Rich Galen
To succeed in America - to truly succeed in America - you have to be more than excellent at what you do; you have to be a carnival barker making certain that every single person in each of the 50 states knows that you are excellent at what you do.

Not only that, but you have to make certain everyone, everywhere knows that no one is better at what you do than you are.

You have to develop, in a very real sense, a cult following.

If you develop a cult following, then you will have met one of the principal qualifications to be President of the United States in the 21st Century.

Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Donald Trump are reflective of this theory in the 2012 election cycle. That's largely because there is an incumbent on the other side. But, Democrats have had their share of pretenders to the throne like Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader and, of course, Joe Biden.

One of the reasons for this phenomenon is the two-party system which has developed so strongly here. If we didn't have two parties; we would likely have 27. The parties are not defined by the vast number of people who tend to be Right-of-, or Left-of-center. They are defined by their edges: MoveOn.org and the Tea Party.

Those who live (and make their living) at the edges of the two parties have developed a short-hand for those who do not pass their self-proclaimed tests of fealty-to-orthodoxy. Liberal Democrats call their moderates "Democrats-in-Name-Only" (DINOs); Right wing Republicans use the same formulation for their moderates; "Republicans-in-Name-Only" (RINOs).

[Insert "Governor-in-Name-Only" joke here]

The problem with the current crop of GOP cult-figures is, Democrats (and their allies in the popular press) point to them as the defining the Republican Party.

Michelle Bachman is never going to be President of the United States. Neither will Sarah Palin, nor The Donald.

The new ABC-Washington Post poll shows President Obama is in a precarious political position. Asked if they approve or disapprove at the way Obama is handling his job as President, only 47 percent of respondents approved; 50 percent disapproved.

This is significant because, other than the run-up to the mid-term elections last November, Obama has avoided the dreaded 50 percent threshold of disapproval. November was the last time rank-and-file Americans were paying close attention to goings-on in Washington prior to the Blink-a-Thon over the government shutdown a couple of weeks ago.

When it comes to his handling of the economy and the deficit, only 42 percent approve of Obama's ability to deal with the economy (57 disapprove), and only 39 percent think he knows what he's doing when it comes to dealing with the deficit (58 disapprove).

If Barack Obama were a Republican, every news story would begin with phrases like "In an attempt to save his embattled Presidency …," and "As national polls show a continuing and growing disaffection …," and "With his re-election in real doubt, President Obama today …"

There is no rush to embrace Congressional leadership, either. According to that poll the approve-disapprove for Democrats is Congress is 36-60; for Republicans it is 34-63.

All that to say that there is a real opportunity for Republicans in 2012 if they get behind a serious, competent candidate. The poll shows only 26 percent of respondents would "definitely" vote for Obama in 2012 while an astounding 45 percent "definitely will not" vote for him.

Among Republicans in the sample, 16 percent said they would vote for Mitt Romney if there was a primary in their state on the day they took the poll. Trump came in second at eight percent. Mike Huckabee was third with six, Sarah Palin at five; Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich tied for 5th place with two percent each.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.