Monday, December 12, 2011

Three Weeks Before Iowa

The battle for the Republican nomination has changed dramatically in the past few weeks with Newt Gingrich emerging as  the new front runner.  No one saw this coming.  Now, the Mitt Romney juggernaut has been derailed. 

Two things happened.  The first was the implosion of Rick Perry as a serious candidate.  After that happened in the early fall, the Cain boomlet began.  Both of these developments were good for Romney.  But then, the ladies started coming from out of every Red Roof Inn, and suddenly the Cain placeholder became free.  Unfortunately for the man from Bain Capital, Cain’s supporters decided to go with Gingrich. 

Gingrich had been the one scoring well on Frank Luntz’s Fox focus groups during the early debates when the rest of us were deriding Gingrich’s churlishness and predictable media bashing.  He always made a point of steering the conversation and the debates back towards the Republican cause:  defeating President Obama.  Of course,  while he was turning off the pundits of both right and left, Gingrich was connecting with the Republican base.

If one starts to see the debates and the campaign threw the eyes of a real Republican partisan—then Gingrich makes sense.  It reminded me of 2004 when many of us Democratic liberal partisans were just as opposed and united in our loathing of Bush/Cheney.  We went all out for Howard Dean.  Dean was filling Bryant Park with 10,000 people in the summer of 2003 representing the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. 

The conventional wisdom is that Democrats fall in love,  while Republicans fall in line when nominating a president.  However, I can think of no instance in the last 40 years,  other than McGovern in 1972 and Obama in 2008 where Democrats fell in love.  Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore were all pragmatic choices.  In some cases, the only reasonable choice.  But  love would not describe the feeling of voters for any of those candidates. 

The Republicans definitely fall in line.  Nixon, Ford, Bush I, Dole, McCain all represented falling in line.  They definitely loved Reagan and they loved Bush Jr. too especially in 2004, in that most bitter re-election following the uber-bitter 2000. 

In 2004,  many of us felt that the only way to challenge and defeat Bush was to take him on on the issue of the war.  It was still not seen by most Americans as the catastrophe  it would soon become and Democrats wer scared of their own shadows then and spooked by the entire war on terror meme and so they nominated that grand wooden soldier  John Kerry.  He ran a bad campaign and still almost beat Bush.  Had he picked a better VP that could have delivered a state who knows what would have been.  But the Democrats of 2004 fell in line and the establishment trashed Dean though not with the same fury that we are seeing right now in the Republican primary.

Mitt Romney winning would be falling in line.  McCain was falling in line and the results speak for themselves.  Why not go with the  emotional outlet of a Gingrich nomination and the cathartic release of the obese turkey necked Newt getting in lithe Obama’s face and calling him out for being the limp-wristed America hating,  welfare-loving,  military hating, queer loving  Kenyan  Socialist Muslim that he is.
They will lose again—perhaps worse than in 2008—but they will feel much better about themselves.  It’s like that iconic moment in 2008 when an older white woman confronted McCain in a town hall and said that Obama was an Arab terrorist.  McCain stopped her in her tracks and said “No ma’am…no ma’am.  He’s a  decent family man, with whom I happen to have some disagreements.”   In 2012, the base wants no such decency.  No such niceties.  It will scare the beejesus out of the vaunted Bucks County swing voters, but so what?!  The base will feel better and yes, they will probably lose but there’s always a slight chance in this economy that they can win……and then….the most radical administration in American history.  In the meantime, despite the fact that Gingrich looks so good right now, expect the establishment to fight back hard.  Romney is still the favorite.  And expect Ron Paul to have his moment, most likely in Iowa.

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