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A Painful Bed Of Nails: Navigating The GOP Candidacies Of 2012 On The Road To Replacing Obama

Navigating the current field of 2012 GOP candidates in an effort to replace Obama is like walking on a bed of sharp rusty nails barefoot. Or if you prefer, it’s like the hot bed of coals. Either way, it will be icky and painful but it just has to be done.

Watching all the debates one has to wonder what the hell is wrong with our media. They praise the anointed one, Barak H. Obama, despite the disastrous, Jimmy Carteresque fiscal policies and national defense and diplomacy flubs while at the same time laughing uproariously as the GOP candidates bloody themselves in an obscene cage match in their efforts to become their party’s nominee. This is why I don’t watch mixed martial arts on TV, I don’t like the sight of blood.

Each of the Republican candidates, past and present have something to offer, but none of them are perfect. And so, most of us at the end of the day will have to go to our polling places come primary time and pull the lever for the candidate who least offends our conservative sensibilities. In the meanwhile, let me tick off for you what I think are the candidates strengths and weaknesses.

Mitt Romney:

I think this is the guy my dad and many old GOP faithful will vote for despite the fact that he is from Massachusetts and a little too cozy with the Democrats of that state. He’s a little too big government and oh by the way, Romney care may well have been the template of Obamacare. Despite Romney’s flaws,(and the fact that he looks as stiff as a 1970s game show host)  he does have a record of proven leadership that anyone can admire. My dad will point out that in a state where Republicans seldom get elected, Romney bridged the gap, built coalitions of unlikely partners and got things done for his state. Kudos.

He has been a successful business man and he seems to realize that government is not the source of job creation, the private sector entrepreneurs are. This is something that Obama and his following will never understand and is why this government has to be replaced. Government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem and Romney seems to get it.

Romney also took a crippled broken Olympics and made it into a huge success. That’s impressive and if he achieves nothing else in life, that is a huge feather in his cap.

It will be interesting to see if Romney is able to win over evangelicals who up until now were unwilling to pull the lever for a wacky Mormon. I have no such religious bias and will gladly pull the lever while holding my nose. One thing I have confidence that a Mormon president will do is champion my rights to own guns, prosper as my talents allow and worship God as I please.

Rick Santorum:

My current favorite brought out a stunner in Iowa last week, coming within 8 votes of the front runner Romney. I wonder if he will do as well in New Hampshire and elsewhere, but regardless, he has seemed to pulled off a great running game and given Romney something to worry about.

Santorum represents for me the ideal social conservative who takes the hits for his beliefs and says what he feels, no matter how idiotic they seem to other people and how offensive they are to their worldviews. The idea that homosexuals for example can just snap their fingers and become straight is a stretch Rick, really! It’s about as likely to happen as a drunk driver suddenly deciding he doesn’t like beer anymore and asking a friend to drive him home. Something in our minds makes us who we are and suddenly changing our worldview is major spiritual, emotional journey that doesn’t happen overnight, if ever. Rick won’t be a champion for Gay marriage. He will however champion traditional marriage which will be comforting for many conservatives. Sorry LGBT crowd. For the sake of Log Cabin conservatives, I apologize. Maybe there’s a compromise that includes social contracts, living wills, hospital visiting privileges and adoption arrangements we can discuss that won’t raise the ire of the extreme right?

Rick is unapologetic about his views on the preservation of life, from the womb to the grave and he is to be commended for that. I don’t think he’ll throw doctors and moms in jail for performing abortions but I do think that he will create a culture in which adoption is encouraged and the elderly and infirm won’t be casually euthanized as part of some quantitative life scheme. No gas chambers for the developmentally impaired, thank you anyway you Fabian Socialists.

Rick understands, unlike Ron Paul and his followers, that the world has real threats, namely ideological Muslim extremists who  are hungry for nuclear weapons and the death of Israel and the west. He will spend the money and equip our troops to make us safer. I think a confrontation with Iran is inevitable and ignoring the threat they present is just wishful thinking. The US has to be ready for these contingencies. We can’t be the policemen of the world, but we do have to be cognizant and laser focused on the threats we face. Voters who want us to shut the gates against the world in a fantasy that they’ll leave us alone are just living in a gated community known as Dream Land.

Santorum, like other conservatives, is business friendly and has helped the private sector fight crippling regulations that have killed jobs. If he is elected, I’m sure the economic outlook will change for the better. Enough said on Rick.

Newt Gingrich:

Uck, there is so much to say about Newt, I don’t even know where to start. Newt at least knows what a true conservative looks like, he worked with and genuinely liked Ronaldus Magnus, Ronald Reagan. He championed conservative values all his career and worked to stop crippling regulations and job killing taxes through his Contract with America. Newt knows how to balance a budget and he knows how to build coalitions and get things done, something that lightning rod Ron Paul probably won’t. Newt knows that he has to bend his own political gut feelings about the government solving problems in order to more accurately reflect the will of his constituents. He, unlike other candidates, is malleable in this regard, which is something the voter might want to consider come election day.

Oh but Newt has so many foibles I would be considered a hypocrite if I failed to mention them. He championed cap and trade, actually sat down on a couch with Princess Pelosi. He’s a Teddy Roosevelt progressive who is inclined to increase the size of government, not shrink it. He doesn’t know how to be faithful to his wife, and he has the soiled stench of corruption about him. Be that as it may he is often the smartest person in the room and an able debater. Watching him in a debate against Barack Obama would be like watching a US Navy destroyer gun down a Somali Pirate’s dingy. No contest.

Newt has a lot of baggage, but he is eminently more  qualified to be president than the office’s current occupant and at the end of the day I would pull a lever for the man named after an amphibious lizard.

Ron Paul, oh boy!

Dr. Paul is an able campaigner and champion of the libertarians. I like libertarians, I have great challenging intellectual conversations with them. I agree with a lot of topics they espouse, but when I find myself surrounded by conspiracy theories and black helicopters, I quickly run back to somewhere a little closer to the safety of the middle.

Dr. Paul wants to drastically shrink the size of government and make it more transparent. Good! He wants to end the Fed or drastically shrink it back so it serves its original purpose of controlling monetary policy. Awesome!

Paul wants to reform the tax code and put in place something with a little more fairness and a little more sanity. Is that the Messiah walking on the water?

Paul wants to close the borders and cut the military to the bone, ending military interventionalism worldwide. This is where I get off the train to Crazy Town!

Americans are justifiably sick of being the world police. I sympathize. I do. I spent 19 years in the National Guard and enjoyed 15 fun-filled months in the deserts of Iraq. We were extended for The Surge, thank you very much Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer! My brother has been deployed three times and is preparing for his forth. Our mother sends her hair coloring bills to the White House. I get it.

The loss and tears of the current wars are heart breaking. But the prospect of being left vulnerable to a terrorist state like a nuke hungry Iran is out of the question. One EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) nuclear weapon fired from an Iranian ship in international waters at the Eastern Seaboard of the United States would have cataclysmic consequences. We have to be protected and willing to spend the money and resources to keep the crazy world of evil terrorists far from here. Do we need to restructure our military and make better choices on when and when not to deploy? Absolutely. Do we need to take a look at what contractors we hire and what stuff we purchase? Yes. Can we close ourselves off from the world and hope the world will like us better? Stop with the crazy dreams already!

Despite Paul’s assertions, 9/11 was not our fault!

Because of Paul’s outrageous foreign policy stance, I think he is unfortunately, the worst of our candidates who have any shot at all of winning the nomination. That and the 20 years of newsletters with supposedly racist comments in them makes me scratch my head. Maybe he didn’t intend on those awful things to be said about our African-Americans. But, if he can’t control his own newsletter, how can he control the awesomely powerful institutions of our government? And, I for one am sick and tired of the Tea Party being called racists! The majority of us are horrified at such a libelous label. If Frederick Douglas were alive and running for president, I’d vote for him, (he was a dedicated Republic Conservative you know). A Ron Paul candidate running against an African-American President with that kind of a record would be the worst kind of insulting joke, worse even than a picture of a Tebowing Bill Maher.

Anybody else, Buehler?

Ah, Bachmann, what can I say. I liked her. Still do. I guess we’re not ready for a woman president yet. She has all the conservative credentials Santorum  does, but perhaps she was a little too shrill. I still like her. We need people like her in the legislature.

Tim Pawlenty, T-Paw, a little too green and too shrill and too yesterday.

Will Cain, loved him, except for that part about potential sexual harassment and infidelity. That might have been career enhancers for liberal democrats who loved Bill Clinton but not for the party of our nation’s family oriented conservatives.

I think that is everyone of note. Not one of them is ideal, but let’s remember, neither was Ronald Reagan at the time. We need someone with firm conservative principles who at the same time will build coalitions and get things done. No lightning rod idealists will do. Do you want total gridlock?

We can all agree that we are in a fast moving sports car heading right for the cliff, do we not? Remember that scene in the latest Star Trek movie where a young Jim Kirk runs his stepdad’s hot rod off a cliff? We know we have to turn aside to avert disaster. We know we’re on the wrong path. But maybe we have to accept that we can’t do a complete U-turn just yet. Maybe this election season is about turning aside, paralleling the chasm and catching our breath. The next time we can turn away completely and start in the opposite direction. First, we have to stop the car of our country from careening off into the abyss.

I for one will do what I can, which means I’ll join my dad in the Minnesota convention process, sitting down between the Romnyites, the Paulbots and the Santoriacs and vote for the guy I think is well enough suited for the job. At the end of the day I might not get exactly WHO I want, but I hope I get the essence of WHAT I want, which is what Founder John Adams wanted.

I want my own, free country, the one our Founders secured for us at the expense of their lives, fortunes and sacred honor.



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Jeremy Griffith

Jeremy Griffith is conservative blogger and retired officer of the United States Army Reserve. He writes for his own blog at

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