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Now that we’ve all had a chance to see the parade of wannabes from both sides of the political aisle stake out their so-called positions on the issues in two tightly-controlled, and endlessly boring, “debates” the only conclusion that any sane person can reach is “oh my God, we’re in a lot of trouble.”
Thursday night’s Republican debacleâ€¦I mean debateâ€¦staged in grand style under the wings of Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One Boeing 707 at the late President’s library showcased just how out of touch the party of the elephant is with mainstream America.
The candidates avoided any mention of President George W. Bush. Not surprising. You don’t get elected by tying yourself to a failed leader with a 30 percent job approval. So they invoked the memory of a dead President – Reagan – hoping the myth might overshadow reality and, somehow, help their faltering election hopes.
It won’t. Reagan is not the political god that Republicans try to create in such hushed tones and the GOP that these candidates represent today is a far cry from the party that existed when the Gipper served in office.
While Democrats seek political extinction through moderation and capitulation, Republicans, for the most part, stick with the same, tired, extremist agenda that alienates voters.
GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani may avoid mentioning George W. Bush but he sounds a lot like Dubya. Democrats, he says, run and hide from terrorism and only he and the GOP can save America.
John McCain, who may set a record in the speed that he drops from presumed frontrunner to actual also-ran, says war is the only answer.
Mitt Romney says a lot of things – most of them contradictory. He may or may not be a hunter, depending on the day. He may or may not support abortion. Heck, he may or may not be a Republican.
As for the rest of the field, who knows and who cares? Under George W. Bush’s tortured tenure, Republicans have become the party of excess, even fielding more candidates for President than the Democrats and suffering from more hot button issues: abortion, same-sex marriage, stem-cell research and the biggie: Bush’s illegal and immoral war in Iraq.
Bringing up Ronald Reagan’s name 19 times won’t save the Republican Party. Drafting lawyer-actor-former Senator Fred Thompson won’t either.
But the GOP still has the same ace in the hole that has served them so well in the past two Presidential elections: The Democrats.
They can hope the party of the jackass lives up to expectations and delivers an opponent as lackluster as Al Gore or as fatally-flawed as John Kerry. Based on what we’ve seen from that side of the aisle, it can still happen. As Hillary tries to prove she has more balls than her opponents and can be blacker than Obama and Obama tries to overcome the political liability of an unfortunate middle name and emerging skeletons from his closet, John Edwards sits down for high-priced haircuts and proves that trial lawyers really are scum of the earth while the rest of the Democratic field avoids straying from their consultant-prepared and focus-group-honed talking points.
The so-called Democratic leadership in Congress isn’t helping. They hem and haw and posture and moan while Bush sets the agenda and makes them look like castrated fools.
Somewhere, there may be a leader who can guide this nation out of the morass created by too many years of both Republican and Democratic mismanagement.
Unfortunately, he or she is probably too smart to run for President.