I’m in Las Vegas today at the Western Republican Leadership Conference getting ready to participate in a panel on tax reform.
It’s only fitting then that I reflect back on one of the few losses the GOP suffered in 2010 races, Harry Reid versus Sharron Angle, battled out mostly in and around Las Vegas. That race is, in my opinion, one of the reasons why the Democrats managed to hold on to the US Senate. Resources that could have gone to other places were used up in a futile race with a candidate not ready to man up and learn what she didn't know.
Any candidate who expects to be hanging tough with the other presidential hopefuls by the New Year better first be willing to prove that they are no Sharron Angle- or Barack Obama for that matter.
Obama needs no introduction. But it’s worth noting that Obama- who once upon a time was expected to be an also-ran to “inevitable” nominee Hillary Clinton- was elected with an assist by a partisan press corps; a press corps which challenged him on nothing and was anxious to buy the hope hype he dealt in. Instead of helping Obama, all it has done is enable him to fall back on sloppy habits of partisan rhetoric when nothing else works.
And “nothing else working” is a common condition for our budgetless, jobless, recoveryless president.
So, when all else fails he scolds and campaigns and demands.
It worked it the past.
The press corps’ painful subjectivity back then has contributed to three doleful years of a guy refusing to learn how to be president while on the job.
Angle, you’ll remember, was the GOP nominee who went up against Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid right here in Nevada. She lost the race in the Silver State, even as other conservatives, in other states, swept all before them.
Angle lost because, while she is a very fine person, she wasn’t prepared or disciplined enough to run for the United States Senate.
She once told a group of Hispanic kids that they “look a little more Asian” to her.
Why she should have been talking about anything other than unemployment in a state that led the nation in joblessness remains a question. But her comments made her “look a little more stupid” to me and also, apparently, to voters too.
She refused to learn how to be a candidate on the job. Her campaign, like Obama’s presidency, was sickening to watch because the mistakes she made were predictable and repeated habitually. She, like Obama, never learned.
Both Angle’s candidacy and Obama’s presidency have a Jackass: The Movie quality to them.
The GOP field, even and especially the so-called “favorites,” seem to be having similar difficulties in making the transition from also-rans into contenders.
There are three things that happen when you campaign. And only one of those things is good.
The press, punditry and public can hear you accurately off message; or they can hear you inaccurately off message; or they can hear you accurately on message.
And guess who is responsible for the outcome?
The campaigns. That’s who.
Communication is part of the politics of leadership.
None of the campaigns so far are ready for the immense scrutiny that comes with being the big kid in the sandbox.
They can learn from that experience.
But you can tell a great deal about candidates by how they campaign. That’s why I love campaigns. Underneath the story of a campaign is generally the story of the type of leader the candidate will become.
Remember when Obama flipped the bird to Hillary Clinton on television and the media said nothing about it? It should surprise us not at all that he flips us the bird every day.
The last thing the GOP needs is a candidate not ready to be the nominee.
And the last thing the country needs is another president not ready to lead.
Conservatives have a great opportunity, perhaps the greatest in three generations, to ring the death bell of the Keynesian, New Deal, spend-to-prosperity style government mythology that is the only thing sustaining Big Liberalism.
We just need a candidate to reach up and ring the bell.