As Republicans jockey for the pole position for 2016 there are many potential distinguishing factors: moderate or conservative; grass roots or establishment; male or female; Anglo, Hispanic, or something else; Midwest, Southern, Northeast, or West. All of that misses the winning theme - the electorate was twice willing to go with Barack Obama who had no executive experience but offered a feel good opportunity. In 2016 the Democrats may well offer another feel good opportunity with no demonstrated past accomplishments. Whatever else the Republican candidate may have to offer, it is likely that the American voters are ready to flock to a candidate offering proven executive competence.
At this point not even the New York Times or the Washington Post is pretending that the Obama administration is competent. The roll out of Obamacare burst the bubble, but the evidence is everywhere. Six years in, the portion of the working age population actually working is at a 36 year low. Adjusted for inflation the median family income is about 5% below when Obama took office. America's standing in the world is plummeting as Obama has repeatedly been shown up by Vladimir Putin. The meaningless war in Afghanistan drags on with no objective. The Democratic Senate won't consider the President's foreign trade agenda . The Veterans' Administration keeps secret lists of those to receive attention while others die waiting. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the NSA, and the IRS run out of control. The 60% to 30% "wrong track" polling is about more than ideology.
The 2016 election will not be about Barack Obama, but it will be conducted with an electorate which has witnessed first hand the impact of an ineffective leader. Fortunately for Republicans, it looks as if the media will be willing to ask what Hillary actually accomplished at State. Benghazi - events and decisions before, during, and after? The Keystone XL pipeline decision avoidance? Now we find that Hillary's State Department rejected intelligence and law enforcement entreaties to place Boko Haram, the abductors of Nigerian schoolgirls and the murderers of thousands of civilians, on the terrorist watch list. Maybe the folks setting the stage for her campaign can point to something in her earlier history? Monica or Jennifer? A failed healthcare reform effort? Whitewater? The void is as big as Obama's ... and she had a platform.
So, where can a candidate demonstrate "executive competence? Mitt Romney and Michael Bloomberg have shown that business success leads to wealth which leads to a successful Democratic campaign of class warfare. Better is a successful stint as governor with experince in appointing subordinates and holding them accountable, balancing budgets, addressing unfunded pension liabilities, upgrading education, offering a free market alternative to Obamacare, and dealing with a crisis or two. With 29 current Republican governors and a few retreads, there are plenty of options.
How much better the debate season will be if the Republican candidates spend their time talking about their accomplishments - and Hillary's lack thereof.
And in a moment of perfect farce, here is the official response to the Vice President's son (as well as a close Kerry family friend) taking board positions with a Ukranian natural gas company. Note to world: there are only two more years for supporters of the Obama administration to cash in.
bill bowen - 5/16/14