Saturday, February 25, 2012


I know that the simplest explanation for what Jeb Bush said this week is that the Republican Establishment has him warming up in the bullpen so he can be the cigar-chompers' choice in the event of a brokered convention -- but I don't buy that.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush expressed anguish over the rhetoric he’s heard in the various 2012 GOP debates. "I used to be a conservative and I watch these debates and I'm wondering, I don't think I've changed, but it's a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people's fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective and that’s kind of where we are."

There are two problems with the brokered-Jeb scenario. First of all, if you have a brokered convention precisely because your most restive voters chose Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul out of a sense that Mitt Romney is insufficiently loyal to the wingnut cause, how are you going to turn out the base in November with a nominee who says stuff like this, which is equally insulting to wingnuts? You might have turned base voters out with Jeb hewing strictly to the Fox News line, but this isn't going to work. You're going to appeal to Romney skeptics with a guy who seems like more of a turncoat than Romney?

And second, why are you even bothering to roll out a backup plan when -- gaffes notwithstanding -- the Romney Super PAC Death Star is in the process of burying Santorum's Michigan campaign in money on the way to a likely victory in that state?

Now, maybe that second objection is a weak one -- Santorum could still conceivably pull this off -- but really, how do you get Jeb as "RINO" past the purists in November? How do you even get him nominated at the convention? Wouldn't delegates chosen by purity-seeking primary voters be precisely the reason you've got a brokered convention in the first place?

And as for 2016, I don't see how this is a winning strategy, either. I know that the conventional wisdom is that the insanity in the GOP is a temporary fever in the brain that will break relatively soon, but, like DougJ, I don't buy it. If Santorum were the nominee and he picked an even nuttier, wingier running mate, and then went on to be crushed in November, maybe -- maybe -- the party would pull back from the brink and moderate its views in 2016. But Santorum isn't going to be the nominee -- RMoney is going to be the nominee. So if Romney loses, Rush Limbaugh will say what he always says when Republicans lose, precisely what he said in '92 and '08: that they lost by not being conservative enough. And next time we'll get an Allen West/Joe Arpaio ticket.

I could offer the crazy theory that Jeb's posturing is happening with an eye to the Americans Elect nomination, possibly with the GOP Establishment's support, in the event that Santorum defeats Romney. I've speculated about this scenario, as has Rachel Maddow. But it makes sense only if you think the Establishment Republicans have decided to throw the 2012 election. Then again, if Santorum won, maybe they would, bowing to the seemingly inevitable, and they'd back Jeb as an AE candidate knowing they could say he might have triumphed in a two-man race (hint hint for 2016). Too far-fetched?


Ten Bears said...

How long have I been asking, here, "why are the repubs throwing the election?"

We've been bumping elbows over this brokered convention thing for several months now, agreeing to disagree, but here you've actually brought together two memes I've been trying to introduce: the very real possibility of a brokered convention and a Jeb nomination, and the ever increasing appearance the repubs are throwing, and in fact in ought-eight threw, the election to Obama.

Which returns us to the question, why?

This came up in conversation ore pints at the Pub last eve, where the core constituency of the conversation can best be described as Eisenhower Republicans, a mantle I once wore. With the exception of a couple of low information whack-a-doodles (trust-funders), these guys don't want anything to do with "the party" as it is today, though they tend to dismiss Bush II as an aberration. A couple have switched parties and intend to actually vote for the O. Now it's hard to live in Oregon without picking up some "liberalism" through osmosis (or practical experience) but these are business-people, builders, ranchers and the "successfully retired" as well as educators (myself), IT Pros (again) and administrators. People who want their children (and now grand-children) grow up with a good education in a healthy environment, and who think the climate deniers stupid and the religious kooks kooks who have no right to impose their kookdom on the rest of us. It's funny, as an advocate for greater autonomy (we need a wall - from Eureka California to Eureka Montana!), to see local repubs reject the party line.

Raenelle said...

Josh Marshall wrote something about a week ago that made a lot of sense to me. He figured that any viable candidate would see this campaign as broken. None of them are going to want to spoil their own 2016 chances or become a scapegoat for r-w wrath by selflessly trying to rescue the Republican party at a brokered convention. If this is correct, then if the Republicans really want none of the above, their "rescue" candidate is going to be some charlatan who would look at the campaign not as a ticket to the WH but as a way to glory and money. Sarah's available, you know.

The Republicans have one hope in the real world--Romney getting the nomination then tacking back to the center as fast as we know he will. They'll motivate the base the way they always do--with fear. Not love for Romney, but hate of Obama.

Steve M. said...

Me, I still think Romney, using a billion dollars in super PAC money from friends of the Kochs, has an excellent chance to win this thing, and I don't think he'll tack to the center any more than George W. Bush ever did, except perhaps in empty platitudes and catchphrases.

BH said...

I agree Mitty still has the best chance to win the nom, although by no means a lock. But, even with all that dinero, I can't see him beating O whether he tacks to the center or not - absent something of an Iranian-hostage magnitude. The candidate still matters, & Mitty is one pathetic candidate.

TB, I remain skeptical as to the notion that '08 was thrown (when the GOP ticket was running at worst even before the crash), or that this one's being thrown. This one sometimes LOOKS like it is, but I chalk that up to the fact that the GOPers over-stirred the lumpenright for 3 solid years. Their base crazies now own a big piece of the party, and the result is this months-long train wreck/Clown Car of a campaign.