The Conservative Horse Race at Mid-Point

Recently by David Franke: Ron Paul Won in Iowa

David Franke was a founder of the conservative movement in the late 1950s. Coming next from him: "Why Conservatives Deserve to Lose in 2012."

With Chris Christi and Sarah Palin eliminating themselves from the presidential race, we are at a turning point in the GOP sweepstakes. Barring divine intervention, there will be no new cast members in this election season's rollout of "Survivor." We are likely stuck with what we already have.

And just what do we have?

In answering that question, let me first state my personal perspective on all this drama.

I am a committed Ron Paul supporter. (And some would say we should all be committed.) I do not believe Paul has a chance of being the GOP nominee, however, for reasons I give below, and therefore I effectively have no horse in this race. I will not be voting Republican in November 2012, thus I have no emotional attachment to any of the remaining candidates. What I say about all of them is my "objective" analysis of the political situation as I see it, not as I wish it to be.

The Might-Have-Beens

I will miss Chris Christi. He would have made this race so much more fun. On the one hand, he would have split the establishment GOP vote, giving Rick Perry a better chance despite Rick's own proclivity for self-destruction. On the other hand, Christie has a spine – unlike the other notable establishment candidate – and his combative style would have attracted more Tea Party grassroots support than the self-designated spokesmen of the Tea Party would like to admit. Who knows how he would have done. We cannot go by the media, which was simply pandering for a new story.

I will not miss Sarah Palin. Her 15 minutes of fame was over a long time ago, but she had super-glued herself to the stage floor and nobody could drag her away. By the time she finally got tired of her Madam Hamlet act, nobody in the race was paying any attention to her. Her only fans were in the media. Ironical, isn't it!

Ron Paul

Despite that "(R-TX)" after his name, Ron Paul is not really a Republican – he is far too principled and too intelligent for that. He stands above factions the way George Washington did. In 2007 he wisely decided that he had to run as a Republican rather than a Libertarian because of the way the game is stacked today. That was the only way he could get the TV debate time to reach the public, and the results have far exceeded my expectations, if not enough to get him the nomination.

You may wonder why he can be beating or trailing President Obama by one or two points in the one-on-one polls, and at the same time have a ceiling of 10% to 15% in the polls of Republican voters, matched against the other GOP candidates. Well, polls have their limitations and are unreliable, but they're not that bad. The answer is in the details (the part nobody reads) of the Washington Post/ABC News poll, which revealed that two-thirds of his ardent supporters are not Republicans.

Many of the Republican candidates have adopted a Ron Paul Lite stance on issues like the Federal Reserve and deficits, but the GOP is still the War Party, which limits his appeal there. As a result he would do much better in the general election, picking up sizeable support from Independents and Democrats. But you have to win the nomination first, and the GOP is too sick and corrupt for that to happen.

Rick Perry

Rick Perry's political success in Texas, and his failure so far on the U.S. stage, only proves to me that Texas should still be its own independent Republic. I would move back home tomorrow if there was a chance of that happening.

Not that I think Perry is a "good" politician. There are no good politicians in Texas, except for that one congressional misfit from the Gulf Coast. The state government is still relatively small enough in Texas, however, compared to the other 49, so that Texans can enjoy Perry's antics and get some laughs while downing a few beers. Americans are too wussy for that.

Perry has to learn that he's not in Texas anymore when he flies over the Red River. He has to learn to speak half-way recognizable American English, he has to learn to talk about the state he's currently in, not just Texas, and in the remaining debates he has to learn to ignore what the other candidates are saying about him, ignore what the media hosts are trying to trap him into saying, and just speak from his heart about what he would do as president.

Perry still counts, because he's raising more money than even Romney, but he will waste all that money unless he can "grow" in these ways.

The Others

Only Perry, Romney, and Paul are raising enough money to be viable contenders to the end. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain are also constantly losing staff. That's not supposed to happen until the third year of your presidency, so that's not a good sign. Jon Huntsman has an unlimited supply of Daddy's money, not that it does him any good. Gary Johnson was added to the show – I can only guess – to distract libertarian-leaning voters from Ron Paul, but has had no noticeable effect. And Rick Santorum is the male Sarah Palin, who refuses to leave the stage even after all the lights in the auditorium have been turned off.

I know, Herman Cain is currently the "flavor of the month." (By his own admission to Jay Leno, that would be Haagen-Dazs R Chocolate Walnut – the guy does have a sense of humor.) But that just means that now, for the first time, he is going to be taken seriously as a candidate – and scrutinized. Once Republican primary voters realize that his Fair Tax plan is really a Massive New Taxes plan, it will be all over. His perfect record of never having won an election will remain intact.