Did the President Just Give the Republican Nomination to Santorum?Yeah, I know--it sounds like a Slate pitch. Based on all available data, Romney is still the overwhelming favorite. And yet...
Michael Walsh is deranged even by Corner standards, but he makes a solid case:
The contretemps over the HHS mandate can do nothing but help the candidacy of Rick Santorum. For months, Mitt Romney has been lamely defending Romneycare, hiding behind the shriveled fig leaf of the Tenth Amendment to obscure what everyone now acknowledges — that the Massachusetts program is the forebear of and inspiration for Obamacare....Walsh has the politics right: this puts the focus on Romney's big weakness (among Republicans), while making Santorum's signature issue a litmus test for the party. At the very least, it makes Santorum's chances a lot better than the 13% they give him on Intrade.
Because now that the coercive evil of Obamacare is visible even to E.J. Dionne Jr., Romney’s “signature achievement” during his one term as governor ought to finish him as the GOP standard-bearer.
Santorum, of course, is a much weaker candidate than Romney in the general. I don't think this is 11-dimensional chess or anything like that; putting contraceptives front and center is smart strategy for lots of straightforward reasons. If Santorum gets the nomination, though, it'll be one more happy convergence of luck and strategy for the President.