Saturday, February 25, 2012

The GOP Primary: Whose on First?

I recently received an assignment from the Washington County Observer to comment on the Republican primary. Here's what I wrote:

Whose on first?

Romney? Bachmann? Perry? Cain? Gingrich? Santorum?

What’s been happening?

Just a Republican primary doing what it’s supposed to do: vetting the candidates, finding the one most desired to go up against the incumbent President.

True, it’s been a convoluted one. But that’s due to four forces using the Republican primary race to duke it out.

The first major force is the GOP establishment. Romney’s their guy: a former governor, successful in business, good family, telegenic. Had The West Wing been a conservative show, Mitt Romney would have been cast as President Josiah Bartlet. And while Establishment Republicans like to throw out a lot of conservative language, on their laptops they spell the names of guys like Romney as m-o-d-e-r-a-t-e. Pleasant, respectable, unlikely to scare the horses.

Sort of like Bob Dole with an MBA.

Establishment Republicans tend to fear the second major force: the news media, also known as the Democratic Ministry of Propaganda (DEM-OP). DEM-OP’s role in this fight has been to puff the sainted Democrats and destroy or manipulate Republican contenders or potential contenders. They nuked Sarah Palin, decimated Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich (although Gingrich hasn’t always needed their help), and pushed the Herman Cain implosion. Hard to know what happened with Cain – some say where there’s smoke there’s fire but in his case when the media saw smoke, they brought gasoline.

The third major force is the Tea Party. Not always official Tea Party members, but the conservative grassroots fed up with out-of-touch big government nonsense. While many of their hearts belong to Sarah, they initially split among Bachmann, Perry, and Cain, going to each before DEM-OP derailed those candidates. As the race seemed to narrow to just Romney and Gingrich, I believe many Tea Partiers rallied behind Gingrich because 1) they loved hearing debates with a brilliant Republican talking trash to statism and 2) the deeply-held conviction of ABR (Anybody But Romney).

When the giddiness wore off, Tea Partiers looked behind the rhetoric and realized Gingrich tends to be a statist (but only on days ending with “y”) and one never knew if he as president would be Good Newt or Bad Newt.

Thus the move of Tea Partiers and other grassroots conservatives to Rick Santorum, despite his big government tendencies and his media title of He Who Is Unelectable. At this writing, he leads the polls, more money is coming in, and he is now riding the ABR wave.

Ron Paul represents the fourth force in the primary campaign, and he has attracted some Tea Partiers. I believe Paul himself knows he won’t be nominated, but provides an alternate voice for disaffected conservatives and libertarians. Along with good organizing skills, a remarkable attribute of the Paul campaign has been its ability to attract thousands of young people into politics and to harness their energy. Is this part of the future of right-leaning American politics?

What about me? Whom do I favor?

I’m not saying. Except for this: ABO.

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