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APPROACH, POLICY AND IMAGINATION IN THE 2012 CAMPAIGN

February 23, 2012

APPROACH, POLICY AND IMAGINATION IN THE 2012 CAMPAIGN

I have often criticized republican candidates for their stands (?) on the issues and cannot (from my point of view) think of a single substantive issue that they have correctly articulated policy for thus far in their primary campaign. It occurs to me that there is a reason for their respective failures to discuss and come to stated conclusions on substantive issues – they are captive to the Tea Partiers, those of libertarian bent, moderate Northeast republicans, and a grouping of such disparate elements that the candidates cannot take a reasoned stand on any issue for fear of alienating one or more of such elements, each ready to pounce on any deviation from their particular vision of what policy should look like in this country.  Look at Romney, poor fellow; he will tell anyone what they want to hear. Newt gives us this PHD brilliant snob routine; Paul is playing John Wayne revisited with his prairie schooner thinking: and last, but not least, Rick Santorum, who is trying to substitute Roman monkish imagination for policy in a modern state. Presumably, since that is about all he talks about, if abortion and contraception become unknown, our budget deficits and other such problems may by way of divine intervention cease to exist as well. The candidates are united, of course, in their mantra for lower taxes for the rich and corporate class, but other than that, one searches in vain for substance in what they stand for. Santorum is pulling a P.T. Barnum of “There’s a sucker born every minute” fame. He is trying to substitute an APPROACH (I will say and defend what I believe) for SOLUTION to policy problems. One could rationally respond as follows: “Well, I am glad to hear that, Rick, but approach isn’t policy. What is your stand on real policy issues, and please, don’t run your answers through the culture war strainer. There are quite a few of us who still don’t see the connection between abortion and trade policy, for instance. Nor have we been able to see the connection between contraception and Greek bonds. Please tell us your positions on trade policy and bonds free of such irrelevancies. Those belong in a different context, like around the kitchen table, or in a confessional or in a shrink’s office. Quit trying to confuse us into voting for you. Talk real policy free of such diversions.”

It seems to me that these candidates (other than the libertarian, who has no chance but is in the game only to obtain delegates so that he can force the convention to adopt some of his libertarian planks into the republican platform – and who – almost incoherently, favors anarchy via statute and/or the repeal of statutes now in place designed to prevent anarchy) have huge problems to such an extent that a brokered convention may well be in the offing; but if so, how would even such a brokered candidate make, for instance, the Paul delegates happy? Likewise, how happy are republicans going to be in the fall when their candidate has been rejected (after all his efforts in running a campaign) in a “smoke filled back room” in favor of a new face for November? The party is in turmoil and its wounds are self-inflicted. As of this moment, it does not appear that any candidate they can put up, whether from the current crop of candidates or via a brokered convention, can win the presidency. Rank and file republicans deserve a better performance from their party than that. They have been shortchanged by the most juvenile and content-free primaries I have ever seen, and at 85 next month, I have seen a lot of them.  GERALD E

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