Recently, the New York Times’ conservative op-ed columnist, Ross Douthat, outlined his vision of what the coming 2016 field of Republican candidates could look like. The point of his piece was that currently there is no front-runner for the nomination, and he explained why.

We’re less interested in why no one seems to measure up to Mr. Douthat’s qualifications, than we are in the men themselves he high-lighted as having been bitten by the presidential bug.

Which is why we’re hoping that readers and listeners can give a few moments of their day to actually considering how each of these people would represent the United States at home and abroad, and how closely this reminds us of the European’s reaction when George W. Bush was re-elected. “You did this twice?”

In his column, Douthat outlined the potentialities of his candidates. That’s what we need to think about.
In the course of his essay, the author listed all kinds of current and past Republicans his team could either have supported more vigorously and in a more unified manner, or at least who had the gumption to get out and campaign. The list is far from encouraging insofar as it forecasts the type of candidates we’re going to have to winnow down once more.

And even though the debates preceding the last election were wonderful and funny and sad and the best entertainment on free television and cable, we don’t really want to have to listen and watch again as men consume themselves with pointless and misguided ambition.

Here are a few of the people Douthat wrote generously about: Chris Christie. John McCain. John Huntsman. Mitt Romney. Bob Dole. Mike Huckabee. Rick Santorum, Newt, and even Steve Forbes of yesteryear.

Of course Ronald Reagan was mentioned glowingly. Lamar Alexander. Pat Buchanan. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Paul Ryan. Jeb Bush. Ted Cruz. Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich from Ohio. And Marco Rubio.
Concentrating only on those men who are still alive politically, men who have not imploded or had their chance and blown it, we’re looking at Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, and perhaps a reconstituted Chris Christie.

Chris Matthews of MSNBC is the only “pundit” who dared to make his call early. He chose Rand Paul last autumn. Of course, Matthews is a Democrat and may have his own reasons for selecting Paul as a man who could wear the mantle of the presidency. To our way of thinking, this would be, in effect, like putting an eye doctor in a heart-bypass situation and telling him to do whatever he felt like with the patient. Are we ready for this kind of malpractice?

Ted Cruz is a mystery candidate because no one knows what the man really thinks or stands for. Certainly he stands mostly for himself and against all others. All others, in this case, means the rest of America, or certainly a goodly portion of it whose welfare he does not have at heart. There is only one man he admires, and it’s himself. Ideally, his “colleagues” in the Senate and down in Texas will speak clearly and loudly enough to tell him his candidacy is DOA. Apart from that, since he cares so much about Mr.Obama’s antecedants, what about his own?.…a Canadian of Hispanic heritage who holds dual citizenship — which, in our happier dreams — he actually needs to escape the angry crowds that are likely to assault his 1933 vision of our country and his lack of generosity and understanding of so many of our citizens.

Marco Rubio has an enormous task ahead, proving to voters of both parties that he’s not only old enough and wise enough to consider his chances as president, but also that his vision for the country is one in which we all want to take part.

Chris Christie, who could manage a miracle and become the voice of his party, would also still be hampered by his image as a tough, long-shoreman kind of guy you might want to have beers with but whom you cannot, deep down, really trust. Could our allies?

Paul Ryan is a cold fish whose sympathy for others is nonexistent.

And Jeb Bush may be flirtatious, but has he the guts to go all out and not only defend a record that he has but also attack the record of others? In short, is this the guy who can work Congress and work NATO at the same time? His lineage is swell, but does he have the “fire in the belly” so many politicians insist is required even to run? His mother may not think so, and who should know better?

Would it be valuable and somehow fitting that those with the real loot in this arena themselves enter their own names? It’s easy to stand back and behind other candidates and keep shoveling money at them, but what about actually getting into the fight as a principal?

Mr. Douthat seems not to even imagine this happening. He’s content to let the Koch Brothers work their wiles across the country with false advertising and slander and libel that is not only difficult to defang but even more difficult to ignore. What man, or men, in his right mind would want to be a four-year punching bag for the press and his teammates?
Just think about hearing President Christie, President Cruz, President Paul or Rubio or Ryan referred to in august and awesome tones for a foreseeable future?

Does this really make you proud and happy?


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