Facing an incumbent president with Barak Obama's abysmal economic record, it should be a cake-walk for whichever Republican candidate runs against him. But thanks to the GOP's penchant for self-destruction, the prospects for unseating Obama are diminishing by the day, if not the hour.
The current round of Republican debates has done little more than provide Obama's campaign staff with magnificent material for their upcoming ad blitz. Because instead of staying on message as Bill Clinton did ("It's the economy, stupid!") Republicans let themselves get sucked into fighting with each other like school children. "You're a poo-poo face!" - "Yeah? Well, YOU'RE a dumb-head!"
Meanwhile, Obama is likely grinning with delight at the spectacle. And breathing a sigh of relief that so little attention is being paid to the genuinely important issues confronting the nation, like soaring food and energy prices, persistent unemployment, lackluster growth, and the real sleeping giant, gargantuan debt.
The truly frustrating part of this debacle is that all Republicans would have to do is focus. Keep the message simple, emotional, and clear. Every candidate should be constantly hammering on the profligate spending that is causing the deficit and debt to skyrocket. They should be highlighting, over and over again, personal stories from job-seekers about the lack of employment opportunities - as well as collateral stories from small business owners about how endless regulation and government interference prevent job creation.
They should also be attacking Obama's growing list of "czars" at every opportunity, pointing out that unelected bureaucrats are controlling more and more of our private lives. Again, make it simple and personal - "Do you want some snotty little government dweeb telling you how much salt you are 'allowed' to have in your food?"
Hit Obama on energy policy. Talk about high fuel prices - "Gas is nearing $4 a gallon because this President continues to give Billions to failed boondoggles like Solyndra , while stubbornly refusing to give the go-ahead on the Keystone pipeline, which would provide real energy and real jobs." Then tie the rising cost of energy to the average person's life - "Ethanol subsidies and a lack of drilling are driving up the price of every item on your grocer's shelf!"
Then there is the "class warfare" that Democrats have used successfully for decades. But here too, the Dems get away with it only because Republicans don't seem to know how to frame their position. Look how they sat back and let Democrats use the bogus phrase "tax-cuts for the rich" until it became part of the social lexicon.
When Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan dramatically cut taxes, they did not apologize for slashing the TOP marginal tax rates - they did it with relish, and the results were the greatest economic boom in the 20th Century. Yet which of the Republican candidates has referenced either Thatcher or Reagan's success? Not one.
When Mitt Romney was attacked for paying "only" 15% in Federal income tax, he hemmed and hawed, and stammered like a kid called into the principal's office. Instead, when confronted with the question, Romney should have gone on the offensive, stating emphatically how much he paid in dollars ($3 MILLION) and then add how much he gave to charity (another $3 MILLION) while pointing out that Barak Obama and V.P Joe Biden, neither of whom is in poverty, gave barely pocket change to charity.
Politics is a street fight (see: Rahm Emmanuel) but Republicans insist on sticking to Marquis of Queensbury rules.
The bottom line is that unless and until the Republican nominees stop bickering with each other and concentrate on attacking the disastrous policies and socialist ideology of Barak Obama, they will only succeed in guaranteeing that America will be stuck with four more years of economic stagnation.
Finally, there is the "Fast and Furious" scandal, which would normally have the potential for a real political disaster for a sitting president - and a windfall for his challengers. The President's own hand-picked Attorney General, embroiled in a fiasco that used tax-payer money to send guns to Mexico, in a failed attempt to justify more gun control on U.S. gun owners:
Even more outrageous is that "Fast and Furious" resulted in the death of a U.S. Customs agent when the botched program put military style weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Yet not one of the Republican candidates has even mentioned "Fast and Furious" - either in the debates, or in any of their public statements on the campaign trail. Once again, they have been tossed a hanging curve ball...and let it go right on by.
But unless Republicans get their act together, we will be looking at "more of the same" from Barak Obama - and that is something that the country simply cannot afford.