Thursday, February 16, 2012


DougJ and I usually see eye to eye, but he really doesn't understand why anyone would regard Rick Santorum as even a mild threat:

Look, Santorum lost as an incumbent by 18 points, wrote a book saying that women shouldn't work, the guy is a shit general election candidate and no amount of double-reverse contrarianism will convince me otherwise, so laissez le Santorum roulez.

Well, on that second point, Bob McDonnell of Virginia wrote a master's thesis saying women shouldn't work and then won a gubernatorial race by 18 points, a year after Barack Obama won his state. He has sky-high approval ratings in his state (even as Obama's doing well there again in the polls). He's near the top of Mitt Romney's VP short list. (America is full of people who agree with virtually everything feminism stands for but will tell you they don't like feminism.)

Look, obviously, judging from the latest polls, Obama is looking better and better to voters and all the Republicans are looking worse and worse. But if Obama now looks effectively unbeatable running against Santorum, it's because consumer confidence is climbing -- and, yes, because Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot, in Congress, in state houses and legislatures, and in the presidential race. But the latter will cease to be true sooner or later, and as for the rest -- well, yeah, Obama beats Newt Gingrich by 18 points right now, but why isn't he beating all of these clowns by double digits?

The American electorate is still conditioned by decades of propaganda to regard government spending as a monstrous evil (despite the fact that people cling to the programs they use) and to regard Republicans as careful fiscal stewards. People like sex, but I'm not sure they like thinking of themselves as people who like sex, which is why they support abortion rights and (increasingly) gay rights and stick up for single mothers and nevertheless vote for Reagan and both Bushes and, last year, a whole lot of teabaggers.

So, sure, Obama will probably crush Santorum in November 2012 if he's the Republican nominee -- but I'm not sure he would have crushed him if he'd had to run against him in mid-2011, or (especially) in 2010. I think it would have been a tough fight. America still doesn't regard people like Santorum as utterly beyond the pale.


And now Kos is trying to get Democrats to vote for Santorum in upcoming primary states? Yeah, sure, do it -- though I think it's hard to get enough people to join in these efforts to make a difference (Rush Limbaugh's pro-Hillary Operation Chaos didn't have much impact in '08). Right now Santorum doesn't seem as if he needs the help, but we all see the Romney Death Star on the horizon, so I guess Rick's the guy you want to help if you want to keep the Republicans bashing one another. (Then again, if the Romney campaign is really running out of money, as is being reported, and if Santorum is rising in every GOP poll, should Democrats vote for Mitt to keep him in the race?)


c u n d gulag said...

Santorum seems to have updated Goldwater's 1964 message for the 21st Century:

'Extremism in the attack on vice, is Liberty!'

Unless we can get the MSM to demonstrate Sanctimonious Santorum to be the far-right loony-tune extremist that he is, people may very well see a plucky underdog.

And, losing PA in 2006 may not mean jack-sh*t. Nixon lost in 1960, then lost his run for Governor in CA, and still won in 1968.
He won on taking advantage of the cultural divide in this country.
And Conservative politicians have been waging war on the Civil Rights marchers, free-love DFH's, and peacenik's ever since - even though most of them are now safely collecting SS and getting Medicare, or about to.

Maybe THAT'S what they have against SS and Medicare!

I want Santorum as their candidate.
But I won't underestimate him. Not with the Nooners, Brooks', and Douthat's of the world having their future earning invested in at least a close election.
And imagine their bonuses if he wins!

Danp said...

Low information voters know almost nothing about Congressional or Gubernatorial candidates. When they run for Pres/VP, it's different. Case in point: Perry and Palin were heroes until they got into the spotlight. Even Newt Gingrich soared until Romney did what the media wouldn't do. I'm guessing Obama's team would much rather run against Romney, Santorum or McDonnell, where issues and hypocrisy are the problem, as opposed to someone like Gingrich, Cain or Palin, where personal issues will take center stage.

Phil Freeman said...

Concern-troll all you want, Steve; there are empirical facts which will continue to stand in your way, and your boy Rick's.

Steve M. said...

And what? The toothless FEC is going to issue his campaign a $500 fine for this three years from now?

S-Curve said...

For what it's worth, my 70-year-old mother is my coal-mine canary for the type of voter Steve's worried about: tea party-curious, finds a way to vote Republican (except 2008), deficit hawk, etc. I routinely have to debunk right-wing talking lies, such as death panels, swift boats, etc. And when I visited her last week, she asked, wide-eyed and hush-voiced, "Is Santorum a total lunatic, or what?" I don't think the creepy moralizing will play that well in this economy-driven election, honestly.

Steve M. said...

That's encouraging.

BH said...

I've got a feeling that strategic crossover primary voting such as Kos recommends might be too clever by half. I agree that it's not so certain that Mitty would be less beatable than Sanctum Sanctorum (see today's 538, for instance). IMO, better to let the GOP base do its own dirty work unto itself - I have every confidence they'll excel.