Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scared Mittless

It started here, O happy few.  Now Rachel admits that she keeps calling Mitt Newt and Newt Mitt.  Michelle Backmanniac of all people introduced the Mitt Gingrich/Newt Romney ID into the GOPer debate.  And on 60 Minutes Sunday, President Obama affirmed the essential point: there's really no difference in what they advocate.  What he didn't mention is that they are identical in other ways as well--both serial hypocrites and liars who will say anything to gain momentary advantage.

But as the Iowa caucuses approach it does seem down to Mitt Gingrich vs. Newt Romney.  As Gingrich has taken off in the polls, the GOPer (Nixon/Reagan.Bush/Bush jr) establishment as well as lots of current and former members of Congress who "served" with Gingrich, have been loudly and ferociously attacking him.  Yet what the polls do make clear is that nobody loves Romney, and he appears to be even more nervous than circumstances warrant, which suggest he's really really worried.

But the first unreality check (something the prospective GOPer nominee must pass) will be Iowa in a few weeks.  What Iowa will suggest is whether Gingrich's bet that traditional "retail" politics and political organization no longer matter, and that the brute force of media will (pardon the expression) Trump all.  Because he has no effective Iowa organization at all, especially among caucus participants, by all accounts.  So will the caucus results reflect the opinion polls, which show Gingrich about 10 points ahead?  That's what we will learn from the results.  And that outcome will suggest whether Gingrich can be successful in getting the nomination.

If traditional Iowa caucus politics prevails, first place could very well go to Ron Paul.  That's especially if between now and then, something turns negative for Gingrich.  Paul sees him as his biggest threat in Iowa and has made the most devastating anti-G ad and statements.  Paul combines that focus with good organization and a dedicated group of Iowa activists.  Low turnout favors him.

I have to say I'm surprised that after word got around that Romney was actually going to jump into the Iowa fray, it took so long for his campaign to start there.  It took too long, both in terms of organization and especially it got overwhelmed by the Gingrich boom of the past couple of weeks.  Now Mr. G is topic A.  Nobody seems to be taking a second look at Romney.

Even more impressive than G's poll numbers in matchups is this Rasmussen poll in which 49% of GOPers find Gingrich the more electable candidate, with Romney at the level he seems to maintain for everything, the 20s%.  GOPer Ras isn't the most reliable pollster, but if GOPers really see G as the electable, then Romney's last remaining rationale is gone.

So the function of Iowa will likely be to further inflate or prick the Gingrich balloon.  If Romney still wins New Hampshire, then the noise goes on, but political heads are finding a path for G to the nom, which nobody did a month ago.

All of this is the politics of consequences, rather than the disgraceful circus politics in general and the GOPer race in particular have become.  As someone said on TV, it would be a farce if it wasn't a tragedy.

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