Republicans are unhappy with the present crop of candidates for the White House. Over last weekend, while overshadowed by bigger news, Republicans gathered at an NRA event, a Heritage Foundation event, an AFP event, and a few other gatherings. Grassroots activists lamented together about the current crop.
Certainly each candidate has their acolytes, but largely the field is uninspiring. Republicans are on the verge of a self-fulfilling prophecy that their nominee will suck and not beat Barack Obama.
For all the Republicans and Democrats either lamenting or celebrating the invulnerability of Barack Obama, I am reminded more and more of 1991. In fact, I venture to say that 2011 is to Republicans as 1991 was to Democrats.
And as it was, it remains “The Economy, Stupid.”
In 1991, President George H. W. Bush had over 90% approval ratings after successfully winning the Gulf War and driving Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.
Democrats, in turn, became largely convinced that Bush could not be beaten. The put up a smattering of candidates. The guy everyone wanted, Mario Cuomo, refused to run (Mike Pence and Chris Christie should take note).
Once and future Governor of California Jerry Brown entered he field. Senators Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, Tom Harkin of Iowa and former Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts also got in. Governor Douglas Wilder of Virginia threw his hat in the ring as well, along with a few other lesser knowns.
There was also a governor from Arkansas no one took that seriously named Bill Clinton.
Clinton was pretty unknown, his claim to fame being a speech at a prior year’s convention Democratic convention that went on and on and on. As soon as he got out of the gate, a woman named Gennifer Flowers came out of the wood work. She’d be followed by Paula Jones.
And yet . . . the Clinton message was simple. He made it through the primary as a centrist and pounded on George H. W. Bush as out of touch. His message was the economy.
Big name Republicans are again this year sitting it out. Chris Christie is nowhere. Mike Pence, the guy a lot of grassroots conservatives wanted to run, will run for Governor of Indiana.
This is the winter of discontent for Republicans. But that is not really a bad thing. It is, after all, the economy, Stupid.