Leader Blues

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TOP STORY > >Why Obama must hold Hillary close

By GARRICK FELDMAN
Leader editor-in-chief

President-elect Barack Obama is said to be considering Hillary Clinton for secretary of state to discourage her from challenging him for the Democratic nomination in 2012.

He’s hoping that holding her close will discourage Hillary from entering the primaries should his administration falter. That’s right: He hasn’t taken office yet, but potential competitors are lining up just in case Obama turns out to be a one-shot wonder.

Mike Huckabee is one of many potential candidates looking toward 2012, and he has written a campaign book, portentously titled “Do the Right Thing,” which reviewers say perfectly reflects his character: He’s a whiner who must settle scores with everyone who has slighted him, including members of the media as well as his competitors in this year’s Republican primaries.

The verdict: Although he’ll make a million bucks off his book, almost everyone says he’s too petulant to lead his party out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land.

Some of us half expected Huckabee to show up at the Re-publican Governors Association meeting in Miami last week, but since he’s no longer a governor, he couldn’t steal Sarah Palin’s thunder. But she, too, will become a rich author: There are rumors she’ll make a $7 million book deal, and she can buy all the clothes she wants at Neiman Marcus and Saks and won’t have to return them either.

Huckabee and Palin might make a dream ticket in 2012 at least among certain party faithful, who would decide who will lead the ticket. Those who know him best think Huckabee would make an excellent second banana.

But Obama won’t be a pushover four years from now. If he saves us from another Great Depression, as most Americans believe he will, then there’s not much hope for a Palin-Huckabee ticket or a Huckabee-Palin ticket in 20012.

Their party has too many problems for a comeback anytime soon. The best summary we’ve seen of what ails the GOP came from one of the speakers at that Republican governors convention.

After his party suffered the worst back-to-back elections since 1930-32, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota told his colleagues that the GOP “cannot compete in the Northeast. We are losing our ability to compete in the Great Lakes states. We cannot compete on the West Coast. We are increasingly in danger of competing in the Mid-Atlantic states, and now the Democrats are winning some of the Western states.”

There’s more bad news: “We cannot compete and prevail as a majority party if we have a significant deficit, as we do, with women, where we have a large deficit with Hispanics, where we have a large deficit with African-American voters, where we have a large deficit with people of modest incomes and modest financial circumstances,” said Pawlenty, who lost out to Palin for the party’s vice presidential nomination.

In short: You can’t win elections with angry white guys.

“We can be both conservative and we can be modern at the same time,” he added hopefully, but history is not on the GOPs side: The Conservative Party of Britain hasn’t been able to pull it off and has been out of power for 12 years.

Pawlenty might have added that the South is no longer solidly Republican, which makes presidential races almost unwinnable for the GOP. Although the party did better in 2008 than in 2004 in Arkansas and some Appalachian states, Republicans this month lost Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

It was just as bad in the Midwest: Indiana, Michigan and Ohio all went for Obama. He also dominated in the Northeast, winning big in Pennsylvania, making this election a Republican nightmare. It just hasn’t sunk in yet.

Huckabee and Palin, both happy campers, think Republicans didn’t get their message out this November, which should have been what — that they’re the party of bailouts and economic busts? No wonder they were hiding George W. Bush during the election.

A failed presidency will hurt the Republican Party for decades. It hasn’t had a charismatic leader since Ronald Reagan, whose successors squandered his legacy.

The party no longer produces heavyweight thinkers like William Buckley and Milton Friedman, who helped build the modern conservative movement. (Buckley’s only child, Christopher, endorsed Obama.)

As the country moves toward a mixed economy, conservative thinkers are unlikely to solve the nation’s economic problems anytime soon. Perhaps in a decade, when we’re back on the road toward prosperity, smaller government will be in vogue again.

Till then, Americans are hoping Obama can rescue them from the global economic debacle. If he succeeds, the Democrats will once again dominate politics for decades.

If he fails, expect double-digit unemployment and a worldwide depression.

We could then ask Bro. Huckabee to lead us in prayer.