To elaborate on my theme that smart Republicans know that unseating Barack Obama will be a tall order (something that the fringe people, such as those who think the Tea Party is the “voice of the people,” completely miss), I point you to this piece by Daniel Henninger.
He blames, interesting enough, new media. He says GOP candidates who start this early will be cut down to nothing by the time the campaign is over by the constant drip of criticism on Twitter. It’s related to what we spoke of four years ago as Romney’s YouTube problem.
Strangely, he doesn’t see this as a problem for Obama, and his explanation of that is odd:
Meanwhile, it’s good to be president. With his opponents determined to spend a year and a half telling each other why “no one” is worth supporting, turning off contributors and independent voters, Barack Obama floats below the radar vacuuming up campaign cash at fund raisers.
He does make a legitimate point in the next sentence, however:
Every GOP candidate’s utterance is wholly political, but the Obama fundraisers and “policy speeches” are submerged in the presidency.
But he got the metaphor wrong. A president doesn’t fly BELOW the radar, but in a way above it. He’s fully visible, but can cloak his political statements in doing the job. Yep, that’s an advantage of incumbency. And always has been.
What Henninger ignores is that Obama has been thoroughly tested by new media, and not found wanting. There is nothing that can be thrown at a candidate via Tweets that hasn’t been hurled at him millions of times. And he sort of dropped the Big One on those flak sites a couple of weeks ago with the long form of his birth certificate, and his well-tempered scorn at his most imaginative critics. And, you know, by killing bin Laden. And, more substantially, by not being the extremist that his most extreme critics would paint him as.
If the GOP wants to prevail, it needs to come up with a candidate who can likewise endure the thousand slings and arrows. But the ones with that kind of substance are increasingly reluctant to get in.
In the end, Henninger rightly assesses the situation thusly, given the field as it stands:
A Republican candidate committed to running this gauntlet has to believe that come November 2012, the party will have nowhere else to go but to the polls to pull the lever for the last one standing. This assumes that the messaging power of electronic networks will magnify them. I believe the opposite: Given this much time, the medium eventually will melt them. The president, head ever up, will hold his ground.
The message in this for Republicans is that they need to come up with a candidate who, after being whittled at for 18 months, still has some substance left.
Oh, and by the way. I don’t know how Henninger votes. But if he isn’t a Republican, he missed a good chance.