Last week, I was driving down a busy neighborhood street near my home when I spotted a fashionable-looking dog darting about in the busy traffic. Suddenly, she charged head-on into my car.
What would you have done? I stopped, put on my flashers and scooped up the dog to take home with me.
She appeared not to be too badly hurt. But I have no dog of my own, so I had to improvise in finding "treats" to soothe her. She was clearly loved by someone. She had bows in her fur and a fake diamond collar, although it bore no name or address.
She soon clung to me, and she jumped into my bed that night and didn't budge until morning.
Fortunately, the next day, through much work, we found her owner.
What has this to do with politics? Plenty.
Let's start with Donald Trump. He certainly had the jewels and the bows and the pricey attractiveness of that little dog I rescued. But in the end, his timing proved disastrous in the presidential sweepstakes. Like the little dog rushing to and fro in heavy traffic, Trump darted this way and that, not realizing the dangers surrounding him.
For my money, I believe Trump could have been a formidable candidate. I don't know the man, but I liked his blunt talk, and I believe he could have taught the Republican Party a lesson in reality and toughness.
The rescue dog also reminded me a bit of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, both of whom are now front-runners in the race for the GOP nomination. As for Newt, he's running headlong from one side of the street to the other. If he doesn't soon focus on his phenomenal achievements as onetime speaker of the U.S. House, he could get flattened by the oncoming traffic.
As for Romney, he picks and chooses which "car" he will challenge, and when. But he gets run over a lot anyway. Exhibit 1 was his recent speech to justify "Romneycare" healthcare reform in his native Massachusetts.
The dog looking most like the blue-ribbon winner right now is Barack Obama. He's the guy that not only caught Osama bin Laden, but killed him. And just I expected, his polling numbers have been rising in the aftermath of the Navy SEALs raid in Pakistan.
Beyond that, nobody I know of characterizes the president as mean or arrogant. That's important when you take your case to the American people.
The real "dog" in the 2012 presidential race is the Republican Party. As a whole, it seems too timid to embrace issues that a vast majority of Republican and libertarian voters support.
For example, my polling tells me that most Republicans and independents want a shutdown of the federal government to prove that at least the GOP is serious about major reforms in government spending.
When it comes to this subject, I can't help but picture Congress as a rescue St. Bernard dog that is so busy chasing the bright ribbons on his tail that it has forgotten its rescue mission altogether.
Genuine Republicans, plus many independents, also want to end the current income tax system and instead move to what they describe as a Fair Tax. Republican officeholders seem sheepish in their support of this idea because it can easily be twisted to lead Americans into believing that they would be paying more taxes than they do now.
It's a complicated proposal, but in essence it eliminates all federal income taxes and embedded taxes, and it provides a "freebate" to families to defray the costs of essential items such as groceries.
On this issue, most Republicans are not like the brave little dog I took home for a night. Instead, they whimper, cower, and refuse to stand by the concept.
Right now, President Obama's biggest problem is an economy that is not getting better. Do you personally feel that you're back to the standard of living that you enjoyed in the early 2000s? My guess is no. And for those in their 40s, there's the added fear that Medicare and Social Security will either be abolished or greatly curtailed.
In a sense, this is exactly what needs to happen. But with such changes would come additional pain for an entire generation of Americans that has paid for their parents' and grandparents' needs by having bankrolled these funds for so long.
I'm not sappy, but I can tell you I'm glad I rescued that dog. Otherwise, she would have been run over and left for the birds to eat.
It's time now for the Republicans to get their act together before they all become so much political roadkill. It can take a stout heart and a focused compassion to save both the slightest of creatures and the greatest of nations.
Matt Towery is author of the new book, "Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency." He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.
© Creators Syndicate Inc.