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Posted by on Jan 22, 2007 in Politics | 29 comments

Brownback enters presidential race

It’s one after another now, this time on the Republican side. Kansas Senator (and arch-conservative stalwart) Sam Brownback formed one those required exploratory committees six weeks ago, and on Saturday, in Topeka, he announced that he is indeed running for president.

With McCain and Giuliani running from the center, or at least the Republican conception of the center, that is, from the left of the Republican Party, Brownback will compete with Romney for the conservative vote, that is, to be the anti-McCain and anti-Giuliani. Although he doesn’t quite see it that way: “My positions are where the heart of the Republican Party is.” Yikes. And yet he’s serious. And to some extent he may be right. So extreme is today’s Republican Party.

Wherever the GOP’s “heart” is, Brownback will run as the truest of true social conservatives: “I am a conservative and I’m proud to be a conservative.” Sure, if conservative is defined as extremism on abortion, stem-cell research, and other wedge issues. That is, if it’s defined by the religious right.

In other words, Brownback intends to be the GOP’s theocratic candidate. And, given the theocratic base of the Republican Party, and given lingering concerns over Romney’s Mormonism and past moderation on the issues that matter most to the base, he may well succeed in securing the conservative vote. And with the conservative vote, and with the base longing for an arch-conservative after two terms of Bush’s hypocrisy, he could very well challenge the more moderate frontrunners — McCain, Giuliani, even the more pragmatic Gingrich — for the nomination.

And could he win the nomination? It’s hard to imagine, what with McCain and Giuliani running, two celebrities with national appeal. But Giuliani is far too liberal for his own party and doesn’t stand a chance in the primaries. And McCain — well, what if things continue to go badly in Iraq? What if, as is likely, the surge doesn’t work? McCain will blame the war’s architects for not doing enough early enough, but he will still be the most prominent hawk in the race. What if America, worn out by a losing war, simply doesn’t want an arch-hawk in the White House? And what if no compromise candidate emerges to unify the GOP? What if the Republicans simply can’t get their act together before ’08?

Then it may very well be Brownback who leads them into the next presidential election.

Which would no doubt make the flat-taxers and flat-earthers really, really happy.

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