Saturday, January 12, 2013

Leader of the opposition

Ed Morrissey of HotAir writes a couple of interesting columns on who will be the de facto leader of the Republicans. He correctly points out that Boehner and McConnell will be too busy and too tainted with deal-making, so he offers these names:
  1. Rand Paul
  2. Bobby Jindal
  3. Rick Perry
  4. Marco Rubio
  5. Chris Christie
These are mostly good picks in that they're likely to be visible leaders, if not the leader. (It makes me wonder who was the leader from 2009 to 2011 when the primaries started. Critics say it was Rush Limbaugh, and maybe it was. Luckily not anymore.)

Rand Paul is certainly going to be the leader of the small-government libertarian pack. He has stayed almost constantly true to those principles. However, the libertarians aren't the dominant force in the GOP, so he couldn't be the dominant leader. His small-military views just aren't popular with most of the GOP, and they can't overlook that.

Bobby Jindal bucked a fair amount of the 2012 losing rhetoric, so it seemed that he was trying to make a name for himself as an intelligent reformer of the GOP. As a moderate, I like that, but I don't know if enough Republicans feel that way. Certainly the noisy ones don't. Nonetheless, he deserves to be on this list right now, but he could easily fall off by going too far or not far enough.

Rick Perry doesn't deserve to be on this list. He was a laughable candidate in 2011. Maybe the pain meds have worn off, but you can't fix stupid. He gives every indication of having been briefed on all of his opinions, rather than mulling them over and developing his own ideas. I think he's someone's marionette. If he can become a national leader, then I don't know anything about American politics.

Marco Rubio is certainly running for leader and running for president. However, Romney's campaign showed the weakness of choosing someone who is constantly running for office instead of being engaged in actual governing and problem-solving. Rubio is flash but no substance at this point. I don't think the GOP will go for a lightweight again.

Chris Christie has lately been reviled among many Republicans, so it's hard to imagine him rising above that to be a spokesman and leader of a large enough slice of the GOP. He's certainly got the verbal talent and a can-do record, but too many Republicans hate him right now, and that's not going to be easy to change.

Something missing from this list is the conservative-pragmatic governor archetype. I'm thinking Mitch Daniels, Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Rick Snyder. They've all dealt (cleaned up/reformed) at the state level with the kinds of problems the federal government faces--how to trim spending and reduce benefits for government workers without massive service cuts. Also important, they haven't tainted themselves with culture war rhetoric on abortion and contraception as Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has.

These governors are the solid, working leaders in each of their states, but who speaks for them nationally? If they did have a national champion, that would be a formidable leader. I'm going to be curious to see how this develops. The next few months will be worth watching.


Extra. Will we have new leaders in punditry? It's less important, but it would be such a relief.

Update 6/21/13. According to this column, Jindal has trotted out the typical GOP fallback position of bashing liberals. It looks like Jindal will put on any stance when it is expedient, including clear-eyed reformer. Too bad it was just an act.


Anastasios said...

Maybe part of the problem is that the national climate just is not conducive to someone who tries that kind of "pragmatic governor" approach. It seems that many of Christie's problems are due to acting like a pragmatic governor, and certainly it did not do Pawlenty much good. For that matter, many people thought that kind of approach would be precisely Romney's path to victory, and it just did not happen that way. On the Democratic side, Cuomo does not have that much love, either, although he does not inspire the opposition in the Democratic base that Christie gets from some in the GOP. Maybe GWB poisoned the well for that kind of approach. Maybe the locus of possibility has just moved away from governors - they just are not as powerful or important as they were even a few years ago.

One name missing from your list is Jeb Bush. If he was named Jeb Snodgrass then he would be a powerful contender. He may be yet. Interesting to say, and dispiriting too, that our next election may be between a Bush and a Clinton.

ModeratePoli said...

I'm not sorry about the absence of Jeb Bush. As I wrote here, I blame him in part for the mistaken election of George Bush in 2000.

What is positive about Jeb Bush? He didn't have a lasting effect on Florida. He isn't politically brave. It's hard for me to see what his contribution would be.

Anastasios said...

Oh, I do not particularly like the man either. But purely looking at it from the point of view of practical politics, he was a popular governor of a large swing state; had a reputation for competence whether deserved or not; has proven ability to reach out to Hispanics, albeit many of them Cubans and thus a special case; and is linked to the last reasonably successful GOP president. If it were not for the shadow of his brother, he could easily claim the de facto leadership of the opposition, if he wished to.