Republicans have an All-Star bench of presidential candidates

Earlier this month, baseball fans were treated to one of the most talented National League All-Star teams in history. The lineup’s performance came in at 15th among the 172 teams assembled since the game was first played, so says the wizards of smart at fivethirtyeight.com.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that this year the fans had more to do with choosing the players than the owners or the press.

As usual, baseball parallels life.

At least 15 major candidates are currently seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency. They’re an All-Star squad of predominantly conservative talent, with a deep bench of both veterans and rookies. And as with the National League selections, the people are driving the front-runners rather than the establishment or the media. Hopefully we’ll see the same outcome.

Many Democrats are gleefully predicting doom for the Grand Old Party, though. “It’s a circular firing squad,” one friend recently told me.

AL.com Opinion

  • About the writer
    J. Pepper Bryars grew up in Mobile and is now a writer living in Huntsville. Contact him at jpepperbryars@gmail.com and jpepperbryars.com..

Nonsense. Any veteran campaign operative will tell you it’s always a short-term gain for a candidate to sail through a primary, but a long-term loss if the other party emerges with a battle-tested and confident candidate, whose campaign survived the many primaries and whose network was strengthened.

“It’s a headache that — with a few bumps — could become a nightmare,” wrote Jamelle Bouie in Slate.com. “In the last primary, right-wing rhetoric from marginal candidates was enough of a force to push Romney to the right … There’s a great chance this could repeat itself.”

A conservative candidate in the general election? One can only dream.

Sure, there are a few moderates, but for the most part the rest round out a field of the best presidential contenders in decades. I’d be very happy to vote for at least a half dozen of them, which is far more than the one or two who usually grab my attention.

Let me offer a quick look at how this Southern conservative – on social, fiscal, and defense issues – would vote for the current contenders:

Jeb Bush: He was a good governor, but I won’t vote for him on principle. If another country rotated its presidency amongst a single family, our State Department would probably say it was an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy.

Ben Carson: Regretfully, no. He’s a great man and a great voice of conservatism, but he’s too unfamiliar with all of the issues. Stay in the movement longer than a minute and come back then.

Chris Christie: Nope. He has a horrible record of appointing judges – something that’s essential in today’s post-constitutional environment.

Ted Cruz: Yes. Brilliant and committed: a true believer, he is.

Carly Fiorina: Talented, but no. Same problem as Carson; lead the debate for a while and come back when you’ve earned your stripes.

Lindsey Graham: Someone recently said he is the answer to a question that’s not being asked. No way.

Mike Huckabee: I worry that his bleeding heart will spring a leak in our treasury, as it did in Arkansas, but I’d consider voting for the man.

Bobby Jindal: Absolutely. It’s ironic that Christianity in America is being most strongly defended by the son of Hindu immigrants. I love this guy.

George Pataki: Who? See “Graham,” above.

Rand Paul: Yes! Wait … what did he just say? No! Oh, I just can’t make up my mind.

Rick Perry: Best record of any politician in America. Yes.

Marco Rubio: Best vision of any politician in America. Yes. His attacks against Cuban communism get me fired up, too. “Wolverines!”

Rick Santorum: Probably the candidate I most relate too, so of course.

Donald Trump: No. I agree with some of his thoughts, but he’s supported too many Democrats to hold our party’s banner.

Scott Walker: Second best record of any politician in America. He can win on conservatism, and he can govern with conservatism. Yes.

What an All-Star team! There’s youth. There’s diversity. There’s energy. Compare that squad with the Hillary-or-Nothing campaign being waged for the Democrat nomination and it’s easy to see that all of the momentum rests with the Republicans. And that, as in baseball, could mean the ballgame. I expect it’ll be a home run derby that’d make the Babe proud.