Monday, January 23, 2012

Further down the rabbit hole.

Gingrich wins!!!! The nightmare primary isn't quite over yet! And other such excitement.

Mostly, I think it's kind of awesome that Herman Cain and Stephen Colbert have found each other.I feel like this kind of cements my theory that Cain is, above and beyond all else, profoundly cynical about electoral politics. (Although apparently also kind of a naive idealist to think he'd be able to keep those sexual harassment accusations under wraps...but then again, I'm not sure anybody could have predicted he'd become enough of a front runner to get actual vetting). Most serious Republicans think that either Romney or Gingrich...or maybe both of them...would be disastrous for the party. Cain doesn't care which wins, and he is happy to give over his place on the ballot for a comedic stunt. Which actually makes he & Stephan Colbert a match made in heaven as far as I can tell. I haven't watched either the Daily Show or the Colbert Report on a regular basis for years, but back when I did the sense I got was always that Jon Stewart cared in a fundamental way that Stephen Colbert did not. Jon Stewart might not be a loyal party man, and he certainly has lots of complaints about the Democrats, but there are times when he stops being funny and gets earnest. Colbert, not so much. I still think it would have been interesting to see how far Cain could have gotten, if he hadn't been knocked out of contention by something so banal.

(Which isn't to say I don't think a history of sexual harassment is a disqualification for the presidency. I could probably actually make a whole argument for why Newt Gingrich's sins...extensive as they may be...exist in a different, and maybe less disqualifying, category than Bill Clinton's. But I'm not going to get into that now.)

Secondly, although this is getting to be old news by now, I find it intriguing watching the salience of the concept of class warfare in the Republican Party. Mitt Romney's whole "quiet rooms" thing kind of gave me this AHA! moment that this isn't just a talking point for them, but something they find genuinely scary. "Them" being some subset of the Republican party that clearly does not include all Republicans but appears to include Mitt Romney. And maybe doesn't include Newt Gingrich. Which I think says all kinds of interesting things about divisions within the Republican party. There's no obvious clues in Gingrich's wikipedia biography about his parents' political affiliations (his stepfather was in the military, he was raised Lutheran, and they lived in Pennsylvania and the South), but I think it's somewhat reasonable to think of him as the charismatic born-again political convert compared to Romney's old blood Republicanism. Or say, the populist vs. the anti-populist.

Nate Silver's latest article about the Republican primary seems to boil down to "who the hell knows anymore." Logically, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Romney becoming the nominee, but nothing that's happening seems to be particularly logical. I kind of think this primary season is going to end up being for the Republicans a lot like the 1924 convention was for the Democrats. In 1924, the incumbent Calvin Coolidge was supposed to be weak because of the scandals of the Harding administration, and the Democratic nominee was supposed to be a shoo-in. Except, the Democrats were divided between the big city machines and the anti-big city populists, the Klan-hating immigrants and the Klan-loving South, several of their major candidates were also touched by the scandals, and their national convention turned into a massive 103 ballot embarrassment. Which is to say, it is possible for a party to just spontaneously implode. Or at least, here's hoping. Kind of. I do believe that two coherent parties are necessary for the long term health of the country...but the Republican party has already shown up for 2012, and I think we'll all be a lot better off if its current incarnation implodes than if it's allowed to limp along passing for coherent just because we need a second party.

1 comment:

  1. About 2 months ago, I began thinking that this election would turn into a landslide similar to the election of 1936. Alf Landon a MODERATE WEALTHY BUSINESSMAN captured the Republican nomination doing especially well in MASSACHUSETTS, but was trounced by FDR in the general, earning less than 40% of the vote. More and more it looks to me like history may repeat itself.

    Mittens' favorability ratings have taken a turn for the worst, yet nobody else seems to be a viable Republican alternative. Even if this goes to a brokered convention, who becomes the man? Daniels isn't going to enthuse many voters with a barnburner speech about how much America sucks. Christie is an ahole. Jindal is a sitcom character. TPaw isn't exactly Mr. Excitement. Paul Ryan looks like a serial killer stock broker. And Jeb is a Bush. So it's got to be Mittens.

    Will it be as much of a landslide as 1936? I doubt it, but it's not completely out of the realm of possibility to imagine an Obama 55 to 42 victory. Any thoughts?