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Susan Estrich
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Reality Bites


The Gingrich balloon is leaking air. He is beginning to look more and more like Howard Dean. The latest Rasmussen caucus poll shows him dropping three points behind Mitt Romney (23 to 20) after leading him by 13 points (32-19) just a month ago.

I won't say I told you so, but I did. The nomination process is controlled by ideologues, but even ideologues — and sometimes especially ideologues — want to win. Newt Gingrich didn't do a Rick Perry or a Herman Cain in the past month; he didn't mess up on which cabinet departments he wanted to eliminate or which Libya he was being asked about. He faded because the bright lights got too bright. The stories of his finances, some of his wackier ideas and his notorious temper started making the rounds that count, in turn making it far more difficult for his supporters, let alone the undecideds and the leaners, to mount a convincing case that he could beat Barack Obama.

And so Romney, whose numbers have hovered between 17 percent and 21 percent in Iowa for the past five months, jumped to 23 percent. Conservatives who swallowed hard to accept the nouveau conservative John McCain last time around may have to do the same thing with the born-again Romney.

But the fat lady isn't singing yet. If you look at where Gingrich's 12 points and Cain's 10 points went, it seems significant that only three went to Romney. Perry picked up four points. But the biggest "surge" — if you can call it that — went to Ron Paul, who picked up eight points.

President Paul? I don't think so. Paul is about to be held under the same bright lights that burned Gingrich, and he's not likely to fare very well when he does. Gingrich may be off the beaten track, but Paul isn't even in the same forest.

Paul is a member of the House of Representatives. No one has been elected president from the House in my lifetime. This is his third run for the presidency. He ran as a Libertarian in 1988 and as a Republican in 2008. According to a scoring system created by the American Journal of Political Science, Paul is the most conservative member to serve in Congress between 1937 and 2002 — of all 3,320 members.

It's not hard to understand why. Among other things, and this list could get really long, Paul argues that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations. He wants to totally abolish the income tax. He thinks the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an unwarranted intrusion into the labor market. As a doctor, he didn't accept Medicare. As a member of Congress, he refuses a pension. He thinks NAFTA didn't go far enough in promoting free trade.

Running against Paul for president is a Democrat's dream come true. Having him run as a third-party candidate is almost as good. Believe me, Paul won't be taking votes from Obama.

I certainly can understand why some conservatives, frustrated with Romney's moderate record in Massachusetts and uncomfortable with Gingrich's political soft spots, would look at Paul as the "true" conservative alternative.

Equally important, the press needs Paul as much as conservatives do. A nominating campaign that takes days or weeks on the Republican side and doesn't exist on the Democratic side is hardly a way to sell papers, win ratings or keep legions of political reporters and talking heads employed and engaged.

At the end of the day, the question is less about who will be left standing (that would be Romney) and more about who can stand with him for longer than a few weeks. Gingrich has stumbled. Perry fell flat. Michele Bachmann, well, Bachmann's candidacy died almost immediately after it came to life in the Iowa straw poll. Now it's Paul's chance to see his balloon inflate and then flatten.

And then what?

America's political press will not go gently into the night. They need a two-man race, at least, but Republicans are having trouble finding that second man. Will Gingrich re-surge? Will the press give Perry a second chance? Will Paul be able to hang in once the kitchen gets hot?

It would certainly be good for Romney to wrap up the nomination early. But if he does so because the rest of the field is viewed as ridiculously weak, he will be unable to claim the mantle of true triumph over a worthy opponent that propelled Obama last time around. Being the biggest dwarf is not the same as being big enough to be president.

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



9 Comments | Post Comment
As a Newspaper columnist writing of economic issues back in the late 70s and early 80s, I soehow got put on the list to receive the Ron Paul newsletter.. The ideas about the gold standard were interesting and actually convinced me to invest in gold and silver coins. But the constant racial diatribes made it clear that Ron Paul did not accept Blacks as equals to Whites. In short the commentary was constantly racist. You could come to no other conclusion if you were thinking as you read his diatribes. I filed the Newsletters away nad basically ignored the racist material. Then in the late 1980s Ron Paul decided to run for president but there was the little problem of the racism expressed openly in his what did Ron Paul do??? He simply decided to make the outlandish and unbelieveable claim that he had not writtenthe newsletter and didnt know who did write the racist stuff. He made the same claim recently and it is just as unbelieveable today as it was back in the late 1980s. Sometimes you lock yourself in stone. This is Ron Paul's EXCALIBER and no amount of WD-40 will loosen the sword. That is why the establishment Republicans will never accept Ron Paul as the standard-bearer of the Republican party.
Comment: #1
Posted by: robert lipka
Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:15 AM
Ms Estrich, you have got it exactly right, as painful as that is to acknowledge. Three hundred million Americans and this is the best the Republicans can muster? Who and where is the moderate conservative who can inspire confidence?
Comment: #2
Posted by: Motley Wisdom
Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:34 AM
My dead grandmother could beat Obama. He's pathetic as a leader!
Comment: #3
Posted by: Early
Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:17 AM
Ron Paul is a nut case. It is as simple as that, but 300 million Americans and the best the Democrats can offer is Obama, the Affirmative Action President, an incompetent, divisive, class war instigating, race baiting, narcissistic, infanticide enabling, Islam pandering, Israel hating, indolent, Marxist, blame Bush first America second, sociopathic, congenital liar, known to consort with rabid Jew haters, home grown terrorists, Chicago-Demo-Corrupt-o-crats and convicted mobsters? Guided by uber leftist liberal fascists, Obama the “enemy within” is determined to ruin America by overloading entitlement spending in order to destroy its economy. He is redistributing wealth to the parasites and is actively engaged in reparations and in “redistributing” justice, not by rule of law, but by nominating the worst kind of activist radical Constitution hating liberals to the Supreme Court. The “Just Us” Department, by discriminating against white Americans is closed to the law and to complaints of all save Holder's and Obama's people. The EPA is riddled with environmental extremist whackos, hell bent on eliminating all human activity and jobs. Obama is endeavoring to end free speech, has through the failed “Fast and Furious”debacle and disgrace actively attacked the Second Amendment. He has bowed down to our enemies, degraded national security and has been instrumental in seeing Iran become nuclear and in turning the Middle East over to Islamists. By sidelining the Keystone pipeline he is deliberately starving and will continue to starve the US of safe energy sources and is knowingly destroying jobs and posing an additional further security risk for his own political purposes. Those that voted for Obama got what they voted for but are now getting what they asked for, to wit, the destruction of America through unconscionable crippling debt, rampant corruption, radical socialism, record unemployment, inflation, a great depression and the abject appeasement of those who would kill them and their families. Anyone, including Paul would be better than the vermin now infesting the Oval office.
Comment: #4
Posted by: joseph wright
Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:24 AM
Re: joseph wright
Agreed, but the Democratic Party has been completely corrupted by the Progressives who are out to change our form of government and the members can't see the forrest for the trees.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Early
Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:29 AM
Dear Ms. Estrich,

As a Liberal and Democrat just why are you so concerned about the Republican field?

Actually I expect President Obama will most likely win a second term.

Nuff Said...Dennis
Comment: #6
Posted by: Dennis
Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:36 AM
The reason anyone is interested in the nominees of BOTH parties is because we sant to see the best man win on either side. The Republicans have a great candidate in Jon Huntsman. He has a good government background and as the former ambassador to China has a good grasp of the issues that will dominate relations between these two countries for years. He seems to have a great family. Two sons in military academies and a few beautiful daughters to go with the boys. He has no hint of scandal in his past, Has never been a flip-flopper. Has government executive experience as a governor. I could go on but that is the job of republicans who know this man. Back to the point. If We have a solid choice on both sides, America wins. Once the race for the nomination is decided, America can only win if we have two great choices. Then it becomes our choice. In the last election, I voted for John McCain but after watching McCain closely after he lost, I came to realize that I made a very bad decision...This time, I will take a lot more time deciding and I will not make a decision based on hatred as so many have already done.
Comment: #7
Posted by: robert lipka
Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:01 PM
Re: robert lipka
“If We have a solid choice on both sides, America wins. Once the race for the nomination is decided, America can only win if we have two great choices” Ordinarily that rational could be agreed, but unfortunately we do not live in ordinary times, which is to say in times in which the elected incumbent President of the United States actually believes in, loves and acts in the best interests of America. Today on the Democrat side there is Obama/Biden. Obama is an enemy of all things American, has a hatred of all things American and is implementing policy based upon a hatred of America bred into him by a Kenyan, America hater Marxist father and reinforced by an America hater “pastor” for years. He is precisely as described in my earlier post and Biden is a simply buffoon and an embarrassment. It is a sad state of affairs when anyone or anything would be better than an incumbent whose record on foreign, domestic and economic policy (the record he is running strongest from) is utterly abysmal by any measure that could be chosen.
Lipka asserts that he previously wrote on economic matters. Following are a few economic matters to ponder. Under Obama (1) the national debt has rocketed to over $15 trillion dollars, highest level as percentage of GDP since WWII (2) we are destined to run trillion dollar annual deficits for years to come (3) worst job record of any modern president (4) 35 consecutive months of unemployment well over reported 8% but actually over 11% (5) highest black unemployment in 28 yrs (6) record number of Americans on food stamps (7) highest poverty rate, 46 million, highest since census tracking of poverty (8) rate of economic growth just marginally above the decade of the great depression (9) misery index at a 28 year high (10) America's credit rating downgraded for the first time in history.

Anyone who could consider,even for the briefest of moment of madness, giving the incumbent "enemy within" a second term while maintaining that love of country guides their actions is simply delusional or that love is for a country other than America
Comment: #8
Posted by: joseph wright
Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:20 PM
Christmas day 2011. A prayer that on this day of 2012, the United States of America has a new conservative president elect,a new conservative Senate and House and that America is thereby put back on the road to opportunity and prosperity for all. May the completely failed and faux presidency of barak obama be well on its way to consignment to the dung heap of history and may God bless America with the death of the progressiveism, socialism and Marxism illegally foist upon us by an evil obama led cabal.
Comment: #9
Posted by: joseph wright
Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:22 AM
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