By now you’re probably heartily sick of these “what went wrong for Republicans in the 2012 election and what we should do about it” articles. But Podhoretz has a somewhat different take on the whole thing, and it’s worth reading whether you end up agreeing with him or not.
One of the more interesting parts of the article to me was probably one of the more minor, but it shed light on a bit of a mystery. Towards the beginning of the campaign, when Republicans were throwing their hats into the presidential ring or declining to do so, I became more and more puzzled and disappointed when the people I thought might have had the best chance to win failed to enter. I wondered why so few wanted to even try to defeat Obama although he seemed vulnerable this year.
Of course I knew that many of them must have been reluctant to face the scrutiny, hatred, and downright defamation that would be their lot and the lot of their family members if they entered the race against the president. But still, it seemed that a few more of them should have braved it.
Podhoretz offers the following explanation:
Obama and his team let it be known in the spring of 2011 that they intended to raise and spend an unprecedented $1 billion—$250 million more than in 2008—without having to drop so much as a nickel on anything but the general election against the Republicans. This is probably the key to understanding why the Republican field in 2011 came down to the distressingly uncharismatic array of B-listers like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and a couple of ludicrous outliers who thought they had nothing to lose by running. A Republican senator explained it to me at the time: “That’s one billion dollars aimed like a laser-guided munition at the reputation of a single person.”
There were more attractive, more presentable, and more (theoretically) electable possibilities—potential candidates as conversant with conservative ideas as they are with practical governing strategies and who possess the vocabulary to unite the two. But those possibilities might either have had problematic family issues or other private matters they did not want aired—or they were simply intimidated by the immensity of the challenge or by the relative paucity of their own experience on the national stage. They would not enter the race no matter how much they were touted or how eagerly major donors assured them they would raise the necessary dollars to win the nomination. The conditions were favorable for a dramatic charge at a wounded sitting president, and yet they would not go.
Thus, the $1-billion-dollar laser-guided munition, discussed early enough in 2011 to make anyone nervous, may have been the “killer app” of the entire campaign.
Sounds plausible to me.
There’s an awful lot more in there; read the whole thing and see what you think.
And on a different topic, Andrew McCarthy has an excellent summary of Benghazi so far. Send it to some liberals you know and ask them if any of it concerns them at all—that is, if you can get them to read it in the first place.