How the GOP can win 

Between the Lines

For months now, watching the comedy show also known as the Republican presidential campaign, I've been fighting off an impulse to offer input.

After all, who would pay attention to a GOP column from an alternative newsweekly? Never mind the fact that we're a lot more moderate than most Colorado Springs arch-conservatives would ever acknowledge.

Then again, look at all the other opinions out there, and the wild momentum swings. One day Herman Cain is the answer. A week later, Newt Gingrich has been anointed. Many still, for some reason, believe Rick Perry would be the best choice. Still others haven't given up on Ron Paul or Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann or even Rick Santorum.

Here in Neo-Con Nirvana, many local Republican insiders prefer Mitt Romney, who has visited the Springs already, while many others wish my old high school buddy, Mike Huckabee, would jump back into the fray. (That's highly doubtful.)

So far, this looks like a script written by President Barack Obama's strategists. They have to be loving this new rendition of The Great GOP Implosion. Let all the Republicans take down themselves and each other, making it that much easier for Obama to win another term.

Ah, but predictions aren't the purpose here. I'm actually stepping forward to tell everyone what the Democrats don't want to hear.

The time has come to identify the one Republican who could re-energize the national party and then knock off Obama. Even though nobody is saying so.

You won't see his name on any ballot, perhaps not for the entire primary season. He insists that he isn't running, and he has succeeded in distancing himself from the chaos, collapses and chicanery that have turned the GOP free-for-all into a 1968-style LSD trip. My guess is, he would rather wait, perhaps until being drafted at the Republican National Convention next August in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla.

But at some point, if the current Republican missteps continue, he won't be able to wait any longer. And when that time comes, even the feuding party loyalists in Colorado Springs might be able to agree.

Who would be this GOP superman? Thought you'd never ask.

John Ellis Bush. Otherwise known by his initials: Jeb.

Don't call me devious or misguided. This conclusion comes from personal experiences and observations. It comes from living in Florida twice, for a total of four-plus years, during Bush's tenure (1999-2007) as governor of the Sunshine State.

It comes from going to the capital city of Tallahassee, sitting in a room with Gov. Bush and other newspaper editors, and conversing annually with this guy who came across as genuine, informed, always in control and oozing with common sense. He would answer any question, and if you didn't understand, he'd try again. And we'd think, why didn't this Bush become president?

Those were private settings. When natural disasters would strike Florida as they inevitably do, he would take charge, calmly and authoritatively. It didn't matter whether you were Republican or Democrat, Gator or Seminole (the ubiquitous college rivalry that divides Florida and Florida State fanatics). People believed him, but not just because of his good-guy charisma. They simply trusted him.

Since leaving as governor, not once has Bush said he's running for president. He knew that the nation's "Bush fatigue" was palpable after his brother exited the White House, so Jeb seemed to be pointing toward 2016 — and probably still is. After all, he's only 58, and unscathed by the current Republican warfare.

But it has to be increasingly obvious that time heals political weaknesses — including Bush fatigue — faster than ever in today's world.

Obviously, we disagree on various issues. But harping on those is not the intent here. I just want to make one point: If the Republicans really want to enter the 2012 election with their best-possible shot, they shouldn't be wasting their time trying to decide whether to rally behind Romney, Gingrich, Perry, Chris Christie or whomever. For damn sure, they shouldn't be listening to Donald Trump about anything, or letting him oversee a debate.

If they really want to scare the Democrats, all they have to do is turn that Florida convention into a launching pad for Jeb Bush.

Meanwhile, let's just enjoy the entertainment.


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