Q. One thing you do is constantly change favorites for the presidency. Where are you now?
A. Now’s the time to change your mind and frequently. Start out with this absolute. I don’t care how brilliant Mitch Daniels is on the budget or as a governmental manager—the name of the game is still Ronald Reagan’s famed three-legged stool. The ideal candidate should stand for economic solvency…a strong military-foreign policy…and traditional social issues. Mitch’s suggestion in The Weekly Standard that there should be a moratorium placed on social issues is a definite disqualifier. It was strange because he has an excellent pro-life record. If you think the liberals are going to follow this lead and nix their fight for abortion and homosexual rights you have another think coming. Besides, when you schedule a debate with a charismatic, 6-foot-two black man I would think that while style is far from everything, we ought to be able to do better than a 5-foot-six balding guy who looks like the CPA come to audit the books.
Q. Who else would you disqualify?
A. Another guy who did himself irreparable harm to himself in The Weekly Standard was Haley Barbour who said that the Citizens’ Council in his hometown of Yazoo, Mississippi during the `60s didn’t bother him. I used to visit Pascagoula where we had a Quaker plant in those days—Pascagoula being the hometown of Trent Lott. The Citizens Councils were an segregationist nice-guy white-collar version of the Establishment which worked overtime against civil rights. Similarly, when you schedule a debate with a charismatic 6-foot two black man I think we ought to be able to do better than match him up with an overweight replica of Rod Steiger playing the sheriff In the Heat of the Night. I understand Haley is one hell of a governor and having been one hell of a Republican National Chairman as well as one hell of a Washington lobbyist who knows where all the levers of political power come down—but appearances are important. I always expect him to put his foot on the running board, snap his suspenders and say to the black motorist, “Wal—you-all’s in a heap a trouble, boy!”Q. Another?
A. I think more people than ever believe Sarah Palin should continue doing what she’s doing now—stump the grassroots. I understand this belief does not include Sarah who’s getting the itch to run. She has used the time allotted to her since the 2008 campaign to do several things—begin to make a sizable fortune with a brand name factory…improve her delivery on radio and TV…rehabilitate herself by writing two books to get her opinions known. But she has not improved her lack of gravitas. You can’t take a Calamity Jane figure ala Ethel Merman and attach presidential to it. Also there’s the recurrent saga of Bristol who might very well interrupt a national campaign by once again finding herself in what we used to call in Minnesota “a family way”Q. You’re shedding candidates right and left. Who next?
A. I think in this draconian budgetary situation the idea of a senator running is fatuous which would eliminate John Thune. Frankly aside from a nice appearing lean Gary Cooper look, I don’t know what he offers.
Q. What about John Bolton?
A. Ideal as the next president’s secretary of state. I haven’t the faintest idea where he stands on domestic issues. That’s not his fault because his great expertise is in foreign policy.
Q. You’re thinking of the governors?
A. I am. I take Chris Christie at his word—that he’s not ready for the national stage.
Q. That leaves Romney, Pawlenty…
A. Exactly. I’m not ready to give up on Romney no matter what although he should really reject Massachusetts’ RomneyCare as a failure.
Q. That’d be suicide!
A. I don’t guy that. Ronald Reagan repudiated signing the nation’s most lenient abortion law. To confess error if done right is not bad. I’m not worried about Mormonism. Nor about his past as a liberal; Reagan co-founded Americans for Democratic Action with Hubert Humphrey. In Romney you really have an extraordinary individual. But he’s not alone.Q. Who pray tell?
A. Next time.