What would we, the media, do without ineffable characters like Donald Trump? The latest madcap idea of the “enfant terrible” with the toupee is his interest in running for the Republican primaries. Surprisingly, polls place him among the top contenders, and even ahead of more experienced politicians like Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich.
As far as this writer is concerned, Trump has no chance of walking away with the Republican nomination. Zero. If he really does propose his candidacy, then when hostilities begin between the applicants, Trump's past will offer so many targets for his opponents that he will soon fall from the top of the polls. What remains to be seen is whether Trump truly believes he can win, or if it is all just a part of his "show" to keep him in the media spotlight.
Either way, his success in the polls does show an undeniable fact: The Republican faithfuls are not satisfied with the group of supposed presidential candidates. Talking with Republican supporters, it is easy to see a real lack of enthusiasm for the most well-known candidates: the Romneys, the Barbours, the Palins, etc.
Unless there is any unexpected event of great impact, I think Obama will not have much difficulty prevailing in 2012 if faced with any of the Republicans who have, so far, opened the door to a candidacy. All of them, in one way or another, are connected with a Republican past that many supporters now deny and, from which, simply wish to begin a new chapter.
The failures of the Bush presidency, its war in Iraq and runaway deficits, sank a Republican Party now in need of reinventing itself. In the 2010 legislative elections, disenchantment with the policies of Obama, or their results, gave the conservatives a new lease on life in the form of dozens of new faces, and even several talented speakers — a solid foundation on which to rebuild its brand.
However, the candidates for the White House do not represent that freshness. In one way or another, most are linked to a dishonorable past from which they want to move on. Of the troupe, the only one who did not exercise this policy during the Bush presidency is Newt Gingrich, but after having been a protagonist in the bitter battles of the ‘90s, one cannot say that he gives a breath of fresh air to the party.
The Republicans have in their ranks several young and charismatic politicians, perfectly capable of regaining the White House — like the popular Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, whom many are pushing to make a run, and Marco Rubio, the charismatic senator from Florida, who is capable of winning praise from both conservatives and moderates. Names like congressmen Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, or governors Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal, may also be added to the list.
The main problem is a lack of experience, a sin for which Republicans have not tired of criticizing Obama. In fact, some of them have even less baggage than Obama had in 2008. The then-senator had already served for three years in the Capitol, while, for example, Christie can count only one and a half years governing New Jersey, and Rubio just three months in the Senate.
The new generation is most likely aware of this, and also of the fact that in 2016 the way to the White House will be much clearer, since there will be no Democratic candidate with the advantages granted to a White House incumbent.
Thus, it is likely that, however much it is insisted, Christie, Marco and the rest will keep their word and will not submit bids for the primary. Unless, of course, they base their calculation on the fact that, even in the event of a hypothetical electoral defeat in 2012, making a bid now would stand them in good stead politically for a follow-up (bid) in 2016. Primaries provide a great advertising platform and also allow candidates to build a network of contacts and collaborations, which is easy to resuscitate four years later.
If any member of the new breed were to employ this approach, the coming primary and general elections would be much more animated. I am talking, of course, from a political point of view and not from the "freak show" that Trump represents.