The Republicans need much more than a rising White Knight

Another President Bush? This nightmare may have only just begun.

By Babak Moussavi

As the GOP presidential candidates continue to prove themselves woefully inadequate (except Ron Paul, who continues to prove himself woefully unelectable), speculation has grown that a so-called White Knight, might enter the fray to swoop up the nomination to challenge Barack Obama for the White House in November. I say it has “grown”, because it was always there, ever since people saw the calibre (if that is not an oxymoron) of the original crop of Republican would-be-Presidents. Mitt Romney, the establishment’s choice, has been an utter disappointment, flipping from his moderate clothing into a man who would bleat anything to be chosen, including, it seems that he and his wife drive four very large cars (beat that John Prescott!). As for the rest, even Karl Rove might find it hard to support them.

But what would be the point of the primary and caucus system if candidates can just jump in at the last moment, having acquired precisely zero delegates, avoided all scrutiny of their background and proposed policies, and having spent no money on advertising or campaigning? And would this not set a bad precedent?

It seems that this will only happen if none of the candidates pick up enough delegates to win the nomination outright at the Republican convention in August. If so, even Sarah Palin, perhaps upset that she has shifted so far from the limelight that people have finally begun to realise her complete irrelevance, has waded in suggesting she might “help” the Republicans, suggesting that an unclear verdict could be good for the competition and that she might jump in then. That undemocratic gambit would do wonders for the Republican cause, I am sure.

Yet, why do Republicans complain? Had they wished for a strong candidate who appeals to more than just one fringe of their diverse country, they should have fought hard against the takeover of the radicalism espoused by the Tea Party. Jon Huntsman, who 20 years ago might have seemed a fairly orthodox Republican, now appeared to be a RINO (Republican in Name Alone), unsubtle code for ‘closet liberal’. Newt Gingrich et al now appeared closer to the Republican norm, which seems to have a magnetic pull on Mr Romney’s opinions too.

For a start, Republicans should have made a concerted effort to isolate the influence of zealous lobbyists, in particular Grover Norquist, whose involvement has done nothing to further democratic decision-making, to the extent that he even cheered the collapse of the supercommittee, a bipartisan group that was allocated extraordinary powers to cut the national budget deficit. Its failure means swingeing cuts to domestic and military spending of $1.2 trillion will be enacted automatically from 2013. Perhaps if Republicans weren’t petrified of the negative publicity, and inevitable primary challenge that would come with not signing the unaccountable Mr Norquist’s pledge to not increase taxes, they might have more freedom to engage in that alien concept known as evidence-based policy. Furthermore, they might be more willing to sit and talk with Democrats and both parties might begin to see reason and re-learn how to work together. Then again, pigs might fly.

So now, we have a situation where the people who want to win the nomination have been shunted so far to the right that they probably can’t win the White House, but also can’t win the nomination itself as voters can’t quite distinguish them, or trust what they say, despite the various Super-PACs’ barrage of ‘attack’ adverts. Hence the growing calls for an untainted (and unscrutinised) White Knight. William Kristol, editor of the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, calls for Mitch Daniels to jump in and claim the crown. Others ask for Jeb Bush, a seemingly old-school conservative, former governor of Florida, and the ex-President’s brother. Just imagine if, after all the fuss about the Tea-Party, the Republicans end up with him.

Four more years of President Bush? This nightmare may have only just begun.


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