The election cycle seems to be getting considerably clearer now. For a long time, the Republicans seemed almost not to know who they wanted to represent them in the major election for the White House. It always seemed that Romney was the frontrunner, but that Republicans were uncomfortable with having him represent them. I would be, too. The guy really does not seem all that likeable, much less real. He is one of those consummate politicians, where it is hard to imagine the real person underneath all that political makeup designed to look pleasing to the voter. So, at some points, it was Michele Bachmann who was a strong outside contender, then it was Herman Cain, then Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and finally, once again, Rick Santorum's campaign finally came alive once again. Got all that?
Yet, perhaps finally, Mitt Romney may have cemented his status as the Republican frontrunner with the big win in
, in particular, last night. That was supposed to be one of his "home states", along with Michigan , so winning that seemed a must. Santorum seemed to have so much momentum there for a while, that many observers were beginning to wonder if Romney had what it took to even get out of the Republican field at any point. Massachusetts
Increasingly, though, all signs point to an Obama victory in November. The Republicans, for once, looked disjointed and lacking unity and cohesion – usually the forte of the Democrats. I just read a headline that says the markets are preparing for an Obama victory, and most of the polls suggest that Obama holds a lead, often quite sizeable, against the leading Republican candidates. So this race almost looks like a race to see who gets the privilege of being the one to make history in losing the election that gets Obama reelected – something that seemed almost unthinkable, seemingly, not all that long ago, when his approval ratings sagged.
It was not all that different when the last Democrat to hold the White House, Bill Clinton, seemed destined to be a one-term President following the midterm elections, only to bounce back and look strong, almost unbeatable, for the next election cycle, ultimately winning handily to get the second term.
Clinton managed to do so only after enduring a wave of Clinton bashing from a rising right wing contingent, led at the time by your friend and mine, Newt Gingrich, and his "Contract for ", and not backing down after the threat of a government shut down. Now, Obama seems to have done the same, only this time, it was called the "Tea Party", and he also needed not to blink in the face of the prospect of a government shut down. America
The thing is, I have never seen the Republicans look so weak. Even when it seemed clear that
was going to win again in 1996, the Republicans looked more unified and together. Not sure what happened this time, but the major Republican field looked ridiculously comical up to this point. Not that I am complaining, far from it. I am just saying, it is surprising that the Republicans look as irrelevant, at least in terms of the Presidential elections, as the Democrats traditionally did when I was growing up. Clinton
Entering into the season, perhaps the brightest Republican prospect was Sarah Palin – herself not far from being a comedy routine and a mockery of the political system. Michele Bachmann proved to be a comedy act in her own right, of course, as did Herman Cain. Ron Paul was entertaining, and even, at times, refreshingly honest, at least. His politics are too extreme for me, and he believes in a much too rigid version of deregulation that likely would not work. With all of the obvious examples of corruption and corporate supremacy in our world, and in this country, especially, how is letting them have the "freedom" to pursue agenda with even less restrictions than ever going to help us fix that? Yet, his supporters were quite vocal, with many of them seemingly seeing only the opposition to the war in Iraq, and to all the wars in general that we are fighting, as well as his stated desire to legalize pot, as some of the huge points that many, if not most, Americans would actually agree with.
Gingrich rose again, albeit briefly.
said that he was not at all surprised, rather expecting Gingrich to play the part of the comeback kid. Still, his hypocrisy proved too much even for the Republicans, and his campaign faded away. At that point, it seemed to be all Romney. Clinton
Enter Santorum, again. Suddenly, he was running strong, and his smug self-satisfaction became among the highlights on the nightly news. Republicans were hesitant to just give the race to Romney, and so everyone tried to prove that they were the best to embody "true conservatism". Santorum seemed to go the farthest to the right, seemingly attacking a woman's right to choose abortion even under circumstances of rape, he aggressively criticized the traditional stance of the separation of church and state, claiming that a John F. Kennedy speech many decades ago favoring maintaining this separation made him want to "vomit" (his words). He criticized President Obama for saying that he wished every American could go to college, dismissing these as liberal elitist institutions, almost designed to brain wash people. He holds degrees himself in some of those institutions of higher learning, by the way. Hypocrisy? Not a first for the man. Eugene Robinson wrote an article about Santorum's tendency to gravitate to the extreme. In his article, "Rick Santorum’s rhetoric goes to the extreme", Robinson states that:
"For all his supposed authenticity, Rick Santorum is not what he seems. Beneath that sweater vest beats the heart of a calculating and increasingly desperate politician who has gone beyond pandering all the way to shameless demagoguery."
So that leaves us with Romney, a rather comical figure in his own right. I remember David Letterman, in 2008, claiming that Romney looked like the owner of a casino. Romney is, again, the ultimate politician, and it seems impossible to see a real man in him, beyond the cloak of the be all politician. He wants so much not to offend, that he goes to the extreme in maintaining the least controversial positions. It angers him that he is not considered a true conservative, and he has been pounding home a more conservative image in order to win the Republican nomination that has eluded him. In the process, he probably has given Obama even more to work with, once the main election gets under way. Assuming, of course, that Romney can hang on to the victory this time – which given the recent history, is hardly a given.
Let me close with a quote that I think is apropos, regarding conservatives and their tendency to blame Obama for everything lately. They say that they want to "take back" the country, and their arguments have been spinning more and more extreme. I think this quote goes far towards explaining the current political situation and debates.
“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
John Kenneth Galbraith