An ancient Chinese curse says ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in an interesting time. As Charles Dickens said in a Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
We live while technology redefines our lives, mostly for the better, on a daily basis. It has improved health care, but we can’t afford to pay for it. It’s a time when economic crises half way around the world impact us like never before.
We also live in a so-called post-racial society where a black man can be elected president, does a mediocre job and yet his opposition struggles to provide a replacement.
That brings us to the cast of characters vying for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. During one of the worst economic times in American history one might think providing a challenger to oppose President Obama would be a simple task for a party that gave us both Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. It has proven to be anything but that.
Regardless of political persuasion, one has to admit that Republicans have provided us with a stunning example of how interesting these times really are.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Almost a year ago, Sarah Palin seemed like a contender. She flirted with the idea, fell behind in the polls and has, for the moment, faded from the fray, although there are still Palin supporters calling for her to run.
Real estate tycoon ‘The Donald’ Trump also seemed to be considering running for president, but appears to have decided not to leave the relative sanity of the private sector.
Michele Bachmann stepped out strongly momentarily, until several gaffes and a startling photo in Newsweek magazine overshadowed her message. From not knowing where John Wayne was born — to saying the founding fathers ended slavery — Bachmann engineered her own descent.
Then, in steps Texas governor Rick Perry, whose own apparent lack of knowledge and intellect makes Bachmann look smart. Just this week Perry seemed not to know the U.S. voting age or the date of the 2012 election.
Ron Paul’s positions on unions, the EPA and the military could alienate many voters. He hasn’t received much attention because he isn’t controversial enough to make the tabloids. Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, having struggled to gather support, are almost afterthoughts at this point.
Herman Cain emerged as a possible formula for Republican success in 2012. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO seemed affable, had a 9-9-9 catchy economic solution and held his own in the debates. But Cain has had his own mental lapses and has become a subject of too many women making too many allegations. No campaign can survive that much question.
Now the current GOP race is probably down to Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
Gingrich has already dealt with his own rattling skeletons, but is a dichotomy. He’s the best known, but also the most divisive candidate. And now he has questioned deporting illegal immigrants. Romney could be a strong opponent against Obama but may not get the nomination. His Massachusetts health care plan still haunts him. And the impact of his Mormon religion on voters can’t really be quantified.
What a mess. Someone from the Republican party must take the reins and run the race or Obama will be able to sleep walk through the campaign and can leave his teleprompter at home.
It is indeed a very interesting time.