Monday, January 23, 2012

Catch of the Day

Here's one for Daniel Larison, who ridicules Ross Douthat's foolish albeit somewhat tentative embrace of the Late Entrant fantasy. Good fun.

Douthat's post, and one from Aaron Blake here also claiming that Mitch Daniels would have been a strong candidate, just make no sense to me at all. The candidates who could have saved the GOP from their current situation would hardly be those, as Blake touts Daniels as being, who can be "the adult in the room." C'mon, folks, you can do better than that. If Republicans were looking for an adult in the room type, they would be perfectly happy with Mitt Romney right now. Don't think the Mittster looks like a grown up these days? Of course not; no candidate ever does when brutally attacked by politicians from his or her party, and losing primaries.

What Republicans could have used both this cycle and last is a candidate who raised no suspicion from any important party faction and also had conventional credentials. Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty, and perhaps Fred Thompson all came close, but none of them really achieved that. Given the GOP's wild pivots on so many issues over the last decade, perhaps no one can, and someone like Romney -- who holds orthodox views on all issues right now, but hasn't for long enough to build long-term trust -- is the best they can do. But at any rate, it's hard to see Daniels (or Christie, or Ryan) fitting the bill. He's just not different enough from Romney. Might have been a better candidate, but he wouldn't square the circle.

Anyway: nice catch!


  1. Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty, and perhaps Fred Thompson all came close, but none of them really achieved that.

    And Pawlenty's the only one of the three of capable of stringing together a sentence without becoming a national laughingstock or making the audience fall asleep.

    We may never know what kind of internal issues may have brought Pawlenty's campaign to a halt, but just looking from the outside.... doesn't it seem like Pawlenty made a bad decision in dropping out? It seems like he might have been the "anti-Romney" a lot of conservatives are wishing they had now.

    1. Every time I see your "Catch of the Day" headline I think of this clip:

      I'm not alone in this am I?

  2. "Given the GOP's wild pivots on so many issues over the last decade, perhaps no one can,"

    At first glance, this seems like a key point, but Newt has some of the same difficulties that Romney has in having once held now verboten positions.

    I think that the 2012 Republican primary is more similar to the 2008 Democratic primary: party actors and primary voters seems to be having genuine struggles to determine whose personality/temperament, political/personal baggage, and symbolic/demographic qualities best satisfy their vision of the party's strengths and future. Obama and Clinton had really similar records and policy inclinations (relative moderates within the universe of their party's ideological tensions). In some notable ways, there's an analogous structure to the Gingrich-Romney battle. But the right-wing coalition versions of identity politics is ressentiment-talk-radio populist vs. business-class huckster.

    1. @PF, Republicans could decide based on policy positions, which are more distinct among these candidates than between Clinton and Obama.

      Instead, GOP voters seem to being trying to balance purity, electability, and enthusiasm. The most recent debates have focused less on policy and more on bashing people. No wonder Newt won the SC debates. I hope the campaign doesn't stay on this nasty track.

  3. It seems--and I never thought I'd say this--but this country may owe Michelle Bachman a debt for eliminating Tim Pawlenty from the primaries so early. A working-class, sane adult conservative but with conservative credentials up the wazoo? None of Romney's Bain financial baggage--he worked as a stockboy, for Gods's sake-- and none of Gingrich's insanity. And a governor of a blue-ish state who served two terms, not one, and left still beloved by conservatives.

    Yeah, we'd be looking at Obama-Pawlenty right now if not for her, and it seems clear, in retrospect, that he'd be a far stronger candidate than Romney.

    Who knows. If Gingrich pounds away enough to do serious damage to Romney, we may owe him a debt as well.

    Thanks, Michelle!


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