Real Politik is not a supporter of Mitt Romney. The former governor of Massachusetts is the consummate political shape shifter. There is seemingly no issue that Mr. Romney is incapable of changing positions on at a moment's notice according the latest opinion polls. Yet, Mr. Romney's narrow victory in yesterday's Iowa GOP caucus is good news for the Republican Party and better news for the rest of the country.
While Mr. Romney's character and core beliefs will be the subject of debate, and ridicule, during the course of the campaign, he is the only credible candidate not named Jon Huntsman. Unfortunately for Mr. Huntsman, Al Gore has better chance of winning the GOP nomination at this point.
For those readers not ready to celebrate Mr. Romney's victory, here's a brief look at the list of GOP frontrunners to date. Mr. Romney might not be your candidate of choice but compared to the rest of the Republican field he is the best chance of avoiding unmitigated disaster. Let's go for a walk down memory lane.
In case you forgot, the real estate mogul turned reality TV star was out polling the field of prospective GOP candidates as recently as April. Mr. Trump attempted to consolidate his position by flirting with birtherism and rolled out foreign policy statements that ranged from starting a trade war with China to seizing oil fields from unfriendly countries like Iraq and Libya.
It was good news for all when he decided it was more fun to earn millions off quarterly dividends than to dedicate himself to public service. Mr. Trump's rise to the top of the GOP field had all the makings of a great article in the Onion - unfortunately the polls were legit.
After Mr. Trump's wild ride, the GOP turned its attention to Michele Bachmann. The Minnesota congresswoman was considered to be the frontrunner in Iowa as recently as July. Sadly, Mrs. Bachmann is also completely unfit to be president. She earned the most four-Pinocchio ratings from the Washington Post, which awards the distinction to candidates that make false claims and then repeat them after being proven incorrect - in other words, liars.
Many of the Republican presidential candidates displayed lackluster knowledge of foreign policy but Mrs. Bachmann managed a couple of standout moments - such as suggesting that if she were president she would shut down the American embassy in Tehran. We managed that about 30 years ago.
The Rick Perry surge kicked in for the dog days of summer. The former governor of Texas enjoyed a lead in the polls as recently as August. At that point in the race, he seemed to be a formidable candidate capable of giving Mr. Romney a run for his money. It took approximately four months for his campaign to reach a state of abject failure.
Governor Perry proved himself to be a gaffe machine the likes of which could make Vice President Biden blush. Highlights include calling Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor "Montemayor", taking issue with our eight unaccountable Supreme Court justices (there are nine) and promising to cut so many federal departments that he forgot which ones were the most important.
Here's a brief recap:
1) No political experience.
These points don't even take into account the two-faced manner in which Mr. Cain attempted to address his past history of sexual misconduct and marital infidelity. Definitely a low point in American politics. And that's after the last three candidates.
After the Herman Cain debacle, it is understandable why Ron Paul had some appeal to the GOP base. Unlike Mr. Romney, he has been the model of consistency having espoused libertarian values for the better part of three decades.
Most of Mr. Paul's intellectual and political deficiencies were well known and (comparatively) innocuous when measured by the standard set by his competitors. That Mr. Paul believes in 16th century-style isolationism, returning to the gold standard and gutting all federal social programs is all deeply troubling, but compared to Mr. Cain, voters could be forgiven for finding him appealing.
Ultimately, Mr. Paul's surge ended because of other views that he has held for decades - namely, stone-aged ideas about blacks, Jews and gays. Mr. Paul chronicled his racist bile in a series of newsletters published under his name and has yet to offer any substantial apology for using rhetoric that is normally reserved for individuals that burn crosses after dark.
Note to future presidential hopefuls: It's best to express your bigoted and hateful views at home with friends over a couple beers - stay away from the printing press.
The Case for Mitt
While Real Politik would prefer Jon Huntsman to be the GOP nominee, the reality is that Mr. Huntsman's current base includes his family, friends and liberal opinion columnists. Too bad, because he is by far the most qualified, intelligent and principled candidate in the field.
Mr. Huntsman's improbability leaves Mitt Romney as the only acceptable candidate with a chance of winning the Republican nomination. Americans of all stars and stripes should hope that he does or we will be faced with a candidate as sad as the examples above.
Did somebody say Santorum?
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