Friday, February 10, 2012

Mud Central

Yesterday, I posted on Rick Santorum's surprising weekend victories and the signal being sent by the GOP faithful. Doyle McManus' latest column also looked at the results and he noted the mudslinging which Santorum will face and will apparently engage in with his opponents as the trudge to the nomination continues.

At this point, the GOP looks more like a collection of warring tribes than a cohesive political force. Fiscal conservatives don't have much use for social conservatives. Libertarians and moderates don't get along with either camp. "We are factionalized now as a party," lamented Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). "We have to come together."

She's right. Why? Because the long and relentlessly negative campaign is making all the GOP candidates less likable to independent voters, who will probably determine the outcome of this fall's general election. ...

Now, in the wake of his victories, Santorum will be on the receiving end of some serious hazing at the hands of the Romney campaign.

It's already begun. In recent days, the Romney campaign dispatched one of its spokesmen, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, to warn GOP voters that Santorum is a Washington insider who liked the place so much that after he lost his Senate seat, he stayed in the hated capital as a lobbyist.

But Santorum, whose choirboy demeanor doesn't conceal his taste for bare-knuckled combat, struck right back. "Gov. Romney — 'Mr. Outsider' — was for government takeover in healthcare, was for government takeover of the private sector in the Wall Street bailout," Santorum said Wednesday on CNN. "So Mr. Private Sector was Mr. Big Government."
[Emphasis added]

Politics as usual? Not exactly. One of the hallmarks of the Republican Party has been its capacity to avoid unnecessary squabbling by adhering to Ronald Reagan's Eleventh Commandment to not speak ill of another Republican. That seems to be an attribute of the past as the remaining candidates for the Republican nomination to face President Obama snipe and gripe about each other via sound bites and full-blown commercials. As I've said before, the candidates are doing the Obama campaign's work for it when it comes to opposition research. The results might very well result in a failed drive for the White House, but also one for down-ballot candidates for Congress and state offices.

Republican strategists, weighing the candidates' strengths on the map, in campaign organization and in funding, believe Romney is still likely to outlast his opponents. But it will take him longer, cost him more and do more damage to his standing than a short campaign would have.

Millions of independent voters are tuning in to this campaign and learning about the potential Republican nominees — in some cases, for the first time. And many of them don't like what they see.
[Emphasis added]

It's hard for me to agree with Michele Bachmann on anything, but I must admit that she is right this time in her assessment of the behavior of the current field and their supporters from each of the parts of the GOP party. That said, I also recognize that November is still just under nine months away. There's still plenty of time for the Democrats to screw things up.



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