Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Denouement

It may be a bit premature to talk about what comes next, but since Mitt's candidacy effectively ended yesterday with his response to the Islamist uprisings against American embassies in the Middle East and North Africa, I thought it might be fun to riff off a little-noticed news item yesterday.
(side note: This "Bacile" character, who really appears to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, ought to be thrown in Gitmo and the key heaved deep into the Caribbean for essentially shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre.)
The item? This:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has chosen Jesse Benton, the chief strategist behind Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, to lead his own reelection bid.

“We’re committed to running a presidential-level campaign in Kentucky, and that starts with a presidential campaign manager,” McConnell said in a statement. “Jesse is literally the best in the business at building and organizing conservative grassroots movements, and I’m thrilled he’s chosen to return to Kentucky to lead my campaign.”

This appointment is intriguing. After all, McConnell backed Paul's opponent in the 2010 primary and while they've managed to work together in Kentucky, why is McConnell dumping his in-place team for an outsider from what could be termed a hostile camp?

The key, I think, lies in the characterization "presidential-level campaign."

McConnell doesn't have serious Democratic opponents in the state, unless Governor steve Beshear decides to challenge McConnell. Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson could run, but would have a hard time overcoming his support of gun control laws.

Yes, liberals exist in Kentucky.

Most likely, AG Jack Conway would toss his hat into the ring. He can't run for Attorney General again, and his term expires in 2015, but he lost to Paul in 2010 quite handily.

I'm thinking, however, that McConnell could face a primary inside his own party, and that's why he's decided to hire Paul's buddy. With a long record in the Senate, it's easy to cherry pick votes where he compromised with Democrats and present them as an agenda.

From a state that elected Aqua Buddha to Senate, this would not sit well with an obviously rabid electorate, particularly when Mitt Romney loses badly this November.

Which is what I think McConnell is counting on as well, which brings up the topic of this post.

Whither Republicanism? Or perhaps, "wither Republicanism" is a better choice.

The argument will be made, when Romney loses, that the primaries ended up choosing a mushy, mealy-mouthed moderate and that if a comparison is made between the relative success of the 2010 midterms and the 2012 Presidential elections, hard-core conservatives appear to be an attractive choice in the nation.

Nevermind that midterm elections usually have about half the electorate of the Presidency, and the half that do vote tend to be more ideological than the ones that only vote for the Big O(ffice), which winnows down the moderate vote in midterms.

It's a stupid argument but an easy one to make, especially as the prima facie evidence supports it. And in the end, isn't that precisely how conservatives view the world? Scratch the surface? Never.

I suspect what may end up happening is that the party itself will splinter and hard. I suspect the name "Republican" will remain with the hard-core nutbag conservative Teabaggers, while the more moderate Republicans will either end up in the Democratic fold-- not many, I'm sure-- or lost at sea.

About the only real advantage the moderates might have is a Rolodex and access to big bank accounts, but from what we've seen in this election cycle, that's not a guarantee. When Sheldon Adelson can single-handedly bankroll Newt Gingrich's insurgent candidacy, and the Koch brothers all but pay a salary to Herman Cain, you can bet they'll want a shake up in the ranks.

Indeed, we've already seen this happen in Kansas.

Here's the "logic," such as it is: By ridding the party of any dissidents to the hard conservative line, the Koch brothers and others have guaranteed themselves an assembly line of soldiers to march out into elections. Then, backed by nearly unlimited monetary resources, reinforced by the abhorrent Citizens United verdict, they can pick and choose key races to win and create a conservative infrastructure.

Nice dream. I wish I had that kind of sleep aid available to me. Too bad it simply won't work.

It's conceivable the Kochs et al could purchase the government for a term or two, but then what? When it all falls apart, it will fall apart hard, as any movement based on an external infrastructure does. Look at the Teabaggers. After 2010, they've suffered a series of catastrophic defeats, culminating in the selection of Mitt Romney as the GOP candidate this year.

Admittedly, he had enough money to counter the money being poured in, but the money being poured in was not a fully opened spigot: some of it went to preparing for the general election, and we'll start seeing the fruits of those labors popping up any day now that September 11 is behind us.

Indeed, a really paranoid person would claim that the Islamist attacks overseas were put on to try and create a situation where Obama would be immune to defeat, a war president and all that. Evidence suggests otherwise, however.

Still, if I was you, I'd start stocking up on popcorn, because once Mitt loses, it's going to be fun around the GOP.