Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Discomfort By A Thousand Cuts

(Editorial cartoon by Tom Toles and published 2/27/12 in the Washington Post. Click on image to enlarge so that you can see what doggie has to say.)

David Horsey hasn't put up anything new at the Los Angeles Times, so I went with a mid-week Toles, who is certainly not a shabby replacement, to help make my point. The Republican race for the presidential nomination is getting both weird and boring at the same time.

GOP stalwarts are clearly uneasy at the choice of candidates, which has been whittled down to just two, but instead of quietly stepping in and giving guidance to either of the candidates, the party elders are just sitting back. Republican members of Congress and state legislatures , on the other hand, are busy tripping over themselves in introducing new and improved forms of culture war craziness which has to be turning off the highly prized moderate independent voters.

Libby Spencer has suggested all along that a brokered convention might be in the offing, but I fail to see how that's going to save the GOP this time around. August to November is really a short period of time to get a new candidate up and running, even if it is a really "attractive" candidate such as Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels or Marco Rubio or whoever. And the big money donors who've been pouring millions into the campaigns of Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney might not be so forthcoming if they get stiffed by the party at that point.

As a liberal, I suppose I ought to be thrilled: the GOP is making this look like a cake walk for the Democrats, but I'm not. This is where the doggie's comment in the Toles' cartoon comes in. "Our" candidate isn't exactly setting the electorate on fire. We still have unacceptably high unemployment. We're still seeing an expansion of the attack on civil liberties. We're still in Afghanistan and there hints in the press that more overt military action is possible in Syria and Iran. People are still losing their homes. Banksters who caused the financial meltdown in this country and the world are still walking around free and richer than ever before.

Even on issues that the two main GOP candidates are attacking Obama on are receiving rather muted responses. Santorum's charge that Obama is being a "snob" about wanting every child to have a shot at college got only a reminder that our job market requires better trained employees. The GOP's attack on birth control availability got only a meek compromise in requiring religious organizations to get their insurance carriers to provide a basic health care need for women on a free basis. I still haven't seen a response to Santorum's outrageous comment that there should be no separation of church and state, and that one should be a slam dunk (see Atrios's wise post here).

The danger in all of this is that people, all people regardless of political leanings, will be so turned off by all of this that they will simply stay home that first Tuesday in November because there is no reason to actually get off the couch. I'm not quite at the point where I believe that is the intention of all parties involved, but I'm getting there.



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