Can the Republicans Avoid a Debacle?


To say the least, things do no look good for the Republicans at this moment. Rasmussen polls released Tuesday showed Mitt Romney trailing Barack Obama at 49 to 42 percent and Rick Santorum lagging even further behind at 41 percent. No word on Newt Gingrich, but it’s hard to be optimistic.

According to the pollster: Among unaffiliated voters, the president leads Romney by 10 and Santorum by 16.

Yikes. For those who don’t want to see a second Obama administration, this is, as Riley used to say, “a revoltin’ development.”

And it gets worse. The candidates, bunched closely together in the polls and looking to separate themselves, are too busy denigrating each other to pay much more than temporary lip service (except on the evening of a primary victory) to the main enemy in the White House, who expands his lead over them even while his own approval rating is a dismal -11.

What seemed even weeks ago as potentially a banner year for Republicans now appears a potential debacle. Not only is the continued loss of the presidency (Intrade now has Obama’s re-election at 60 percent) and the Senate an increasing likelihood, the loss of the House looms as a possibility.

The Republicans have only themselves to blame. Sure, they have to contend with a dishonest and biased media, not to mention a meretricious administration honed on Chicago and Saul Alinksy — but this is a surprise? In reality, what the Republicans mostly have to contend with is themselves in an endless roundelay of “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most conservative of all?” — a game more befitting a theocracy than a democracy.

The debates came down to a contest about who had the more unsullied conservative bona fides and who would really fulfill his campaign promises about curtailing government spending and appointing pro-life judges to the Supreme Court. In truth they all would, but the media played up the idea that one or all of them might be lying, that there was a hidden liberal under the rock waiting to explode, whether it was Santorum with his earmarks and anti-right-to-work voting record, Gingrich with Fannie/Freddie links and global warming flirtation, Romney of RomneyCare and onetime tolerance of abortion, etc., etc.

The Republican electorate, like automatons in some Aldous Huxley novel, sat complaisantly at the debates as the media manipulated them into thinking one after the other of the candidates might be prevaricating. No one was paying the slightest attention to the candidate’s actual ideas, even though the country was and is in the worst pass it has been in decades. And so, with little encouragement, fewer ideas were discussed in public, most relegated to the back pages of a website.

No wonder the candidates look so unsatisfactory. The system has been rigged — and the Republican Party has allowed it to be rigged — against the Republicans and in favor of the incumbent. So we are left with tarnished candidates poised to compete with a president (himself a total failure) who has barely had to break a sweat as the polls tilt in his favor. If this continues, he will waltz back into office. What an abysmal prospect for us and for our children.

So, as that Russian guy once said, what is to be done? For now, not much. The string must play out. Maybe someone will separate himself from the field sufficiently to redirect the focus where it belongs — on the president and his policies.

If not, all is not lost. There is still the chance of a brokered convention, chancy as that may be. No one likes to see political decisions made behind closed doors. But that is something the tea party and others may have to swallow. Names like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Mitch Daniels (to pick just a few) may end up having more resonance with the electorate than the ones we have been living with lo these many months. The question is: Where were they in the first place?

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