It’s Never Too Early To Panic

British dance judge Len Goodman.

Image via Wikipedia

Those were the immortal words addressed to aspiring hoofer David Hasselhoff by Len Goodman, ballroom dancing judge, after Hasselhoff’s disastrous performance on this year’s first episode of Dancing With The Stars.

They were richly appropriate… but no more so for Hasselhoff than they are for GOP strategists as they bleakly survey their 2012 field of presidential hopefuls.


The election is over, and it’s time to play “what if” and “who?”


Oops! PANIC!! This is indeed a pretty thin bench.


So… who do we think will be among the hardy group who will soon be schlepping through the snowbound diners and donut shoppes of Iowa? Since past is prologue, let’s take a moment to consider the field in 2008:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_%28United_States%29_presidential_candidates,_2008


After disposing of all the assorted cranks and crazies, Republicans winnowed it down to three tiers of candidates:


Tier 3: the serious declared contenders who, alas, did not make it to the primaries were: Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore (does anybody remember Jim Gilmore?) Tom Tancredo and Tommy Thompson.


Tier 2: the group who withdrew at various points during the primary process were: Rudy Guiliani, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. And of course:


Tier 1: the actual nominee (who started as a very long shot) was John McCain.


So… go for it, kids. Let’s hear who you think will occupy each of those tiers this time around. Who will declare but not survive into the primaries, who will be the “also rans,” and who will ultimately win the nomination? It’s not going to be a come-from-nowhere dark horse. That’s just not how the GOP rolls. Whoever the eventual nominee will be, its somebody with whom we are already familiar. So go ahead. Feel free to name names. Your guess is as good as anybody’s.


About filistro

Filistro is a Canadian writer and prairie dog who maintains burrows on both sides of the 49th parallel. Like all prairie dogs, she is keenly interested in politics and language. (Prairie dogs have been known to build organized towns the size of Maryland, and are the only furry mammal with a documented language.)
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44 Responses to It’s Never Too Early To Panic

  1. Mainer says:

    Oh wow I had forgotten some of those folks even threw their hat at the ring let alone into it.Would Huckabee and Romney be the only ones going after another bite at the apple?

  2. filistro says:

    My guesses… Tier 3 will be Mike Pence, Ron Paul (won’t get to the primaries this year) Tancredo and Duncan Hunter.Tier 2 (quitting in primaries) will be Rudy, Huck, Newt, T-Paw, DeMint (yes, that bad) and of course Princess Quitterpants…. because that’s how she rolls. Nomination will go to Mittens, because a.) it’s his turn and b.) they really really want to beat Obama.Sarah’s leaving and Mitt’s elevation will leave a small surly sundered party that can hold its convention in a phone booth.You heard it here first…

  3. filistro says:

    Sorry… better add John Thune to Tier 2…(I still feel like I’m forgetting somebody important)

  4. shiloh says:

    Bypassing the irrelevant tiers, mittens will be the Rep candidate.As Charles would say, next …Although Charles would tell ‘ya palin will be the Rep candidate because he had a palin fetish, god love him.btw, just saved the Rep party and Rep pretenders a lot of $$$ lol>ok, a more interesting question: Who would you like to see from the old 538 who haven’t appeared yet ~ PW, Pan, loner, Dwight, Tony ? from NJ as there were a lot of interesting devil’s advocates at the old blog.Anyone Bueller?Another reason why I wish Harpo er Nate hadn’t zapped 538’s comment section. Can’t remember all the names. It really says a lot that corporate Nate is/was embarrassed by his old blog!>Is America ready for a Mormon president? 😛

  5. robert verdi says:

    In 1976 Jimmy Carter was 2% in the polls before Iowa, he did well there (I don’t think he won)and after-wards took off. My point is that this might be the cycle of the dark horse, a Tim Pawlenty like politician, quiet competence that looks safe. Better known but hardly someone with widespread appeal would be Haley Barbour. His stunning success in the last election cycle attests that he knows his way around a political battlefield and one of great assets of being head of the RGA is the ability to develop a national network of allies and connections simply by doing your job.

  6. filistro says:

    Robert, you’re right. I forgot about Haley Barbour. It really seems like he is contemplating a run. I don’t see him getting past Tier 3, though. He’s just got too much of a “southern vibe” to catch fire nationally. It think this will be a cycle where it won’t hurt a candidate to be from the south, but it won’t be good to seem too southern.

  7. shortchain says:

    Oh, yeah, do pick Tiny Tim Pawlenty. “Quiet competence” is one way to describe it. “Utterly lacking any trace of personality” and “pathologically un-charismatic” is another. And his presumption of competence went down with the bridge. He did a rotten job in Minnesota, before he left to campaign for president for the last two years of his term.Barbour cannot be elected outside of Mississippi and he knows it. That he’s head of the RGA shows what a feckless group that is.Don’t look to any of the current governors for future candidacy. Either they have a track record that will make them unpalatable to the teaparty activists that will hold the power in the primaries and conventions or they have a track record that renders them incapable of election on a national stage.Sarah Palin’s braintrust, such as it is, figured that out long ago and she dumped the governor’s office. Look for someone either from the incoming class of governors or from the large class of Fox News talking heads.But we can count Fred Thompson out. Too bad. He was a boon to insomniacs everywhere.With the economy improving, gradually, I expect that the candidate we’ll see will be a popular GOP governor, from a state that will make an earlier recovery from recession. It’ll have to be a southern state, as that’s where the only power base of the GOP resides.The GOP doesn’t really like to run with Senatorial candidates, as they too often have baggage, in the form of tactical votes, and have no experience as the head of an authoritarian organization, so the authoritarian followers — er, I mean “Republican voters” — don’t find them attractive.I’m betting Rubio will be up there in the top two tiers. I don’t know enough about Sonny Perdue to rate his chances.

  8. filistro says:

    I also forgot Mitch Daniels. What tier would he fit into? And I’m really fascinated to be hearing murmurs about Jeb Bush again. (He was actually my pick about two years ago.)Maybe Dubya’s book and reparation tour will be enough to make the family name less toxic? Jeb has so many advantages. He’s from the south but not southern. He’s smart but not wonkish. He’s conservative but not crazy. He brings the all-imprtant Latino vote, he satisfies the secret American craving for dynasty, and he understands how to use and manage power.Even I could probably support a Jeb Bush.. except I don’t know if I can ever forgive him for his Terri Schiavo intervention. What an ugly blot on an otherwise impressive political career.

  9. robert verdi says:

    Maybe, but I think most people won’t care if he has a drawl if they believe he can do it, as for T Paw who knows. Either way my point is that someone who really seems like a “No Drama” candidate might have an appeal to a country tired of oversized personalities of any political stripe. It don’t hurt to be based far away from Washington either.

  10. robert verdi says:

    suffice it to say there will be plenty to go after with Pawlenty as there will be with Obama, its what campaigns are about. As for his lack of charisma, perhaps people are just tired of sweeping grand visions and just looking a politician who just seems boring and safe.

  11. filistro says:

    It will be interesting if we get deja vu all over again… if after two more years of relentless battering, the R’s have got Obama weakened enough to be vulnerable…. and then put up an unelectable candidate a la Angle/O’Donnell. Coff*palin*coffcoff…It can’t be Mitt, though. If they pick Romney simply because he’s “next in line,” they will start out with half the base mad enough to sit out the election. With today’s razor-thin majorities, you just can’t risk that.

  12. shortchain says:

    robert,”perhaps people are just tired of sweeping grand visions and just looking a politician who just seems boring and safe.” — and maybe pigs will grow wings.You don’t have to go any farther back than Tuesday’s election to realize that American voters are, on the whole the same folks with short attention spans and willingness to go for shiny over substance they’ve been for generations.

  13. robert verdi says:

    This is the same electorate that voted in 2008 for Obama and gave the Dems smashing majorities.

  14. GROG says:

    The 2012 Republian nominee will be Marco Rubio.

  15. shortchain says:

    robert,And in 2008, who was the shiny candidate?It’s odd, but apparently, a lot of people seem to believe that, if you aren’t a Republican, you must be an Obamabot.In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not exactly an Obama supporter. Mind you, he’s head and shoulders better than the least-worst the GOP has to offer, but that’s damning him with faint praise.

  16. robert verdi says:

    I suppose, but I see no reason to view the entire country as foolish, its a Democracy and choices get made, for better and worse.

  17. robert verdi says:

    I agree that Mitt will not be the best candidate, Romney Care is simply a bridge to far.

  18. filistro says:

    GROG… not Rubio. He’s too young, they won’t risk it.Dems will take a younger guy and push him to the front, but the GOP never does. They go with seasoned, next-in-line kind of guys. (Testing this theory.. who was the youngest GOP nominee in history, does anybody know?)

  19. shortchain says:

    robert,I didn’t say foolish. Making decisions by what your gut says is often the right way to do it. At other times, not. Are you prepared to point to a national election where the result was based on mature reflection, and honest and rational discussion of the alternatives?Whether the country, as a general rule, is foolish or not depends on whether the result turns out they way they want. For example, if a majority of the electorate, in 2008, actually thought that Obama was going to single-handedly change the way business is done in Washington, then, yes, they were foolish.If, on the other hand, they were just deathly tired of nincompoops in charge of the country, then — not so foolish to vote for Obama over McCain.If, in the current instance, the public voted to overturn everything that was done in the last two years and institute a reign of fiscal conservatism in the middle of a recession in the belief that this will make things better quickly, then they are, plain and simply, fools. But if they voted for the Republicans as a means of sending a message that they don’t like the way things are going — then they’re idiots as well as fools.I rest my case.

  20. robert verdi says:

    Your right, you didn’t say foolish, but lets just say its less then flattering.

  21. shortchain says:

    I only flatter Canadians.

  22. GROG says:

    @filistro,I don’t think Rubio is too young. He’ll be 40 in 2012. The GOP is a changin’ and he’s exactly what they need.He’s young, attractive, of Hispanic descent (he speaks fluent spanish), has a great looking family (his wife is also hispanic), is a good speaker, and garnered 55% of the hispanic vote in Florida. And he’s conservative. He would be a nightmare for Democrats. Is the answer to your question Dewey?

  23. filistro says:

    @shortchain… I only flatter CanadiansB-)

  24. filistro says:

    @GROG.. Is the answer to your question Dewey?I didn’t know the answer, had to look it up and you’re right… Dewey was only 38 when he ran in 1940.Rubio has another big problem with parts of the GOP base (and a very interesting one) that I intend to touch on in a blog post next week.

  25. shiloh says:

    who was the youngest GOP nominee in historyPresidential candidates used to be decided in smoke filled rooms, wayyy before primaries were invented, just sayin’.and senators were elected by the state legislature.We’ve come a longgg way baby … or not.FDR was picked in a smoke filled room ~ gentlemen, the smokin’ lamp is lit! 🙂

  26. Mainer says:

    Shortchain let me take this a little more down the road with some thing I do actually know about. Lets talk Maine: we are not very important in the grand scheme as has been pointed out here as we just have too few people and therefore too few people in DC to be very important but we do make one hell of a political lab rat.We just had a major if temporary power shift in this state. Lets just take the race for govenor as it is easier to play out. The rural areas of this state turned out enmass to put govenor elect Page over the top. The GOTV was nothing less than spectacular.The rural folks are still dancing in the streets (almost have too because not many sidewalks where I live) because by gorry they showed those I-95 corridor upity, liberal, commie, pinko,big city (folks up here don’t get out much) socialist, queer ass (not many up in this neck of the woods are smooth enough to say Gay and they don’t dare to say the word lesbian)over educated flatlanders just who is in charge.And by gorry they did. Those Republicans they have sent to Augusta will fix things. They will balance the budget, pull all kinds of jobs out of their ass, fix the roads and cut their taxes….oh and make sure god is given proper respect by telling those damned queers how to get back to Mass…..The area these people love to hate has some thing like 70+ % of the jobs in the state. It pays some where around 80% of the taxes, all the major medical facilities and some thing like 60% of the social services.Now the rurals are not with out their superlatives because they are the oldest, least educated, poorest, most unemployed or under employed, higest health care need, lowest average income people in the state that rely on a vast network of expensive to maintain, low quality roads that are eating our state high way budget.I suspect some of you see where this is going but the new ruling class in Augusta has just picked up ownership a budget projected to be a gazillion dollars in the red…..this after 4 years of pretty agressive budget cutting. Nothing easy is left the cuts now will be draconian and targeted to still maintain a core of programs in the most easily maintained areas like the I-95 corridor.Yup the folks that sent the tidal wave to Agusta to send a message to those not so Maine folks living in Southern Maine are about to lose just about every government service they are presently using to survive. No more expensive out reach programs (they will all be on the corridor and the rustics can drive to them, a real cut off of welfare programs, heating aid (state) school money (as many as half the rural schools could be closed)the list just goes on and on not because they are being punished but because of where they are. But the irony is now don’t really give a rats butt if they sink if they are going to be so numb. The new gov and crew have few if any choices and the Republicans have 2 years to keep the Titanic afloat or totaly piss off who sent th

  27. Jean says:

    Republicans and teapers are having this same conversation at http://www.redstate.com/traversecityconservative/2010/11/05/acceptable-republican-presidential-candidates/And 2 of the 7 commenters favor Herman Cain.

  28. filistro says:

    Herman Cain! They really ARE in a panic about Obama, aren’t they?From wiki: “In 2006, Mr Cain was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in both his colon and his liver. After surgery and chemotherapy, he has reported that he is cancer free (as of 10 April 2010).[8]”

  29. shortchain says:

    Re: Herman Cain — He’sa) way too competent to every make it through the GOP selection process. The western GOP likes their candidates dim enough not to be a threat, and they fear intelligence like they fear the shut-off of federal subsidies for agriculture — andb) He’s also not pure enough for the teapers (he supports Affirmative Action!).His chances are below 1 percent of winning any southern primary, and not much better west of the Mississippi.

  30. Mainer says:

    Herman Cain????? I suspect at least some problems with name recognition.I’m not sure Mitt can even win the Northeast but maybe. I really do not see him getting through the primaries so maybe tier 2. Barbour certainly would like it and proably could play the base but in way to many places he is going to come off as nothing more than Boss Hog and even with out looking suspect he has way too many skeletons in his closet. Might be a 2 but I doubt it though he would be one of the ones I would like to see debate Palin.While I have said before that Christi wasn’t even going this direction of late I’m not so sure. But like Mitt he has the Northeast curse in modern republican world. Now maybe if he could destroy a couple of unions to burnish his image maybe but naaah.I really think Ryan and Pence are sniffing the edges hard to say where they would get.Rubio is in some ways a possibility but he is getting to the gate kind of late and I think would have to be very lucky and make all the right moves and get very lucky but is a possibility and that is assuming some thing does not get hung on him early.Pawlenty oh so wants it but I would probably stand as good a chance which would take it some where south of zero.Newt I would put in with Pawlenty along with most of the last pack but I do kind of like Duncan hunter. But I would like to see Palin and Paul go at it in a debate as Paul might be one not to pull verbal punches.

  31. shrinkers says:

    Not really. 29 million people who voted for Obama in ’08 stayed home last Tuesday. It really wasn’t the same electorate.

  32. filistro says:

    Mainer, you’re right! Ryan and Christie are 2 more I’ve been missing.I’m going to have to come up with a new set of Tier 3 and Tier 2 candidates. Mine is starting to look so-o-o-o-o three years ago.Robert thinks Mittcare will make it impossible for Romney to get the nod. I think that may well be true.

  33. Mainer says:

    I would have to agree with Robert. Mittcare will be used as a bludgeon on him as a visible club all the while the whispers in the background are going to be Mormon, Mormon, Mormon…..odd actually I think he is at best a snake oil salesman and wouldn’t turn my back or my wallet on him but his faith is what will actually do him in.What about all the Thune backers? There are Thune backers right?I suppose Colorado could run a ticket of Buck and Tancredo.The national organization against women could run a tag team of Angle and Odonnell with Linda McMhanon managing.Joe Miller and Joe The Plumber would make a pair, I’m just not sure of what.Jim Demint is almost full enough of himself to take a stab at it and he would make it to the 2nd level maybe.Newt the Toot would at one time have raised the intelectual level but not so much any more. Besides he has more baggage than South West air.Jeb Bush is probably more of a possibility than any of us might want to beleive and friends in Florida think him quite tallented. One I wouldn’t rule out and if he runs he will run hard but will one more Bush play well?

  34. shortchain says:

    Mainer,I agree with your analysis. The same thing is going to play out in South Dakota. They’ve just elected to the House Kristi Noem, who will be the only non-veteran in the Congress who has not completed a college degree.She’ll be really effective in bringing in the federal dollars, I’m guessing. And South Dakota’s economy lives on basically three things:1) agricultural subsidies, which will surely be on the block if the teapers are sincere about cutting the budget.2) tourism, which didn’t do that well last year and will do even worse as the economy goes south again under fiscal conservatism.3. money paid to indian reservations, which will surely be cut (and the last time they were cut, under Reagan, it initiated a period of very hard times out there).They just cut their own throats, but they don’t even know they’re bleeding out.

  35. Mainer says:

    shortchain you don’t know how much I want to be wrong on this. I have always lived in the part of Maine that is pretty to look at but hard to live in, great to vist but better to be from. Good times here would be a recession any where else. I think some cooler conservative heads are already worried. Too many of the candidates made promises with no freaking idea how they would affect any thing and with out knowing any of the budget facts. They were yelling right to the end how they were going to cut taxes and that is all a good portion of their voters heard becaue they have been told repeatedly how bad the taxes are. That while the Dems and Indys and Greens were trying to remind every one that first we had to balance the budget because that is the law but no one heard that, at least for some reason in the rural areas.I suspect as the new positions get staked out that conservo radio may find more liberal and progressive callers and they will all be throwing the bullshit flag. The news papers in the state (and some do still have some clout) will almost assuredly go after some of this as well and the numbers in the legislature are such that cooler heads could cross the aisle and build some fire walls. It will be interesting to see. I think our new gov is going to age badly and I almost think he knows it. The man may be a blow hard and have a hair trigger temper but I’m guessing he is about to have a very bad spell when he gets his first full look at the states books.

  36. shortchain says:

    Mainer,I envy you. Your new guv’nor will have to live in the state long enough to suffer from the consequences of his bad decisions. Our’s, Pawlenty, could absolutely not care less about what happens to our state, so long as he increases his chances of going on to higher office, and, if the GOP manages to prolong the recount, he’s in a position to do that very thing.

  37. filistro says:

    This seems appropriate here:From the article:”The GOP presidential primary battle to determine who will take on President Obama in 2012 begins in earnest this week now that the midterms are over, and FOX News is jumping in.Special Report with Bret Baier is launching a 12-day series on the topic called “12 in ’12” that each day will feature a profile of one of 12 Republicans who may launch presidential bids for the 2012 race. Exclusive interviews with 11 of the 12 candidates are planned for the profiles, which begin Thursday evening with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.Other candidates being profiled include: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.A thirteenth story is also planned with long-shots such as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and others like Donald Trump. All 13 stories will air again after the series in a one-hour special.”

  38. Mainer says:

    Earlier this year Gallup polled the chances of the following 10 people that were seen at the time as the most lkely:Palin: How can I miss you if you wont go away. Look for a FOX production that will make her look warm, and cuddly and ohhhhhhh so coached. Filmed over 3 days to reduce stress.Romney Already discussed on here and FOX tinks he is still in the hunt but he isn’t owned by FOX so don’t expect a kinder gentler show.Huckabee Huck will get his FOX moment and then probably just be a commentatorPetraeus Remember this. What a non start. Some one should have asked first.Giuliani Not even on the FOX list. Gingrich Still there and on the FOX list Jindal Still on the Fox list but says he isn’t interested??????Jeb Bush Not on the FOX listCharlie Crist Only Republican list he is still on is the big fecal rosterLindsey Graham Yeah right…there are those rumors you know????Guess one could say what a difference 10 months makes.The rest of the list? Santorum…used goods. Maybe a VP slot to balance a ticket but would be almost like a male Palin. Rick seccessionist Perry for president? Best shot would be to fill Jeff Davis shoes. You can forget Ron Paul. Having an actual Libertarian around makes the rest of them look well not so libertarian.Notice “I’m not running Christie” is hmmmmmm apparently running. And yup there he is Jim “I’m the best thing that could happen to the Republican Party” DeMint.By the looks of the FOX list they are having as much trouble as we are figuring this out. I notice no Huntsman, Coburn, Gary Johnson, or Sonny Perdue (now there is a guy that could deliver on a chicken in every pot). Now Thune is the one I think could maybe do it. I wonder if they will ask about his TARP vote?

  39. shortchain says:

    I don’t think Thune has legs, politically speaking. No GOP Senator from South Dakota is ever going to be a brilliant thinker, and, the more the public is introduced to John, the more they’re going to understand why he was a failure even among the less-than-hypercompetitive ranks of MBA’s from the University of South Dakota.

  40. Todd Dugdale says:

    IMHO, people here are over-estimating the power of the Republican Party apparatus to control the nomination process. The Party, for all practical purposes, forced McCain on the rank-and-file in 2008. The rank-and-file didn’t forget that in 2010, and they won’t forget that in 2012. Everyone on the Right thinks that the base did the heavy lifting in this last election, and they will go with a base candidate.

  41. mclever says:

    Based on the rally-stops he’s already holding in Iowa, I’d say that Ron Paul is running. He was just here in Iowa City with around 900 cheering supporters and a tacky campaign bus.Whether he hangs in there after the first round of primaries or not is another question. He won’t be the nominee, but he’s shown a certain tenacity for debate.

  42. mclever says:

    My guess is that Mitt Romney will be the nominee. Based on the mailers I’m already seeing, Pawlenty, Huckabee, Gingrich, DeMint, and Thune will likely throw their hats in the ring for Iowa. I think it’s too early for Rubio, especially for Republicans who tend to prefer well-established candidates. Palin’s flame is fleeting, and the “serious” Republicans will rally around someone like Mitt if necessary to keep her from winning. Jeb Bush seems like a long-shot–too much of a reminder of GWB, which Republicans would be wise to avoid.I’ll let you know who comes through town in January. That’ll tell you who the serious contenders are!

  43. Jean says:

    Todd Dugdale,re: The rank-and-file didn’t forget that in 2010, and they won’t forget that in 2012. Everyone on the Right thinks that the base did the heavy lifting in this last election, and they will go with a base candidate.That brings up a question – just who nowdays is their “base”? The former base of the Republican party was the social conservatives. However, the Tea Party base is the libertarians and opportunistic “value voter” social conservatives. To them, anyone else is strongly suspected to be a RINO and as tus, a target to be primaried in 2012.

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