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Susan Estrich
28 Jan 2015
Word Games

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The Money Primary

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Rupert Is Right


Mitt Romney and his allies are not very pleased with media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who this week said out loud what most political pros have been stewing about for years: Romney was a "terrible candidate." The Wall Street Journal, part of Murdoch's News Corporation, called his campaign a "calamity," which seems to me to be about right, but seemed to Romney's allies both unfair and inaccurate. Ron Kaufman, a longtime Romney ally, went so far as to label Murdoch politically "tone deaf" and compared his statements to outbursts by the far more theatrical Donald Trump, telling The New York Times that "it's like trying to make sense of what Trump does."

Full disclosure: I've been a contributor to Fox News for many years. But it's not because I agree with the political views of Murdoch or Fox News Chief Roger Ailes. Quite the contrary. I once told Roger that he and I probably disagree about everything except our love for our country, our commitment to our children and our belief in loyalty — what matters most.

I'm a Democrat. I'm a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and have been for decades. I would love to see the Republicans nominate Romney again and watch Hillary clean his clock. But really, is Romney the best the Republicans can do?

From all I know, Romney is a fine man, a dedicated husband and father, and an extremely successful businessman. But being a fine man does not make you a fine candidate. Success in politics requires more than that. It requires the ability to communicate effectively with people who don't have friends who own NASCAR teams (one of Romney's famous misstatements). It requires the ability to address complex issues in ways that are not only consistent (Romney was well known for his total flip-flops on abortion and gay rights issues), but also sensible, something Romney's proposed answer to the immigration issue — "self-deportation" — was definitely not.

John Kennedy made a failed attempt to get on the ticket in 1956 before winning the top spot in 1960.

Ronald Reagan was defeated by Gerald Ford the first time he sought the nomination of his party, but of course came back to get elected in 1980. George Bush (the senior) lost to Reagan in the 1980 nominating contest, but came back in 1988 to win one term.

Running for president is a lot harder than it looks, and many candidates have a tough time of it in their first go-round (think Al Gore in 1988).

But Romney hasn't had just one chance. If he runs again, it will be his third effort at the top spot. If the first run is the rehearsal for the big show, and then you fall flat in the big show, what is it that makes you more qualified or more electable the third time around? Write to me and tell me if I'm wrong, but I'm having a hard time thinking of any candidate, at least in modern times, who succeeded on the third go-round.

Where does that leave the race for president? With two candidates who enjoy widespread name recognition — Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush — and a slew of actual or potential candidates whose biggest problem is not that no one has heard of them, but that when they do, they will be seen as hard-core ideologues (who tend to do well in primaries but not so well in general elections). It was only after losing in 1980,1984 and 1988 that Democrats, even the old ideologues like me, were willing to nominate a self-described moderate from Arkansas. Maybe the Republicans' problem is that they just haven't lost enough national elections to reexamine their own positions.

So who will be our candidates on Election Day in 2016? Two years is a lifetime in politics. Everything can change. But if I had to guess today, I'd say we may well be faced with a historic run between the wife of one president and the son and brother of another. Clinton v. Bush. Kind of makes me feel young again.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



4 Comments | Post Comment
Interesting column. I would agree with you that the GOP can do better than Romney. By the way, you misspoke on Bush. Bush the senior (the competent one) only served one term. It was the foolish little man from Texas that served two terms. Go figure.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Mark
Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:00 PM
The real problem is finding a candidate that will actually perform well as President. The skills necessary for governance are often not the same as those for a great candidate. One only has to look at the present denizen of the White House to see the dangers inherent in choosing candidates based solely on the their electability.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Old Navy
Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:45 AM
Being a successful candidate requires a national media that will utterly and deliberately fail to expose the truth about the candidate, that will lie cover up and distort all matters in favor of the candidate and that will go to extreme lengths to lie, distort and propagandize against the candidate's opponent.

Being a successful candidate requires a congenital propensity to lie again and again without compunction or conscience and to have a political party in support whose members and supporters will propagate and collude in those lies. How does one know this. Obama, the Democratic Party and the knuckleheads and America haters that voted for Obama proved it.

The notion that one could be a Hillary Clinton supporting Democrat and at the same time purport to have any modicum of love for the constitutional republic of the USA is simply a laughable. Oh and the same goes for a republican supporting Jeb Bush.

The notion that anyone could continue to support and could continue to have any respect for the Islamist sympathizing, America hating, Israel hating, Iran nuke supporting, freedom hating, constitution destroying lowlife presently masquerading as POTUS is frightening.

If the nominees for POTUS turn out to be Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush America the process of destruction of America advanced by Obama will be continued, perhaps to conclusion.

Hillary Clinton hates America and American values and Jeb Bush is just a RINO Hillary in a skirt but with less testosterone.
Comment: #3
Posted by: joseph wright
Fri Jan 30, 2015 5:39 AM
Or Estrich why not say it this way "From all I [Estrich] know, Romney is a fine man, a dedicated husband and father, and an extremely successful businessman" but rather than vote for someone like that with integrity and some sort of moral compass, I [Estrich] will support an aged, brain damaged, thoroughly dishonest Alinskyite trollop, and coat tail rider, who has single handedly led a real war on the women her husband raped or assaulted, who perpetuated his assaults on innocent women, who as Secretary of State or in any other she held has zero worthwhile accomplishment, who has repeatedly lied to the American public about her husband, about the Benghazi attacks, and who brazenly and in the presence of the dead bodies of the Americans killed in Benghazi lied to the parents about the "video", whose only true thoughts about the Benghazi atrocity was "what does it matter" and who as multi multi millionaire falsely pleads poverty, and who has proven that at 3.00 am when the phone rings she is the very last person to be trusted to safeguard America and or Americans and I [Estrich] will do so because like Hillary I [Estrich] also hate the notion of a strong prosperous America.

None of which is to say that Jeb Bush would be any better.
Comment: #4
Posted by: joseph wright
Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:43 AM
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