I’ve always had a rule when thinking about presidential politics. It has kept me from the mindless speculation and useless musing that infects so many others, years from any serious vetting for an election.
The rule has been: We have a President.
Elections are meant to matter in a functioning democracy, and a national election for chief executive is meant to matter most of all. In 2012, the country voted to maintain in a position of leadership, Barrack Obama, and 2013 notes we are only in year one of a four year cycle in which the election results stand. The winner should be respectfully allowed to lead the country with the general support of the population, and without the whining and fawning over others who aren’t the elected leader. Its a democracy after all.
And yet, with this President, I find myself breaking my rule, whining about this leader and fawning over others who aren’t. The President’s unique style, so oxymoronically referred to as ‘leading from behind’, goes through me like fingernails on a chalkboard. Permit me a brief rant on this particular style. Promoting a huge increase in government stimulus spending, and when it fails to stimulate, suggest more stimulus. Passing a massive overhaul of healthcare that no one has vetted for value, much less read, then as it begins to fall apart before it has barely initiated, suggest no corrections other than further protections for your favorite government employees against its worst attributes, leaving the rest of the nation to fend for itself. Indicating the necessity for a more ‘humble’ position for the free world’s leadership in a dangerous world, then stand back as essentially every hot spot in the world progressively unravels in the vacuum of leadership you created. I could go on and on and on – but I already have so many times before. Thus the need to daydream about 2016. And I don’t mean longing for Hillary – please(!) .
Lets stay with the right side of the aisle, and as far away from Washington as possible. As much as the Capitol building is full of those that look in the mirror and see themselves as next in line to the throne, the missing factor needed to stabilize this wobbly republic is adult executive experience. The nation has a nearly fatal attraction to pop celebrities, but the hard work of effective leadership is more often than not learned in the nuts and bolts of state governance. Thankfully while the media attention has been on electing the One over the last two election cycles, some pretty effective governors have been showing the skill sets of leadership so absent at the nation’s capitol. I have no idea of whether any have actually given a run for President serious thought, but the list of those who deserve a look is extensive:
Mike Pence – Indiana Bobby Jindal – Louisiana Rick Snyder – Michigan Chris Christie – New Jersey Susana Martinez – New Mexico Tom Corbett – Pennsylvania Nikki Haley – South Carolina Rick Perry-Texas Scott Walker – Wisconsin
Each of these effective executives have shown skills that are sadly lacking in the current chief executive. Bobby Jindal is a truly visionary executive that understands how large bureaucracies work and can be effectively reformed. His national profile has suffered from his initial difficulties in the media spotlight, producing a bland caricature that has proved difficult to shake, but no one doubts his intellectual chops. Tom Corbett has propelled Pennsylvania into the fracking revolution, and along with North Dakota, made Pennsylvania a leader in the nation’s energy renaissance. Though not currently popular in his blue home state, the continuing juxtaposition of an energy successful Pennsylvania against a floundering New York, which has ignored its equal access to the Marcellus Shale, continues to impress. Nikki Haley has long been on list of up and coming female executives, promoting unwavering conservative fiscal policies, that continue to drive her southern state’s entrepreneurial attitude about economic vitality. Mike Pence has continued the revolution in state government management devised by his predecessor Mitch Daniels and has national government experience as a congressman known for secure principles not easily dislodged by a newspaper editorial. Three years is a long time and any from this paragraph could rise to the national position. But I prefer to focus on the current big hitters in the middle of the lineup, because my whining about the current President has left me fawning for a winner:
The Dark Horse – Rick Snyder is on no one’s current list but should be. Blessed with an intellect on par with Jindal, he was college graduate, CPA, MBA, and law graduate from the elite University of Michigan by age 23. He was CEO of the Gateway computer corporation and head of Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation. Part of the 2010 electoral revolution, he won election in the blue state of Michigan, home to the private industry most powerfully in the grip of union recalcitrance, and managed amazingly to effect the conversion of Michigan to a right to work state. Pulling this important state out of economic somnolence, restoring fiscal sanity, carefully sheparding the state’s most important city, Detroit, out of the catastrophic mess it finds itself in after 50 consecutive years of democrat mismanagement, will make Rick Snyder the kind of no nonsense executive the country may want after nearly twenty years of fiscal slovenliness.
The Bull Dog – Chris Christie has the unique characteristic of not really caring if someone is offended by his version of the truth. Smacking straight into the teeth of entrenched liberal special interests strangulating New Jersey government, he showed the moxie needed to accomplish change in the bluest of states and an underappreciated skill in using executive powers move the process forward. After winning conservative accolades, Christie, sensing an Obama victory, took a significant left turn just before the national election of 2012, and has continued to walk a careful line between liberal and conservative blocks before he stands for re-election for the New Jersey governorship in 2014. If he wins again in the bluest of states, he will have secured a powerful block for national projection as a “bridge” candidate so popular with the nation’s media. Will conservatives forgive him his wobbles? As Winston Churchill once said so eloquently, “Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.”
The Feminine Mystique – Having succeeded at pulling across the finish line the first “black” president, the nation’s media is anxious to crown the next fracturer of the glass ceiling, the first “female” president. The choice of the entrenched powers is the infamous Hillary Clinton, despite her abysmal actual record of performance. This myopia regarding Clinton disserves many talented and effective female politicians on both sides of the aisle. Of particular note is Susana Martinez, who would bring a boatload of “firsts” to the presidency, first female, first Hispanic, and first female Hispanic democrat turned republican that was willing to assert that the principles she believed in, were not found in the party she grew in: ” we talked about many issues, like welfare, is a it a way of life or a hand up? Talked about the size of government, how much should it tax families and small businesses? And when we left that lunch, I looked over at (my husband) Chuck and said ‘ Ill be damned. We’re Republicans’.” A popular governor in a purple state, tuned into the issues of border politics, and balancing budgets in a time of budget stress, Martinez is a potential key for the lock that the national media has placed on the door to national success for females who by the media must serve the liberal mantra to be accepted as having the ‘necessary gravitas’.
The American Pathfinder – Rick Perry came on the national scene in 2011-12 and popped like a weak balloon. But to underestimate him on the basis of his hesitant performance would be a mistake. Struggling through a terrible back condition and subsequent surgical recovery, Perry stumbled, and looked overwhelmed. This won’t happen again. Feeling better, and equipped with a record of guiding Texas through a spectacular period of growth and economic vitality, Perry takes a backseat to no one in the understanding of what America is deficient in currently and the path to economic resurgence. In 2012, the nation was willing to overlook economic incompetence on the part of the president in order to not upset the cultural victory of overcoming past prejudice he represented. Four more years of floundering around like a halibut out of water, however, is likely to make the country yearn for someone who has “dun it” over time, and Rick Perry has “dun it”. Unburdened with any state responsibilities with his retirement in 2015, and with the wind in his sails of the second most populous state in the electoral college, Rick Perry, is going to be a lot harder to ignore the second time around.
The Eisenhower Dejavu-er – When World War II started for America, no one had heard of a non-descript lieutenant colonel who functioned as chief of staff for the celebrated general MacArthur. Within three years, everybody knew who Eisenhower was. The Kansas farm boy brought an incredible steadiness under stress, mature absorption of constant backstabbing and attack by others who felt they were more worthy, and an overwhelming competence to the job as Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe. In Wisconsin, a non-descript former county executive who never graduated college, has shown a level headedness, backbone, and superb competence at each step of the ladder, and is progressively being mentioned as Presidential timber. Scott Walker achieved a principled reworking of state government, restoring the power of the taxpaying citizen of the state, balancing the budget of a state with a heretofore unsolvable budget deficit, and did it under the most withering attacks any governor has had to absorb, with money fueled attacks to overcome his judicial and legislative support, and finally, a direct re-call upon himself as governor. Like Eisenhower at the Battle of the Bulge, he stayed true to his strengths, never let the bluster or temporary advantage of his opponents distract him from his path to victory, and an overwhelming victory it was. The first governor to successfully fight off a re-call, he has led the state of Wisconsin to budget surpluses and markedly improved position as a state to bring businesses, all while forming a record of conservative successful governance that leave principled conservatives in other blue states in awe. If Walker succeeds at a 2014 re-election, making three consecutive affirmations in four years in the most politically volatile of states (see US Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin), Walker may follow Eisenhower’s path to the White House, as the competent supreme commander of the most powerful nation on earth.
The governors are out there waiting for the rest of the nation to get over itself, and look for a return to what we do best. We are going to have to wait three long years. All this whiner and fawner can say at this junction in our nation’s history is …hurry up. Please, Hurry Up.