This is not good for President Obama. He needs Perry to win the nomination or at least make it a struggle for Romney. The former seems impossible while the latter slightly less so. The fall of Perry has been swift and a little humiliating. He may get out before the first votes are cast to save him in his home state. That Bachmann has been in free fall since the halcyon days of the Ames straw poll is not that surprising given that she is one strange woman. The grumblings from her staff about her diva-like demands on the trail--from tungsten lighting, to not wanting to press the flesh in Iowa to the departure of Ed Rollins has doomed her prospects.
Who is capable of making it tough for Romney? Hunstman has no chance, Santorum has the charm of a chancre sore, Paul has been surprisingly ineffective at bringing his pointed critiques of both parties to the fore (perhaps because no one thinks he has a chance). Cain has brought renewed attention to the 70s and 80s British punk rock band 999 and perhaps secured himself a show on Fox News. He is very feisty and combative, then let's out a hearty laugh to reassure the white folks that he's not that angry. But the Republican Party will not nominate the pizza mogul in 2012. It will not happen.
That leaves us with Newt Gingrich. A man totally bereft of charm and grace who is not running a serious campaign. He doesn't even campaign. He shows up to debates, does cable interviews, and shops till he drops wherever he is with Callista in tow. Could he emerge as the anti-MIttens? Stranger things have happened.
In the meantime, look for the right-wing to keep looking around for someone, anyone to credibly challenge Romney from the right, not that there's much room to Romney's right. But the Ann Coulters and some Tea Party extremists are not ready to give up yet. They have an inkling that Romney is sort of the default Republican candidate in the same way that Walter Mondale was the default Dem candidate in 1984. We know how that turned out.
The debate last night at Dartmouth College ruffled a few Conservative feathers because Karen Tummulty had the nerve to ask if anyone on Wall St. deserved to go to prison for the looting that has occurred in the financial sector in the past decade. Using customary lunatic fringe logic, Gingrich nominated Barney Frank for prison time. That is the kind of delusion that will save Obama and sink the Republican party in 2012. They are the defenders of the plutocracy. They are the defenders of money. They are the defenders of greed. They are funded by crooks like the Koch brothers whose own greed knows no bounds.
Last night's debate skirted around the issue of free trade and globalism. Those are huge issues that need to be addressed in the coming decade. There was much rhetoric about out-competing the Chinese. But how? Are Americans willing to work for $14 a day? The follow-up questions were not there. Globalism as administered by 30 years of bipartisan consensus has benefited the top 1% while the middle and working classes continue their precipitous declines. When is someone going to confront these Republicans with the fact that tax cuts for the rich and lax regulations are what got us into this mess in the first place? At least 9 9 9 is a new idea--albeit a bad one.