Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Oh, this is pathetic: At Politico, Jonathan Martin reports on a GOP-insider hope that he clearly shares, even though it's a forlorn hope: namely, that the killing of Osama bin Laden will bring "seriousness" to the GOP race ... and with it the rise of all those boring, not-quite-insane guys no one in the Republican base actually wants to vote for:

... the dramatic killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden by American commandos will immediately reorder a Republican presidential contest that until now had been colored by provocative voices and marginal issues....

The hope among establishment Republicans is that the succession of events will trigger an end to what they see as the silly season -- that party activists will sober up and end their flirtation with the fringe....

With the first primary debate Thursday and looming decisions on whether to run by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Ambassador Jon Huntsman, the moment appears to be a natural pivot point for mainstream Republicans to re-capture control of the primary.

... party strategists urged mainline candidates like Huntsman, Daniels, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to use the next few days to subtly begin to make the case that Sunday's events demand only White House hopefuls plausibly seen as commander-in-chief material....

"Pawlenty, Daniels, Romney and Gingrich are all very serious candidate who have spent decades in public service," [Virginia governor Bob McDonnell] noted. "If anything it creates even more of an opportunity for them to focus on what matters." ...

See, already these people are in trouble -- McDonnell lists the "serious" candidates and includes Gingrich. In reality, even as we speak, Gingrich is deep in the bowels of his hidden lair, crafting an insane talking point about how the death of Osama bin Laden (a) should really be credited to Ronald Reagan and capital gains tax cuts and (b) ought to lead inexorably to the nuclear bombing of Tehran, Damascus, and the offices of MSNBC.

The obvious point to be made here is that the death of bin Laden isn't going to put the unemployed to work or reduce gas prices, and 18 months from now these are the issues voters are going to vote on, not OBL. (Near the end of Martin's article, a former aid to George Bush the Elder says precisely that.)

But on the modern right, the craziness is now so widespread that I'm not sure even prosperity could quell it. The right's Antichrist list is simply too long: New Black Panthers, mosque-builders, union members, undocumented immigrants, Planned Parenthood workers, NPR employees, purveyors of curly lightbulbs, people who believe in train travel, people who think more Americans should have health care, people who believe in evolution, people who believe in secular public schools ... not to mention the most obvious demons: anyone who thinks any tax should ever be raised on anyone, ever. No "serious" dullard is going to appeal to the Republican electorate without learning to tap into the emotions stirred by these hatreds. (Romney and Pawlenty have been tapping away lately, with limited success.)

If anything, the killing of bin Laden will reinforce the craziness on the right. Yes, the deed was done at the direction of one of their worst enemies, but the righties got an outcome they wanted, and it happened violently and quickly.

Now they want the same thing to happen to all their other enemies.

They simply aren't going to believe they can get what they want from Jon Huntsman and Mitch Daniels. From Donald Trump or Herman Cain? Sure. Which means that Politico's Martin is in deep denial about the party's Charlie Sheen level of crazy, presumably because he desperately wants to believe that the party has never really jumped aboard the crazy train.

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