What I’m at least as interested in is how the emerging Clinton scandal—remember, Schweizer’s book isn’t on sale until early May—is how Republican presidential hopefuls respond to this opening. At least since the 2000 campaign, when George W. Bush squeaked into office with an affirmative vision of a “humble foreign policy” and the promise of “compassionate conservatism,” it has been years since the Republican Party’s nominee has offered up any sort of sweeping vision for the country. Running on the anti-terror status quo and free money for seniors, as Bush did in 2004, or simply as anti-Democrats, as John McCain and Mitt Romney did in 2008 and 2012, isn’t enough to get the country’s backing (as Matt Welch likes to point out, while railing against out of control spending, Romney refused to name a single significant program he would cut, a reluctance re-enacted by John Boehner just weeks before he assumed the speakership in 2011). Perhaps it’s because it fashion themselves as the party of the religious, but the GOP seems to always rely on the political equivalent of Hail Mary passes (anyone else remember Bob Dole’s sad declaration that he would only serve one-term if elected in 1996?). Some terrible revelation, or a tide of disgust with the Democrats, or a late-breaking news story, will fell the Democrats rather than a serious discussion of the country’s finances and special interests.
As J.D. Tuccille noted here a couple of days ago, just 3 percent of Americans trust the government to do the right thing “just about always.” Another 20 percent trust the government “most of the time.” Republicans would do well to treat the latest Clinton scandal as a real gift to serious political discourse, not as a sign that they will take the White House no matter what (just like in 2012, guys, just like in 2012).
The early stages of the Republican race for the White House has been incredibly disappointing to date, with virtually all of the announced and unannounced candidates sounding like mimeographed copies of one another.