alien & sedition.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
  It Ain't Getting Any Prettier

So I go out on a limb and describe Mitt Romney as the Republican "frontrunner in waiting." Then Erick Erickson at Red State turns around and publicly renounces his support for "Multiple Choice Mitt." Says Erick, "I'm tired of the explanations and I'm tired of the dodges."

You know the drill: the flip-flopping on abortion, gay-hating, Paul Tsongas, etc. Erick's had enough:
I'm tired of running into these stories. I'm tired of the hedges. I'm tired of the dodges. And I'm tired of the caveated nuance. So let me put this straight and bluntly. I'm more than happy to support my man Mitt if he is the Republican nominee. But, like Hillary Clinton, he is a political opportunist who I increasingly see as someone without principle, only a weather vane.

Multiple Choice Mitt had me at hello. He lost me on the flip.

In another blow to my theory, Hunter Baker asks, "Are We Basically Down to Two Candidates for the GOP?" Baker argues that GOP primary voters, when there is no Republican incumbent, essentially always pick the best-known candidate (with the notable exception of 1964). And if this is the case, then the prospects for most of the field have been dim from the get-go:
If this basic dynamic of "the biggest Republican" running continues to hold, then it would surprising in the extreme to see anybody other than McCain or Giuliani get the nod. Nobody else in the field is even in the same universe from a name recognition standpoint (save Newt, whom I love, but isn't even a serious candidate).

Clearly, people think there is an opening because neither McCain nor Giuliani has rock solid conservative credentials, but the voters aren't as sensitive as we net-denizens might believe and McCain is beginning to claim the pro-life slot as against Rudy. So, I'm not sure the opening is really there.
Of course, the sample size is pretty small, which makes it hard to control for contingent factors. But here's my bigger question: since 1980, when have the Republicans nominated a non-incumbent candidate who was actively loathed by the conservative movement? (I'm counting G.W. Bush as an incumbent, by the way.) The only possibility would be Dole - was he discussed with the same vitriol conservatives reserve for McCain? I honestly don't know.

The point being: McCain is actively hated by conservatives. Giuliani should be, but his powers of mythmaking have thus far kept him in the running. Romney apparently is, too - but he's been trying signficantly harder than either of the other two to win conservative support.

Maybe all Mitt's hard work won't pay off, and the conservatives will be faced with a choice between a man they hate and Rudy "House of Cards" Giuliani. If that's the case, maybe conservatives will be all the more desperate to suspend their disbelief, to buy into Giuliani's fairy tales and ignore the various scurrying men behind the curtain.

I certainly don't envy them the exercise.

Update: read the comments to Baker's post. Some pretty strong pro-Giuliani sentiment.

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Critical analysis of the American conservative movement from a progressive perspective. Also some stuff about the Mets.

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