Political Animal


March 06, 2012 8:44 AM Is the Circus Finally Leaving Town?

By Ed Kilgore

This time tomorrow we could be discussing exactly how and when, not whether, Mitt Romney can wrap up the GOP presidential nomination. For the first time, this discussion would not be one prominently involving proponents of some Iron Law whereby Mitt actually won a year or eighteen months or four years ago (though these proponents will soon be gloating they were right all along), but people counting delegates and ruling out every other reasonable outcome.

This morning Nate Silver usefully explores the plausible Super Tuesday scenarios. For Romney, two of them lead pretty briskly to a Romney nomination; only a third, in which Romney manages to lose six states (including Ohio) and finish third in a couple, would cause him serious problems. Moreover, anyone else having a particularly good night is unlikely. Even if Santorum wins in OH, TN, OK, and say, ND, the road ahead, which features several southern primaries, is difficult unless Newt Gingrich also does poorly and drops out. Short of direct orders from Sheldon Adelson to quit, that doesn’t look to be in the cards so long as Newt wins in GA, which seems virtually certain.

The most interesting question is how quickly conservative opinion-leaders coalesce around Romney if the results fall into that most plausible area between total victory and a genuine setback. There’s a long, passionate piece up at Red State today by Dan McClaughlin retailing the case against Romney that sure sounds like the death rattle of conservative resistance. But we’ve thought we heard it before.

If the circus does begin to fold its tents and prepares to leave town, I’ll certainly miss it as as writer. How about you? Are you tired of watching conservatives push each other constantly to the Right, unintentionally rattling hobgoblins at any swing voter who is paying attention? Is the GOP nomination process the gift that keeps on giving to progressives? Now’s as good a time as any to discuss it, because the calliope music, the barkers’ cries, and the vaguely menacing laughter of clowns may soon fade into memory.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • SadOldVet on March 06, 2012 9:00 AM:

    "Are you tired of watching conservatives push each other constantly to the Right, unintentionally rattling hobgoblins at any swing voter who is paying attention?

    Hell No!

    There is no extent to the level of self destruction of the republican party that would no please me. Bring it on! The more the merrier!

  • DAY on March 06, 2012 9:08 AM:

    An analogy, if I may:
    We have been watching Bull Durham for the past nine months, with Romney played pitch perfect by Tim Robbins.
    In a few short weeks Mitt will take his mitt to The Show. Where a certain MVP batter will crush his fastball.
    As Kevin Coster might say, "Meat, you think you've seen opposition research? Wait until you take the mound against the Chicago Machine!"

  • Ron Byers on March 06, 2012 9:13 AM:

    Are you tired of watching conservatives push each other constantly to the Right, unintentionally rattling hobgoblins at any swing voter who is paying attention? NO.

    Is the GOP nomination process the gift that keeps on giving to progressives? Yes

    This has been another episode of simple answers to simple questions.

    To tell you the truth, there is a story I would like to follow. I want to know what the National Democratic party is trying to do to take advantage of this giant Republican failure.

  • DRF on March 06, 2012 9:14 AM:

    The story of this primary campaign is the weakness of the Republican field and the failure of a credible candidate to rise in opposition to Romney,a many that clearly very few in the party really like, respect or want as their candidate.

  • NHCt on March 06, 2012 9:16 AM:

    The only thing that matters is winning in November. For that purpose only, I hope to see this thing go on and on. Once Romney wins the nomination, he'll be able to start repairing the damage and begin appealing to independents. The sooner that happens, the closer this race will be. Keep the freak show going.

  • jhm on March 06, 2012 9:27 AM:

    As a resident of Massachusetts, I had to endure countless Romney campaigns (OK, maybe it was only two or three), and the heartbreak of a Romney Gubernatorial administration. Anything, and I mean anything, which forestalls the time when the media focus on team Romney and his coat of many colors will be a blessing. I mean I even welcome prolonged contact with the ravings of Messrs. Santorum and Gingrich if they dilute the blandishments of W.M.R.

  • Terry O on March 06, 2012 9:30 AM:

    It’s hard to look away as these guys push and shove and grunt as they move to the GOP even further to the right. My guess is when they’re done we’ll wake up in the 14th century, or perhaps a libertarian utopia much like Somalia.

  • RSA on March 06, 2012 9:33 AM:

    McClaughlin's pretty clear about what will happen when Romney wins the nomination:

    (Side note: if Romney’s the nominee, I will fight for him to win, because the stakes are too high to roll over and accept an Obama re-election. But that doesn’t mean I need to be blind to the costs of Romney winning).

    All complaints against Romney will go into the memory hole.

  • Kathryn on March 06, 2012 9:39 AM:

    Off topic, I suddenly can't get Talking Points Memo to pull up on my IPad, the site pulls up but when I open it nothing shows up on the screen, it's blank, the needing along the top is all I get. Any ideas? I guess a trip to the Apple store will figure it out.

  • Peter C on March 06, 2012 9:42 AM:

    I have mixed feelings about the end of the Republican primaries.

    I've been pleased to see so many worrisome politicians (Perry, Paulenty, McDonnel) implode due to their own incompetence and distastefulness.

    I've been appalled at the attention given to obvious hucksters (Cain, Trump, Gingrich) and zealots (Santorum), but pleased as mainstream Republicans embraced their disgusting ideas.

    I'll be glad to see the end of the one-sided political discussion although I know that Republicans will still dominate the corporate-owned media.

    I'm hopeful that the end of the primary season will also end the Republicans unchallenged ability to frame the terms of the debate.

    I'm excited that the next phase will give Obama the spotlight to articulate a starkly different vision of our future and national character.

    I'm encouraged that the Republicans likely nominee has been so effective at displaying himself as the candidate of the 1% and so utterly inept at connecting with the 99%.

    I'm eager to start to foment the idea that the 2nd place candidate should NATURALLY be given the VP spot (and that to deny him would be an insult to his followers). This is a win-win situation of GIGANTIC proportions for us.

    I'm hopeful that we can start to ask down-ticket Republicans questions like, "In the debates, Romney said x, do you agree with that?".

    For the past several months, Democrats have been largely silent - allowing the Republicans plenty of rope to tie their own nooses. With the end of the primary season, clever Democrats will start to tighten the noose and there is no doubt that they will have PLENTY of debate footage to use.

    I guess, on balance, I'll be happy to go on to the next phase.

  • Robert on March 06, 2012 10:02 AM:

    It is fine and dandy that these fools will evaporate soon. This has only been a distraction from the real war on our government. Look to the states!!! This is where the Kochs, and their cronies are working to usurp the peoples' power. And it is working to a degree. There are folks starting to see the pattern of attacks to our form of governance, of...by....and for the people. The rich are using their wealth to finish off any sort of FREEDOM we enjoy now. Do the math...do the research, the information is there. Websites like this one just scratches the top of the iceberg.

  • SadOldVet on March 06, 2012 10:03 AM:

    re Peter C...

    With the end of the primary season, clever Democrats will start to tighten the noose...

    Is there any historical evidence to indicate this level of competence among the dumbocrap party leaders? The same ones who keep cheering when the likes of DINOs like Bob Kerry make their comebacks?

    I would not be so assured that the corporately owned media will allow this horserace to become the truth vs Mitt's money. We should continue to worry that Mitt's money and the corporately owned media's he said - he said and both sides do it will convince the ameriKKKan sheeple to elect the 1/10 of 1%er! Or at least keep the voting close enough that the repukes can steal another election like they did twice for Bush the lesser.

  • T2 on March 06, 2012 10:04 AM:

    The most troubling aspect of the GOP primary is not the abysmally low quality of their so-called Candidates. What we've seen is an absolute degradation of the cherished role of selecting a candidate for any office in the United States thanks to the Citizens United ruling by the Conservative controlled Supreme Court. This disaster of a decision has not only gone a long way towards dooming the entire process by which we select leadership, it has backfired Big Time on the very people who pushed the Supreme Right Court to OK it. WIthout the Super PAC's, this farce of a nomination would have been over months ago and the GOP would have had all this time to attack the Muslim president. But now the Genie is out of the bottle and any election can be bought at any level. GOP or Dem.

  • emjayay on March 06, 2012 10:11 AM:

    Kathryn: I've had all kinds of wierd problems with TPM in the past couple of weeks both at home and at work, both using Explorer on non-Apple computers. Last week I could get the homepage at work, but past that I got some big apocalyptic whole screen error message I've never seen before. Maybe they fixed the PC problems and created Apple problems.

    There's always AmericaBlog, among others. Be advised: Any comment there hinting that Obama is less than a complete POS may get you called an Obamabot or something.

  • Judy in Ohio on March 06, 2012 10:15 AM:

    I'm hoping the democrats will take the opportunity for once to present a national message giving an overall view of republican goals (privatize everything, march toward banana republic, theocracy, voter supression, the whole catastrophe) and the state level mess (most unpopular governors ever in FL,
    ME,MI,WI,OH), anti-worker and anti-woman laws everywhere, etc. How about buying a half hour for Al Franken to sum it up? We need to keep the Senate and retake the house! Divided government once worked, but not now when the R half is unhinged.

  • emjayay on March 06, 2012 10:16 AM:

    Well, there's always the Romney one-ring circus.

    (From the Atlantic Wire)

    Ann Romney on Fox News: "I don't even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing. It can be here today gone tomorrow."

    Speaking about the horseback riding therapy she uses to treat her multiple sclerosis, she said, according to Boston Globe reporter Michael Levenson, "Some people have lovers in every port; I have horses in every port."

  • Peter C on March 06, 2012 10:22 AM:

    Hi SadOldVet,

    Alas, there is precious little evidence of campaign savvy amoung the Democratic leadership, but I've seen plenty on this and other progressive sites. So, we've got to step up. We've got to attend debates and ask pointed questions. We've got to join campaigns. We've got to make YouTube videos. We've got to walk around and talk to people. We've got to walk around and talk to each other where we can be overheard. We've got to become our party's leaders.

    I've always enjoyed reading your comments (and those of other regulars); you are passionate and articulate and right-thinking - speak out! Speak for the 99%! That's how we move the needle and the 'Overton window' and how we counteract the money advantage that the Republicans have.

  • Fess on March 06, 2012 10:36 AM:

    Kathryn on the iPad question -

    It comes up fine on my iPad 1. Are you using Safari or an app? It could be an app problem.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on March 06, 2012 10:43 AM:

    As long as the GOP circus goes out in style, i.e. a last-man-standing cage match of the remaining 'Publican nominees... and a untamed lion.

    After the 2010 congressional election debacle, I was really hoping that the Tea Party folks would get in Congress and just show their asses so the whole nation could see the nuttiness that they had voted into power. Yeah, we've had to suffer a bit with regular attacks on all sorts of liberties, but now we know what the Party of No is really capable of--a warning for future elections.

    I'm hoping that the untamed lion the GOP let into its quarters does a thorough job of dispatching the extremist elements of the GOP. I don't have a problem with the GOP's existence, per se, I just hope that if they plan on surviving well into the 21st century that they find the express route to join the rest of us sane folks here in Civil Society. We can always agree to disagree, but the GOP needs to remember from here on out that the "fringe" belongs at the fringe, not in Congress, not in the White House, and (god-forbid) not in the Supreme Court.

    Honestly, after two crazy-ass presidential elections and everything else in between, I really wouldn't mind if the stupid was put on pause indefinitely. It's a bit like watching a marathon of The Family Guy. It's fun for shits and giggles, but then I just need to sit in a quiet room and read Jane Austen novels to get back in touch with my more delicate side...

  • Mimikatz on March 06, 2012 11:01 AM:

    Thank the gods for YouTube. Romney will never, never be able to get out from under the ridiculous positions he has taken. Obama will skewer him with humor and disdain, and it will get under Mitt's skin. Mitt will never get comfortable with reporters and will continue to make gaffe after gaffe. Reporters are beginning to feel about him like they (unjustifiably in that case) felt about Al Gore. Mitt will not wear well over the next 6 months.

    Contrary to popular belief, the Dem strategists like Schumer, Pelosi, Van Hollen and Debbie W are getting very sharp against Romney and just stapling the % label on him and the rest of the GOP. They are planning a series of votes to box the GOP in as the party of millionaires. Romney should be asked at every appearance, "Just how much do you and your family stand to gain in lower taxes from your own tax plan?". It will be just deadly for him.

    Obama should, barring any catastrophe, win by about the same margin as last time, with an even higher percentage of women and Latinos, and the Dems will pick up a net 1-2 Senate seats and about 28-32 House seats, just enough to take control.

  • AK Liberal on March 06, 2012 11:03 AM:

    How about you? Are you tired of watching conservatives push each other constantly to the Right, unintentionally rattling hobgoblins at any swing voter who is paying attention?

    In a word, no. But, then all things must come to an end, sooner or later.

  • DAY on March 06, 2012 11:19 AM:

    I have seen several comments on the MSM that the Chicago Machine has opposition research of a depth and quality never seen before by mere mortals. A good bit of it, obviously, created by Romney himself!
    And, yes, the Dems have some competent players on the team- too often we do not understand the "behind the scenes' moves that are going on.
    Ditto foreign policy!

  • schtick on March 06, 2012 12:51 PM:

    I've so enjoyed them eating their own I'm really going to miss it, but too much of a good thing can get old.
    I think putting Willard with the 1% on everything is going to stick to him forever along with the "corporations are people, too" bit, nevermind the dog on the roof literally being scared enough to shit a streak.
    I would like to see the taboo name of Bush being slapped on the tealiban, too, when even though they are not allowed to mention the name and use the excuse that he is not president anymore, they still promote his policies.

  • Skip on March 06, 2012 1:31 PM:

    "I will fight for him to win, because the stakes are too high to roll over and accept an Obama re-election."

    This statement, grrrrrr...what stakes, taxing rich people, regulating Wall Street, not giving Big Oil and Gas everything they want, guiding Israel instead of giving her a free ticket, God First Right After "Me, myself, and I"...those kinds of stakes?

    [caution: metaphor ahead]

    I will grant every conservative their familiar whine that the Dems are not perfect. Go figure. But what Dems are is too diverse a party to do what the GOP leadership has done, jumped en mass into their political lifeboats while US Titanic foundered, Congress knocking a few extra holes below the water line for good measure, and now in 2012 they remain stubbornly in those lifeboats with their cigars staring at the fact that that a decent Democrat President is actually saving the ship.

    If Obama wins another term, it's because he believes in America and worked hard to save her, while the GOP not only wanted him to fail, but worked for him to fail...fully aware that they endangered this nation just so they can have the self-satisfaction of saying a Dem can't lead. Well, yet another Dem IS leading. The stakes ARE high because perhaps enough folks in America, you know, the 99%, just might realize in time who took the helm when the ship was going down, and not only kept her afloat, but is inching her up toward to floating, even sailing again. Meanwhile, who in the Republican lifeboats (no liberals allowed) ever needed to admit their captain ran the ship up on the economic ice berg to begin with.

    [end metaphor]

    If conservatives were really concerned about anything but themselves, their egos, and their personal stakes, they'd vote for Obama and say ta'hell with their idiot candidates. Obama's doing the job, and he, unlike anyone on the right, repeated tossed the whining occupants of the right-leaning lifeboats a tow line. That they repeatedly refuse his offer makes it even harder for this nation to heal. That is stakes for you.

    [Okay, really ending metaphor]

  • JoeW on March 06, 2012 1:39 PM:

    Romney will win, but unconvincingly in Ohio, as Santorum does not qualify for some of the delegates under their rules. The larger pie is Georgia, where Newt will romp. I think the outcome may be murky enough for the clown show to roll on for another couple of weeks.

  • Lynne on March 06, 2012 6:49 PM:

    After all this, I'm for returning to smoke-filled rooms.