New York — The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft will be held here mere hours from now, and there is no shortage of drama. The unusual, if not downright awkward, circumstances of the event –the very status of the league is in legal limbo–have been made even more interesting thanks to the most recent rumor. Namely, that there will be an elephant in the room: the Republican Party.
Representatives from the GOP have confirmed that the party has been actively looking to shop all of their current likely presidential nominees, hoping to deal 2012 picks for future considerations. “Look,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, “we are very realistic about our chances in 2012. We’d rather take our loss and restock for 2016 rather than languish in mediocrity for two or three more elections.”
The party’s main nominees are all seen as solid but unspectacular candidates. Each could excel in a limited role or suffice in an open election but would likely be trumped by the combination of a charismatic president and what should be an improved economy. Mitt Romney, for example, has tremendous private sector business experience but also championed a state version of President Obama’s new health care law. Mike Huckabee could thrive in parts of the south, but his religious conservatism would essentially lock the party out of key swing states. And former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, whose message of fiscal responsibility and individual liberty may appeal to a broad swath of key independent voters, has inexplicably been shunned by GOP insiders.
Concurrently, a number of NFL executives believe Republicans’ woes could provide valuable assets on the cheap. The Patriots have been linked to Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, who they believe could help improve an already stingy front office. Several teams have expressed interest in Donald Trump as an offensive coordinator. And Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is reportedly trying to acquire Newt Gingrich, age 68, to be the team’s new franchise quarterback.
Meanwhile, a party moribund by aged, out of touch candidates could reap tremendous benefits from future draft picks. The GOP’s long term prospects are at present staked on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Voters not easily excited by the intracacies of federal fiscal policy may be turned off by the policy wonks, whereas an ebullient wide receiver from USC or a hard nosed running back from Ohio State could have what it takes. If used correctly, the picks could also buttress the party’s standing in swing states and among minority voters.
“We’ll be back,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), “assuming I can get [Raiders owner] Al Davis on the phone.”