Room for Another

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Sep 23, 2011 4:03 PM
For better or worse, it seems that, with his debate performance last night, Governor Perry has constructively put Governor Romney back in the position of default frontrunner.  Perry may have a strong record as governor, but one shudders at the prospect of him debating President Obama -- at least at present.  

Let's hope that his charmed political life -- never having lost an election -- hasn't led him to overestimate his ability to come in and sweep elections.  I love Texas, but Texas has its own distinct state culture and quirks; attitudes, policies, habits and tendencies that may play well down there aren't necessarily going to be appealing throughout the rest of the country.  At the moment, it strikes me that Governor Perry's apparent self-confidence has yet to be bolstered by any actual virtuosity in his campaign performance -- and there's no sign that he has any capacity whatsoever to win over those who don't necessarily already support his positions, which was a key to the Reagan Revolution.

What's more, I think Perry's performance among women is a warning sign.  You can win, even among women, with a swagger -- but one needs something with which to back it up, and so far, that's been sorely lacking from Perry.  He's managed to bring the sky-high hopes for him back down to earth pretty quickly.

As for Romney, he's well-positioned this time around.  The Democrats'. other clumsy efforts at class warfare will, to some extent, inoculate Romney from the "silver spoon" treatment.  He is capable, intelligent, stable and has had a brilliant career -- and one senses the country would be in safe hands were he to win.

The only question is whether, at this point in time, that's enough.  Whatever his virtues, there's no doubt that Romney is, to some extent, an establishment guy.  Part of the charm of Rick Perry -- and, yes, Michele Bachmann -- is that one senses they don't care WHAT the editorial board of The New York Times thinks of them.  With Romney, one wonders.  What's more, the weaker Obama becomes politically, the more it's tempting to make sure that we elect the closest analogue to the 1980 Ronald Reagan, rather than settling for the 1980 George H.W. Bush (as good and decent a man as he surely is, also like Romney).  But so far, there isn't a Reagan analogue -- and as things stand, perhaps it's better to elect George HW than return Jimmy Carter to The White House . . . if that's what would happen with a Romney alternative (which, as yet, is far from clear).

All this is a long way of saying: There's room for one more, Chris Christie.