Check out the next generation of Republican leadership, Rep. Paul Ryan (R - WI), on MSNBC. (Hat tip: Mary Katherine Ham at the Weekly Standard)
I've been extremely impressed with Ryan for a while now. Young, articulate, whip smart, good ideas, conservative - 2012 may be too soon, but if he's not a major player in the future I'll be very surprised and disappointed. He's one of what I call "My Guys" - rising stars I think may be of presidential caliber. I'd like to see more of these folks assuming leadership rolls in the party, on bigger stages, and in some cases, moving up to more prominent offices. Here's my short list (in no particular order), I'd love to hear some of yours:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN)
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA)
Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ)
Rep. Eric Cantor (VA)
Fmr. Rep. Rob Portman (OH)
Gen. David Petraeus*
These guys have a few things in common (aside from being men, which is not an exclusion of women - I honestly can't think of any prominent women that fit this criteria): conservative, smart, serious, well spoken, extremely competent, accomplished.
*the general's conservative credentials are, of course, unknown at the moment. I'd need to be convinced he's not the second coming of Powell.
Perhaps I'll get around to posting more on this later, but more than anything, I believe the Republican party needs to rebrand itself as the party of competence. At every level, "smart" Democrats have made a mess of things by being blatently incompetent. Republican ideas, when tried, work. By elevating candidates with proven track records of success, we can present a strong counterargument. Obama was inexperienced, but that didn't seem to hurt him. In 2012, the case against him will no longer be experience, it will be his failed record. To exploit that, we'll need a candidate with some credentials - like an Ivy league graduate, two-term governor who kept his state's budget in balance during the economic downturn (Daniels). This, for me, is the strongest case against Palin. Not that I buy her being dumb, but that the public perception of her is the opposite of competence and it's unlikely to turn on a dime. What do you think?