What's wrong with the Republican party these days? After two debates, we've got a so-called "top-tier" of candidates who spend half their time arguing over who is the least liberal, and the "second-tier" is almost entirely ignored by Old Media. Many Republicans, including the conservative media, almost seem to be hanging their hopes on Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich, neither of which have even announced a candidacy at this point! In the "top-tier", we've got:
1) Rudy Giuliani. I personally just don't like this guy, and never really have. His one alleged strength was his leadership on 9/11. True, his pouncing on Ron Paul at the SC debate won him the sound-bite-of-the-night award (with Gov. Huckabee's "John Edwards in a beauty shop" running a close second), but what happens if/when the Republicans find out that Ron Paul was right? Giuliani's self-proclaimed ignorance of the 9/11 Commission Report, the testimony of CIA and FBI counter-terrorism experts, bin Laden's 1996 and 1998 fatwas and other factual causes of anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world shows that he is completely unprepared to deal with what is perceived to be his strongest issue: radical Islamic terrorism!
Giuliani played to the crowd in SC by invoking Hillary Clinton. He was trying to convince the Republican crowd that he was the only one who stood a chance at defeating Clinton next year. I personally believe that the war in Iraq has taken on so much importance in this country, and is so opposed by so many people, that if the choices come down to a pro-war Republican and an anti-war Democrat, the Democrats will take the White House on that issue alone. I'm not saying that other issues aren't important to voters, but I think that, unless Bush somehow ends the war before the election, it will be the defining issue for most independent and swing voters.
I haven't even mentioned Giuliani's stances on abortion, gun control, gay marriage, or any of the other issues important to the Republican base, and quite frankly, it's been covered enough that I don't feel like I need to mention it further. The bottom line is that the people who vote in Republican primary elections disagree with Giuliani on too many issues for him to be able to count on their vote.
2) John McCain. McCain is going to have a pretty tough time with the Republican base. After all, his main highlight is being a "maverick", a reputation he gained by opposing his party's base with the awful McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill. Now he's attached his name to the Kennedy-McCain Immigration Bill, which absolutely is amnesty, and which was being opposed by conservatives even before the bill had been written. Being able to "reach across the aisle" might help you in the general election, but I don't see it being effective for primary votes.
McCain also has the same problem as Giuliani of being pro-war, and he's probably the most hawkish of the current candidates. I'm telling you, this is the issue that gave the Democrats both houses of Congress in 2006, and will give them the White House in 2008 if we nominate a war hawk.
3) Mitt Romney. This guy reminds me of Bill Clinton. He'll say whatever he has to say in order to get elected. Either the Republicans will be drawn in by this, or will be completely turned off by it. We can only hope for the latter. His record as governor of Massachusetts isn't going to help him with fiscal and social conservatives; his Mormonism, I think, is still going to be an issue for the Christian conservatives. Romney is yet another pro-war candidate, and I just do not see the American people electing a hawk in the general election, even if that means they have to elect Hillary.
That's it for the Old-Media-anointed "top-tier" candidates. Now I have to be honest, I haven't been following the campaigns of the other candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, so I don't really feel like I could add anything significant to the debate.
This post, however, is not about why I support Ron Paul (that will come later, I assure you), it's about why the GOP is in serious trouble. We have to get back to our roots, back to the Reagan/Goldwater days when the Republican party was about less government intrusion in our lives, lower taxes (and it's corollary, lower spending) and strong national defense. Since the GOP was hijacked by neoconservatives, we've shifted toward using government to promote "conservative" values, we've nominally lowered income taxes but have increased federal spending (which is the recipe for inflation and economic stagnation) and we've spread our troops all over the world which, far from increasing our national security, breeds anti-Americanism and lowers our military readiness. Still, all of this will be a moot point if we nominate a pro-war candidate next year.