As y’all know, all I want to happen with regard to the presidency is for Joe Biden to win reelection comfortably, and remain alive and healthy for four years, during which someone — I have no idea who — as suitable as he is emerges to succeed him.
But as the philosopher said, you can’t always get what you want. (See video clip below. Or this one, if you prefer.)
All sorts of things can happen. And it’s not just a matter of Joe’s age — look up “Kennedy, John” or “Garfield, James” or “Harrison, William Henry” — although his age makes more people aware of reality than they really should be with younger examples. And there’s a great deal to think about beyond death or physical disability. Anything, from the spectacular to the mundane, can crop up to end a political career. A sharp downward trend in the economy, for instance, would do it.
So, if one wants a sane and happy future for the country, one would look to other options — the “get what you need” part of the philosopher’s equation. Although I earnestly pray that we don’t have to fall back to that, because any of the paths remaining to us would require major miracles even for the country to be just kinda OK.
One course would be some suitable Democrat that is not currently visible on the horizon emerges and somehow seizes the mantle before it settles on the shoulders of Kamala Harris. I have trouble even imagining a scenario.
The other most obvious path would be for someone remotely acceptable to get the Republican nomination. I’ve been shaking my head as each eager GOP candidate has emerged, ready to seize any opportunity that the rapid decline of his or her party creates in the next year. It’s not a pretty spectacle.
But this morning, I forced myself to rank them in descending order, from the least to the worst. Or at least, the top five along that continuum, among the ones who have thrust themselves forward upon the nation’s attention.
Here they are. Be mindful that I haven’t been given a lot to work with here. No actually good, decent, acceptable candidate — such as John Kasich — has stepped forward, apparently because such people see no chance for the likes of them in today’s GOP. So, working with what I have, here goes:
- Chris Christie — At this point, you throw up your hands and stop reading, right? You’re like, you think he’s the best? No. Have you been reading up to this point? We’re talking least bad, in a nightmare scenario. The thing about Christie is, I kinda remember when he was a not-too-terrible (but pretty awful at times) governor. No, I can’t shake that awful image of him standing behind Trump, with a look of horror that reflected a man whose very essence had just been scooped out of him, but at least he had the humanity left to know he should look that way.
- Mike Pence — Normally, I’d put Pence at No. 1 Least Bad. His worst episodes aren’t quite as lurid as Christie’s, and I’m mindful of the case Paul DeMarco made for him — a lot of good points. But his main bad point remains that he was, willingly, Trump’s boy for four years. Yes, I appreciate that, with MAGA hellhounds on his heels, he refused to abet his master’s attempt to overthrow the election. That, as much as anything, puts him at No. 2. Without that, he might not even make the list. The NYT reports that his announcement video sort of glides over his time as veep, and emphasizes his service as governor before that. Good idea.
- Tim Scott — As I’ve said, nice guy, but I don’t see anything from him that comes close to showing he is prepared for the job. I suspect I put him ahead of Nikki for one big reason: I don’t know him. I’ve never even met him, which emphasizes how briefly he’s been a visible statewide figure, much less national. I don’t even know he’s a nice guy — he just seems to be, from a distance. But I know Nikki.
- Nikki Haley — I’ll always honor her for taking the flag down. People who don’t know the situation — even people who haven’t seen the appalling videos of her submitting humbly to the neoconfederates — think this was a mere political calculation based on a necessity thrust on her by tragedy. But it was more than that. For a generation, Republicans in South Carolina had run from the issue. Even David Beasley, a very decent guy, only tried briefly to do something before collapsing under the backlash. So I give her credit. As for why she’s not higher on my list — well, search for her name on this blog, and review the entire record.
- Ron DeSantis — Clearly at the bottom. I’m unlike Democrats in that his constant harping on Kulturkampf issues that endure him to the MAGA base usually don’t appall me in any way having to do with the substance of the issues. What does appall me is that he spends all his energy on these things, which loom in our politics mainly as ways to divide the country, rather than on real issues that might address the good of all. So what use is he? None at all, that I can see. And has he done things that appall me in a substantial way? You bet. I can’t think of anything I’ve seen any politician do yet in this century that was as disgusting as duping desperate refugees to win the love of hateful people.
They’re all sad prospects — worse than that, really. There’s not a lot of distance between No. 1 and, say, No. 4. Some of the judgments I made are based on small, subtle, even whimsical things. But I decided to make myself do it, and this is what I came up with.
I don’t know much about this Doug Burgum guy who announced today, but he doesn’t sound promising. However, if further evidence offers reason to do so, I’ll post an amended list.
I’d really like to see y’all to take a shot at this unsavory challenge, and share what you come up with. One overriding rule: Do NOT under any circumstances rank them according to “the one I think would be easiest to beat.” That kind of grossly irresponsible thinking is one of the quickest ways to national suicide. Here’s the truth: Anyone, absolutely anyone — as we saw in 2016 — who obtains the nomination of either of the two major parties has about a 50 percent chance of becoming president. Let that sober you. Least objectionable first, then on down…
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