No, Willard wasn't the GOP's worst possible candidate -- he was still the BEST they had to offer
Have we already forgotten? Have the R's already forgotten?
I forget where it was that I saw the other day a link to a report indicating that Sarah Palin is now considered well-positioned for 2016, and all I could think was: for what? I was so confounded that I actually looked into it, only to discover that what the Fallen Princess is so well-positioned for is the Republican presidential nomination. Imagine! Here I was thinking that far from such a prospect being obvious, it would be a pretty arcane consideration.
As I indicated here recently, "On the whole I'm inclined to let the R's do their own recriminating amongst themselves, secure in the knowledge that they will analyze the 2012 elections to death and come up with almost exclusively the wrong lessons." I explained further:
This isn't to single out R's or movement conservatives; it's the way all movement pols "analyze" elections. If the election had gone the other way, at this very moment we would have the whole of Dem officialdom tearing its hair out (such hair as is there, anyway) and recriminating and finger-pointing and drawing exactly the wrong lessons from the morass -- just as they're now drawing many of the wrong lessons from the victories.As a perfect illustration there was a quote I meant to quote from a WaPo piece I cited, "Romney sinks quickly in Republicans' esteem"
Craig Shirley, a Ronald Reagan biographer and adviser to conservative groups, said the comments underscore Romney’s fundamental weakness as a nominee. “Conventional wisdom in Republican circles was that Romney was the best candidate,” he said. “In hindsight, he may have been the worst choice.”This is exactly the sort of thing that the R's, and everybody else, have to be on guard against: "hindsight" that isn't any kind of "sight" at all, but pure delusion. Is it really necessary to rattle off the roster of R presidential hopefuls that was on display through those endlessly and hideously grueling "debates"? In particular the group that actually qualified at one point or another as the "front runner."
There is pretty much no limit to my contempt for Willard Inc., or to the horror I endured at the prospect of what seemed to me his likely move into the White House, but really now, Willard as "the worst choice"? In a field that included the likes of Herman Cain and Rick Perry and Rich Santorum?
It's no surprise to me that after those early soul-searching sessions in which prominent figures from the Right seemed to be suggesting a drastic course correction might be necessary, the "soul" (such as it is) of the movement and of the Republican Party is being expressed more boldy. As I pointed out recently, the only difference between terrifying objects of scorn like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock on the one hand and on the other the Great White Hope of the mainstreamed Far Right, Young Paul Ryan, is that Akin and Mourdock got a little to yakky about the abominations and insanities they believe, which are identical to the stuff Young Paul believes.
In which context, I found this washingtonpost.com PostPartisan "quick take" by Jonathan Bernstein of some interest.
By Jonathan Bernstein
Conor Friedersdorf wrote a key piece just after the election arguing that Republicans have to choose between Rush Limbaugh and all the groups Limbaugh habitually sneers at. I think that’s probably right. It’s easy to overstate the role of changing demographics as an explanation for the 2012 election results — remember, the consensus of the fundamentals-based forecasters was for a narrow Obama victory — but it’s probably true that Republicans at least are in danger of losing a lot of winnable votes by insulting large groups of voters. See, for example, Rany Jazayerli’s wonderful essay about how Republicans have lost Muslim voters.
So I’m reading with great interest Jim Geraghty’s piece in the National Review basically calling Limbaugh to task for Sandra Fluke along with hitting Romney for 47 percent and more. Or, to be more precise, I’m waiting with great interest for reactions, if any, from conservatives. Will they actually accept the idea that it’s a bad idea to go around insulting and excluding people — if not actually bad, at least bad politics? Or will they continue to blame everyone but themselves for why group after group after group feels insulted by GOP rhetoric?
I don’t know the answer. Clearly, the way that Limbaugh talks sells: There’s a very large audience for it. Of course a “large” audience for a radio show, a cable news network, or even more so a book or Web site is nothing compared to the “large” it takes to win elections. Which creates the kinds of conflicting incentives that we’re all familiar with by now: It almost certainly is good for anyone in the conservative marketplace to convert people from indifferent to actively, loudly antagonistic, but it’s a disaster for politicians to do the same.
So the question is which of these incentives will win out: the electoral incentives (stop insulting people who can be won over!) or the commercial one (insulting people who aren’t in the pool of potentially paying customers can be very good business!). Note that part of the confusion is deliberate: Those responding to the commercial incentives will inevitably find plausible-sounding reasons why their behavior is actually good for their party in general, and they’ll probably come to believe those arguments themselves. As will their audiences.
It’s really not obvious at all which one wins out. And that’s why it’s worth watching closely any relevant skirmishes.
AS AMY DAVIDSON NOTES, WILLARD DOESN'T SEEM TO
CARE ABOUT, WELL, ANY MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST
By the way, for an interesting take on the disappearance from view, and from consciousness, of the until-recently leader of the Republican Party, or at any rate its presidential candidate, check out Amy Davidson's newyorker.com post, "Romney's Republican Disneyland."