I am the father of four grown daughters and I have the mental and emotional battle scars to prove it.  Thank you for your sympathy.

One of the important duties for men that have drawn this lot in life is to sift through the list of candidates who wish to date their daughters, when their daughters reach that “acceptable” dating age… which I always thought should be somewhere in their mid twenties to early thirties.

I joke about it now… but took it very seriously then. And with three of my daughters now married, the stakes, as well as qualifications went up exponentially when talks shifted from prom pictures to wedding pictures. The answers I needed became far more important than ever. Did he have a good worth ethic? Was he a young man of faith? Was he devoted to the Hawkeyes?

 The process turned out to be a struggle… but a worthy one. I had my times of doubts and fears. Was I discriminating enough? Was I discriminating too much? Will he make my daughter happy and secure? Will he be a good father and leader? Are my expectations reasonable or unreasonable? My questions were endless and my prayers were intense.

With all the thanks going to me, I am happy to report that my three married daughters have married great guys… despite the fact that one of them is a Michigan fan. I guess we can’t have everything.

I find this process of sifting through the potential Republican presidential candidates to be very similar. Choosing the right candidate to face off against Barack H. Obama is tremendously important. Who is the best leader? Who can make us feel secure? Who will create a friendly business climate? Who will nominate worthy justices to the Supreme Court? Who will promote liberty? Who has the ability to create consensus and move policy forward?

 This election cycle and the candidate competition have been interesting at best and bizarre at worst. We have been sifting and sifting and sifting and we seem to be no closer to a candidate that we can coalesce around than when we first started thinking about the 2012 election…. in about November of 2008.

 We have been witness to a “next guy (or girl) in” exercise not unlike the Iowa Hawkeye football team’s tailback rotation in recent years.

 First we had Michele Bachmann and her impressive win of the Ames straw poll. But then we were told that she had migraines and God knows you can’t lead the free world with a jumbo bottle of Excedrin in your purse. Besides that… her husband prays the “gay” out of people and we all know how silly and hateful that is.

Next in line was Rick Perry, governor of the great state of Texas. A rugged and good looking man. Job creator. Nice hair. We demanded that he toss his ten gallon hat into the ring.  So… he did. 

 We asked ourselves, “Is this the guy?” And we seemed to answer, “Yes. I think he just may be the guy!” His poll numbers went up almost over night. And… Michele Bachmann’s support went south.  Good-bye Mrs. Bachmann… ‘ello guvna!

 But Mr. Perry forgot to tell us that he had ineptness when it came to the art of debate.  Quoting Governor Perry in one of those debates, “Oops!” Next!

 Let me introduce Mr. Herman Cain. Successful businessman. Likeable. Popular with the Tea Party. Conservative. He could be the first ‘real’ African-American to reside in the White House. Yes… a “conservative black man”… the three words that make the collective head of  liberals explode!

 With his 9-9-9 plan, Mr. Cain soared to the top spot in many of the polls. People started paying attention to and rooting for him.

 Oh…. hold on a minute. He has been accused of sexual harassment and we all know that the important thing is the seriousness of the charge and not the nature of the evidence. Besides, one of the accusers was represented by that bastion of truth, integrity and honor… Gloria Allred. The accusations must be true.

As Ann Coulter expressed in a recent article, “To have been accused of sexual harassment in the 1990s is like having been accused of molesting children at preschools in the 1980s or accused of being a witch in Massachusetts in the 1690s.”

Any proof of the charges? No. But hey… the damage has been done. Besides…he struggles with questions about Libya and foreign policy. His poll numbers have tumbled. Back to the restaurant business with you, Herman.

Newt Gingrich? He’s the next Republican big man on campus? Wait… didn’t his campaign implode before it ever started when his Iowa staff walked out while Newt vacationed on a cruise ship in the Greek isles? Yes… his staff walked out and Mr. Gingrich, with a new and pronounced, political limp… trudged down the campaign trail despite the added handicap and public humiliation.

And he limped and limped…and then began getting some traction with his impressive performances in just about every national debate with his competitors. Nobody seemed to disagree with the fact that Newt was always the brightest candidate on the stage. He is a brilliant historian, an idea man, a doer with significant experience at the federal level.

With Herman Cain’s fall from grace, Newt seems to be the latest, Republican flavor of the month.  But for how long? We all know about Newt’s negatives. Will they be his downfall or will the media dig up some fresh allegations of misconduct or impropriety?

One thing is for sure, the media will not sit on their hands when it comes to Mr. Gingrich. The attacks have already begun and will continue as they try and force us to choose the “next guy in.”

Interestingly, Mitt Romney has been at or near the top of the Republican contenders from day one and unlike the other Republican, temporary front-runners… the media have displayed a “hands-off” approach with Mitt.  Should that tell you something? Yes… but I will let you decide what message is being sent.

It is frustrating, isn’t it? After all this time and vetting, why can’t we find the “dream candidate”… the guy that is going to send Obama to the college lecterns  around the country to live out his retirement, lecturing our college students about the evils of American imperialism.

There are three questions that we must ask ourselves:

1)  Are our expectations so high that we push every candidate out of the running for little or no significant reason?

2)  Have we allowed the media and the pollsters to become an undue influence on our choices?

3)  Or do we just have a batch of unelectable candidates?

For months, Rasmussen Reports published poll after poll where the “Generic Republican” beat President Obama in a head to head race but when he replaced “Generic Republican” with the actual name of a current republican contender, Obama would win.  In recent days, his polls now have the President beating even the “generic.” We could be in real trouble.

I will tell you this… whomever is chosen to compete against Barack Obama, will get my vote. Any of the current field of contenders would do a better job… including Romney. However, I don’t believe that many of the independent voters feel the same. 

Having successfully weathered a rigorous and wilting vetting process, maybe one of my sons-in-law would be willing to take the challenge of leading this country. Maybe I will run it by them as we celebrate together over the holidays.

In a Caffeinated Thoughts piece that I wrote earlier this year, I predicted that our President would, indeed, be elected to a second term despite his failed economic policies. I have seen nothing in the process of choosing a Republican challenger to sway me from that position.  And as I said then… I say again… I hope I am wrong.





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