While Republicans celebrate their newfound majority in the House of Representatives, Americans await the true political turning point: the 2012 elections. Will President Obama perform enough political payoffs to purchase a pass to the presidency yet again? Or will he be stopped by a populace unwilling to tread down the same dark path as Greece, Spain and Ireland?
If Obama is to be stopped, Republicans will need to run a powerhouse candidate in 2012. The Republican Party is still fragmented between libertarians and social conservatives, though that fracture has been papered over with the veneer of fiscal conservatism; meanwhile, Obama remains a formidable candidate.
Who can unify the Republican Party? Republicans are counting on Obama to do the job. But they cannot simply run an empty suit and hope to win; Democrats tried that in 2004 with John Kerry and lost. Republicans will have to come up with someone who can bridge ideological ties within the party while jazzing up the conservative base. Or they can come up with a slate.
Each Republican candidate for the 2012 nomination should sign a pledge to create a conservative dream team: a cabinet comprised of at least half of the following appointees. These potential cabinet selections represent the best the conservative movement has to offer, and together they can unify a country looking for a team of experienced professionals with a longstanding record of service and principle. Many are potential 2012 candidates themselves.
-- Secretary of State: John Bolton. The former ambassador to the United Nations is a tough, brilliant and straightforward master of international politics. His bluntness will be an asset in a branch of American government far too comfortable with prevarication and pontification. A muscular spokesperson for a muscular American foreign policy.
-- Secretary of Defense: Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is a heavyweight thinker and a man deeply familiar with the intricacies of defense policy. As former speaker of the House, he knows how to work with Congress, and he is one of the few political figures who proposed a workable solution with regard to Iran (he suggests a naval blockade). His brilliance and flexibility will be an asset to an office too often headed by career bureaucrats.
Secretary of the Treasury: Paul Ryan. The congressman from Wisconsin has become the nation's leading expert on budgetary matters. His grasp of classical economics is unparalleled, and his fluency in governmental jargon allows him to navigate the dangerous waters of governmental wrangling. (For Federal Reserve chairman, an unconventional but worthwhile pick would be Ron Paul, who would audit the damned institution forthwith.)