Some say, the old rules will not apply. (I really hate to argue with Michael Barone, he is smarter than I am, but we thought that last time and we still ended up with McCain.) Some say the field is forming too slowly. Others agree. Some say, not so fast. Some say it’s “confusing.” Some say, the base has no stomach for it right now. Some note it is about money right now. (They are keeping track.) Some are applying litmus tests (bad, bad idea – not to mention people really can change their minds) and others are pointing out what makes sense. The debate nonsense certainly continues.
All I know is, Mike Pence is out, for sure. There you go, that’s it for hard news – everything else is posturing, speculation, and a good deal of trying to spoil the brew before it is even made. Which brings me to…
Wishful Thinking On The Part Of The Left/Dem/MSM Complex
You would think we are a party so divided that winning would be impossible. You would think we are about to explode with division. You would think the GOP “establishment” has an open revolt on its hands. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. What we have is the natural process that has to occur when a party is selecting a candidate from a field. That is a competition by its very nature, but it is not by definition divisive. This is one of the advantages an incumbent enjoys – the lack of competition on his/her side allows that candidate, particularly when aided by a zealous and willing press, to play all sorts of mischief with the other side.
There were two story lines this week past that attempted to pull on this string. We will consider each in turn.
The first was Michelle Bachmann and her “alternative” response to the SOTU and forays to Iowa. Bachmann tried to spin that it was not a competition, and she really did not say anything much different than Paul Ryan’s official Republican response. Had it stayed on the internet, it might not have been so bad – but CNN decided to carry it live – thus providing the left with much opportunity to strike. (CNN helping the left – imagine that?!)
Everyone on the right side of the spectrum embraced her efforts, they did not seek to divide. Some even put a really good spin on the buzz (e.g., this whole thing will really give her a leg up in a Senate campaign). But that did not stop the left from proclaiming her has having “gone rogue,” and touting her Iowa visits.
The fact of the matter is there is no division here. There is a party in the midst of recalibrating itself – and given the results of the election just past, doing so quite successfully. Various factions inside the party are jockeying for position – that is to be expected in this instance.
The same can be said of the second story line that was bandied about this week – Mitt Romney‘s apparent erosion of support from people that backed him in 2008 – and continued efforts to drive a wedge between him and Evangelicals. Signaling their continued movement left, Politico announced, “A big warning sign for Mitt Romney.” The “sign” they see is that some that supported him last time have not yet committed to doing so. Says Alana Goodman at Contentions:
But it also seems a bit early to read so much into this situation. Romney hasn’t even officially announced his candidacy — and neither have most of the other potential GOP candidates — so it’s understandable that his former supporters aren’t eagerly revealing their endorsements to Politico reporters at the moment.
You betcha – there is nothing to “commit” to at the moment. Not to mention the fact that one of the names named in the piece – Jim DeMint – is floating trial balloons about running himself. This all comes on the heels of Romney’s overwhelming New Hampshire straw poll victory of a couple of weeks ago, which people are also trying to discredit. And all this comes in spite of some old Romney friends making very strong cases for him, and he is making some new and very worthy friends.
Then there is the Marriott Board, from which Romney recently resigned, decision to drop porn from its hotel TV system. Come on, last time Romney resigned the board as his campaign started up and no one talked about porn at all. This is so naked an effort to make social conservatives dislike Romney as to be almost be beneath comment. As EFM points out, making an issue of this forces the left to sound pro-porn.
Clearly it is in the best interest of our genuine competition to make the natural and normal process that a party has to go through in a situation like this look far more chaotic and divisive than it really is. In this instance it will not succeed because their guy is so naturally chaotic and divisive that we have a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black. When you contrast the governing by fiat style we have seen from this administration in the last two years with the admittedly democratic process we are undergoing now one cannot help but be very happy to be in the GOP since it clearly demonstrates that we believe in actual freedom.
And so with that let’s move on to candidate news. At this point there appears to be three very serious players – Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and John Thune. Then there are the two media candidates that are still in the mix but looking less and less serious – Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. Finally there are any number pf people still “thinking about it,” but not yet showing any serious signs of doing something about it. Let’s look at things in that order.
Mitt Romney – The Serious News
Officially there is no decision to run yet, but things are edging closer. In the meantime, he is remaining a Republican leader by praising Ronald Reagan and the pro-life march last week and slamming Obama’s SOTU.
But the serious discussion last week was how Romney would strategize in Iowa. Reid Wilson reported last Thursday:
…his strategists have spoken with potential consultants about the prospect of skipping Iowa altogether this time and launching a campaign from New Hampshire.
That strategy first came up last summer in conversations with several possible advisers. But it’s not clear how far along the planning has gotten, and sources emphasize that no final decisions have been made.
There is no question, however, that Romney is signaling he will make New Hampshire his top priority in 2012.
Then Wilson flogged in on his blog. There is also talk of same among Iowa insiders. The leftie outfits had to report on it too. What’s interesting is no one is really discussing the religion angle in all this. Of course, it is in Romney’s best interest not to bring it up, but you would think the lefties would be all over it like white on rice. Watch this space.
The Boston Globe tried a tale-of-the-tape on Romney and Pawlenty. The Boston Globe is no friend of the GOP, but the piece does serve as a good segue to discussing…
T-Paw introduced himself to the voters of New Hampshire with a video clearly designed to combat his “nice” image. David Brody referred to it as a “Die Hard moment. It is a bit over the top. (As is this bit of braggadocio – Last guy that talked like this turned out to have a glass jaw – Think Arnold.) Pawlenty is playing hardball right out of the chute. He is also looking at some difficult policy alternatives.
The most interesting development of the week was an interview he did with Christianity Today. He is being very smart about this – note the advertising as you go through the interview – selling his book. He seems to want to establish his evangelical credentials without being too closely identified as one, something that makes both Palin and Huckabee very divisive. He’s walking a tightrope on this one. It will be interesting to see if he stays on it.
…is finally gettting serious. He is staffing. He is getting some serious backing from colleagues in the Senate. He is getting profiled. He is giving some interviews that are dropping serious hints, and he has announced a date when he will decide. But note that a lot of this reporting is coming from places like “Roll Call” – serious insider stuff. He is not getting much in the way of play from the MSM. Of course, he is not playing to them like Romney or Pawlenty but my sense is that the Senate is happy because Obama is the first legislator to make the leap to executive, without an intervening step in a governor’s office of the VP slot, since Kennedy; and if they can make the Senate appear to be a road to the White House, that’s in the best interests of all of them.
Thune is a smart politician and a serious player, but this thing is shaping up very differently than one might expect. At least it has finally gotten interesting.
In Media World…
Sarah Palin really only got coverage for her PAC financials. Mike Huckabee continues to poll reasonably well (which at this stage means that he has a TV show so everyone knows his name) and is taking his time. He keeps gaining weight too – I thought he licked that last time around?
The Professor and Mary Ann…
Tell me – is that an obscure reference? For the uninitiated, the theme song from Gilligan’s Island, when it was in black and white, did not refer to those characters by name, simply saying “and the rest” – it was not until it was in color that they were named. But I digress….
Mitch Daniels continues to be drafted. Newt Gingrich has friends, likes to blow his own horn and is being soundly chastised by the WSJ. Rudy Giuliani continues to elbow his way into the discussion. Haley Barbour is still thinking and dealing with a past that will prove very sticky against an African-American incumbent. Jon Huntsman has a circle. He’s a Mormon isn’t he? Oh, wait….
And finally there is Sharron Angle?! I just can’t go there – I’m thinking that if I went to Iowa some reporter would ask me if I were running.
Wallis calling for civility!? I hope he is listening to himself.
This is very interesting: An Evangelical Graduates from the Mormon Institute Program.