Presidential Campaign

Obama v. ?, 2012

In my last blog, I predicted that President Obama would handily beat the
Seven Dwarfs who are now the announced candidates for the Republican
nomination. If the Republicans are smart — there is little indication
lately that they are — the establishment of old-line Republicans and
influential-istas will soon conclude that they need to recruit a
potential winner. This is how that scenario could play out.

About a year ago (8/14/2010) I predicted in a USA Today op-ed
that by escalating our involvement in Afghanistan and putting him in
charge, President Obama created in then-Gen. David Petraeus a future
political opponent who could beat him. Hoping that he would de-escalate
our foreign military misadventures, I predicted then that “if the
president does the politically difficult, right thing, regardless of
whether it seems to hurt his reelection chances, he might have a better
chance to be reelected … Ironically, in turning over the war in
Afghanistan to Gen. David Petraeus, President Obama may have anointed
the one man who could beat him in the 2012 election.”

One scenario is that the Republican poobahs recruit Petraeus, finance and staff his campaign, and he charges into the ongoing campaign on a white horse as a military hero (America loves military heroes) whom all parts of the Republican Party can support. He is provided a popular running mate with domestic expertise, money and staff, possibly but not necessarily one of the current candidates (Romney, who is in the race, or Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio or even Mitch Daniels of Indiana, who, too, has stayed out), a reputable team that could beat President Obama, appealing to both the extreme do-nothing wing of the party and to the old-time pros who are not infatuated — to say the least — with the crop of crummy candidates presently out there.

Scenario Two is that the people behind the scenes cannot persuade Petraeus to run and settle on a more traditional political team — say, Jeb Bush and Rick Perry, locking in two critical states — Florida and Texas — and a solid conservative ticket, one that wouldn’t antagonize the broadest segments of their party. Dust off the effective James Baker for one more fight as campaign manager. They’d probably attract the more responsible wing of the Republican Party, as well as all those people who hate the president for all the wrong reasons. And they wouldn’t be tarnished by the widely unpopular behavior of the current crop of Republican legislators.

If the Republicans break up their current circular firing squad, and take political aim at the Democrats, it is still possible Obama can be beaten. Democrats can only hope the Republicans don’t wake up and get smart. The country, too; we don’t need four years of ultra-conservative protect-the-ultra-wealthy policies that have brought us to the brink of economic disaster, and more provocative social divisiveness. The president’s fans should pray for Michele Bachmann …

Ronald Goldfarb is a Washington attorney, author and literary agent who served in the Department of Justice in the Kennedy administration.

Tags Michele Bachmann Rob Portman
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