Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Cave Of The Culture Warrior

David Horsey's latest effort gives a pretty good summary of not only the current state of the GOP race for the nomination, but also of this week in the news.

Proposition 8! Catholics and birth control! Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood! Could Rick Santorum have asked for a better confluence of controversies? ...

...While Mitt Romney has oozed his way through multiple contortions on gay rights, abortion and limits on religious freedom over the years, Santorum has been solid. He has said abortion doctors should be jailed. He insists birth control is bad. He vehemently opposes gay marriage. He firmly believes religion has a central place in government.

In the past, he has been considered extreme on social issues, but, with the other Republican candidates now echoing his positions, Santorum seems to be in the mainstream of his party. Could this, at last, be his moment? Conventional wisdom has been wrong so often in this campaign that it is worth contemplating the possibility that the expected debate over economic issues between Romney and Obama may not come to pass. Instead, the campaign of 2012 may bring to a boil the culture war that has been simmering for years.

If so, we may finally get a clearer answer to a big question that lies at the center of our political life: Is America essentially a conservative, religiously-oriented country that cherishes small-town values and traditions, or have we reached a tipping point where tolerance and even celebration of alternative lifestyles, cultures and ethnicities has become our dominant ethic?

If the Republicans nominate Rick Santorum, the nation will be having that debate and it won’t be quiet or comfortable.

There are a couple of pretty big "ifs" in the section cited, but "if" all of this comes to pass and Rick Santorum does get the nomination, Horsey will be right in his assessment. The problem is that in all likelihood Santorum's movement to the top of the "not-Romney" list is just another candidacy du jour.

At Eschaton yesterday the issue of the fractured Republican Party was discussed. We all pretty much agreed that there are three factions existing within the GOP: the economic conservatives (the 1% supporters), the social conservatives (led by the Religious Reich), and the anti-government conservatives (the Libertarians). There is some overlap among the factions, but there isn't much, not enough at this point to ensure any kind of unity when it comes to selecting a candidate overwhelmingly.

Yes, it's still early and the really big gauge will be Super Tuesday, but if some kind of magic doesn't happen for Romney at that point, it's going to be a rough slog to the convention. Libby Spencer's theory of a brokered convention becomes more than a theory, more than a slight possibility.

In the mean time, lots and lots of money will be spent by the candidates on travel and on commercials, money that none of them want to spend on just getting to the convention.

Oh well, that's politics these days.



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