GOP 2012: Worst Candidate Batch Ever?

Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past inactive to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.

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33 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    Between this and the Happy Xmas over at Dutch Courage, you are on a roll.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    I caucused for Gravel.

    They broke my group apart because it had only one person in it.Report

  3. Liberty60 says:

    “To know him is to love him.  To get to know him any better than that is to hate him.”

    OK,  thats pretty good. As they say on your planet-

    Heh Indeed!Report

  4. b-psycho says:

    Back when I thought this stuff made some difference I never paid much attention to background experience.  Just who came closest to representing me, period.  Executive experience, legislative, whatever.  Who supports people on experience grounds who crap all over their issues anyway?Report

    • Murali in reply to b-psycho says:

      errm, a lot of Singaporeans do, I believe.Report

        • Murali in reply to b-psycho says:

          Pretty much. I suppose many hold their noses because the opposition is just worse, (but the Worker’s Party managed to hold on to one single seat constituency and gained one Group representative constituency) That brings the number of opposition voices in parliament up to an all time high since indepedence of 6 out of 88Report

          • b-psycho in reply to Murali says:

            Why, in your opinion?  Do they just reason there’s no hope in their views being represented anyway#, or are they intentionally ranking an air of competence over seeking actual representation?

            (# – funny thing, that conclusion. Once I reached it I stopped voting for any reason beyond local ballot initiative, on which at least I am directly speaking for myself.)Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to b-psycho says:

      Ideology is overrated, Mr. Psycho. In fact, too much of it is a hindrance to good government.  Bill Clinton was a good president precisely because of his competence and ability to swallow his ideology and work with Congress.  We got lucky in 1992, that a typically thin field vs. a sitting incumbent yielded a guy who could actually do the damn job.

      I adored Bob Kerrey [whose candidacy went nowhere], and have a soft spot for Jerry Brown [I voted for him in the last CA governor election vs. a vastly unqualified Republican], but the 1992 Dem field was nothing to brag about, and Jerry Brown’s mercurial addiction to ideas is reminiscent of Newt’s.

      The 1996 GOP field is perhaps the worst of all in recent memory. [I was an Alexander man.]  After Buchanan won New Hampshire, the party rallied around Dole to avoid a down-ticket meltdown ala Goldwater 1964, fully knowing he couldn’t beat Clinton.

      Not that it’s unimportant, but ideology is the last thing I vote.  As noted in the OP, 90% of life is showing up, and 90% of the presidency is non-ideological, just American, just a question of competence and all that entails.  The OP was an attempt at objectivity sans ideology: It’s not impossible for an inexperienced pol to be a good president, but it’s damned unlikely.  It’s a hard goddam job, the world’s hardest.

      Think of it this way: Michael Jordan, one of the world’s most superlative athletes, tried his hand at professional baseball.  He did well enough, I suppose, but not really all that well.



  5. Katherine says:

    First comparison is messed up because you’re only doing it on the basis of experience.  The problem with this set of GOP candidates isn’t inexperience, it’s that they keep saying crazy things and/or have no discernible principles.  Obama didn’t have a lot of experience when he was running, but he was intelligent and knowledgable and showed a high degree of common sense and understanding of the issues.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Katherine says:

      Katherine, your opinion is based on BHO 2008’s talk, which sounded reasonable to you.  If there’s one thing we agree on around here, it’s the gulf between campaign rhetoric and performance in office.  Anyone can talk a good game.

      That Candidate Obama’s campaign rhetoric was more convincing than Candidate McCain’s is not in dispute here: the American people are the arbiter of that, and gave BHO 53%.

      For the record, I have never bemoaned America’s decision in 2008 as unreasonable, the cranky old white guy who couldn’t talk his way out of a paper bag vs. a chance to repudiate our disgraceful racial history by electing a black man with the visceral appeal of a John F. Kennedy to boot, handsome, articulate.

      As a partisan meself, I admit I’d probably vote for the equally underexperienced Marco Rubio, a first-term senator, even over the competent Bill Clinton.  I dig Marco’s rap, bigtime.  But there is no way I could defend that vote in a forum like the LoOG, which prides itself on reasonableness, or did at one time.  I’d be rationalizing my way all the way to the ballot box.

      And for the record—again—I could never vote for Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain or Ron Paul over Barack Obama [and mebbe not Newt Gingrich].  I love my country too much, far more than my party. Competence counts.  I think Obama stinks on ice, but Newt is an even bigger stinker.Report

      • BSK in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        True, but is it fair to compare someone who has been President, and thus had the opportunity to abandon his platform, with someone who is only platform at this point? An apples-to-apples comparison would look at them in the same context, either where thynstood during the primaries or what came to pass afterwards. The 08 Dems have had almost 4 hard years to fuck up, which is entirely too long to give a politician and not expect them to seize the day!Report

        • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BSK says:

          BSK, I acknowledged infra that BHO has been president now for 4 years, and cannot be compared apples-to-apples to Romney.

          [Not Romney-Obama 2012. President Obama knows where the White House bathrooms are now, and this is no small thing.]

          On the other hand, we would never toss an incumbent if that were the only criterion.  But I give our presidents a lot of respect: JFK said something like you cannot judge a man if you haven’t sat in the Big Chair yrself.  The reality of it is surely numbing.

          My thx for your courteous and substantive replies on this thread.Report

          • BSK in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            I was more getting at the inherent difficulty/impossibility of comparing the known and unknown. We cant’t unknow what we already know about Obama and, intentional or not, that is going to indluence our assessment. It reminds me of sports when people compare rookies to establisfed guys. Rooks and prospects are all potential; and while we may know academically the likelihood od unrealized potential, we all tend to assume that they willnreach their ceiling, which is rare.

            I think there is also a difference between perception and reality with candidates. Obama paintes an impressive figure to most… He was tall, in shape, relatively young, a great orator… All things people go gaga for. I had/have questions myself about his experience, but most ignored that. Romney himseld has a lot of ‘presidentiality’ about him and I think both candidates presented as stronger than reality would dictate.

            I’d give the nod to the Dems only because I think Hillary was the best of all of them and by a wide margin (though Huntsman intriques me but I just dont’t know a lot about him). And the Dem race quickly became a two horser with both candidates being serious contenders, though I might being falling victim to the same hindsight bias I described above.

            Or maybe I’m thinking too seriously about what was mainky a humorous post. Probably the sports fan in me.Report

      • Katherine in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        True, candidates lie and dissemble in primaries.  In the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton and Obama were motivated to demonstrate intelligence and understanding of the issues, and largely did so.  In the current Republican primary (and the 2008 one), candidates are motivated to show their loyalty to the base, leading to Romney warmongering not only against Iran but against Venezuela and Cuba, supporting torture, and pledging to double Guantanamo.  Whether he’ll actually start wars, reinstitute torture or double Gitmo may be another matter, but I’d rather err on the side of caution and assume he’d do it if it got votes, as “votes” seems to be his sole motivating factor thus far.

        Given the choice between a primary in which the candidates are compelled by voter preference to demonstrate intelligence, and one in which they are compelled to demonstrate madness, I would consider the former to be better.Report

        • wardsmith in reply to Katherine says:

          Katherine, you bring up some good points, but I wonder how much of the GOP primary thrust is due to the kinds of questions they were asked in the multitudinous debates? I believe voters would prefer intelligence too, but the questioning and dissembling got off on the one foot and never seems to have recovered. The “debate” between Huntsman and Gingrich at least had intelligent discussion but as a debate it was a bit of a snoozer.Report

  6. BSK says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot recently be about the “ideal” experience a President would have. Policy is a larger concern, mind you, but experience often directly relates to the ability one has to see his policies through. My primary thoughts have been on thdifference between Congresspeople and Governors, especially since these are the two primary pools it seems candidates come from. On the Congresspeople’s side, you have their experince in Washington, working at the federal level. For governors, you have experience as an executive. I’m leaning toward the latter more recently, not because of any specific, real world issue, but just because that seems to be right. The same sentiment seems to be advocated here. I’m curious what the historic data says… Which group has fared better as president? I’m too young to have a sample size of in-the-moment knowledge to prove worthwhile, so I’m curious what the elder gents and ladies think?

    I’m also curious about how VPs fare, since it would seem they’d habe a blendod the two…Report

    • Kolohe in reply to BSK says:

      Even if you just go with the on paper consensus opinions, it’s a mixed bag. Since the birth of the ‘modern’ presidency (FDR):

      VP – Bush Sr., Nixon, LBJ, Truman.

      Governor – Bush Jr, Reagan, Clinton, Carter, FDR,

      Congresscritter (w/o any of the above) – Obama, JFK, Ford

      None of the above – Ike.

      While there’s definitely some intrinsic factors, there’s also a whole lot of extrinsic factors that determine whether or not a Presidency is ‘successful’ .  That said, a good deal of the success in one’s job (as in life and love) – comes from having the ability to not fish up a good thing.



    • Kim in reply to BSK says:

      About two or three governors actually do things. Texas (by virtue of their legislatures working 25% of the time or so…) and California (by virtue of their legislature being completely incompetent and overruled by the voters).

      Ideal “experience” is LBJ. Because he had a shit-ton of “paybacks” all racked up, and twisted gadzillions of arms to get his way.

      Hillary didn’t have that, Obama didn’t have that.

      I want someone smart enough to know how to cut deals, at an advantage and at a disadvantage.

      Many corporations can get you that, many professions…Report

  7. Mike says:

    Romney may lose the nomination, but it’s easy to see how he can’t win election.

    All Obama has to do is run enough ads of “In his own words” items from Romney previously, and the right-wing kook Tea Party base – which is all that’s left of the Republicans thanks to 4 years of “RINO Hunting” – stays home on election day.

    Obama, unlike Romney, won’t even have to blatantly lie about the clips to do it. All he needs is this right here contrasted with Romney’s current words.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Mike says:

      This seems to me to be Romney’s biggest problem (aside from being a Mormon in a party with a strong evangelical base). Whatever points he gets for competence and managerial success are compromised by his constant shape-shifting. I doubt he believes much of what comes out of his mouth–he’s just saying it to appeal to the Republican base. He’d be much more at home, and much more honest, if most of the Republican base were composed of businessmen and technocrats as opposed to religious social conservatives.


  8. Patrick Cahalan says:

    Well done, Mr. Van Dyke.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!Report

  9. North says:

    I’m amused. Happy holidays to you TVD.Report

  10. Paul says:

    3 years POTUS trumps Mitts 4 yrs Gov.Report

  11. Thanks-a-mundo for the blog article. Wonderful.Report