In the August 25th issue of WORLD Magazine, Joel Belz penned a column entitled Finding a Front-Runner, which weaves in the following story:
A young mother from Ohio, very savvy in matters political, was reporting to her father last week her perceptions on the Republican presidential field.Her responses seem indicative of the response of many conservatives around the country when it comes to the 2008 presidential election. Belz highlights the dissatisfaction with the current front-runners, noting that "every singer in that front-of-the-stage trio simply has too many negatives to build a winning coalition."
Romney? Mormon and too "slick Willie."
Guiliani? Good on national security. On everything else: blah!
Thompson? Way overhyped.
Paul? I'm just not ready quite yet to go into the "moonbat" category.
But what is most interesting is not Belz's clear doubts about the Big Three of Guiliani, Romney, and McCain, but rather what he has to say about two of the alternatives: Fred Thompson and Ron Paul.
[That] is why so many eyes have tended for three months now to turn to Fred Thompson of Tennessee. But if the Big Three can't manage yet to electrify a campaign, Thompson can't even seem to find the starter button. His launch date has been postponed so often now (and there are just enough worries about whether Thompson himself or his wife is in charge of start dates) that the luster is fading fast. Folks want to know whether his work ethic matches his good ol' boy image. He's a great talker, but people won't wait forever to see if he's that good.So who does Mr. Belz view as the winning alternative? He doesn't come right out and say it, but the young mother from Ohio is clear:
And I already know how my mailbox will fill up with letters from Ron Paul fans, who for weeks have already let me know—repeatedly—that we at WORLD simply don't know gold when we see it. I'm not quite sure what the "moonbat" label implies, or if it's really fair to apply it to a usually honorable man to whom Congress ought to listen more often. But when Paul last week openly joined his ignominious colleagues in their continued use of spending earmarks, trying to slip in several projects for his own district in Texas—and then tried to defend his actions—his credibility as a purist dropped in the general direction of his electability. I wish it were otherwise, but it isn't.
Ahhh. I finally found a candidate I can support. Mike Huckabee. It was like he was speaking to my heart. I think I even got teary.The column closes:
I'm not saying Mike Huckabee's the man. I am saying it's becoming altogether likely that an unlikely man with an unlikely name will push the front-runners aside.
The young mother's skepticism about the big boys is right on target. While too many pundits have their eyes on electability, she's sniffing out, with uncanny intuition, the much more critical issue of non-electability. And the front-runners in both parties are all carrying heavy baggage.
Whether she's picked the right dark horse may be a totally different issue. But the dark horses, this year and next, are the ones to watch.