Thursday, August 25, 2011


I don't know why The Wall Street Journal ran this op-ed by Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen telling us, yet again, that the two-party system better watch it because a serious third-party presidential campaign is coming -- no, for real this time! Did it run because these guys just write the same piece every few months and the Journal slots it in whenever there's a slow news day? Is it meant as an oblique warning to Republicans that they'd better go with Romney over Perry or a third-party candidate will throw the election to Obama? Is Murdoch sucking up to Mike Bloomberg, to whom Schoen regularly plays Smithers?

I have to confess, however, that I think a third-party candidate actually could compete this time around -- mostly because the public isn't as far right as Perry, the likely GOP nominee, and yet I see huge amounts of dissatisfaction with Obama. If Obama loses in a two-way race to Perry, he's going to lose not to Perry but to not-Obama -- and someone coated in journalist-supplied centrist pixie dust could just as easily pick up enough of that not-Obama vote to win a three-way race. (Or at least win the popular vote, and be competitive in the Electoral College -- although if this happened and no one got 270 electoral votes, the race would go to the House and, public opinion be damned, the 'pubs would pick Perry even if he finished third.)

I keep wondering why Jon Huntsman doesn't just quit the GOP race right now and declare for president as the Tom Friedman candidate. Can you imagine the plotzing in the media? A guy who believes in evolution and a flat tax? Journalists would love to make a guy like Huntsman their hero for 2012, and he's screwing it up.

But his ego is bound up in proving that he can win both a GOP primary campaign and a general election as a Republican "maverick" (as is the ego of John Weaver, his campaign guru). That plus the nomination of the (if we're lucky) too-extreme Perry might be what saves Obama in 2012.

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