Who can beat Obama? That seems to be the most important question during the race for the Republican nomination. Although the question has remained the same, the answer has changed with each debate and/or state contest.
Who can beat Obama? The pretty ones
First up to bat was the Tea Party darling, Michele Bachmann. Mrs. Bachmann has an undisputable record as a champion of conservative issues. Her record in the private sector is one to admire by any standard. Yet, her popularity dwindled with every new flavor of the day – and there were many. While Bachman was a competent competitor, she never seemed to be able to generate the interest necessary at this level of campaigning. One can only speculate as to why. It is this reporter’s sad opinion that Michele Bachman was simply too attractive to be taken seriously. Hillary Clinton never had Bachman’s problem of breaking through the glass ceiling, but of course Hillary Clinton never had Bachman’s looks either. It may be that a double-standard regarding the sexes is still alive and well today, albeit in a more stealth fashion. The color of one’s skin may not be a factor in judging one’s abilities in the new millennium, but we still seem to be a long way from judging according to one’s character.
First to steal Mrs. Bachman’s thunder was Governor Rick Perry – a pretty boy to be sure. However, this seems to be an acceptable image for men – the double standard strikes again. However, even Perry’s good hair couldn’t overcome his poor debating skills and foolish answers. Surprisingly, the successful Governor of Texas fizzled almost as quickly as he sizzled.
Always in the back wings, was Senator Santorum – as solid and consistent a conservative as Michele Bachmann. Mitt Romney stole the thunder of his Iowa victory, and no one seemed to take him seriously. Iowa seemed to be anomaly overshadowed by the statuesque Romney and bullish Gingrich. Poll after poll confirmed that either of these two establishment giants were the most likely to beat Obama. But Santorum proved over and over again that he could hold his own in a debate and his conservative credentials seem to be unassailable.
No one could have anticipated the impact of Herman Cain. A straight-talking intellectual giant, as accomplished as Romney in the private sector but with a whole lot more substance. With a few debates under his belt, Cain rose to the top of the primary food chain – not a bad place for a pizza entrepreneur to be. The media tried to resist his appeal but didn’t quite know how to handle this charismatic candidate. Silly attacks were made against his abilities, but Americans were buying none of it. At last a glitch appeared in the pizza man’s armor and the politically inexperienced Cain handled it poorly. To America’s dismay, another champion of the people bit the dust.
Romney and Gingrich duke it out
If the electorate was looking for the “image” of a perfect president, Romney would be a shoe-in with any casting director worth their salt. Poised and perfect in appearance and demeanor, this well-groomed centrist seemed to be the country’s best hope for beating Obama – at least that’s what the polls indicated. The sexist double-standard strikes once again. While Bachmann’s looks may have been her greatest liability, Romney’s looks may have been his greatest asset. Additionally, his private sector record impressed the job-weary America. Romney certainly knew how to raise money. Even though his job creating record as a public servant was non-existent, the public believed he knew how to create jobs. The Romney image-making machine once again trumped reality. But image can only take you so far when you have a vigilant attack dog like Newt nipping at your heals.
Romney’s popularity was overshadowed by Newt’s quick wit, which catapulted Newt into the lead and oddly enough contributed to Newt’s downfall as well. America fantasized over a Gingrich/Obama debate where the champion of conservatism would wipe the proverbial floor with the stammering elitist. South Carolina fed the short-lived fantasy, but Florida decimated it. On national television America watched their heroic wordsmith crumble at the hands of the image progenitor. Quick wit is a good thing but self-control is essential. Newt proved he had one but not the other. While Newt did his best to travel the high road, he unfortunately found enough mud there to smear his own campaign.
Knowing he needed a boost, Newt turned to trying to inspire with big ideas. Big ideas can be inspiring but only if those big ideas are practical as well. Instead of inspiring, his big ideas made him look foolish. Additionally, Newt’s big ideas added to the realization that he is loose cannon of sorts that can explode in any direction at any time.
The question of whether or not Newt could beat Obama may have been answered in the Florida debate. Neither his quick wit, nor his big ideas could save his campaign. If Newt couldn’t beat Romney, America knew that it was unlikely that he could beat Obama. America’s lofty champion of conservatism began looking more like a junk yard dog than a giant slayer.
America’s two favorite sons battled it out in the media and in debates, rendering both candidates less than admirable warriors who could triumph over the elitist in the White House. The question still to be answered: who can beat Obama?
Ron Paul’s failing
Can Ron Paul beat Obama? There are many who think he can. Regardless of what you think about the man, his passion and knowledge about the Constitution is second to none. One of his greatest pitfalls, in my not-so-humble opinion, is that during his long career in Congress, he managed to pass only one insignificant bill that he authored. Leadership is an important quality for any president to posses, and whether you think Paul is insane or a genius, his record has proven that he is not a leader.
Rick Santorum emerges
Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 concentrated on the question of who can beat Obama. As the campaign progressed America was settling down to a more important question. Payback to the elitists running Washington is enticing. But someone with the ability to pull the country back onto the right track is significantly more important. If cream always rises to the top, then Santorum may well be the cream of the crop.
It is indisputable that the country is craving and needs a candidate who can beat Obama, and it would be very invigorating if that candidate could wipe the proverbial floor with him in a debate as well. However, many understand that the damage done to this country goes far beyond economics; a great deal of it can be attributed to ideology. The very heart and soul of America has been systematically torn apart.
Of course electing someone who can beat Obama is imperative. But it is also imperative that that someone be able to pick up the pieces and start putting this great republic back together. This person must be able to handle himself under pressure and win a debate. Santorum has proven he can do that. This person must be able to work with both sides of the aisle and actually accomplish something. Santorum has proven he can do that. This person must also understand that our rights come from God and not from government. Santorum understands that. This person must be able to generate their base. The media doesn’t believe Santorum can do that. I do. I believe he can do that because he is both substantive and articulate. I believe he is a consistent conservative and doesn’t say what you want to hear just to win a few votes. I believe he knows how to fight and keep his cool at the same time. I believe he understands America’s role in a global community and will not sacrifice our sovereignty to maintain our security but will maintain our security in the process none-the-less.
With characteristics like those why hasn’t Santorum peaked until now? Perhaps we needed time to sort out what we wanted as opposed to what we needed. My only fear is that America will resort to electing an image without substance, as it did back in 2008. The Bible says that in the last days there will be those who have the appearance of godliness but deny its power (2 Tim 3:5). We are admonished to have nothing to do with them. The many ministers who have endorsed Santorum seem to have embraced this admonition. The fate of America may lie in our ability to do the same.
Can Santorum beat Obama? The media may have its opinion, the pundits may have much to say. But the truth is that anyone can beat Obama if the American people step up to the plate on November 6th and cast their vote for ABO (Anyone But Obama).
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