While Obama’s political star is descending like an old satellite from the skies, the Democrat party is scrambling to reinvent itself. The loss in the NY9 election recently lifted the reinvention issue to the top of the party’s agenda. Even if no one associated with the DNC or any other leading Democrat institution wants to admit it openly, more and more points to a behind-the-scenes effort to convince Obama to not run in 2012. As Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune put it,
I checked the Constitution, and he is under no compulsion to run for re-election. He can scrap the campaign, bag the fundraising calls and never watch another Republican debate as long as he’s willing to vacate the premises by Jan. 20, 2013.
The question is, who would the Democrat recruit to run against Romney or Perry – or Romney-Perry? The answer is, in all likelihood, not Hillary Clinton. She does not have the fire in her belly and when she declared earlier this year that she is not running, she was sincere.
A more reasonable approach is to revert back to what is tried and true. Since Lyndon Johnson, every president except Obama has had executive experience to draw on, either as vice president or as governor. Governors make capable presidents, and there are a few to choose from among Democrat ranks. The problem is, you cannot pick just anyone: given the tough economy and the fiscal disaster that is also known as the federal budget, it better be someone with a fiscally conservative track record.
Problem is, for obvoius reasons there are not that many fiscal conservatives in the Democrat party. The few governors who have shown some fiscal fortitude recently, Jerry Brown in California and Andrew Cuomo in New York, have not even served their first term in office. Brown has previous experience to draw on, but he will not leave his office less than half way through the term to run for president. Besides, he is one of the few politicians in this country who can make John McCain look young.
But there is one person that Democrats might recruit, someone who combines party affiliation with fiscally conservative street creds. A man who has been able to win re-election as governor three times in a state that otherwise is known for its hostility toward big government.
That man is John Lynch, governor of New Hampshire. Recenly, Lynch declared that he is not going to seek another term as governor. At 58, he is old by comparison to Obama, but younger then Romney and about the age when people have amassed enough life and professional experience to make a capable president.
Lynch probably will not challenge Obama in a primary. But if the party makes Obama an offer he can’t refuse and he decides to step aside, then the party is in an excellent position to field a candidate like John Lynch. And with a fiscally conservative record that beats Romney’s, he might turn the former Massachusetts governor’s cakewalk to the White House into a marathon race down to the finishing line.
For friends of limited government, a President Lynch might be the ideal combination with a strongly conservative Congress. Lynch would have to work with the Republicans on Capitol Hill, something his record shows he can do, but he would also serve as a source of inspiration for a reinvention of the Democrat party. With the two major parties aligned on fiscal issues, the American economy could actually be put on a track toward unprecedented levels of prosperity.