If Americans could pick someone for the White House next year from a Chinese menu, what do opinion polls tell us about what they want?
The seesawing Republican race, along with Obama’s falling favorables, suggest that voters’ appetites are more jaded than they have been for decades. But if they could pick and choose traits, what kind of composite President would we get?
Resistance to Romney clearly shows a desire for something new, but if Gingrich is the answer, what’s the question? Newt’s surge suggests preference for a know-it-all sweet talker spiced with sudden surprises, like immigration compassion and Dickensian attacks on poor children, to a blandly predictable flip-flopper without Gingrich’s say-anything panache to cover a record of reversals that makes Mitt’s taste tame.
Yet thinking conservatives who want to win will hang on to Romney, immovable hair and all, as their best bet.
Ron Paul, who wants to wipe the table of almost everything, nonetheless offers a palate-clearing clarity on the follies of Newtness and continuing to pour trillions that might save the American economy into foreign wars.
Put Romney’s hair, Gingrich’s certainty and Paul’s staunchness on the table, and what would voters want of Obama?
One clue goes back to early in the 2008 campaign when Maureen Dowd challenged him on his “toughness,” asking, “Do you worry that you might be putting yourself on a pedestal too much? Because people also want to see you mix it up a little.”