Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is the problem the base's lack of seriousness?

Over at Powerline John Hinderaker worries that the Republican Party is throwing the 2012 election away, a sentiment I share.

“…if you are a Republican, the vibes are very bad. The presidential primary season has turned into a disaster, in my view. Mitt Romney has shown a discouraging inability to appeal to the party’s base, while the race has damaged both Romney and the party…

Rick Santorum is a bright guy who has performed well in the debates, and he is hot, this week, in the Republican base. But he doesn’t have the chance of a snowball in Hell of being elected president. He couldn’t even get re-elected to the Senate in his home state of Pennsylvania in 2006. The 2012 election will be almost entirely about the economy, although national security is always relevant to a presidential contest. It would be suicidal for the GOP to nominate a candidate whose signature issues are gay marriage and abortion. At the end of the day, the party won’t be that dumb. But the fact that the party’s base is flirting with Santorum manifests a lack of seriousness that may prove fatal in November.” [my emphasis]

On this last point, I think Hinderaker has it almost exactly backwards.  The party is flirting with Santorum because the collective response to the candidates on offer is in effect, are you serious?  They’re flirting with Santorum because they have the good sense to know that Romney is a weak candidate who shouldn’t have a prayer of being the nominee in an election where Obamacare is a front and center issue. 

The main takeaway from this campaign isn’t that the conservative base lacks seriousness. Quite the contrary.  What’s clear is that if the base, in a supposedly conservative party is forced to settle on a Mitt Romney, who has no credibility in making the case on a key issue  in this election and has no discernable compensating strengths, then the process is badly in need of repair. 

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