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February 17, 2011

Gallup: Obama Tied at 45% With a Generic Republican

This gets at my claim (which few of the harder-core conservatives are willing to entertain as true) that presidential elections are generally won by someone who seems to be or claims to be unthreatening and promises continuity with small course corrections, rather than the fire-breathing ideological warriors many prefer.

Call it the Small Target theory of politics.

And yes, this is exactly what Obama did. Many of you seem to believe he ran as an out and proud leftist. No, not at all. That's what we knew he was, but that's not how he ran -- for God's sake, a central plank of his platform was that he was promising a tax cut whereas John McCain was proposing none.

And an out and proud leftist was able to win, of course, because he had the liberal/left media swearing on stacks of Bibles that he was a moderate post-partisan centrist pragmatist, even though they knew that was a lie (else they wouldn't have been ga-ga over him), and haranguing Sarah Palin for as much as hinting that Obama might tend a bit to the left.

Obviously we do not have a monolithic media on our side to lie to the public and tell them our ideological crusaders are actually meek fellows who simply want to change one or two things at the margins. So we need a candidate who's able to project that himself.

Not to demean John Thune or Tim Pawlenty, but if it's a generic Republican who seems to fare best with the public, then these two fellers are as close to "generic Republican" as you can get. (Hat tip to Allah who I'm pretty sure just made this point this week.)

Those who want a candidate to promise them Big Changes fail to consider that a candidate who promises you all of what you want is also promising swing-voters relatively little of what they want.

Between Thune and Pawlenty, Thune looks more like a president and is more handsome, which I think is, like, most important. Pawlenty has more substantive and actually was an executive, so he'd be a better president... but that matters less.

Thune's been talking up a run at the presidency. And he's stressing two things that work to his advantage: electability (noting it's all about match-ups, and he matches up well, which seems likely true and also social issues (yes, John Thune is a very pro-life, traditional-values social con candidate).

On those two points, Thune has advantages, which is why, of course, he's determined to underscore them.

He's got two knocks. First, he's just a Senator, without any hard-choice day-to-day decisionmaking that a governor like Pawlenty (or, yes, Sarah Palin) faced. In this respect he can be called untested. He can also be derided as an empty suit.

Second, he comes from South Dakota. The problem here is that the Republican culture of the Great Plains States is incredibly hypocritical. When you think of the Republican stereotype of "Americans should be individualists and not rely on the government, which should be as small as possible, but oh yeah, we want all our chicken-egg subsidies and earmarks out the wazoo," well, that's Great Plains Republicanism. And Thune is a member in good standing.

He's pro-earmark. Or was until quite recently.

Can he fix this? Yes, he can fix it now with honesty -- delivering a mea culpa in which he confesses he was seduced by this hypocritical political culture and convinced himself, as people do, that doing the easiest thing was also doing the right thing. And repudiating that. And vowing to never sin again.

And he must do this now. Now, I say, because he hasn't declared yet. That is, the cameras aren't really on him. He can deliver an honest mea culpa without everyone hearing about it. Until later -- when people bring this up, he can reference that he confessed this and made a vow of chastity in the past.

It's always better to have taken care of these things in the past. Right now, this costs him very little, but will provide great benefits down the road, when he can always say, "oh yeah, I dealt with that aeons ago. Like three months ago. Old news. Let's move on to fresher topics."

If he attempts to claim he didn't sin, he will be in Romney's position of twisting in the wind, having to always defend his actions as good and pure even while millions of primary voters write him off for defending old, bad decisions.

Take care of it now, Mr. Thune. Or you don't have a shot at this.

I stress this is due to the political culture of this area. It's a case where, yeah, everybody does it. If Thune gets right with Jesus now, and seems honest and upfront about it, forgiveness can happen.

If he sticks to his position that earmarking for egg subsidies is Just Good Government, well, I think he'll just be the less-known, less-experienced, less-accomplished version of Mitt Romney.

And we've already got a better version of Mitt Romney available.

Anyway, here's the poll.



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posted by Ace at 03:12 PM

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