary guest worker program that makes sense.” Hoo-kay, Governor—here are 13 current guest-worker programs, by visa category:
F-1: Student temporarily employed
H-1B: Occupations with specialized knowledge
H-2A: Seasonal, agricultural
H-2B: Seasonal, non-agricultural
H-3: Trainees (other than medical or academic)
J: Interns, au pairs, etc.
L: Intracompany transfers
O-1: Persons of extraordinary achievements
O-2: Persons assisting an O-1
P-1: Athletes & entertainers
P-2: Artists on reciprocal exchange programs
P-3: Artists performing culturally unique programs
Q-1: Cultural exchange training
If you throw in borderline categories such as crew members in transit (D visa), religious workers (R), foreign nationals’ domestic staff (B-1), media and journalist folk (I), and some others, the count goes over twenty…but let’s settle on those thirteen existing guest-worker visas. What about this list does not make sense?
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who hasn’t declared but might yet run, is just as clueless. We need “a path to citizenship,” he says. Yo, Governor: We already have one. I trod it.
Donald Trump throws his hair in the ring. Trump’s come in for a lot of mockery since he announced his run. I just saw Charles Krauthammer sneering at him on the O’Reilly show. “Not a serious candidate….”
When you look at how we’ve been served by people whom Krauthammer presumably considered to have been serious candidates, this doesn’t seem like much of an argument.
There was, for example, the guy who got us into two pointless, endless wars, vastly expanded Medicare when it was already clear entitlements were going to bankrupt us, threw the nation’s borders wide open, and passed the silliest piece of social legislation in the republic’s history. Was he a serious candidate? I don’t recall Krauthammer saying otherwise.
Was Barack Obama a serious candidate in ‘08, with his lengthy and challenging experience of [sound of crickets chirping] and his striking achievements in the field of [more crickets]?
Coping with catastrophe. Given that the USA will almost certainly face a humongous economic catastrophe in the next five years, who would best be able to cope with it?
I’m not sure this is an answerable question. Told in 1928 that there was an economic catastrophe on the horizon and then asked which public figure would best handle it, a high proportion of Americans pointed to the brilliant, industrious, experienced, omni-capable, and definitely very serious Herbert Hoover, the most respected man in public life at the time. (One of the few dissenters was the unfoxable Calvin Coolidge, who called Hoover “Wonder Boy.”)
But if Hoover was overwhelmed by the Great Depression, so was FDR, whose policies did very little to ameliorate it. Perhaps when disasters of this magnitude strike, there is nothing anyone can do but flail about ineffectually.
Mitt Romney. Dear old Mitt. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Tim Pawlenty. The ex-Governor of Minnesota is an honest working-class lad who ran a good tight ship but is off-putting in a number of ways. There’s that “Tim” for starters. George Orwell, née Eric Blair, once said it took him thirty years to get over being named “Eric.” It might take me at least that long to get used to “President Tim.” There’s that Midwestern niceness, too. Midwesterners are so damn nice, it’s impossible to dislike them. I like them immensely—real Americans, the salt of the earth. But do I want my nation’s affairs in the hands of someone that nice? I’m not sure I do.
Then there’s the evangelical thing. Certainly a man’s entitled to his religion, and on social and fiscal matters the evangelical heart is in the right place. But the evangelical temperament seems inimical to sensible foreign policy. Michael Brendan Dougherty hints at this in the current (June 2011) issue of The American Conservative:
Asked about the multiplication of American obligations around the world, [Dr. Richard] Land [of the Southern Baptist Convention] quotes the Gospel coolly: “To whom much has been given, much shall be required.” America is a blessed nation and must be a blessing to others.
Uh-oh. Similarly for Huckabee, Palin, and Bachmann.
Pawlenty and Bachmann, however, are up at the top of the NumbersUSA rankings on immigration policy, so perhaps they recognize some limits to the sacrifices Americans should be forced to make on the heathen’s behalf.
Newt Gingrich. I find it really, really hard to imagine myself pulling the lever for Barack Obama, but…not impossible.
Ron Paul‘s in. Well, at least to the extent of having formed an “exploratory committee” this past Tuesday.
This is great news—a candidate worth voting for. Paul would eliminate some of the myriad federal agencies, perhaps even entire departments. He is the only candidate who has ever openly questioned why we keep 52,000 troops in Germany and 36,000 in Japan, or why our government has one agency (the Federal Reserve) empowered to buy bonds issued by another (the US Treasury), or why my income is any of the government’s business.
Paul is a libertarian and therefore suspect on the National Question. He seems more sensible than most of that ilk, though, at least to judge by the interview he gave to VDARE in the 2008 election. Sure, he’s old, but not as old as Konrad Adenauer.
Paul is my guy, though I should brace myself for the flood of angry stories about how his dentist’s cousin’s babysitter once sat on a park bench next to a member of the John Birch Society.
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