US Republican party strategists must watch the Duchess of Cambridge performing her royal duties and gasp in wonder – and flash with jealousy.
Kate Middleton was not a champion athlete, a well-known philanthropist or a Nobel-nominated biomedical engineer before being clutched to the heart of the British monarchy.
But she has strolled onto the world stage with the ease with which her contemporaries might walk into a Chelsea cafe.
Seemingly fazed neither by rapturous crowds of the proletariat nor the handshakes of the mighty, she plays the role of a future Queen with such pitch-perfect poise it is as if she was summoned from central casting.
The United States may be the home of Hollywood but the Republican party has had no such joy in finding someone to audition for the role of president.
Right-leaning voters remember too clearly the genuine movie-star charisma of Ronald Reagan and long for someone who could articulate conservative values with his winsome panache.
Left-inclined voters measure President Obama’s performance against the conviction-driven accomplishments of Martin Sheen’s fictional White House-dweller in the much missed West Wing.
It is Republicans who have the greater dilemma. Obama may have disappointed zealots but he can still perform with panache when behind a podium and he will turn on the rhetorical magic when he hits the campaign trail later this year.
Republicans are still deeply divided about their casting choice. There was an expectation that rank and file activists would grudgingly back Mitt Romney – a man who has prepared for the nomination by making many millions of dollars, governing a state and allegedly rescuing the 2002 Olympics.
He seemed able to stub out periodic surges in support for rival Newt Gingrich, a rowdy former congressional Speaker who wants to build a base on the moon.
But Rick Santorum, a diehard social conservative has just won caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, and a primary in Missouri.
One might have thought Romney’s success as a Republican in the famously liberal state of Massachusetts would be seen as a shining asset. After all, recent elections have gone down to the proverbial wire in swing states.
But the party is thrashing around, looking for someone with plutonium powers of charisma and an ideology-driven vision so vast and pure it would make an Alpine lake look like a toxic puddle. The perfect candidate is no longer the most electable.
In such a climate, will a new non-aligned candidate decide to leap forward? If Kate Middleton was born to be a princess, surely there is someone convinced he or she is born to run?
A Thursday Column.
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