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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Deliberation v. The Sideshow in the Presidential Race

At National Journal, Reid Wilson writes:

After the Republican presidential field in 2008 spent a year trying to agree with each other, this year's GOP contenders are showing early signs that they have real policy differences, and they're not afraid to debate them. And yet much of the media is too obsessed with vanity candidates and nonissues to cover the serious debate.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has begun his presidential campaign by questioning the necessity of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, a break with Republican policy over the last decade. And, while seeking the nomination of a party that largely denies man's impact on climate change, Barbour told a crowd in Iowa in March that it is "prudent" to "proceed as if global warming is an issue."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney used his inaugural trip to New Hampshire last month to offer a defense of the state's health care plan, rather than backing away from an issue his opponents will certainly use against him. Jon Huntsman, who will explore a race once he returns from serving as ambassador to China at the end of the month, took stands on immigration, gay rights, and the environment that will set him apart from the field. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said frequently that entitlements should be examined in an effort to rein in spending.


Trump winning the Republican nomination, or even competing seriously, is beyond a remote possibility. Palin's hopes of winning aren't much better, and her absence from the national spotlight suggests she's not likely to try. And while rumors that Obama was born somewhere other than on Oahu, Hawaii, may drive traffic, facts, as John Adams lamented, are stubborn things.

There are serious and substantive differences between candidates seeking the presidency for reasons beyond personal gain and publicity. Sadly, the silly season means that's all being missed.