Political Animal


February 27, 2012 12:33 PM A Proposed Moratorium on Late Entry Speculation

By Ed Kilgore

Late-entry fantasists who keep lofting up the names of possible GOP saviors that a “brokered convention” might nominate have a basic problem: most of those names are of pols who have repeatedly said they are not interested, and/or have tangible handicaps that would cause big problems with key segments of the party they are supposed to save. You know: Jeb Bush is a squish on immigration, Chris Christie has mocked Islamophobes, Mitch Daniels has proposed a “truce” on cultural issues, and so on and so forth.

So some scribblers have taken to writing about saviors who haven’t disclaimed interest in a candidacy and whose shortcomings have not already been analyzed, because nobody in his or her right mind would suggest them in the first place. That’s the only appropriate reaction to Adam Winkler’s Daily Beast column floating an extremely flimsy trial balloon for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

I won’t go through Winkler’s full argument, which is so fundamentally silly that some readers have suggested it might be a parody. But here’s its real clincher of an “argument:”

Yes, it is hard to believe that Clarence Thomas would ever be the Republican nominee. Then again, most people thought an inexperienced African-American often mistaken for a Muslim could never defeat presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, much less be elected president.

That depends on your definition of “most people.” Barack Obama was being hailed as a possible future president from the very moment he delivered his famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention—and some people thought so even earlier. And if the unlikelihood of some abstract “type” of a nominee becomes a credential for everyone else who is “unlikely,” then why stop at Clarence Thomas? Why not some county commissioner from North Dakota? Why not a Democrat? That would be a shocker, wouldn’t it?

I think we need a moratorium on all late entry speculation until such time as turnout in Republican primaries drops 70% or at a minimum, Newt Gingrich has negotiated his third return from the dead this cycle and tops national polls once again.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • TR on February 27, 2012 12:56 PM:

    Oh no, let the Republicans and the media speculate all they want. All it does is serve to remind people that the current crop of Republican candidates is the worst in living memory.

  • FriscoSF on February 27, 2012 1:12 PM:

    How about Pee Wee Herman ?

    He may not be Islampphobic
    But, at least he kn ow how to handle himslef in public

    Herman/Cain 2012 !!
    Let's DO IT. Baby !!

  • bleh on February 27, 2012 1:24 PM:

    I'm with TR! We shouldn't discourage speculation; we should ENcourage it.

    "Is it irresponsible to speculate? It's irresponsible NOT to!"

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on February 27, 2012 1:47 PM:

    Why the hell can't the GOP just admit that their heir presumptive (Mitt) is a political disaster on feet, and the rest of their candidates are only qualified to be Student Body President at some for-profit, right-wing pseudo-college in the Midwest somewhere.

    But if they don't want to call a locker-room come-to-Jesus meeting and tell their wannabe's to quit acting like a pack of wackos, so be it... Maybe this exercise in electoral futility will be a lesson for many a pol to learn from in the future...

  • dalloway on February 27, 2012 1:55 PM:

    I'm with TR -- more and better speculation! What about Ron Reagan? If his father was God, then he's the son of God. Or Anne Coulter? Nobody brings a hydrogen bomb to a knife fight like Ms. Coulter. Or even El Rushbo himself. Bloviation nation!

  • jjm on February 27, 2012 2:13 PM:

    Are you sure floating Thomas' name isn't a joke?

    This is a guy who refuses to speak a word in court when the Supreme Court is in session; I, for one, am not at all certain that he CAN speak cogently and coherently, since the speeches he tends to give are in secret to right wing organizations, and they've never been known to hold any of their favored speechmakers to any standards of logic, reason or even well-crafted speech.

    It shows how wounded the GOP was by losing to a black man that they never once assumed could possibly win, not only because he black, but because in their view, the only blacks they once allowed to hold office were those, who, like Thomas dutifully did the bidding of whites.

  • T2 on February 27, 2012 2:32 PM:

    from what I can tell, this Winkler guy is an idiot. "an inexperienced African-American often mistaken for a Muslim" Barack Obama is not "often mistaken for a Muslim". There is nothing about him physically, or in his words to ever suggest he might be a Muslim. That is a Big Lie perpetuated by idiots like WInkler and FOX news. Yes, his father was Muslim. No his mother was not Muslim. No he is not Muslim nor is his wife.
    By Winkler's way of thinking, Clarence Thomas is Black, and so he might be a Muslim too. Is this Winkler the guy who played The Fonz on Happy Days?

  • hells littlest angel on February 27, 2012 2:41 PM:

    The Republican dream candidate is right in front of us, and yet he's being studiously ignored. Is this perhaps to make his nomination at the brokered convention that much more revelatory?

    I speak, of course, of Michael Steele.

  • Eli Rabett on February 27, 2012 4:08 PM:

    Alan Keyes worked so well for them

  • zandru on February 27, 2012 4:46 PM:

    Conventional Wisdom

    (okay, Cokie Roberts on NPR this morning) states that it's "too late" for a dark horse to emerge at this point.

    If so, this is really insane. It's over 8 months before the election will be held, and 4+ months until the party conventions (over 6 months, if the Repubs decide to convene around the 9-1-1 to re-celebrate their big terrorism success...) Caucii and primaries have been going on for less than two months. Yet it's already "too late" for anyone else to enter? Really? With Citizens United Not Timid in the saddle and infinite, unaccountable money available to flow into any Republican's coughers?

    Maybe I'm dense and maybe I'm behind the times, but how could it be possible that nominations for the November election are basically over by February?!

  • jeri on February 27, 2012 5:00 PM:

    Oh, PLEASE let the Republicans nominate Clarence Thomas. He would have to resign his SC seat to run (wouldn't he?) and then he would get crushed in the general election. So we would finally be rid of him.