Who has a chance to be a really great president?

by Rob Roper 

Rob Roper

They say it took a Carter to give us a Reagan.

In the late 1970’s liberalism had failed completely, visibly, and undeniably. Carter’s economic policies led to double-digit inflation and double-digit unemployment. His energy policy led to an “energy crisis” and gas lines. His foreign policy let to 52 Americans held hostage in Iran. His leadership left the country in a malaise.

After four years of this, the American people were ready to shake off liberalism like a dog shaking water from its coat. They wanted a change. A real change. They wanted a dramatically chance the track of the country from wrong to right. They elected Ronald Reagan – the radical conservative — giving him 44 states with 489 electoral votes. Reagan, in return, gave the American people the foundation for the greatest economic boom in modern times.

One wonders what would have happened to the history of our country if the early front-runner in the 1980 GOP primary — the “safe bet” — George H.W. Bush, had won the nomination.

We are in a historical “Carter Moment” now.

Barack Obama’s poll numbers are abysmal. A recent poll by the Associate Press shows that 52% of the people believe the president deserves to be voted out of office. Only 43% believe he deserves a second term. His job approval numbers are equally under water at 54% disapproval vs. 44% approval. His numbers among independent voters are even worse. According to a recent Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll, Obama stands at just 38% approval amongst Independents, a 14 point drop since his election in 2008. http://decoded.nationaljournal.com/2011/12/where-obama-has-slipped.php

The economy is not helping. Although the unemployment number recently dropped back below 9% to 8.6%, this is a bit misleading. (More like the lamp of an oncoming train rather than the light at the end of the tunnel.) The drop was more the result of 315,000 Americans giving up looking for work altogether, shrinking the labor force, rather than the economy creating jobs.

As for running on his record, that presents the president with problems as well. A recent Rasmussen poll indicates that 55% believe his signature accomplishment, Obamacare, should be repealed. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/health_care_law bfbfffc

All this is by way of saying I’m a little baffled and frustrated at how down many conservatives (be they Republicans, Tea Partiers, Libertarians or other) seem to be on their prospects for retaking the White House in 2012. Anyone who wins the nomination given the conditions outlined above has a good shot at winning the general election.

It is a strong field of candidates, and don’t let the White House tell you any differently.

Republicans are running the former Speaker of the House, who ushered in in 1994 a transformative political wave on the Contract with America. He ran the institution that controlled the power of the purse for the only four years in the last half century when our government balanced its budget. Republicans are running the Governor of Texas, the brightest economic success story in the nation at this point. The former Governor of Massachusetts, who has a an extremely impressive private sector career to complement his public service. And Ron Paul, pretty much guffawed off the stage in 2008, has seen many of his policy positions vindicated over the past four years. Even Governor Huntsman’s experience running a state and serving as Ambassador to China is nothing to sneeze at.

Any of these people would make a far better president than the current occupant of the White House, and any one of them could win the job. The question conservatives need to be asking is, which of these candidates has the potential to be Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama’s Jimmy Carter. (And who is (are) the potential George H. W. Bush(s).

In his 1964 senatorial campaign, Robert Kennedy asked the voters of New York in a powerful campaign ad: “When you’re in the election booth, think about this… which of the candidates… has the better chance of becoming a great United States Senator? A GREAT United States Senator.”

We should be asking ourselves that same question. Which of the Republican candidates has the best chance to be a GREAT United States President. Because, a chance like this won’t come around until after the NEXT Jimmy Carter/Barack Obama. And let’s hope that’s never again.