A perfect storm is brewing for the Republican Nomination that leaves the door wide open for a late starter, so buckle your seat belts because you ain’t seen nothing yet.
We’re less than a month away from Iowa. Normally, we would never be having a reality based conversation about who could jump in the race this late and pose a real threat. However, the Republican nominating schedule for 2012 offers opportunities for late-starting candidates that weren’t available in years past. Given this new structure and the date-a-thon the base seems to be having with each candidate, the field could be wide open in January for a late-starter.
In addition to the new rules, we have the added factor that the Republican Party is a house divided that has been unable to identify a clear, sustained front-runner that the base and the establishment can agree upon. In the latest Rasmussen poll, while the president typically leads named Republicans, he consistently trails a generic Republican candidate. When the President trails a generic candidate but not a named candidate, it suggests that the ten-minute date-a-thon hasn’t yet found a workable match for the Republican Party and its far right base. Who is this unnamed candidate?
The Republican front runner of the moment is Newt Gingrich, but unless Fox News can protect him he faces grueling months ahead wherein his ethics scandals and personal scandals will be introduced to an electorate who seem to have Foxian-inspired collective amnesia about the front runner. By January, it could be over for Newt as well.
And that means that Republicans could be in for a wild ride this January and February, because what looks like a set field could actually be wide open, due to a number of 2012 specific factors.
Rhodes Cook, Senior Columnist for the Center for Politics analyzed the factors that make a late-starter a possibility for the Republican Party:
But next year, the arrangement of the primary calendar is much different. It is less condensed at the front, much more loaded with events at the back, with the prospect of a viable, late-starting candidate quite real.
This is not to say that it will happen, but simply to note that it could. Such a scenario could not have unfolded in 2008, when the early January events were followed in short order by an early February Super Tuesday vote-fest that involved nearly half the country.
To be successful, a late-starting campaign needs to feature a candidate with considerable fund-raising and organizational ability who is capable of quickly grabbing national attention. Charisma helps, as does a campaign message that can evoke widespread support…. On the other hand, if Romney gets off to a strong start in January’s opening round, then there might be pressure on the right to enlist former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to pick up the anti-establishment baton.
So if Newt doesn’t keep his lead over Romney, the field is open for Palin if she has the courage. Meanwhile, conservatives are ignoring Gingrich’s decidedly non-Tea Partyish stance that he won’t balance the budget for a while. Gingrich told Meet the Press on Dec 7th, “(A)s a fiscal conservative who wants to go back to a balanced budget, until you get economic growth up, until you win the war, or at least decisively contain it, and until you transform the health system, you’re not going to get back to a balanced budget.”
Whoa there Nelly, the Tea Party demanded a balanced budget before they would even allow us to raise the debt ceiling (we notice that they don’t care about deficits anymore, now that Republicans are fighting to keep the 1% from being taxed).
The Tea Party is also ignoring his three marriages and the affair on a wife with cancer. This they explain away as a mistake that God has forgiven him for. But they are also ignoring that Gingrich brought divorce papers to the hospital of his cancer-stricken wife. God might have forgiven him for that, but I’m thinking that many American women will not.
They are ignoring that the American public might not like that Newt shut down government essentially over a “bad” seat on Air Force One. They are ignoring that he was fined an unprecedented $300,000 for ethics violations as the Speaker of the House and ultimately resigned from the House in November of 1998. They are ignoring that Nancy Pelosi’s threat to expose the public documents of those hearings would destroy Newt Gingrich.
But they also ignored the first four women to accuse Herman Cain of sexual harassment and they were willing to ignore Ginger White. The problem was that the general public was not as willing to do so and the candidate did not want to face the scrutiny sure to come.
This dissonance between reality and fantasy demonstrates one of the problems a phony news outlet creates for a political party during a national election. The Fox factor is already manifesting itself in poisonous ways this primary season; leading the base to Newt Gingrich when he is almost surely un-electable on a national level.
With Gingrich pretending to run for President as a way to sell books and stay relevant, he will not want to pursue this ruse past his sell-by date if he’s smart. And Republicans keep assuring us that Newt is a great intellect trapped in a temperamental body. Andy Borowitz recently pointed out that Gingrich is the intellectual of the Republican Party as Moe was to the stooges.
Soon most of America will be reminded of Newt’s folly. And when that happens, the fissure will leave the door open. So, while ostensibly it could be Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush or Chris Christie if Romney fails to make a solid show as the front-runner, I’m betting that Newt will be the one who ultimately flails harder than Romney.
Not just any old Republican can walk in and grab the conservative mantle. It would take a very specific, national, high-profile Republican who can raise money on the fly and quickly build an organization. Jeb Bush and Sarah Palin both have that kind of profile, but Jeb Bush has shown no indication that he is foolish enough to jump into the 2012 race and he is also an establishment choice who would not appeal to the far right. (I suspect Jeb is well aware that it’s too soon for another Bush.) So in theory it could be a lot of people, but realistically at this time, it could be only one person.
Only one person has made running as the savior candidate her rogue modus operandi. Sarah Palin has always said that if God opened the door to the Presidency she would kick it open. If this perfect storm of specific and unusual factors begging her to jump in isn’t an invitation, then what is? Many of the factors that may have inhibited Palin this fall — for example, her poor polling and her inability to withstand the harsh vetting process of the primaries — could be negated by the primary electorates’ desperation if Newt Gingrich flames out like the other favorites before him. A desperate base may welcome Savior Sarah after Newt gets exposed, and desperation is often accompanied by a willingly blind eye.
We’re going to find out soon if Palin was just threatening us or she really wants to fundamentally change America into theocracy. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe that Palin’s sole motivation is money. I’ve always seen in Palin a maniacal belief that she has been chosen by God to lead this country, and I think that if it’s humanly possible for her to do it — Fox contract be damned — nothing would stop her from trying to save the country from the anti-Christ she believes resides in the White House.
See, unlike many of the right wing con artists, Sarah Palin actually believes. She’s not just playing the base, and they know that. While many pundits see her greed as a sign of the con, in fact Palin’s version of Christianity believes in the prosperity gospel; God rewards the chosen with money and power. Hence, Palin is entitled to the money she’s grifted off of the base because she is on a mission from God. The success of the “con” is only further proof of her deserving the White House for these folks.
It’s my opinion that if Palin thought she could run her way (no interviews with “lamestream media” and no debates she can’t wink her way out of), she might just do it. And now we have the perfect storm parting the allegedly Biblical waters for her.