REPUBLICANS: NO LEARNING CURVE
Once you get past the part of Joe Nocera's latest column that praises the Democratic Party for going DLC to escape the horror of "Kumbaya"-singing hippie presidential nominees such as, um, Walter Mondale, he actually makes some sense:
I’m rooting for Rick Santorum to win the Republican nomination. Seriously.
... If Mitt Romney takes the nomination and then loses to Obama, the extremists who've taken over the party will surely say the problem was Romney's lack of ideological purity. If, however, Santorum is the nominee -- and then loses in a landslide -- the party will no longer be able to delude itself about where its ideological rigidity has taken it.
An alcoholic doesn't stop drinking until he hits bottom. The Republican Party won't change until it hits bottom. Only Santorum offers that possibility.
I agree that the party will still be in denial about its own extremism if Mitt Romney runs and loses. Right-wingers really do believe that ideological extremism is what wins election for Republicans.
But if Santorum somehow wins the nomination and then loses -- even in a blowout -- I bet the right will still be in denial.
Right-wingers will say that he should have stressed economic and foreign-policy issues rather than social issues -- or, more likely, they'll say that the "liberal media" deliberately distorted his message by focusing on his social-issues talk, or by goading him (forcing him!) to emphasize social issues, just so they could mock him and defeat him. They'll say liberals in the media created a totally false image of Santorum as a social-issues extremist, and that's why he lost. The right movement would have won! Really!
I can't imagine that they'll ever learn.