But what does that tell us about the weakness of the Republican field? And what does the prospect of a race to the bottom, where someone named not-Romney seems to always win, tell Republicans?
(Continue reading below the fold)
David Brooks laments the demise of a version of the GOP that hasn't existed since Gerald Ford, one that survives only in his own imagination:
All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum...That's because their goal is power, not governance. Sad that it takes a wacko like Santorum to drive that point home.
The wingers call their Republican opponents RINOs, or Republican In Name Only. But that’s an insult to the rhino, which is a tough, noble beast. If RINOs were like rhinos, they’d stand up to those who seek to destroy them. Actually, what the country needs is some real Rhino Republicans. But the professional Republicans never do that. They’re not rhinos. They’re Opossum Republicans. They tremble for a few seconds then slip into an involuntary coma every time they’re challenged aggressively from the right.
Mark Thiessen is beside himself that the Republicans are losing on the "fairness" issue:
In other words, a campaign focused on “fairness” should be a losing campaign. Yet somehow the leading GOP presidential contenders seem determined to turn Obama’s weak hand into a winning one. First, Newt Gingrich launches class warfare attacks on Mitt Romney that would make Obama blush. Then, Romney declares that he’s “not concerned about the very poor,” that “corporations are people,” and brags in economically depressed Detroit about owning four cars. Then, Rick Santorum steps up to defend income inequality, declaring: “There is income inequality in America. There always has been and hopefully — and I do say that — there always will be.”Those are in the category of a Kinsley gaffe: the worst error in DC is to accidentally tell the truth, including about what you really believe. Santorum's doing that daily, but they've all done it this campaign season.
Jonathan Chait tries to explain the demographic reason for the bizarre wacko primary theme:
The Republican Party is in the grips of many fever dreams. But this [losing our 'freedom"] is not one of them. To be sure, the apocalyptic ideological analysis—that “freedom” is incompatible with Clinton-era tax rates and Massachusetts-style health care—is pure crazy. But the panicked strategic analysis, and the sense of urgency it gives rise to, is actually quite sound. The modern GOP—the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes—is staring down its own demographic extinction. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. And this impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama presidency.Okay, that was an interesting read, but it's about too much logic in the Republican party. In reviewing Chait, Kevin Drum makes the case that this is just about the Republicans not getting over losing in 2008:
Republicans don't think they have one last chance before the fat lady sings them off the stage. They're just reacting emotionally to a big defeat by convincing themselves that they were rejected because they hadn't been true enough to their principles. That happens all the time. They'll come around eventually.But there's something deeper. This really is a GOP primal scream of "We're losing! Noooooooo!"
Here's a view from the Globe and Mail (CA):
Republican establishment types, watching the party’s White House chances shrink with each additional day the ugly GOP nomination race endures, pray for the fat lady to sing.The establishment brought this on themselves. They figured out that Romney was so weak, the only way to win was to train their attack machine on his rivals. It started with Newt Gingrich (see The Republican civil war unleashed) and continues with the barrage on Santorum, each rival ably helping the Romney attack machine with their goofy and not-ready-for-prime time gaffes. Santorum's ill-chosen war on JFK and separation of church and state is the biggest, latest example:
Sadly for them, she’s barely warming up. In the meantime, the GOP candidates are inflicting so much damage on each other as to make them all unelectable in November.
Santorum’s blurring of the line between the religion and government has raised eyebrows, including at the Washington Post, which published an editorial Monday asking, “Does Mr. Santorum really understand the difference between talking about a policy and imposing his views?”But in the process, the fact that we all understood from the beginning is laid bare: the Republican primary voters really want anyone but Romney. I figured his money and organization wins, and he then goes on to honorably lose like Dole or McCain. It still could happen. But he is going to cause a lot of Republican ulcers in the process, and even more ulcers if, thanks to Republican primary voters, he loses to a clown like Santorum.