Posted by | May 22, 2011 13:31 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

With Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump on the sidelines and Newt Gingrich struggling mightily, the Republican race for president is threatening to be devoid of interesting candidates.  Michele Bachmann holds out the most potential for enlivening the race.  And Joan Walsh thinks she should run.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty used to tell the truth about climate change — that it’s human made, and we can and must do something about it — but he’s now recanted. Mitt Romney passed decent healthcare reform in Massachusetts, but he’s tripping over his feet trying to run away from it. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wisely tried to declare a “truce” on the social issues that are driving away independents from the GOP — and then defunded Planned Parenthood. Gingrich told the truth about the Ryan budget — it is “right-wing social engineering” — and then took it back. I think he had to buy Paul Ryan a big diamond ring, like Kobe Bryant bought his wife after he shamed her, to make up for it (maybe that’s the Tiffany’s bill). These guys know better, and they’re acting like craven know-nothings; maybe it’s an advantage to be the person in the race who isn’t acting.

I have mixed feelings.  Here is a thought exercise.  Would you rather have an Obama-Romney race knowing that President Obama has a 75% chance of winning or an Obama-Bachmann race that President Obama has a 99% chance of winning but that 1% could mean the end of civilization as we know it (I exaggerate . . . but not that much)?

Two other things to think about.  If Bachmann were to get the nomination, we would have the biggest difference in candidates in memory (maybe ever) and a romp would be a death knell for the Tea Party, moving the Republicans back to the center.  But if Obama beats Romney, conservatives will continue to believe that the GOP is not conservative enough, hobbling the Republicans in 2016.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.