Back in ’96, I remember having a political discussion with a Republican Party operative, and I told him I was terrified that Pat Buchanan would get the nomination. Pat had just won the New Hampshire primary, and I was left with the terrifying prospect of having to choose between Pat Buchanan and Bill Clinton. Yikes.
My operative was more confident than I was that Buchanan wouldn’t go the distance – he was proven right, of course – but I asked him who he would vote for if forced to make the choice. He sighed and said “Clinton, I guess.” I agreed with him.
That’s not to say I like Bill Clinton. It’s to say I loathe Pat Buchanan. The election of 2000 was a beautiful thing, because Pat managed to destroy the political future of Ross Perot, the Reform Party, and Pat Buchanan in one fell swoop. Amid all the recount nonsense, that little kernel of goodness is often overlooked.
So we then played a game. I would propose two loathsome candidates, and my friend would have to choose between them.
Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter? Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon? Richard Nixon in a walk.
Pat Buchanan or Anyone Else? Anyone Else.
Pat Buchanan became the gold standard for vileness. I threw up any number of wretched candidates up against Mr. Go Pat Go, and my heavily Republican friend always chose the non-Buchanan. I finally asked, “Is there anyone you wouldn’t vote for instead of Pat Buchanan?”
He thought about that for a long time. Ultimately, the only name he could come up with was Adolf Hitler.
I’ve started to play that same game in considering this year’s political candidates.
Here’s my list, in order of preference, each with a rating from 1 to 10. Those above the line are candidates I could support without throwing up. Those below the line would have to be running against someone even lower and/or Hitler in order to get my vote.
So without further ado:
STALLION’S PRESIDENTIAL LIST
Mitt Romney – 9.
A little bloodless, but decent, conservative, and a primo executive – would likely be a great prez.
Fred Thompson – 8.
Might have been in first place if he hadn’t snoozed his way through the campaign.
Duncan Hunter – 6.5
Seems like a decent, conservative guy, but his border fixation makes him somewhat tedious. And he has no shot whatsoever.
Rudy Giuliani – 5.1
If I had to. I like him as a proven conservative leader, but the judiciary stuff makes him almost unacceptable. If I truly believed he’d appoint the strict constructionists he talks about, he’d be in first place.
Now we get into the UNACCEPTABLE CANDIDATES
Joseph Biden – 3.7
A decent human being with relatively moderate political instincts, as far as Democrats go. Also a tedious blowhard.
Barack Obama – 3.4
Another decent human being who wouldn’t make me want to throw something at the screen every time he came on television. Yet, Oprah notwithstanding, he’s not the Messiah – he’s a by-the-numbers Great Society liberal.
Bill Richardson – 3.0
Seems like a good guy, and one of the more moderate Democrats. Still a Democrat, though, and offers no real reason to vote for him.
John McCain – 2.6
He opposed the Bush tax cuts, inflicted the unconstitutional campaign finance nightmare on the nation, and destroyed all conservative bargaining power on judicial filibusters. Except for his support for the war in Iraq, he is, in my estimation, not recognizably Republican. He’s also the Manchurian candidate who, I’m afraid, might drop a bomb on France if he lost his temper at any given moment.
Tom Tancredo – 2.5
Maybe this guy’s a conservative on the issues that matter. Who knows? All he ever talks about is the border. It’s as if he’s never, ever thought about anything else. Not interested in a single-issue president who skews a bit wacky.
Alan Keyes – 2.2
Yikes. I actually voted for this guy in the Utah Republican Primary in 2000. I’m not sure when he crossed the line from passionate orator to full-blown loon, but he’s there now, and there’s no going back.
Ron Paul – 2.1
Another loon, albeit more dangerous because he has more money than Keyes.
Chris Dodd – 2.0
Mr. Ted-Kennedy-Waitress-Sandwich claims to have reformed his ways – he’s even married to a Mormon – but he’s a tired liberal hack who comes off as smarmy and partisan.
Dennis Kucinich – 1.2
You’ve got to sort of respect a guy who knows he’s a nut and makes it a selling point. You don’t, however, have to vote for him. Nor should you.
Hillary Clinton – .03
An opportunistic, corrupt, vindictive shrew with no core principles other than a lust for power.
John Edwards – .007
An opportunistic, corrupt, vindictive shrew with core Socialistic principles that scare me to death.
Mike Huckabee – .0000666
This is a man who smiles, and smiles, and is still a villain. He sees himself as called by God to destroy my faith, and he’s so deeply disingenuous about it that it scares me to death. His record on fiscal issues is abysmal, and he would do more damage to my party than Hillary Clinton ever could. I’d vote for him over Hitler, but not too many others. Actually, scratch that. If that were my choice, I’d probably just not vote.