Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks to supporters… (Mark Hirsch / Getty Images…)
You may think we're just electing a president in November.
But to listen to the Republican candidates, it's far bigger than that.
Here's Mitt Romney, fresh off his Florida primary win in January:
"This campaign is about more than replacing a president; it is about saving the soul of America."
And here's Rick Santorum, talking about President Obama’s healthcare reform law this month to a gathering of the GOP faithful in Bowling Green, Ohio:
"The siren song of government taking care of us will finally have our ship crash on the rocks, and we will become dependent if 'Obamacare' is implemented. Every single American will have to look to the federal government for their health. Once that happens, game, set, match for freedom."
And let's not forget Newt Gingrich (OK, let’s try, but he just won’t go away). Times columnist Doyle McManus wrote in January about a President Gingrich's first day in office:
"Our goal would be, by the time President Obama lands in Chicago, to have dismantled about 40% of his government," Gingrich said recently.
"You will see, I think, between 100 and 200 executive orders signed on the very first day," he said. "You will see us move the federal government, in the first six or eight hours of the Gingrich presidency, further than it's ever been moved in modern times."
Good grief, fellows. You're starting to sound like, hmmm, lemme think -- oh yea, Harold Camping.
Camping, you may remember, is the Northern California preacher whose radio ministry spent millions of dollars last year predicting a fiery apocalypse that, uh, didn't happen.
Now, there's nothing new about over-the-top rhetoric in politics. Many Democrats made similar predictions of disaster when George W. Bush was elected president, and again when he was reelected.
And there was certainly no shortage of doomsday talk during the Clinton years.
But, as Camping found out, you look pretty stupid when doomsday arrives and -- boom, no doom.
What I'd like is for Romney to say, simply, "This president’s a good guy who's trying his best, but I can do better."
Or for Santorum to say of healthcare reform: "I know your heart is in the right place, Mr. President, but I have a better plan, and here it is."
Or for Gingrich to just shut up and go back to writing bad books and buying Tiffany baubles for Calista.
Because here's a prediction I am willing make, and I'm no Harold Camping:
Americans will wake up on Nov. 7 with either a new president or the same president.
But either way, we will wake up. The nation's soul will be safe. We'll still be free.
After all, we've been doing it for more than 200 years -- without a single doomsday.
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COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012