By Carole on Jan 19, 2012
Seeing "no viable path forward," Texas Governor Rick Perry has suspended his presidential campaign. With one less conservative candidate in the mix, the GOP primary battle will probably last beyond Saturday's South Carolina contest and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will not be able to secure the nomination too quickly if at all. That's the good news.
The bad news is that without Governor Perry, tonight's debate and the remainder of the primary season will be a battle between the moderate Mr. Romney and the Washington D.C. insider trio of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. While any of the four would be an improvement over the current president, there are bound to be some at least initially disappointed Republicans when one of them comes out on top.
But in his press conference this morning, Governor Perry put his finger on the big problem that both the Republican Party and the country face with regard to Decision 2012. While endorsing former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich he said, "We've had our differences, which campaigns will inevitably have, and Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?"
Those words brought back how in 2008, Candidate Barack Obama was presented by his campaign, his party and the mainstream media as the perfect potential president. With nothing but soaring rhetoric and a short record of voting "present" to offer, the majority of voters lapped up the projected image and grabbed on with both hands; lifting an inexperienced, unqualified and unvetted man to the highest office in the land and virtually guaranteeing his (and by extension our) failure.
Four years later we have the opportunity to correct that mistake by nominating and then electing an experienced and qualified candidate. This time the competing campaigns and the media are putting in the time and effort to provide as much information as they can about all the would-be presidents so we can make a truly informed decision. Yet there seems to be this need among Republican and most Independent voters to duplicate 2008 in terms of hero-worship.
As the Obama supporters did four years ago, we want to embrace a candidate as a savior; a perfect man (or woman) who has the perfect background, performs flawlessly on the campaign trail and guarantees us a perfect future. We seem to have this collective urge to dismiss anyone with a past, anyone who has ever made a mistake, anyone who proposes a solution that might not be easy or comfortable to implement. And so we often find ourselves seeking the alternative - an unvetted candidate who tells us what we want to hear regardless of the truth and is destined for failure should he actually win the presidency. In other words, a Republican Barack Obama.
Governor Perry's endorsement of Speaker Gingrich doesn't automatically mean that all of his supporters will choose Mr. Gingrich over the other remaining contenders. But his words should resonate with all GOP primary voters. "We've had our differences, which campaigns will inevitably have, and Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?"
Thank you, Governor Perry, for your decades of service and the reminder that we must elect a human being qualified for the job he seeks, not demand a seemingly perfect candidate who turns out to be just another empty suit.
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