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The GOP’s Also-rans

Don Rose 27 December 2007 No Comment

I’m wrapping up my proctoscopic series on all the presidential candidates with this four-fer-one column on the remaining Republicans who—though in some cases not without interest—are totally hopeless and do not merit much more attention. (See, I can do political-editorial triage just like the mainstream media.)

In many ways the most successful of the also-rans just dropped out of the race. He is U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, now completing his 5th House term. Of course, that’s two terms more than he pledged to serve: He was Colorado’s champion of term-limits back in 1998 when he won his seat, then, in 2004, broke his solemn promise to serve only three terms. I’m shocked!… shocked!…to report a politician broke a solemn promise.

Tancredo was a single-issue candidate, but his issue—illegal immigration—is now the leading test on the GOP side of the divide. All the better-known candidates are joining in, trying to out-do each other in rhetorically stemming the tsunami of poor Mexican puddle-jumpers who threaten to strangle our glorious nation with more millions of grape-pickers, stable-tenders, gardeners and bus-boys.

Tancredo did not create the issue, but for several years now he’s been the harshest, most nativist activist in Congress—working hard to become the George Wallace of anti-immigrationists. Strangely, he never took off as a candidate, but his position on the issue metastasized to the entire field of more likely contenders, where only John McCain retains the courage to speak rationally on the question. (The up-side is that the GOP has now lost all hope of regaining any Hispanic votes in 2008.)

So Tancredo won the nod as the most influential of the also-rans. But almost as vocal and mean-spirited on the issue is another guy you probably never heard of, California Congressman Duncan (who?) Hunter. He is the Dennis Kucinich of the right: the purest, 24-carat conservative in the whole group. He aces every litmus test on every right-wing issue, social or economic, that ever reared its Falwellian head. He makes Dick Cheney look like Hugo Chavez, but he has all the charisma of a Brussels sprout and is thereby sentenced to spend the rest of his days in asterisk land.

The most interesting of the also-rans is, of course, Dr. Ron Paul of Texas, a 10-term, “constitutionalist” congressman who is the only Republican candidate to come out against the war—and to do so vigorously, thereby becoming the Chia-pet of liberal Democrats unaware of his anarchic stance on most other issues

Even though he is in single digits in the polls, he has raised millions of dollars—beating out rising-star Mike Huckabee five-to-one in the third quarter and recently set a one-day fund-raising record.

Paul ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988 and still professes libertarianism and miniscule government—including abolition of the Federal Reserve.

Like most libertarians he opposes governmental data-gathering on citizens and condemns those intrusive aspects of the Patriot Act. He also makes common cause with the left by opposing trade pacts such as NAFTA and CAFTA.

Unlike most of the Libertarians I know, he believes government should control your medical choices—he wants to outlaw abortion. (Paul is an ob-gyn, who says he never considered performing or recommending an abortion.) He also wants to abolish birthright citizenship for the U.S. born children of undocumented aliens—and he’s Tancredo-ish on most other immigration issues as well.

Hey, liberals, ain’t he cute?

One more candidate recently reared his head: Alan Keyes, who is sort of an African-American Duncan Hunter. He’s a perennial office seeker and perennial loser. Perhaps he is hoping for a rematch against Barack Obama. When they ran for the U.S. Senate from Illinois, Keyes set a record for the lowest percentage of votes a Republican ever received.

Maybe he can surprise us all and earn that rematch—after all, he is blacker than Obama.

***

Don Rose is the political godfather of the independent-liberal, anti-machine movement in Chicago and Illinois, was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s press secretary and is a regular columnist for The Chicago Daily Observer.

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