Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Not Romney Chronicles, Episode 37

Last spring and summer, I blogged quite frequently and chatted elsewhere that the outbidding in the GOP would be very entertaining.  I had no idea how right I was going to be.  Iowa has produced three "leaders" if one means by leader someone who has somewhat more votes than the rest.  In all other definitions of the word, the pack of three lacks heaps of leadership. 

Anyhow, we now have a politician that seems most electable but most reviled by the base: Romney.  So that, the past few months we have seen a rotation of "Not Romney's" soar and then decline in the polls

We have a candidate who has the most appealing personality but has a track record of insane and racist views: Ron Paul.

And we have a candidate so homophobic and now so anti-sex (banning contrasceptives?) that to think of Santorum as a serious candidate is often seen as a prelude to a joke.  Yep, Dan Savage has provided the gift that keeps on giving.  If that were not bad enough, Santorum's foreign policy positions seem aimed to produce war, as if we have not had enough of that lately. 

What can make sense of the outcome last night?  Well, here is a pretty sensible analysis--that Santorum was the only one left remaining who had solid credentials on social policy for the hard, hard right wing of the Republican party.  Caucuses are entirely about who shows up, since it involves meetings and waiting.  If you are passionate, you will wait around for your chance to have a say.  If you are not passionate, you stay home.  Voting is far easier than caucus attendance. 

So, who is passionate?  Those who hate sex.  Oops, I don't really mean that.  So, who is passionate?  Those who are in denial about their homosexual inclinations?  Oops, just because many gay-hating Republicans have been caught in various gay sex-seeking eefforts does not mean that all homophobia is driven by denial.  Anyhow, the point is that Santorum played better than thrice divorced Gingrich, than the seriously bat-@#$#@ crazy Bachmann, and the fatally stupid Perry.  I mean, Cain also played well for a while, and his foreign policy stances made only marginally less sense than Santorum's. 

The Iowa high school musical that we call the first bellwether process (of about two or twenty) of the 2012 election produced a very close race where no candidate received heaps of support, so three are left bragging about not being fourth or fifth.  What did this really show?  That the GOP is so messed up that 1/4 of those who showed up supported an unelectable individual with a lousy record in the Senate and a history of saying incredibly hateful stuff.  That Santorum did so well (again 25% is well) is an indictment of the party.  But then again, this is not the average voter, not the average Iowan voter, not the average Iowan Republican voter, but the folks on the outer third (Santorum is not getting the median voter) of the Iowan Republican voter who shows up at a caucus. 

The truly funny thing is that Romney is clearly the choice of the "left wing," if you will, of the GOP in Iowa, then Ron Paul is the candidate of the median voter.  Raises heaps of questions of the meaning of median.  Oy!   The closeness of the outcome and the cycling before it reveal one consistency--that the Repubicans really do not like their candidates very much and have a hard time figuring out which one is least unattractive.  Sure, you had some enthused supporters last night on TV, but that was selection bias in the extreme.

I have tried not to pay attention to this race, but I also rubber-neck when I see a car crash on the side of the road.  Same thing.

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