GOP presidential candidates have pluses and minuses,
but are better than what we've got
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Monday morning. The United States government has reached its $14.294 trillion debt ceiling, and civilization-as-we-know-it may be coming to an end. About time.

In an effort to create a better, more fiscally responsible civilization before we really have a debt problem, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says that any deal to increase the ceiling will have to include spending cuts that are larger than the amount of the debt-ceiling increase.

This tough but necessary plan allows the government to avoid default on its current debt while preventing greater debt. So let's wish Rep. Ryan well while moving on to another, related subject today the 2012 presidential election.

We hear some pundits and members of the media bemoaning the fact that the Republicans haven't yet chosen a viable candidate. Isn't that what primaries are for? It's early, folks.

We hear complaints about the "weakness of the field," and the longing for "someone else" someone who has made it clear he isn't running (Congressman Ryan, Sen. Marco Rubio, Govs. Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal) or "a fresh new face." (Like Obama's was? Have we learned nothing?!)

Others are mourning the early loss of their favorites. Mike Huckabee announced that "all the factors say go, but my heart says no." Thank you, Huckabee's heart. Donald Trump says his heart is in the private sector. Sit, Trump's heart, stay.

Huckabee's evangelical crusade forced Mitt Romney out of the 2008 race, which he might have had a better chance to win than John McCain. It's possible, though, that no Republican could have prevailed over the media's Obama-worship; some lessons are only learned the hard way.

Having proved they aren't racist, responsible media and the majority of voters may now be looking for someone who can deal with the end-of-civilization thing.

I still think Mitt Romney's the best choice on economic issues, but his speech last week about Romneycare was the exact wrong way to address that concern.

Most Romney-leaners I know, both the politically involved and casual observers, saw clearly that he needed to disown, if not the original "personal responsibility" health care plan, at least its actual enactment, with its still-uncontrolled costs, overused emergency rooms, and freeloading patients from other states. He needed to say, "I'm in the best position to have learned what not to do on health insurance."

If Mitt has to fear appearing a flip-flopper, so does Newt Gingrich. Maybe it is just his naturally professorial interest in trying out new ideas, but you never know where he's coming from. He was right to say, as Romney did, that universal coverage requires an individual mandate; but calling Ryan's essential Medicare reform proposal "radical" hurts the overall saving-civilization project.

Pundit Peggy Noonan observes that while Gingrich appears over-the-hill to longtime voters, he's a "new face" to young voters who weren't around during his heyday as architect of the last major Washington revolution. Certainly, Newt has retained a certain immaturity since that aborted effort.

Conservatives who fantasize that a Republican can win on right-wing social issues may choose among Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum. Already announced candidates Tom Miller and Vern Wuescher are the "not a politician" candidates. Need more diversity? Fred Karger is a gay Jewish Republican activist.

Never heard of some of these candidates? It's early, folks.

I'm especially interested in two announced libertarian candidates, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson; they'll add value to the campaign season just by explaining libertarian philosophy to Americans who, now facing the end-of-civilization thing, might be open to new ideas.

My partner Chip Ford was Ron Paul's New Hampshire driver during his 1988 presidential campaign; he has long considered Paul "his" congressman, since he doesn't have one here.

My friend John Cunningham, who moved to Albuquerque in 1990, doesn't like politicians, but when I called him about Gary Johnson, he enthusiastically endorsed the former New Mexico governor.

Like Romney, Gov. Johnson had to deal with a Democratic Legislature, also didn't raise taxes and supported tax cuts. Cunningham said he's an honest, likable, unassuming, self-made millionaire who used 750 vetoes to balance his state budget during his eight years in office.

Those of us who are in love with Chris Christie, New Jersey's governor, might like Gary Johnson for some of the same reasons, primarily his authenticity. I watched the recent Fox presidential debate to see him, but it was the worst-run debate ever. Each candidate was asked a different question, so there was no way to compare them. Johnson and Herman Cain came across well, though.

Two others, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, also have good taxpayer and management reputations and are being urged to run. Some activists are hoping to see Congressmen Allen West (Florida) and Michele Bachmann (Minnesota) enter the race, though I'd rather keep them in the House, and other potential candidates Lindsay Graham and Jim DeMint, in the Senate.

Republicans controlled all three branches before and let us down. But we know that the Democratic Party won't solve the national debt problem.

We deficit hawks eagerly await the emergence of a Republican candidate who might lead us to a better civilization.

So are a lot of liberals and public employee unions. And in the past, they have usually gotten their way.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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