I think the Republican Party just drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. I think we just missed a huge opportunity.

Sports revisionism is fun…and heartbreaking. I got sucked into the internet-rabbit-hole of alternative sports history today reading Peter King’s column on cnnsi.com.  Talking about Cowboys running back Demarco Murray’s franchise record 253 yards rushing (a mark that puts him ahead of HOFers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett), King threw in this line:  “Murray was the sixth running back taken in the draft, nine spots after the Dolphins took Daniel Thomas…sorry Dolfans.”

I mean, pick a team…any team, and look at how drafting the wrong guy changes a city’s sports destiny. It changes their identity. For example…in 1999 the Cleveland Browns drafted Tim Couch over Donovan McNabb…in 2000 the Browns drafted defensive end Courtney Brown over eventual Pro Bowl defensive ends Shaun Ellis and John Abraham …in 2001 the Browns drafted defensive tackle Gerard Warren over Pro Bowl defensive tackles Casey Hampton, Kris Jenkins, and Shaun Rogers.  Those three years, brought to you by the general managing ineptitude of Dwight Clark, ensured a decade of crappy football for the city of Cleveland.

(I swear there is no hidden animosity here toward Dwight Clark for using Stickem on his hands in 1981 and leaping over Everson Walls to pull down a prayer- of-a- pass that Joe Montana sailed over Too Tall Jones to beat the Cowboys in the NFC Championship game, thus sending my six-year-old-self crying down the hall and Danny White’s career spiraling.)

Sidenote: Basketball is the most excruciating alternative history sport. From the Pistons taking Darko over Melo, Wade, and Bosh…to the Clips taking Olowkandi while leaving Dirk, Paul Pierce, and Vince Carter on the table.  From Portland drafting Greg Oden over Kevin Durant…to Portland drafting Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan.  The identity of entire cities have been changed.  I mean…there should be a statue of MJ outside the Rose Garden while Durant delivers Lebron his third NBA Finals loss next year…if there’s a NBA Finals next year.

Alternative history fun isn’t limited to sports. Editors green-light hundreds of books based on the pitch: “OK. What if the South won the Civil War?”  Don’t we all wonder what would have happened if Tom Selleck’s Mangum P.I. contract would have allowed him to star in Indiana Jones? I mean, he could today be wearing an earring, seem perpetually stoned, say cryptic-nonsensical things, and be married to Ally McBeal. 

CSPAN even has a new series called The Contenders about people who ran for president, lost, but changed the country. People like Barry Goldwater. (FYI – The concept is awesome, but the execution by CSPAN – shockingly – is horribly boring.)

Which brings me to the 2012 GOP presidential campaign…we are in the middle of massive misdraft…a colossal missed opportunity.

I was recently on TV with Big Journalism’s Dana Loesch who feels that Mitt Romney as the GOP presidential nominee represents a failure of conservative principles, that Romney is not a real conservative, and that selling out our values and principles for Romney could set conservatism back for decades.  Loesch might be right. But I would say, we’ve already suffered the setback, we’ve already failed.

There is no doubt that over the last three years there has been a conservative-Renaissance…a rededication to the principles of constitutionalism and free markets…fueled by Tea Party enthusiasm.  But unfortunately, all those principles and all that energy manifested – not in Chris Christie – but in Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain. 

And the bottom line is…all of these candidates are wholly unacceptable. I’ve written about Perry’s problemsBachmann’s shortcomings…and Cain’s plans. (Cain has an incredibly compelling biography…but in a few months – as confusing abortion stances, hostage negotiation policies, and fly-zapper fence statements mount – you’ll agree with me that he won’t do either.) 

We failed to harness all that energy into a single viable, principled-conservative, alternative to Romney.  We failed to draft Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Tom Coburn or Jeb Bush. 

I am not saying that principled conservatism or Tea Party enthusiasm has failed whole-cloth.  The national conversation is now centered on small government, constitutionalism, and free markets more than it has been in a long time.  And victories in the House and the Senate have and most likely will continue to exert a conservative influence.  But when it comes to the presidential election…we have failed.

And now…barring a Newt Gingrich renaissance… we must turn to the only competent candidate on the stage. We’ll have to hold our nose and vote for Romney.  If you think that’s impossible…you have only one question to answer…do you want four more years of President Barack Obama? 

What I’m saying is that there isn’t much point in bitching about Romney.  We failed to draft a competent alternative. And now we can play alternative history about what would have happened had Paul Ryan or Chris Christie challenged a very vulnerable Obama in 2012.  I suspect decades of history just changed.

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