Thursday, June 25, 2009

Haley Barbour as Alf Landon

Haley Barbour: The Alf Landon of 2012

Mississippi governor Haley Barbour comes to Iowa today, in the wake of his sudden promotion to head of the Republican Governor's Association. Any trip to Iowa prompts speculation, and Barbour is starting to seem like the only grownup in the room, the least objectionable option for a party with few choices.

The religious wing vetoes Mormon "cult member" Mitt Romney and the business wing vetoes economic populist Mike Huckabee. Gingrich is toxic, Palin is laughable. Jindal is not quite ready and screwed by his state's off-cycle calendar (his re-election is two months before the Iowa caucuses). Jeb Bush is screwed by his last name. And anyone in Congress is committed to a play to the base, no on everything strategy.

Sure, the lobbyist background doesn't help, but I get the sense that Barbour is at least acceptable to both Money Republicans and Jesus Republicans.

We Dems like to brag of realignment and claim that 2008 was our 1932, setting the stage for "40 More Years" (as James Carville titles his new book). That would make 2012 into a 1936 style landslide... and Barbour, a semi-boring no drama governor of a solid Republican state, starts to look like Alf Landon.

No one else really wanted that worthless 1936 Republican nomination, except extreme isolationist William Borah and the just-beaten Herbert Hoover, defending his record in much the role that Dick Cheney is playing now. Landon was nominated by default and had the loud backing of conservative publishers, the Fox News of his time. FDR won 46 states and Landon's once-promising career was over, but it's hard imagining anyone else doing better.

Republicans had just better hope Barbour doesn't have a girlfriend.

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