Apr 272011

I’ve said in this space before that I love newspapers. Of the four dailies I read, the one I would take to a desert island is, without question, the Financial Times. The pleasures of the salmon-colored broadsheet include such political insights as the following from Clive Crook, the newspaper’s chief Washington columnist, in the April 25 edition:

At this rate, the US presidential election of 2012 promises to be a titanic struggle between a failed incumbent and an unelectable challenger.

“Failed incumbent?” Crook obviously doesn’t think much of Mr. Obama as president. He points out, correctly in my view, that Obama’s policies are much less popular than the person. Conventional wisdom is that incumbent presidents are hard to beat, but Crook reminds us that it can be done. Think Jimmy Carter and the first George Bush.

Crook argues that if the economy remains weak — growing, but too slowly to create a lot of jobs or revive the housing market — Obama is at risk. “All the party needs is a strong Republican.”

Ah, there’s the rub. Crook runs through the list of suspects. His take on Donald Trump is a gem: “attention addict, avowed billionaire, realty-TV blusterer and valiant denier of male-pattern baldness.” He more or less dismisses Palin and Huckabee. He says Romney and Daniels might make good presidents.

I don’t want to give too much away. But here is Crook’s trenchant conclusion:

In last November’s elections, the Republican rank and file threw control of the Senate away by ejecting strong candidates and nominating duds they knew might lose. They did it with pride: they had a point to make. Will they adopt the same approach in 2012 and proudly hand victory to a beatable Mr Obama? They are thinking about it.

At the Financial Times web site, you can get access to up to 10 articles a month without charge. Look for Crook in the Comment section. And if you have a library card in your pocket, you might be surprised to find that you have more or less unfettered access to most newspapers, even those that try to ring-fence freeloaders with what are called ‘paywalls.” Think of it as your tax dollars at work!

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