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Sat, 22 Jan 2011 22:25:53

What if someone threw an election and nobody came? That's the way things are shaping up for the presidential election of 2012. By this time in 2006, nine candidates had already signed up for the race. Today, no one has thrown a hat or bonnet into the ring. How come?

For the last year and a half, Barack Obama has been taking nothing but grief from both sides of the political aisle, culminating in the November bloodbath that drove his party to the back benches in the House and reduced them to a precarious majority in the Senate. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner made it clear at the beginning of the 111th Congress that their mission was to mark Obama as a one-term president. So why aren't the GOP frontrunners putting on the cross and leading the crusade? Let's take a look.

MITT ROMNEY - Since his failed attempt to the lead the party in 2008, Mitt has been developing tremendous lower-body strength backpedaling from all the positions that made him a reasonably successful governor of Massachusetts. Obamacare is a first cousin of the plan Mitt put together for his home state, and the Tea Party is never going to let him forget it. Mitt's going to run, no doubt about it, but he can't be happy with his latest polling numbers. A couple of months ago he was neck-and-neck with Obama, and now he has fallen six points behind. Anyway, with all the self-consciously professing Christians in the pack, it'll be nice to have a Mormon besides Glenn Beck to kick around.

MIKE HUCKABEE - Mike turned his 2008 run for White House into a mega-career. When he won the Iowa caucus, he catapulted himself from the ranks of hick governor who dabbles in rock 'n' roll into the stratosphere of Fox talking head, bestselling author and high paid motivational speaker, spreading his homely brand of genial, right-wing rhetoric. But Huck has a problem. In his own words, "I'm not going to run if I don't think I'm going to win." And the latest polls don't spell "winner." Like Romney, he's slipped from running head-to-head with the prez to the place horse five lengths behind. I hope he does run. He's the only bozo in that gaggle of boobs with a genuine sense of humor.

SARAH PALIN - Mama Grizzly, like The Huck, has done well for herself after John McCain did the country the unforgivable favor of elevating her to the VP slot. She is the darling of that 20 percent to 30 percent of the American public who would rather vote for Homecoming Queen or Perky Princess than president. They don't care that she quit being governor of Alaska on a whim, or that she's reckless, snide and paranoid-lite. That's what her followers like about her. The problem for Sarah is that a growing segment of the electorate doesn't like her and is losing trust in her as a potential leader. Sarah may be ignorant, but she's not dumb. She won't run, because she'll have to forgo making all that money, and in her heart, she knows that if she does grab the nomination she'll be crushed at the polls. That's bad for business, and The Winkie-Doll is all about business.
NEWT GINGRICH - The fact that The Newt is in contention for the nomination is proof positive of the ruinous state of affairs to which the Republican Party has sunk. Newt is a loose cannon from whose muzzle explodes a grapeshot of useful insights and megalomaniacal balderdash -- considerably more of the latter than the former. He crippled the GOP as House majority leader in the Clinton years and would lead them to ruin as a candidate in 2012. But, hey, if The Newt wants to diddle himself in the limelight and the GOP wants to court disaster, who am I to stand in the way?

TIM PAWLENTY - Polls show that people know little about T Paw because there's really not that much to know. He was re-elected governor of Minnesota in 2006 with 46 percent of the vote and has a book entitled "Courage To Stand" (does he have trouble standing?) that reached number 1976 on the Amazon bestseller list. Nuff said. Tim wants to cut Social Security and Medicaid, reinstate DADT, opposes gay marriage and thinks the Supreme Court got Roe vs. Wade all wrong. In other words, he is totally unelectable, which positions him as a frontrunner with all the other unelectables.

HALEY BARBOUR - What this pompous, antediluvian windbag does best is raise moolah for the party. He's the GOP's No. 1 money magnet and deserves all the perks the Republicans want to lay on him for sucking out the big bucks. But to encourage Haley to run for president is to court disaster. Do the Republicans really want him up there in the candidate debates waxing sentimental about the pre-civil-rights South and dismissing the oil sludge in the Gulf as "mousse?"

MIKE PENCE - Then there's this Indiana representative who describes himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order." He is the Tea Party's wet dream: a total white man who could double for Richard the Lionhearted in a Robin Hood sequel, a foreign policy super-hawk, a hard-liner on immigration, an opponent of stem cell research and the favorite son of the arch-conservative Value Voters Forum. He doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of of cadging a single Hispanic or African American vote, and he won't go down well with moderate independents, soccer moms, or anybody to the left of the militias and the birthers. But he looks good, speaks well -- he was a talk-show host in a former life -- and isn't burdened with a taste for irony or sense of humor. He could be the man to go up against the great Not-Me in the White House. We'll have to wait and see.

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