Editorial: Is this best we can do?

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 2, 2011

How many times have you scratched your head and asked, ěReally, are these the best people Republicans have to offer for president?î
Polls reflect a GOP base trying to sort through its field of candidates in a frustrated, flavor-of-the-week frenzy. In the summer, names such as Sarah Palin and Donald Trump had traction, but things got slippery fast.
Candidates Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and now, believe it or not, Newt Gingrich all have had their moments where theyíve captured citizensí and the mediaís attention, only to shoot themselves down like Dick Cheney on a hunting expedition.
What do we have here, a serial hypocrite in Gingrich? A serial womanizer in Cain? A serial flip-flopper in Romney? Just plain cereal ó corn flakes ó in Perry?
If we continue into the 2012 caucuses and primaries on this current GOP roller coaster, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul or Jon Huntsman should emerge as the Republican nominee for president by next fall. It will be their turn.
Or the Republican Party will fall back on Plan B: Party members will hold their collective noses, nominate Romney and prepare themselves for four more years of President Obama.
Itís easy to pile on the Republicans, given these uninspiring candidates. But Americans should be asking the same question of Democrats: ěReally, is Barack Obama the best you have to offer for president?î
Nowhere is the power of incumbency reflected more in American politics than when a sitting president runs for a second term. No one dares to challenge the partyís standard-bearer, but this is hardly how it should work.
Ideally, the best and brightest Democrats should come forward in an election season, offer themselves as candidates and let the debates on policy and direction begin.
For the record, Project Vote Smart lists at least 24 announced Democratic candidates for president, including Obama, but youíll never hear of the likes of Kip Lee, Mike Moloney, Randall Terry, Dee Neveu or Georgie Ballard.
Democrats should be using the election season to challenge Obama and ask whether he has done what they want with employment, taxes, healthcare, wars, the environment, energy, education and all the other issues.
Instead, Democrats are automatically settling, just as the Republicans will end up settling, and just as Americans have settled way too long for a do-nothing government.
They should be demanding more, instead of allowing themselves to be spoon-fed these terrible options.
Late next summer, party members will descend on Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention. It will, of course, serve as the coronation and official send-off party for President Obama as he covers the country for two more months. As of now, heíll be touting a platform that basically says heís a better alternative to a similarly week Republican opponent.
Is this any way to run an election? Is this any way to run a country?