Monday, February 13, 2012

Romney's Dilemma: The Road to the Nomination Runs through Bats**tcrazyville

The Lion in Winter: I'm holding my breath until you nominate me.

Since Mitt Romney's campaign -- and its success or failure -- is constantly being judged by whether or not he is electable, inevitable, establishment, conservative enough, or capable of exciting enthusiasm, we end up being mesmerized by the whys and hows of his failure to yet be coronated as the true presumptive Republican nominee.

This incessant questioning has thrown fairy dust in front of our eyes, so we can't see the obvious. I offer this hypothesis: Mitt Romney is considered the most electable -- even by the Republican base -- precisely because he is not as delusional as his Republican base. Which begs the question: How then can he win the nomination?!

Beats the hell out of me. All the movers and shakers of the Republican party want the most electable Republican to be the nominee, as that's the way the game has been played heretofore. That's why they're called the establishment candidate. These candidates play by the rules, wait their turn, and act like nice Republican players by following the Reagan Rule, which states a Republican never attacks a fellow Republican.

That this establishment road to the nomination has delivered the one-term elder Bush, the thrashed Bob Dole, and the pretty-well-thrashed John McCain hasn't dimmed the party's enthusiasm for the tried-and-true way. Parenthetically, the one two-term Republican presidency since Ronald Reagan was the marginally elected George W. Bush, who has become the Republican Who Must Not Be Named.

Yet here we are again, with an "electable" establishment Ken Doll slip-sliding his way to becoming the establishment nominee. So why is he having so much trouble getting there?

It has nothing to do with the first black president! Just ask our black brothers and sisters.

Here is the utter core of the math: Mitt Romney is the electable candidate precisely because he's not as conservative as his base requires him to be. Were he actually conservative enough to be the darling of a quivering, enthusiastic base ready to die for him in the election, he'd have to be what liberals affectionately -- and rightly -- refer to as batshit crazy.

What have all the not-Romneys -- Bachman, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul -- been? Yeah, batshit crazy. And why has the mantle now fallen, most convincingly, on Rick Santorum? He's the most levelheaded-sounding of the residents of batshitcrazyville. But for sure, he's from there all right.

He's even got some of that Ken Doll healthy look, although I have yet to see the Sweater Vest Ken Doll on the shelves.

There is a not-Romney Ken Doll!
Who would have thought that the rock and the hard place between which Mitt Romney finds himself would be the crazy base on one side and the not-really-conservative-wink-wink-nudge-nudge on the other, where he needs to be to win the election? In this mixed-up mess of things, the base is itself squeezed. The same people who demand him to be "severely conservative" also demand that he be electable. Mutually exclusive qualities, I'm afraid.

So what's Mitt to do? So far, it's been to smile, say he's the most conservative person ever, not put forth any clear policy directives that would let people know what he really thinks, or say anything that sheds light on who he really is -- especially about his Mormonism -- and instead say wildly fantastical things about Barack Obama as a way to fire up his base, you know the one that wants him all in and not all in at the same time. And to add insult to injury, he's abandoned the Reagan Rule big-time and attacked his not-Romney adversaries mercilessly, destroying them and driving his own unfavorables through the roof.

There was a moment just after securing the nomination in 2008 that John McCain looked at the polls and said, "I'm screwed." He knew he was establishment, and that it wasn't enough. So in his desperation he went for the loopiest running mate he could find, Sarah Palin. How'd that work out? (They're even making movies about it now.)

Let's say Romney wins the nomination -- not a given -- but let's say he does. Who does he pick for a running mate? Marco Rubio? Not bad. A Latino (actually a Cuban-American, a real difference). Great for Florida, but how does that fly in Arizona? Texas? Any border state? Iowa? Okay, Rick Santorum. That's going to win over the women's vote (hint: not!). How about Paul Ryan? The Republicans won the seniors vote in 2010 with Mediscare. You can't do that in 2012 with Ryan on the ticket.

Anyway I look at it, Mitt Romney's screwed. He's too sane for the nomination, or to win it he has to tatoo "batshit crazy" somewhere on his body and accidentally Tweet photos. If he does that, he's unelectable. Oh, well. That's his problem, not mine.

I'd tell them the truth if I thought it would work.

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