Electile Dysfunction. That's what Lisa Schiffren of NRO's the corner is calling it anyway: "Electile Dysfunction ....the inability to become aroused by any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year."
That I'm not pulling for a Democratic candidate is no surprise. That I'm still not enthusiastic about a Republican I think is (or should be?).
Two weeks ago, watching the New Hampshire ABC/Facebook Debate I came away with two distinct impressions: 1. Charles Gibson was a fantastic moderator who actually treated the candidates as adults and let them debate; 2. The field of candidates the Republicans are putting up is actually pretty good.
The New Hampshire Fox Debate thoroughly re-enforced my thoughts about the job Gibson did (which is saying something, since I'm an avid fan of Fox News Sunday, with Chris Wallace) but my opinion about the field started to slip. By the South Carolina Fox Debate my opinion about the Republican field was back to where it has been for most the primary reason ... which, summed up in a word, is unimpressed.
I think this quote from a column by Jonah Goldberg captures my thoughts well: "This slate of candidates has everything a conservative designer could want - foreign policy oomph, business acumen, Southern charm, Big Apple chutzpah, religious conviction, outsider zeal, even libertarian ardor - but all so poorly distributed ... Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything - all the traits, all the positions - we are looking for."
Fred is/was a consistent conservative who's platform was based on foundations I could resonate with. But he refused to run a conventional campaign, which for reasons that I think include being ignored by the media and voters assuming "he doesn't have passion ... he can't win in November", have led to dismal results in the contests so far... So dismal that I'm left saying "Fred is/was" to start that previous sentence, because I can't believe Fred will stay in the race much longer.
Huckabee, God-bless-him, has great socially-conservative credentials. He's also a skilled communicator and politicians, which would be a welcome change from President Bush. But the Huckster leaves me without confidence in him on immigration and national defense, and his record is certainly not one of small limited government. I'm an Evangelical, so for a little while around Christmas, part of me wanted Huckabee to do OK. At this point though, with his record of large net-tax-increases as governor and his comments about a national smoking ban, my inner-libertarian is scared to death of what a Huckabee presidency would be like.
Ron Paul. He's never been a serious contender. I'm glad he was in a bunch of the debates and that he seems to have created quite the gathering of pro-small-government, pro-Constitution, 20-somethings. He doesn't get the threat of Islamo-fascsism though, and his Iraq-policy would be probably even more devastating than that of Clinton or Obama.
Guilliani. He's the inverse of Huckabee. As much as my inner-libertarian trumps my social conservatism to reject Huckabee, I'm enough of a social conservative to have to reject Rudy. If you lack the conviction that an unborn child is in fact a human life that should be projected by the government like all other human lives, you certainly don't get my primary vote ... you may not get my general election vote.
McCain. For a while I was of the mindset that if McCain was our best chance to win in November, OK, maybe I could support him. The more I look at McCain, the less I like him though. Because the conservative blogosphere is going crazy over McCain right now I'm going to try to knock out a McCain-specific post here shortly, so I'll save my McCain thoughts for then...
Which leaves us with Romney. I'm a little nervous about this, but I think I actually like Romney. I'm cautious about him though because there is a strong case to be made about him being a "flip flopper." The positions he took when he campaigned in Massachusetts were certainly more liberal than those is currently campaigning on. But, The Gipper also started out more liberal. I'm also encouraged that when push came to shove, Romney actually seems to have governed as a conservative (despite the liberal campaigning.) That the editors of National Review have endorsed him, trusting his current positions are authentic, also helps.
And so, for the last several weeks, I've decided my vote will be headed Romney's way on February 5th. But am I enthusiastc about it? Nope ... I'm still suffering from electile dysfunction.