Published for www.commentarymagazine.com, February 28, 2012
It’s easy for politicians and political commentators, myself included, to focus on the foibles, mistakes and awkward language that sometimes characterizes the current crop of GOP candidates. That’s why Bill McGurn’s words are worth reflecting upon:
As Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum force Republican voters to make their choice in a hotly contested Michigan primary, once again we hear the great lament that we have looked at the candidates and found them all unworthy. Not everyone puts it as harshly as the headline over Conrad Black’s piece in the National Post: “The Republicans Send in the Clowns.” But it’s a popular meme in the campaign coverage.
Like so many others who find the field wanting, Mr. Black laments that “the best Republican candidates—Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Haley Barbour—have sat it out.” We’ll never know, will we? Because the “best” Republicans opted not to put their records and statements up for national scrutiny, commit themselves to a grueling campaign trail, and subject themselves to TV debates moderated by media hosts who often seem to be playing for the other team.
So say this for the final four: They had the guts to put themselves out there—and stick with it. That’s something a winner needs.