- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2011

It’s time for Republicans to get serious. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t have the fire in his belly to run for president next year. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin broke many Tea Party hearts by turning down their proposals to her. There’s still chatter about businessman Donald Trump jumping into the fray late in the game - and his manner of straight talk would be a refreshing addition to the field - but the Grand Old Party needs to stop waiting to be saved by undecided potential candidates. The GOP has to unify behind a strong standard-bearer soon and build up its war chest for the fight that really counts: knocking off Barack Obama next year.

According to the latest poll from Rasmussen Reports, any generic unnamed Republican would now beat President Obama by 6 points in a hypothetical matchup. If the election were held today, “The One” would be sent packing his bags by “Anyone” by a margin of 47 percent to 41 percent. According to CBS News, 69 percent of Americans don’t think Mr. Obama has made progress fixing the economy. As Gallup revealed in August, a stunning 88 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going. These numbers are mortal blows for an incumbent.

The likelihood of an ouster is so strong because Mr. Obama has instituted massive deficit-spending policies that risk bringing about a depression and that make Americans doubt that the commander in chief believes in the innate greatness of this country. He is a product of the countercultural left that always blames the United States for everything. As first lady Michelle Obama accidentally admitted in 2008 when Barack became a leading presidential contender, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” That’s how this crowd in the White House thinks, and the public is turned off by such a knee-jerk lack of patriotism. Turning this nation around will take leadership based on an instinctive belief in American exceptionalism. Mr. Obama is the wrong man at the wrong time.

The opposition party has a huge advantage heading into 2012 in that it doesn’t have to convince voters that they need a total White House makeover. As in 1980 when Ronald Reagan asked people if they were better off after four years of the awful Jimmy Carter presidency, the public today is all too painfully aware of how bad things are. The Obamas might not notice on the golf course or while vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard or in Spain, but when unemployment is stuck above 9 percent, millions and millions of their countrymen are suffering and most families have someone out of work. Democrats claim to be the party of the common man, but the head of their party has an uncommon lack of empathy for what so many are going through during his Great Recession.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Mitt Romney beats Mr. Obama on economic issues by 10 points, and Rick Perry edges out the president by 3 points. Voters think any Republican would be better than Mr. Obama because the herd of elephants in the race is impressively experienced, including successful businessmen, governors, senators and House members. It’s important that the GOP challengers not lose momentum by tearing each other apart so the eventual nominee is damaged goods when the general election rolls around. The battle cry “Take no prisoners” applies to the other side, not your own.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the forthcoming book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, November 2011).