Consider some possible scenarios. What if months from now Barack Obama is in the same or worse condition than he is now? What if he and everyone else realize that he is dead-candidate walking? One option would be to do an LBJ and announce that he’s not going to run for reelection. Another would be for some other Democrat to successfully challenge him in primaries.
The Democrats will not want to abandon Obama, but they want even less to lose the White House along with several House and Senate seats. A lopsided loss would do long-term damage to the party and liberalism. If the S.S. Obama is headed to the bottom of the sea, they will be jumping ship.
Their dilemma is, however, who do they have to replace him? Hillary Clinton is the name mentioned most often, but even Democrats have serious doubts about her as demonstrated by her 2008 primary loss to Obama. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has also been mentioned as a possible alternative. Besides those two choices their menu is not very appetizing — Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or Debbie Wasserman Shultz. I can’t imagine any of those possibilities exciting even Democrats.
Now compare that situation to what’s going on among Republicans. If anything, the Republicans have too large a selection of attractive alternatives. It frustrates me that there can be only one nominee. I like most of the announced candidates as well as several others — Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, and Paul Ryan, for example. The difference in bench strength between the two parties is like night and day.
This is not a new problem for Democrats. Although they have managed to win presidential elections over the past few decades there is usually something off kilter with their candidates. For example, there is something a bit weird about Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Howard Dean, John Edwards, and Barack Obama. They are not what most people would consider normal. Each in his own way has at least a borderline personality disorder. All of them have difficulty being up front and honest about who they are and about their true objectives.
Now contrast those Democrats to Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Bush 41, Bob Dole, and Bush 43. There is a genuineness about most all the leaders of the Republican Party. They tend to be people who are comfortable in their own skins.
John Edwards was John Kerry’s running mate in the 2004 presidential election. It would be hard now to find a Democrat who would say anything positive about Edwards. He was obviously an extremely flawed choice and most non-Democrats could see that from the outset. Howard Dean had significant support in the 2004 Democrat primaries until his “I have a scream” speech, and it became obvious that the guy is not all there. Nevertheless, Dean was later appointed head of the Democratic National Committee and served in that capacity for four years. Anthony Weiner was a popular rising star in the party until some Internet missteps revealed his serious character flaws.
Why do the Democrats have a propensity to support weirdos? What is it about the Democrat party that prevents normal, well-adjusted people from rising to the top of the party? What does their rogues’ gallery of leaders say about the Democrat base? I don’t have good answers to those questions, but there is obviously something going on and it demonstrates a striking difference between the two parties.
However someone rises to the upper echelons of the Democrat party, the process is not very productive. Whatever kind of farm team they use, it simply isn’t sending many qualified players to the majors.
Democrats love to fall in love with their leaders. Although love is the most wonderful thing in the world, it can be brutal when it comes to judgment. A wise friend of mine once told me, “When love walks in the door, judgment crawls out the window.”
Democrats clearly fell head over heels for Barack Obama. A lot of them have now fallen out of love with him and are scratching their heads wondering, “What were we thinking? This guy is not who we thought he was.” The answer, of course, is that they were not thinking. They were love-struck. Especially when love is new you do not want to hear anything negative about your sweetheart. That might explain why Democrats so often make choices they subsequently regret.
The Democrat dearth of viable leaders is not likely to disappear anytime soon. The Republican Party is certainly not problem-free, but a shortage of strong candidates is not one of them. That should give them a valuable advantage for years to come.
◼ The Democrats’ Chronic Leadership Shortage September 15, 2011
Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.