Chuck Grassley: the Face of the GOP (for a day, anyway)
Cuuck Grassley, not the fourth most senior Republican Senator, took another step forward as the national face of the GOP Saturday with the Republican response to the President's address.
It was old radio hand Ronald Reagan who started the weekend address. He'd done short form syndicated editorials in the interim between the 1976 and 1980 campaigns; I remember funding a vinyl LP of the "best" of them at the country radio station I worked at during the second term, and re-editing them so Ronnie sounded more like Gorby ("Private enterprise has failed and socialism is the only answer," I took out of context.) 1981 was also near the dawn of the 24 hour news cycle, with CNN brand new, and Reagan's people saw the news hole on Saturday morning and helped plug it.
Tax and spend, tax and spend, tax and spend is the summary of Grassley's response. In many ways he's the perfect GOP face to present opposite Obama: old and white. On the other hand, Chuck also wins the prize for Least Likely Tweeter, as he's become a big Twitter fan.
There's risks for Grassley being the face of the GOP when he faces re-election next year in a state that's trending blue. The Iowa race remains at the outer fringes of the national radar screen, mostly premised on the idea that Grassley may retire. You all know my theory on that: one more term and then grandson state Rep. Pat Grassley is old enough in 2016.
But even with Grassley in the race we were briefly on the radar, until the president took Tom Vilsack out of the mix. That's really my biggest beef with The Prez so far (well, second biggest; I want the troops home last week and not in 20 months). He's messed up three good Senate races with cabinet appointments. Vilsack was our best shot, Sebelius was the ONLY Democrat who could have won Kansas, and Janet Napolitano was leading John McCain in some early polls. (There was some speculation that Napolitano was names to Homeland Security--I HATE that term, it sounds all Third Reich to me--to get McCain on board. Nice how that turned out.)
But even without Vilsack there still may be someone who can knock off Grassley. We just don't know who that is yet, and time's a-tickin'.
One name we WON'T be seeing on a ballot is Peter Teahen, who was supposed to be the main-chance candidate against Dave Loebsack in 2008 until 2nd CD Republicans revolted and wentr with MMM instead. Teahen has now signed on with the Bob Vander Plaats campaign. To me that looks like an attempt to get the Huckabee Band back together: the Fair Taxers meet the fundamentalists. It's the national GOP's problem writ small: that which the base loves, everyone else hates.
I think this primary--and there WILL be a primary--will come down to VP vs. Not VP, and the live questions are who Not VP will be and will that be enough. It's not going to be one of the Frequently Mentioned First Tier--King, Latham, Northey, Vaudt. They might be able to out-poll BVP, but they all have reasonable comfy gigs(with the possible exception of Latham) but would have to give those up. So, is there anyone in the GOP second string who can win a primary running from the middle and not the right?