IS BELTWAY DENIAL OF GOP INSANITY THE REASON ROMNEY WON'T FIGHT BACK?
Most top-shelf political pundits and other insiders can't bring themselves to acknowledge that the Republican Party has gone crazy, and is therefore a serious danger to the Republic; that's enough of a problem when it allows the GOP to avoid being held accountable for actively harming the country (e.g., in the debt standoff) -- but it also may be part of the reason Rick Perry will coast to the GOP nomination.
Think about it: we know that the only person standing between Perry and the nomination, Mitt Romney, has been slow to respond to the Perry insurgency. Why is that? Partly it's because Romney would like to stick to his original strategy for this race, and partly it's because he's a wimp -- but also, I think, it's because he believes the conventional wisdom, which says that there's enough sanity in the contemporary Republican Party to hold off a guy as polarizing as Perry and give the nomination to Romney if Romney just stays on message.
I don't believe that. I think Romney believes it because the Beltway believes it, and the Beltway believes it because the Beltway can't bear not to believe it. So denial of the GOP's psychopathy harms the one not-quite-crazy Republican still standing in the race.
Fighting probably wouldn't work for Romney anyway -- the party is really far gone, and he'd have to fight by becoming more Perryesque himself. But Romney's donning of conventional-wisdom blinders only makes him even less likely to mount an adequate challenge.
And, of course, the purveyors of conventional wisdom still won't admit that the party is crazy when Romney folds early and Jon Huntsman doesn't even crack 5% in New Hampshire (or 2% in Iowa or South Carolina) -- they'll just move their notion of where the center is to wherever Perry's standing, and keep telling us that the party is not controlled by lunatics.