National Commentary

Is That All There Is?

When I see the Republican roster of presidential candidates, I keep thinking of Peggy Lee’s famous song, “Is That All There Is?” And, I’m not talking about the numbers left, dwindling down. It seems when you reach the top of the GOP polls, you have no where to go except down. Thus, any candidate that high in the polls has been dubbed the “flavor of the month.”

Newt Gingrich is now riding high and enjoying it. It’s hard to believe, yet not so hard since the Republicans are so divided and can’t seem to coalesce behind one candidate.

He is apparently confident. Gingrich has begun a round of major fundraisers – mainly in Manhattan, the haven for political rain makers. He has been featured at several New York events now that he has moved to the top of the GOP presidential nominee list.

Gingrich did not endear himself to the Wall Street Occupiers when he coldly told them to “take a bath” and “get a job.” For a man shopping at Tiffany & Co. for his third wife, that remark was a cheap shot, and especially for a presidential candidate.

Gingrich has so much baggage in his personal life. Maybe the moral code is over for the GOP. I remember when divorce was a big deal for Republicans. Former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller’s divorce from his first wife, Mary, and second marriage to Happy was considered a political catastrophe.

That harsh judgment evaporated when former President Ronald Reagan, a divorced movie star, remarried Nancy Davis, a movie starlet who knew her way around with the famed Hollywood “Rat Pack.” The public accepted a divorced Reagan in his 1980 presidential campaign.

But, back at the ranch, there is a lot going on in the Republican Party, and no lack of ambition for the presidential nomination.

Two candidates have dropped out of the race – Tim Pawlenty, the former two-term governor of Minnesota who saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and Herman Cain. The businessman and former president of the National Restaurant Association had too much to overcome after being swamped with allegations of extramarital affairs.

Credibility used to be a big deal for aspiring politicians, now it’s sex or the ways of the flesh.

Still holding ground among the Republican candidates is former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney. He has sadly tried to move even further to the right. Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts was a blueprint for President Barack Obama’s national health care plan, but Romney moved away from his own universal medical care law to appease the Tea Partiers.

Surprisingly, the fact that Romney is a Mormon has not been as big of an issue as Kennedy’s Catholicism was in 1960.

Romney is a straight arrow. As much as he tries to be a regular guy – or one of the boys – he still has trouble with the likability factor. Still, he seems to have the best chance. Romney is rational and has been a leader in business and sports affairs.

The Republicans have candidates galore, but not any with a winning presidential sales pitch – no new ideas, and no real game plan to dig us out of the recession. Where is the inspiration for a country mired in joblessness, homelessness and poverty?

The Republicans are unchanged and opposed to any tax increases – who do they think will pay for two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 700 military bases around the world, and aid to Pakistan to the tune of millions per day?

Obama, who has no opposition to speak of, has been watching the Republican rivals fight for a shot at his job in the White House. They are giving Obama a lot of ammunition as they duke it out for the presidential nomination.

It’s going to be a long year until the political conventions this next summer, when the Republicans finally pick their standard bearer, after many disappointments and lots of money spent. But as I wonder, is that all there is?