BETTER TO TRAVEL ANGRILY THAN TO ARRIVE
I know that Mitt Romney looks like a weak candidate right now, but he's still awfully close to Obama even in that new Public Policy Polling survey, and I think even people who see him as hopeless and pathetic will agree that he's the most electable candidate the Republicans have. (No, I'm not counting Ron Paul because I think the vast majority of Americans don't know how many government programs he'd like to eliminate and what was written in his newsletters.) My point is that if the Republicans want to win, you'd think they'd be circling the wagons around him, maximizing his strengths, working to downplay his weaknesses, and attacking his critics. (And, while they're at it, putting a stop to the endless series of debates.)
But they're not doing any of this. Sarah Palin, as you probably know, wants the GOP fight to continue:
"I want to see this thing continue because iron sharpens iron, steel sharpens steel," Ms. Palin said.... "These guys are getting better in their debates, they're getting more concise, they're getting more grounded in what their beliefs are and articulating what their ideas are to get the country back on the right track and get Americans working again."
Rupert Murdoch publicly vented his frustration with Romney in a tweet after Monday's debate:
@rupertmurdoch: When will Romney get a manager to prepare him? Fancy not being ready for questions about taxes or felons! Damaging.
That's mild -- but should the de facto head of the GOP's media office say such things out loud?
And the rubes may be responding:
It's one poll from a short time period, but a new Rasmussen national survey shows former House Speaker Newt Gingrich making a big move in the Republican primary race compared to his latest performances in public polls. The new Ras, a snap poll conducted Tuesday, shows Gingrich just three points behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who leads the sample with 30 percent.
The one major change in the race was Gingrich’s impressive performance in Monday night's debate in South Carolina....
A couple of things are going on. One is that Republicans really do believe their own BS: Rush Limbaugh says on a regular basis that it's hardcore conservatism that wins elections, and I guess a lot of Republicans actually believe it. They fear Romney can't win because he's not wingnutty enough. (Maybe they think the public would prefer Gingrich, notwithstanding the 60% unfavorable rating he has in that PPP poll.)
Another factor, I think, is that Republicans simply enjoy conflict. We've seen this from the new teabaggers in the House this past year: Democrats have tried to compromise with them, but they don't seem to want to take yes for an answer. Part of this is ideological purism, obviously, but I think to some extent they just like fighting.
This is almost a powdered-drug way of thinking: It's as if the Republicans like the rush so much (Newt just said "food stamps" again! Booyah!) that they don't care if the end result in November is a nasty crash.
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)