As the primary season heats up, here’s a good question to ask: If we want to end the primary season with a viable political candidate to face off against Barack Obama, are there limits limits to the nature of the attacks that bloggers launch against the Republican candidates during this primary season?
My take is that it is very important for us to learn as many facts as possible about the candidates, whether we’re learning good things or bad. However, I’m not yet ready to leap up and castigate any candidate as the devil incarnate. (Even Ron Paul, whom I would not like to see win, can be challenged through facts, not hyperbolic insults.)
As we learned in 2008, there are no perfect Republican candidates. Unfortunately, the other lesson we’ve learned in the last 2.5 years is that Obama is a perfectly scary Democrat president/candidate. This means that, when the Republican primary ends, we need the last Republican candidate still standing to have the strength to face off against Obama. If we inflict too many wounds against our own people, the primary winner may be so weakened, s/he cannot win the final, presidential battle. Further, if s/he’s bleeding badly from the ideological wounds we inflict, Independents will shy away, as they will almost certainly be incapable of discerning between the wounds inflicted during internecine conflict from the type of fatal flaws that spell death at the presidential polls.
As of today, I can easily say yucky things about every one of the Republicans now seeking office (especially Ron Paul):
(1) Michele Bachmann has no more executive experience than Obama did at this stage in the game, and we all rightly predicted that he was grossly unprepared for high executive office;
(2) Paul Ryan, should he weigh in, will also lack that experience, plus he’s got a geeky quality that might not play well in the media;
(3) Mitt Romney has the RomneyCare albatross and all the charm (and good looks) of a Ken doll;
(4) Ron Paul takes libertarianism to an inhuman extreme that includes jettisoning the nation of Israel and supporting Iran’s quest for nuclear arms;
(5) Rick Perry tried to strong-arm Gardasil, whether because of fear of cancer, ties with Merck, power lust, or something else, plus he’s kind of smarmy;
(6) Chris Christie, should he weigh in, has sharia ties, offends people with his outspokeness, and will have to fight the fat-taboo that governs in America.
And on and on and on. (Please note that, with the exception of Ron Paul, who seriously rubs me the wrong way, I can just as easily say a whole lot of good things about the candidates and potential candidates listed above.)
The fact is, nobody makes it very far in political office without chutzpah, arrogance, a touch of insanity, and a whole lot of compromising. The only people who don’t make mistakes are those who don’t do anything at all. Being an inert lump doesn’t get one far, especially politically.
My current candidate of choice is the William Buckley candidate — the one who can win. There is no Churchill on the horizon and even Churchill, a politician I admire with something approaching ferocity, had his disastrous qualities and made horrible decisions that resulted in uncounted deaths. He was, nevertheless, a leader, and his core values were the right ones, especially during a time when those values were so desperately important to the survival of the Western world.
Let’s definitely get all the facts on the table. Good, bad, in-between, whatever. If you have opinions, by all means advance them. But sheath the long knives. The last candidate standing has to be in sufficiently good health to take on a sitting president with a war chest that’s reached historic proportions. Too much blood-letting in the lead-up to the big campaign will leave him (or her) supine and helpless. (Not to mention that the MSM will happily recycle, only with longer knives, the worst arguments made against the Republican who makes it through the primary gauntlet.)
Having blathered on here, let me say something about conservatives in the main: As the cheerful, neat, polite Tea Party rallies showed, ours is a surprisingly congenial political party. While we may disagree with each other, we do so with civility and respect. Our core values revolve around personal integrity and love for country. Debate enriches, rather than demeans. It is within that spirit that conservatives should be analyzing, challenging and supporting the Republican candidates. If we bring out the long knives now, we run the risk of presenting the nation with a bleeding carcass as the official Republican candidate.
UPDATE: Rob Miller, at JoshuaPundit, expands on my point. As always, when I read something I writes, I smack my forehead and think “I wish I’d said that.”
UPDATE II: The Razor weighs in too. He opens with the excellent point that we’d better get everything out on the table now, before the MSM does it for us. I agree with that entirely. My only suggestion is that our tone should be one of inquiry, not one of long-knives attack.