Willard Romney had one really Bi-Polar day. Looking at the delegate count, he did really well, picking up some love from the Aloha State and some very teeny-tiny island possessions in the Pacific. But no politico has ever stated that “As Guam Goes, So Goes the nation.” This is a shame, since I would dearly love my fellow citizens to develop a yen for kelaguen, the fire-breathing dish of our Chamoru brethren. But outside the gentle waters of the Pacific, there was not much love for Mitt. Mr. Magic Underwear Man got mugged in Dixie yet again. In both Alabama and Mississippi two thirds of the voters gave Romney the thumbs down. Southern hospitality was replaced by Southern hostility.
Most of the loss was a trick of optics, it looked a lot worse than it actually was. But there is a real problem for the Mighty Mormon, he has a real enthusiasm gap with the base. When you can’t get no love in Dixie even after you roll out Kid Rock and Jeff Foxworthy; well, not good boys and girls.
Granted these folks are not about to go to the dark side and vote for Obama; not in this universe. They will turn out to vote for the Republican and in numbers. Still Mitt should not have to be pinning his hope on a knock out blow in the next primary.
This thing should have been over. It should have been over when Herman Cain belly-flopped back into the book tour circuit. It really should have been over when Newt wilted in the heat of the Florida sun. That Rick Santorum came within an eyelash of beating Romney in Michigan and Ohio is ridiculous. Santorum is a gadfly, a will-of-the-wisp, a non-starter. Santorum has no money and no organization to speak of. Romney should have delivered a beat-down to Santorum in Michigan, Mitt’s home state. Santorum should have been the hapless, hopeless, doe-eyed baby seal to Romney’s club-wielding Canadian. Instead, the baby seal came within an ace of drowning burly Mitt on the ice flow.
I have no idea who dreamt up this process. I have no idea who created this Rube Goldberg contraption that is the Republican Primary process. All I can tell you is that it is one hell of way to choose a candidate. Part of the problem is that the process is freshly minted; a Republican attempt to recreate the “magic” of the 2008 Democratic struggle. The thing is, if you are tying to put up a heavy-weight contest, it helps to have heavy weight contenders. Romney is the best the Republicans have in this cycle, but he is a Cruiser Weight stepping up to the next level. The rest of the gang are strictly light weights.
The whole process is painful to watch; Romney is stuck courting a reluctant base, when he should be getting ready for Obama. With every pander Romney is forced to make to lock down that base, the more unelectable he becomes. It is a double fail, he still can’t secure the base, and he is handing Team Obama ammunition in the general.
Team Obama is not the type of organization you spot a lead to. Love him or hate him, Obama is a consummate political player. In campaign mode, which he is in now, Obama is formidable. You underestimate the man at your peril.
Granted Obama is vulnerable, the economy is still flaccid and the international situation dicey. The electorate storm-tossed and can change on a dime. One bit of bad economic news, one foreign policy misfire and by-by Barry is the name of the game. The problem for Mitt is that he also occupies the same unstable ground. Mitt can go from front runner to burnt toast just as easily as Obama can. And if history is prologue, Mitt is more likely to stumble into the sacrificial fires than Barack.
Besides, all this speculation about the general is beside the point; Mitt is still struggling manfully to clinch the Republican nomination. He is on track, but it is a long, tiresome war of attrition, a figurative Bataan Death March with Mitt drifting further and further in to the dark woods to the right. Who really knows how deep Romney will have to delve into the frightful woods of the TEA Party natives before they finally accept him as their big chief? One thing for sure it will be a mad and inartful sprint back to the center for Mitt; only to find Obama happily ensconced as the center-right candidate, the traditional happy hunting ground of the Republican Party.
One thing for sure, win or loose with Romney, the Republican Party has come to a crossroad. The Nixon / Reagan Coalition is unraveling. A demographic Tsunami is threatening to drown the party within the next decade. A resentful and radicalized base is at war with the Corportist swells that actually run the party. Worse yet, the unwashed masses are finally seeing the sordid underbelly of the Social Conservative / reactionary cohort of the Elephant Party and are reeling in disgust. In a rotten economy people really don’t want to hear about social experimentation, they want you to deliver the goods. The more time Romney has to spend careering about on matters sexual, the more time he spends on proving what a heman woman hater he really is, the less time he has to focus on the economy. The Santorum side show is a net minus not only for Mitt, but for the entire Republican Party.
We will see how well Rick’s magic elixir sells in the land of Lincoln; wouldn’t it be odd if Obama’s home state finally seals the deal for Willard Romney? That would be the final odd coda to this over-long Republican Primary. My guess is another Pyrrhic victory for Mitt that proves nothing, and lets the process limp along. Romney can win the nomination, but he just can’t seem to win the hearts of the base.