The Santorum Solution

Photo by Patrick Gensel, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License

Wow, I gotta tell ya, I really suck at prognosticating this GOP primary season. Just this weekend I mentioned how it was a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, and here it is Wednesday and Rick Santorum has just won the caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado as well as the Missouri primary, with Mitt a distant second in Missouri and Colorado and third in Minnesota (with Ron Paul second!), and poor angry Newt third in CO, fourth in MN, and not even on the ballot in MO at all. If predicting GOP results were my job, I would totally fire me. But then again, after last night I would not be the only person who would have to be fired. There would be a lot of unemployed people today. Which would drive down employment numbers! And that’s good for the GOP’s chances this year. Sorry, I’m rambling.

I also have to tell you that I like this GOP primary season. It’s exciting. By this time Romney was supposed to be blandly cruising his way to the nomination, held aloft by large stacks of money and the air of inevitability cash manufactures, but here on February 8, Santorum has won as many states as more states than Romney has, and while Romney has twice the delegates as Santorum (thanks to Florida’s “winner take all” primary), his lead is not unassailable. Now Romney will have to spend even more money! To fight off Rick Santorum. Who in a rational universe would have been packed away long before now.

Meanwhile: Newt Gingrich, who at this point is not in the race to win it but to hurt Mitt Romney as much as possible between now and the day, hopefully in the late spring, when Romney drags his battered carcass over the 1,144 delegate line he needs to take the nomination. Newt will be sniping Mitt all the way, and Mitt will be distracted by having to deal with Santorum while he does so. This is my new scenario. Because why not.

And yes, I still think Romney’s going to take it, eventually (and yes, probably sooner than later). But, hey, who knows, right? It could be Santorum! I find him a querulous bigot, but apparently “querulous bigot” in Scalzi World equates to “genuine conservative” in GOP Land, and the genuine conservatives out there apparently aren’t happy with Romney and his actual governing track record in Massachusetts. Could Santorum capitalize on his victories last night? Sure. Could GOP voters become increasingly disenchanted with Romney? Absolutely. Will Gingrich stay on mission to stab Romney through the eyeballs at every possible opportunity? You know he will. Santorum could drag it out! And pick up delegates! And win the nomination!

And then get slaughtered in the general election, since outside of GOP circles, querulous bigots are probably bad presidential candidates here in 2012. But if the GOP wants to try the Santorum Solution, then I wouldn’t be the one to try to stop them. Please, GOPers, run Rick Santorum for president. Indeed: Santorum/Bachmann 2012. It would be the best ticket ever. For values of “best” that don’t mean what “best” usually does, mind you; even so.

Anyway, as I said: exciting. Good for the GOP or the nation? Probably not so much. But this is where we are at the moment. I couldn’t tell you where we go from here. The suspense is killing me! I hope it will last!

119 thoughts on “The Santorum Solution

  1. While I’m more than happy to vote for Romney in the fall my vote will not matter since (a) I live in California and (b) my wife will vote for Obama. But I cannot be the only male suburban libertarianish Republican whose spouse would be manifestly unpleased if I voted for Santorum. In a Santorum/Obama general election, I could vote for Santorum and sleep on the couch for a month or I could vote for Gary Johnson. I think I know my choice on that one.

  2. I don’t know what the hell happened here in Missouri. Our “primary” was a beauty contest with no delegates awarded – the state GOP decided to use a caucus instead this year – and the legislature tried to move the primary to the same date as the caucus, but larded up the bill with other crap so much that the governor vetoed it, and blam, we’ve wasted several million dollars that could have been put to some better purpose.

    What I want to believe happened is that the average person stayed home (not wanting their time wasted) and it was just the true-believers who came out to vote.

  3. As a native California boy living here in Minnesota for the past 11 years, I can tell you that the Santorum vote does not surprise me. After all, this is the state that gave us Bachmann, and still is giving us Bachmann. Oh, and Pawlenty too, and Jesse Ventura as Governor. Of course, it is also the state that gave us Paul Wellstone, Eugene McCarthy, and Hubert Humphrey. A few others: Walter Mondale, Andrew Volstead, Harold Stassen, William O. Dougleas, Warren Burger, Harry Blackmun. Somehow, I’m thinking I like the older ones better than the new ones, although I am quite happy with Senators Klobuchar and Franken.

  4. As one who lives in GOP-dominated Florida, where Gov. Scott is arguably one of the somewhat less insane free-market/anti-abortion/anti-union/anti-state employee/pro-privatization/etc. politicians dominating things here (one of the House Republicans filed a bill to make sure those who get food stamps cannot buy candy with them), I’m surprised Santorum didn’t do better, but Romney just flat outspent him and everyone else.

    This is taking on the trappings of a telenovela on Univision: WILL Romney come back from the brink? WILL Gingrich’s inner demon reveal itself finally on national TV and pop his third-wife’s head off her body like a Pez dispenser and drain her dry? WILL Santorum’s head explode when he finally agrees to an interview on MSNBC? WILL Ron Paul realize it’s the 21st Century? Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion…whenever it happens.

    The extreme right-wing of the Party, the “Base”, will never be happy until they run someone who is totally unacceptable to 75% of the national electorate. They keep looking for someone with ideological purity, forgetting that Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the conservative movement, probably wouldn’t pass muster under those standards these days.

  5. Not only Reagan. Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and the first George Bush wouldn’t pass their muster either.

  6. I hope Santorum wins. Any of them will lose to Obama, but Santorum losing to Obama will bring the GOP away from the far-right. Romney losing to Obama will be interpreted as the right stayed home.

  7. “Now Romney will have to spend even more money! To fight off Rick Santorum. Who in a rational universe would have been packed away long before now.”

    Of course Mr Santorum doesn’t believe in a rational universe, so had no reason to walk away.

    @Phil Royce – Minnesota really confuses me. I never suspected that someone like Bachmann would liver there, much less get enough support to be elected.

  8. I’m baffled here in Minnesota as well. Santorum did a bit of campaigning here in the last few days, so that may explain it. My guess is that the voters fell for this manufactured Boring Moderate Mittens Rombone vs. a True Conservative (TM) fight and they really, REALLY don’t like Gingrich, so Santorum it was.

    I finally saw a RON PAUL commercial the other day, it felt like a cross between a pickup truck ad and something from Idiocracy. Very surreal.

  9. Ok, first let me say my brain is in slow motion today….

    I read this entry…then I scanned your twitters from last night.

    About 30 seconds after that I rememberd Reddit. And I lost it. Thanks for the coffee mess and the pitying looks from my co-workers as I struggled to contain the giggles.

    Spreading, Santorum is.

  10. This is all really really terrible for America. The Republicans have ideological purity, focused around some of the worst possible ideas and attitudes imaginable. The Democrats are left catering to every non-racist, non-looney voter, which leads to a party that doesn’t really stand for much of anything except getting reelected and has a solid block of basically old-school Republicans running things from Obama on down. It is scary to consider that today Richard Nixon might be too radically liberal to get any real traction as a Democrat on the national stage.

    So the Republicans run a clown car full of candidates, traditional Republicans flee the party, Democrats embrace moderate Republican positions to pick up the strays, and every left of the center-right is stuck voting for the Democrats in order to avoid the White House falling into the hands of the Insane Clown Posse.

  11. The Missouri Republican Party has gotten weirder and weirder over the last couple of years. So this doesn’t really surprise me that much.

  12. Here are a few more things to muddy the waters for you.

    Florida was not authorized to hold a winner-take-all primary before April 1. The RNC amended its rules in an effort to stratify a front-loaded primary calendar.
    Florida scheduled its primary for January 31 anyways, in violation of amended Rule No. 15(b) that permits Florida only to have a proportional division of its delegates (in a pre-April 1 primary or caucus). Newt Gingrich has challenged the allocation of all the delegates to Romney and he has a very strong case.

    Gingrich is not just in the race to bitterly do everything in his power to destroy Romney. Gingrich is in it to become President. The negative ads against him in Florida were 55 to one. And a lot of it was a bullshit misrepresentation of the facts by Romney’s Superpac. In spite of all of that, Gingrich still came in second in Florida. And as you pointed out, until you bind him with spells, stuff a copy of The Village Voice in his mouth and bury him upside down under the Berkeley campus, he’s not going anywhere.

    Santorum is going to be a lot more difficult for the Romney attack machine to deal with. He doesn’t have Newt’s baggage. He’s also not as smart as Gingrich or as tough, but how will Romney attack him without doing himself more harm than good? Nobody’s buying his “I can’t do anything about what the Superpac says” bullshit anymore. We are going to find out shortly, I’m sure.

    It should be fun.

  13. I see 3 main reasons that people are running for the nomination who don’t have a chance:

    1. They are positioning themselves, Reagan like, to run in 2012. For this to work, Obama needs to be re-elected. If the economy stays bad, this is better than winning now.
    2. They are positioning themselves to get the Vice Presidental bid. To do this, they can’t be too anti-Romney, nor too close to Romney (for instance a LDS member).
    3. They just want to hear themselves talk. Maybe people will listen and it might matter.

  14. I’m divided between a schadenfreudelicious appreciation in seeing the Repubs go through this and sadness that whoever they end up with will be considered the only “realistic” alternative to Obama.

    This is the best we can do?

  15. I wouldn’t make too big a deal out of the Missouri results. Here it was reported more as “beauty contest” considering that Missouri tried to make themselves more self-important by doing an earlier primary, realized too-late that they would be financially penalized for trying to jump the line, and then backtracked and scheduled a later primary. So this one was like…a dress rehearsal? What it really was is a huge waste of tax-payer dollars. And now they’ll do it all again “for real” later in the year. Ridiculous!

  16. I wonder where the re-education camps will be when Santorum establishes his theocracy? Or, will he encourage us non-Christians to “self-deport?”

  17. Just a thought here. The decision on Prop 8 in California was announced yesterday, right before the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses. Given Santorum’s widely publicized “lock ‘em up” attitude toward gays, it could be backlash. OTOH, he has been suspiciously quiet on that this year, preferring to simply tout the “family values” aspect. Given that caucuses tend to bring out the fringe, that may be the answer. Of course, there is a large, though mostly unwilling to admit out loud, minority in Colorado that is pretty anti-Mormon and wishes Utah would just go away.

  18. I’ve been trying to come up with a good analogy why, as a liberal, I’m so obsessed with the Republican primary race. The best I can come up with is this: Imagine you’re an OSU fan. Michigan is your big rival. So usually, you follow OSU’s season and ignore Michigan until the Big Game when the two teams face each other.

    Now imagine that the president of the University of Michigan decides to dismiss the football team and replace them with the cheerleading squad, on the grounds that they show more school spirit, and more accurately represent the student body.

    Would you watch the carnage that made up the following football season? Oh hell yes you would. And it would be all the more fascinating because it would be happening to your rivals. You might even start to feel weirdly sympathetic to them, and try to imagine what advice you’d give them.

    You’d still be thrilled that they’d have no chance against OSU, of course.

  19. MN embarrassed me again!!! I would like to echo Author Naomi Kritzer’s(love her!!!) theory on how Santorum won. MN has a caucus system that is just plain exclusive and only draws true believers. I don’t know any Republicans that actually went and I know a lot of politically minded individuals. My Republican friends don’t feel enough passion for anyone to spend 4+ hours on a weeknight; except the anti-abortion crowd.

    We may be the state that elected Bachman and are actually voting on banning gay marriage soon (so embarrassing), but most of us are well educated, common sense, hard workers who believe in the American dream. More women vote in MN than men so Santorum with his 1512 beliefs about birth control and gays will never win. Also, MN hasn’t voted Republican for president since Reagan’s first term. But thanks, Republican party for making sure that Obama will definitely get his 2nd term to finish what he started, now that he is finally standing his ground.

  20. The Pathetic Earthling (@ 9:06) – I’m in NY, and planning to vote for Gary Johnson no matter who wins the Republican nomination. It isn’t even a matter of holding my nose to vote for Romney – he would have had a much better chance (with me) if he had stuck to his liberal Republican positions that he used to hold back when he was running for Governor of MA. But no, he decided that winning the Presidency was worth giving up any pretense that he actually held sincere views. On anything.

  21. On the “Santorum is a querulous bigot” issue:

    First of all, I don’t think that Santorum is the best choice for the GOP. (I voted for Romney in my state’s primary.)

    However, as I follow the comments here (in related posts) this verdict on Santorum seems to be derived from his views on a few fringe issues which, frankly, most Americans don’t care that much about. (Since you’ve raised these issues in previous anti-Santorum threads, I think that it is fair and on-topic to cite them here.)

    Santorum holds a position on gay marriage that contradicts your own. I personally don’t have an issue with gay marriage; and yes, I tire of far-right social conservatives who predict that same-sex marriage would bring about the downfall of western civilization.

    At the same time, I refuse to accept the notion that a candidate’s position on gay marriage should become a litmus test–as seems to be the viewpoint here. (BTW: I haven’t seen Obama make gay issues a priority during his time in office.)

    Over the years, you’ve distinguished yourself as something of an advocate for gay marriage, and the audience that you’ve attracted is disproportionately concerned with this issue. This isn’t a question of gays being placed in concentration camps. It is a question of redefining the definition of marriage to suit a specific pressure group’s agenda. If you disagree with Santorum on this matter, fair enough; but why make this the overriding question of the upcoming election?

    Most Republicans who favor Santorum like him because of his conservative views on the reduction of the national debt and cutting public spending. Given that that the debt has soared to 120% of the GDP, *this* is the main issue in 2012. The gay marriage debate, by comparison, is a sideshow.

  22. @Duskfire: Oh, I don’t trust Romney particularly, I just completely oppose Obama for [lots of reasons not worth enumerating for fear of derailing the thread].

  23. On an only-tangentially-related topic: I had completely forgotten about Naomi Kritzer’s blog – it got lost in one of many bookmark-purgings over the years. Happy to have my slightly feeble memory refreshed. I went to college in MN many, many years ago, and I used to love reading her blog, and shall now go do some catching-up.

    So, something very *good* came from the GOP results and from this post, at least for me.

    So, ya know, there’s that.

  24. It is sad that the cult of Obama will cause most to overlook his many failures and inability to “change” anything for the better. But then again, sometimes it comes down to the evil you know vs the evil you don’t know.

  25. Santorum is going to be a lot more difficult for the Romney attack machine to deal with. He doesn’t have Newt’s baggage. He’s also not as smart as Gingrich or as tough, but how will Romney attack him without doing himself more harm than good?

    More importantly, his funding makes Gingrich’s hauls look positively Romney-esque.

  26. Todd:

    “If you disagree with Santorum on this matter, fair enough; but why make this the overriding question of the upcoming election?”

    Given Santorum’s real world chances at the nomination, you can be assured it won’t be. Likewise, you may assured that the fact that Santorum’s an appalling bigot isn’t the only thing I dislike about him as a political entity, it just happens to be the most obvious.

    That said, being an appalling bigot is an issue of character, and as Mr. Santorum himself makes character an issue, it’s both legitimate to note, and it is a legitimate factor regarding his overall electability.

  27. Does anyone know if the republican Super Tuesday Primaries are winner take all delegates or proportional? I remember in 2008, Hillary Clinton did not compete in the smaller primaries running up to super Tuesday. Those primaries were mainly winner take all. The large states on Super Tuesday were proportional. So she ended losing ground even though she won most of the larger states. She did not win by a lot.

    If these smaller states are winner take all and the larger ones are not, Romney could run into the same issue that Clinton ran into. That being said, if I remember correctly, Clinton didn’t compete because she didn’t have as much money as Obama. That won’t be the case with Romney.

  28. And how many delegates did Santorum pick up? This may have been a feel good vote since it doesn’t really count. But who knows? I’m no longer Republican (2000 primaries pissed me off) and the entire U.S. political system’s gone so far off track from where I’m at, I now seem to be left of center. Weird!

  29. @Todd: Santorum holds “fringe” positions on many more topics than gay marriage. How about his positions on being gay? A disorder? Like pedophilia or animal abuse? Really?

    Global warming? Even by current GOP standards he’s extreme on this. BTW in the ‘frozen’ Pacific Northwest it was 60F yesterday and sunny… all perfectly normal that.

    He has extreme views on contraception and abortion and couldn’t even hold a cogent position on these in interviews.

    Sorry, but he’s just unelectable in the extreme. I could go on and on about the debt, which would mostly go away if the GOP would agree to raise revenue, but Santorum doesn’t want to do that either. Not being prepared to raise revenues isn’t conservative, it’s radical, crony, capitalism.

    This is amazing… on the other hand – other people are right. If Romney loses in November, then the GOP can and will tilt further right and further into unelectability – in an inverse of what the British Labour Party did in the early 80s. If Santorum loses, they may be able to come back to power later.

  30. I’m in Minnesota, and I went to the GOP caucus last night, and I think Kritzer’s assessment is fairly accurate. (My urban-center precinct went for Ron Paul, btw, as did my entire caucus in 2008.)

    The only thing I would point out is that in 2008, Romney won the state, when there were still more-conservative candidates around, so I don’t think the MN GOP *reliably* chooses the most-socially-conservative candidate.

    I think it’s energizing just to meet other people, neighbors, willing to identify as conservatives or as Republicans. Generally we’re pretty invisible where I live (you don’t see lawn signs or bumper stickers, for example, and the GOP doesn’t even field candidates for a significant number of local offices). I think the circles of people, all ages and descriptions, sitting around politely discussing issues and candidates is kind of cool. Disclaimer: Lacking a sitter, I took my four kids with me so they could see democracy at work, which meant I had to leave right after the straw poll and the delegate nomination lest they revolt. So if a fistfight started later, I didn’t see it.

  31. One downside to continued interest in the GOP presidential primaries is that ballot measures which are held during the primaries, such as NC’s state constitutional amendment 1 which defines even civil unions as being not for any of those icky LGBT types, will be decided largely by GOP primary voters due to turnout generated by the GOP presidential primaries. Hopefully the GOP primary is decided by the time it rolls into North Carolina.

  32. The GOP is in a race to the bottom. The Dems are satisfied with “not screwing up royally”. For once in my lifetime can we get one decent candidate that is actually capable of running this country? Or is it time just to scrap it all and start over?

  33. WonderOfItAll – I’m pretty sure that our host doesn’t belong to this mythical “cult of Obama” and probably neither do most of the people here who aren’t planning to vote for the eventual Republican nominee.
    To me, using that term indicates that you don’t want to think that maybe people support Obama because however poor the last 3 years have been, they honestly think things will be much worse under a different leadership.
    I remember vividly that during the 8 years Clinton was our president, the Republicans ominously foretold all kinds of dire things befalling the U.S.A. And guess what? The country survived. Not just barely, it survived and prospered.
    So I’m extremely skeptical when I hear the Republicans predict that letting Obama get re-elected will mean the end of all we hold dear. It’s just meaningless hyperbole at this point.

  34. @Todd (10:13) Romney’s bigotry extends far past gays and the right to choose. He’s recently come out against birth control (something 90+% of Americans have used) and he doesn’t believe the right to privacy exists. He opposes the separation of church and state, thinks climate change is a conspiracy theory and proudly chants ‘Drill Baby, Drill!’ Santorum isn’t a laughingstock because he hates gays with a passion usually reserved for the deeply closeted, he’s a laughingstock because he wants to turn the country into some sort of misogynistic theocracy. Personally, I hope he gets the nomination so that the 90% of sane people in the country recoil from him in horror at the general election.

  35. In addition to the comments about Missouri being a “beauty contest”, Santorum was the only candidate who bought TV ads here – at least on the Springfield station I get on my dish – so that I am sure had a lot to with it. I suspect before the caucuses Romney and Gingrich will spend some money here.

  36. Sam M-B:

    I’m a little surprised they didn’t save that for the general election as was done in many states in 2004, but I suppose the social-conservative wing thought it was more likely to pass in the primary than in the general, where (horrors) Obama might win again and then their bigotry might not pass.

  37. As a native Pennsylvanian, I can’t wrap my mind around the Santorum surge. He’s is arguably the worst senator PA has ever sent to Washington. This is a man that the McCain camp has called one of the stupidest members of congress. That he’s doing well again with the GOP base gives me a mix of cold chills and elation. Is the GOP really dumb enough to gift us with a Santorum nomination, I hope so.

  38. “I refuse to accept the notion that a candidate’s position on gay marriage should become a litmus test–as seems to be the viewpoint here.”

    The issue of gay marriage is fundamentally an issue of civil rights — thus, pretty much one of the BEST litmus tests you could come up with for a political candidate.

  39. IMHO, You’re being WAY too polite.

    He actually thinks (last night’s victory speech) that he represents “the voice of the people”?

    Prop 8 was passed by California voters after a massive and expensive propaganda campaign by self-righteous fundamentalist liars who wanted their God to replace the Constitution of the United States of America, and deny dignity, freedom, liberty, and happiness to anyone that doesn’t get their ayatollah seal of approval.

    Even worse is Rick Perry, who openly advocates (with other in the Dominionist movement) getting fellow traitors elected to office, overthrowing the government, and instituting a radical “Christian” equivalent of the Taliban/Inquisition.

  40. John your political commentaries are entertaining and more insightful than The Today Show or GMA. Thanks for writing them.

  41. Santorum’s ONLY appeal is his bigotry. He’s perfectly happy to be authoritarian and a whole host of other things that should, if they actually believed what they claim they believe, leave conservative voters appalled.

    From the man himself:

    “Santorum discussed what he called the “libertarianish right,” saying “they have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do. Government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulation low and that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues, you know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world, and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone”

    He is, like most current Republicans, merely an evil liberal.

  42. I still don’t get people who go on and on about how “smart” Newt is. In my book, “smart” people don’t froth at the mouth (metaphorically, of course). They also don’t spout off revisionist history as fact. I’ll give you that he’s confident and has the balls to go after what he thinks is important. But “smart?” I don’t think so, Bob.

  43. Can we keep Santorum around for a while, at least until some more of the deep south states hold their primaries? I want to see what happens when folks have to choose between a Mormon and a Catholic.

  44. Brian Mac:

    At least in South Carolina, they went for the Catholic. Newt converted in the late ’90s, IIRC.

  45. @Seth G

    Don’t know if this helps, but I heard that there’s an old joke in DC about how Newt’s office has five filing cabinets. Four are labeled “Newt’s Ideas”, and the other one is labeled, “Newt’s Good Ideas”.

    I guess if he could figure out which 80% of the time to keep his mouth shut, he’d be considered a genius.

  46. Justin Jordan: “evil liberal”
    Well goddamn if he’s not. As a conservative libertarian, I frankly never much cottoned to Santorum to begin with. And while I have to say the things he said don’t really entirely me, they certainly increase my disgust. I wonder how the Tea Party folks would respond to him as a candidate, were he to win the nomination?

  47. Now imagine that the president of the University of Michigan decides to dismiss the football team and replace them with the cheerleading squad

    Well, that certainly *would* be the only way OSU could expect a victory next year. /rimshot

    I am being very, very smug with Mr. Mythago about how boring his party’s primary is (“Well, honey, maybe you could switch back to the Green party! Nah, you go ahead and decide whether you’re going to vote for Obama, or Obama”). He keeps replying with some nonsense about how most of my choices are douchecanoes who would have trashed Reagan as being a hippie liberal RINO. He doesn’t like Michael Bay movies either, so you can see what I have to put up with here.

  48. John your political commentaries are entertaining and more insightful than The Today Show or GMA.

    Wow, that’s about the lowest bar I can think of to be judged against.

    Okay, maybe “the last hour of The Today Show” would be a hint lower, but it’s still in “tallest midget in the Wizard of Oz” territory.

  49. I would root for Santorum to get the GOP nomination but there is that off chance that there would be an “incident” right near election day and he could beat Obama and become the next president.

  50. On the one hand, I have this full bucket of popcorn and am pleased to watch the Republicans savage each other in the playoffs so the eventual candidate will go into the main event bleeding and weakened.

    OTOH, the Democrats have historically managed to lose what should be sure things (c.f. the Gore and Kerry campaigns).

    The whole barbarous spectacle is viscerally appealing, but I can’t help worrying that it’s all fun and games until some fundamentalist demagogue declares himself high priest of a new theocracy and institutes serfdom and loyalty pledges. I am trusting that the Obama campaign machine will be able to function as they did in ’08.

  51. @WonderOfItAll: It is sad that the cult of Obama will cause most to overlook his many failures and inability to “change” anything for the better.

    While I’ve met any number of people who support Obama, I’ve never met an Obama cultist. So I can’t comment on what such a person might think, in much the same way that I can’t know how Santa Claus felt about the Giants winning the SuperBowl. But I can say with some confidence that those of us who like the president know that (a) he has changed some things for the better (my health insurance is starting to resemble actual health insurance, for example) and (b) his attempts to change other things are thwarted by the very people who criticize him for his inability to change things.

    But to drag this thing back to the topic at hand: it is truly wonderful to see the GOP reap what they’ve sown, and be hamstrung by the very wingnuts they’ve catered to for years. I just wish it were all happening over an issue a little less critical than the election of the next president.

  52. Another possibly relevant fact about Missouri:

    It’s one of the states that doesn’t require its citizens to register for a particular political party. It’s an “open primary” where anyone can pick up any ballot they choose.

    Democrats realizing that their vote was especially meaningless if they picked a Democratic ballot, may well have decided to pick up a Republican ballot and choose their favorite candidate for Obama to run against. How much of this happened? How much of this happens every election? The world may never know.

    @PatheticEarthling: Vote for whoever you want, and tell your wife you voted for the individual you think she wants to hear you voted for. It’s a secret ballot. She will never know. (I say this as a person who wants Obama re-elected, but then again, as you mention, you live in California.)

  53. @ mythago

    a hippie liberal RINO

    A hippo?

    @ –E

    OTOH, the Democrats have historically managed to lose what should be sure things (c.f. the Gore and Kerry campaigns).

    Incidentally, I was thinking just yesterday that the GOP can’t seem to field better candidates than the Dems did 2000 and ’04. If only…

  54. While Newt Gingrich started attending Catholic mass after marrying Callista in 2000, he wasn’t confirmed until 2009.

    I think Minnesota went for Santorum because of the sweater vests. There’s something reassuring about a sweater vest. Not quite as erudite as a cardigan, not as preppy as a sweater/Oxford combination and not as 80s as a regular vest.

  55. Here’s some info on things:

    “Are Republicans energized? Not if turnout is an indication,” say Peter Hamby and John Helton at CNN. GOP voters came out in much smaller numbers on Tuesday than they did four years ago. The numbers “are so low as to be laughable,” says John Hinderaker at PowerLine. In Minnesota, for example, fewer than 50,000 people participated in the caucuses; in the 2008 general election, 1,275,409 Minnesotans voted for Republican John McCain.” –Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/6-takeaways-from-tuesdays-stunning-santorum-sweep-2012-2?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+businessinsider+%28Business+Insider%29

  56. The main reason Minnesota picked Santorum? The embarrassing reason? It’s that, without the Twin Cities and the ever-dwindling Iron Range, Minnesota is a deeply, deeply Red state. Outside the (thankfully) just barely larger in population Blue areas, Minnesota is a lot like Colorado: White Born-agains as red as blood. It’s not about politics for those people, it’s all about religion and it’s as deeply ingrained as breathing. It’s not like Kansas, where there’s a viciousness to their religion, but it’s just as strong. They can’t fathom another way and so an idiot bigot like Santorum or Bachmann seems like the perfect choice. They also keep it to themselves, so sometimes you don’t realize they’re there. The really sad part is the Iron Range is slowly going Red.

  57. I’m sure there’s plenty of people channeling Uncle Remus in the salt mines of the Democratic Opposition Research department today. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

  58. Jon Hansen @12:18: “The really sad part is the Iron Range is slowly going Red.”

    Rust?

    I’ll get my coat

  59. “The Santorum Solution”

    Hey John, that probably should be “The Santorum Mixture” or possibly, if you are being generous, “The Santorum Colloid.”

    Thank you, I’l be here all week.

  60. “I would root for Santorum to get the GOP nomination but there is that off chance that there would be an “incident” right near election day and he could beat Obama and become the next president.”

    Obama would have to eat fetuses live on monday to loses the election on tuesday. And even then it would be a close call.

  61. Peter:
    Eat live fetuses, while naked, on the steps of the White House… eh, I would still vote for him over any of the current GOP picks.

  62. @WonderOfItAll: It is sad that the cult of Obama will cause most to overlook his many failures and inability to “change” anything for the better

    Uh, what? Have you talked to a progressive in the last couple of years? Jeez, the left (and I include myself in that category) won’t shut up about how Obama has let them down. If anything I’d say we are more guilty of ignoring his many successes and focusing only on his failures.

    Honestly, I’d like to see a little of the Cult of Obama. I think we’ll need it for 2012.

  63. @ gilmoure: There was some Repub or other who explained last week that similar low turnouts up to that point meant that Repub voters were comfortable with the likelihood of Romney being the nominee. I wonder what their explanation is this week.

  64. “It’s not like Kansas, where there’s a viciousness to their religion, but it’s just as strong.”

    Considering the teen suicide rate in Bachmann’s district, probably accounted for mostly by gay teens, I wouldn’t sell the viciousness short.

  65. Billy Quiets, you might be delighted that one of my 4,250 facebook friends completely agreed with you, in response to the very same statement of mine. To which I replied:
    ROFL that you naively call me a hateful member of “the inclusionist left.” I am a 3rd generation Wall Street Conservative Republican (and my son is registered GOP as of 4 years ago so that he could vote for Ron Paul). My father’s father fought his way up from penniless immigrant sweeping up in a haberdashery to owning a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. For 4 generations my family — which has fought in World War I and World War II for freedom and liberty — has believed in the Constitution, and keeping the government the hell out of our boardrooms and bedrooms. Are you one of those who would stop my friends for marrying whomsoever they love, because they do not subscribe to your ayalotollah-wrapped-in-the-American-flag hateful homophobic racist cult? Please clarify.
    Then the Caltech alumnus on whose wall the dialogue took place told us both to stop ad hominem. So I apologize to you and Mr.Scalzi if I have done so. [returns to lurking]

  66. Let’s not panic, folks. Look at the numbers not the results. Where I live, Missouri, we had only 6% turnout and Santorum took 40% of that. Minnesota and Colorado had 2 and 1 % turnouts. That is far more telling.

    It’s what I’ve been telling people for years, when voter turn-out is low, only the true believers vote, and they do not represent actual demographics in the long run. The GOP slate is problematic. None of these guys are loved by the party faithful. It’s beginning to show in the kind of apathy that used to be the hallmark of liberal Democratic voters.

  67. Palin was the reason that I didn’t vote in the 2008 election. I would have been perfectly happy with McCain had he not picked the psycho ***** from the north as his potential vice president. The same goes this year for Bachmann; if the eventual nominee chooses her as their running mate, I’m sitting this one out too.

  68. “I’ve been trying to come up with a good analogy why, as a liberal, I’m so obsessed with the Republican primary race.”

    Why shouldn’t everyone be fascinated by the race? I was fascinated by the Clinton vs. Obama primary campaign.

    My parents sometimes voted cross-party in primaries because we lived in a state where the real contests were in the primaries; the general elections were a foregone conclusion. But they voted for the guy they could best live with, not the guy who they hoped their guy could beat.

    Democrats boosting Santorum because he’s more beatable might be satisfying but what if something really surprising happens in the run-up to the election and the “beatable” guy wins?

  69. “Obama would have to eat fetuses live on monday to loses the election on tuesday. And even then it would be a close call.”

    I don’t see it. If Mitt Romney can get elected governor of Massachusetts, he has the potential to beat Barak Obama in a bad economy, whose approval numbers are hovering around the re-electability threshold. I’d guess his odds are at least 40%. It may turn out to be a contest between campaign managers.

  70. Mike:
    The last few MA governors who sought the presidency have been rather brutally pwned. Calvin Coolidge was the only to claw his way to the top, and look how that turned out. The Commonwealth doesn’t seem to be representative of the country, anymore: liberals think it’s too conservative, and conservatives think it’s too liberal.

    I went to college there (like half of everyone who went to college in the US, it seems) and it’s an odd little state.

  71. Querulous Bigot= Genuine Conservative. Exactly.
    Santorum Solution is NSFW.

    Living in Colorado, as a liberal I can’t decide whether to be more ashamed or pleased by the Republicans in my state. Thankfully low turnout Caucuses says a lot. But, Obama did do well with Caucuses which may have won him the Democratic nomination in 08. Ie the true believer core for the Democrats go for Obama and for Republicans it’s Santorum.

    Schadenfreude and Political Race= entertainment. Still think Romney will be the heavily damaged nominee.

  72. @ transdutch/ Allison/ Mike:
    According to all news sources, the voter turnouts for yesterday were down by large margins. In the face of these #’s, the supposition that Democrats came out to vote for Santorum to spike the GOP primaries/caucuses are difficult to fathom and implies that the enthusiasm in the GOP is even more dismally lower than current belief.

    Am I saying that some die-hard liberals may never think to do that? No. But to believe that Democrats came out in significant numbers to make such a difference that they caused Santorum to win in all 3 states sounds more like a far-fetched conspiracy theory without any basis in reality.

    Low voter-turnout results normally reflect the beliefs of the base of party. GOP Base = right-wingnuts/ religious bigots, who vote based on their SOCIAL values. Of the nominees, who fits that bill best? Santorum.

  73. @mike

    I don’t see it. If Mitt Romney can get elected governor of Massachusetts…

    Massachusetts has a very long history of electing Republican governors. You have to go back more than 20 years to Dukakis to find the last democratic governor.

  74. @Mike:

    I don’t see it. If Mitt Romney can get elected governor of Massachusetts, he has the potential to beat Barak Obama in a bad economy

    Meh… Four years ago, I’d have said John McCain would have run the general down to the wire – but then he started pandering to the theo-con “base”, promptly broke his promise to run a clean positive policy-based campaign and finally chose a running mate that even had the sanity-based wing of the GOP screaming “WT-effing-F, John!” Swinging far-right may have been McCain’s only option to win the nomination, but it seems to me that he forgot that the “base” isn’t where you win Presidential elections – and Romney has a very similar problem.

    Hate to say it, but Mitt may have gotten elected governor as a New England moderate (or “RINO establishment tool” as they say in Teabagistan) but he’s made it pretty damn clear that that Romney has been staked, stuffed with garlic, beheaded and buried at a crossroads.

  75. @rochrist – It’s not quite as cut and dried as one might think for Massachusetts; the Republican who succeeded Dukakis, Bill Weld, was quite liberal on many issues, especially social issues. He was also facing a truly vile man, John Silber, who managed to destroyed his own candidacy by advocating euthanasia, calling the Commonwealth a welfare magnet, and snarling at reporter Natalie Jacobson, one of the most popular (and nicest) newscasters in the state.

    The Democrats have also had a history of running very weak candidates for Governor, including Shannon O’Brien against Romney. If they’d, say, run someone like Richie Neal or Barney Frank or John Kerry or one of the Kennedys in 2002, I doubt Romney would have won.

    Finally, Romney outright lied about his social positions, leading to the widespread belief that he couldn’t be that bad as governor. Well, he was that bad, and his 36% approval ratings were a major reason why he bagged it to run for President in 2006. He’s not well liked here even today, and the lovely parting gifts he tried to inflict on us as he left office (yanking $263 million in already-allocated social service funds from the budget, forcing the legislature into a vote that would have allowed the referendum to repeal equal marriage) didn’t help.

  76. @duskfire re: Clinton in the 90s.

    IIRC, he only had two years with a friendly Democrat dominated Congress. They tried to ram Clinton-care…and a couple other things…through and the GOP handed them their hats in 1994. Mr. Clinton had no choice but to become a moderate President with fiscal restraint.

    Gridlock worked! As the resulting economy clearly demonstrates. Credit goes to both Mr. Clinton and the GOP led Congress, IMHO.

    @Daveon re: GOP agreeing to raise revenue

    The revenue to be generated by any of the proposed tax increases is not enough to cover our current deficits nor will it be enough to close the gap in the out-years. It isn’t even close. We have a spending problem that is exacerbated by repeated threats to raise taxes that end up further retarding the economic recovery.

    In the bigger scheme of things, Santorum isn’t a great choice (for obvious reasons). But on the economy, he would be a definite improvement. And the economy is THE issue this year.

  77. The revenue to be generated by any of the proposed tax increases is not enough to cover our current deficits nor will it be enough to close the gap in the out-years. It isn’t even close.

    Support for this?

    We have a spending problem that is exacerbated by repeated threats to raise taxes that end up further retarding the economic recovery.

    Oh, I know this isn’t true, since we are in an era of historically low tax rates. And a higher tax rate does not inherently retard growth; it’s far too dependent on where you’re starting from and where it’s taken from.

  78. @Dann – no, the revenue is not enough to cover the current problem… which is what I call a strawman. Because we don’t need to eliminate all the debt and never will.

    However, eliminating the Bush tax cuts would basically halve the projected deficit in a decade, leave room for more stimulus spending to cover the TRILLION dollar whole in the economy the Bush years left us with and all money borrowed at rates I would love to get for my company – the effective rate on a 10 year US government bond is actually negative at the moment – inflation is such that you actually repay LESS than you borrow. Any individual or business who needs money to grow a business with potential (i.e. the USA) and doesn’t take free money is basically incompetent.

    Finally, as the economy improves, the cost of unemployment decreases, revenues will go up enough to eliminate the rest of the problem – without touching Social Security measures.

    The GOP and Tea Party seem to like simple analogies, so here’s one. The lie sold in 2000 was that the Clinton ‘surplus’ was tax payer money the government needed to give back. It was no such thing. It was a windfall that ought to have been put into repaying the credit cards so that when we needed them they weren’t maxed out. Preaching auterity and debt repaying in the kind of recession we’re in is the exact kind of fiscal incompetence that’s put the US into a generational slump! And that Rick Santorum nor the rest of the GOP field don’t get that ought to disqualify them instantly from public office.

  79. Oh, and btw – I actually think that part of the problem is Obama hasn’t done remotely enough spending to solve the problem that the US is in.

    You want to see what dealing with the debt does to your economy? Look at the growth rates in Britain.

  80. I’m with gwangung and Daveon. We keep hearing the mantra that tax increases will kill jobs, so the taxes keep going down and no jobs are created, as the wealthy just pocket the money and don’t spend it. For a capitalist society to work the money has to flow, not be hoarded by a tiny percentage. Repeal the Bush tax cuts, raise wages significantly, do a much bigger stimulus plan. That’s how to get out of this. We have 30 years of actual real life experience of the other way and we know it doesn’t work.

  81. @Daveon,

    While totally repealing the Bush tax cuts would close a large part of the the budget deficit, no one wants to do that. Not the GOP, not the Democratic members of Congress, and not Obama. They all had the opportunity to do this at the end of 2010 (when they were all set to expire) but none of them let them die. Obama just wanted to repeal just 1/4 of the tax cuts (those to the rich) and keep the other 3/4. The GOP told him it was all or nothing, and he decided he’d rather have all of the tax cuts renewed until 12/31/2012.

    Not only that, but they’ve cut the payroll tax in the mean time.

  82. Ya’ll have fun now. I am beginning to think that we in Texas are not going to get to vote in the primaries until October or so.

  83. John wrote: “apparently “querulous bigot” in Scalzi World equates to “genuine conservative” in GOP Land, and the genuine conservatives out there apparently aren’t happy with Romney and his actual governing track record in Massachusetts. ”

    I embrace “queruous bigot” as a mercifully brief phrase that accurately describes Santorum and all that I find repellant about him.

    RE: Romney… yes, I have been STUNNED to see GOP voters describing him as a “liberal” and saying he’s just “Obama with a different face.” This strikes me on a par as saying that, as actors go, Mark Wahlberg is just Derek Jacobi before his hair turned white.

  84. I’m not convinced any of these characters actually want to BE the POTUS. Being a professional candidate has been a windfall for one red-jacketed thug; I’m guessing that’s the true money wagon they’re all chasing.

  85. While totally repealing the Bush tax cuts would close a large part of the the budget deficit, no one wants to do that.

    I may have mentioned that there are some things about Obama that annoy me.

    Even if they would cost me money.

  86. Here’s what I really want: Clinton vs. Bachmann in 2016. My wife’s ex-husband is a proud, unrepentant misogynist who still tries to order my wife around (despite the fact that he’s scared shitless of me). The idea that he’d have to pick between two presidential candidates with ovaries would make his head explode. Just for fun, I’d sneak into the parking lot where he works (assuming he has a job at the time. It’s a dicey proposition even during economic booms) and slap both Bachmann and Clinton bumper stickers on his car.

    They don’t call me evil for nothing.

  87. Considering Santorum, I’m amazed nobody’s quoted Heinlein yet. In one of his “future histories” he did predict the USA voting itself into a religious dictatorship…

    “Elections are won not by converting the opposition but by getting out your own vote, and Scudder’s organization did just that. According to histories I studied at Boondock, the election of 2012 turned out 63 percent of the registered voters (which in turn was less than half of those eligible to register); the True American party (Nehemiah Scudder) polled 27 percent of the popular vote… which won 81 percent of the Electoral College votes.”
    “In 2016 there was no election.”
    –Robert A. Heinlein, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, 1987

    Careful what you wish for.

  88. How do I, as a liberal, feel about Santorum’s victory? To quote a man far more articulate than I, “Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

  89. The Minnesota Republican Party is primarily run by a cabal of Pro-LIfe, Anti-Abortion, Evangelical Christians, who think that “freedom of religion” means the freedom to choose among the Evangelical Christian churches. The state, having elected Arne Carlson governor (he’d run as a write-in because the endorsed Republican candidate withdrew nine days before the election), they booed him when he came to speak to the Republican convention, refusing to allow him to speak for almost half an hour, then refused to endorse him, after that endorsed someone else, who lost to Arni in a primary; Arne was re-elected with 63% of the vote. Hopeless. A fine example of “democracy”.

  90. “If Mitt Romney can get elected governor of Massachusetts…”

    As ellid noted, Shannon O’Brien was a weak Democratic opponent in Romney’s 2002 election, but she STILL only lost to Romney by 106,000 votes — keep in mind that Green candidate Jill Stein pulled in just over 76,000. (Or, about 3.5% of the electorate, which is pretty much what Greens get on their best day, right?)

    O’Brien beat out Robert Reich in the Democratic primary by just under 60,000 votes. I suspect that Romney vs. Reich would have been a much different contest. Stein ran as a Green again in 2010, against Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick (among others); that time, she got less than 33,000 votes in a race that also included a centrist Independent candidate.

  91. Late to the party. Drat.

    Pathetic Earthling – your wife would make you sleep on the couch for a month if you voted for Santorum (in the general)? Man, she’s forgiving. If my husband voted for Santorum, he could sleep wherever he wanted, because I’d move out. And it would take something major to make me consider moving back in again.

    Of course to do that, he’d have to become an entirely different person between now and November, so no fear.

  92. “Good for the GOP or the nation? Probably not so much.”

    Are you kidding? It’s GREAT for the nation. ;-) If this drags on and hurts Romney’s chances in the general election, or if Santorum wins the nomination . . . it’s AWESOME for the nation. I wouldn’t lie about something as important as this!

  93. @eviljwinter: I will point out that nothing prevents you from having realistic-looking “Clinton 2016″ and “Bachmann/Haley 2016″ bumper stickers printed up and slapping THOSE on his vehicle. Custom bumper stickers are quite affordable, and think of his reaction when he tries to explain to people that no, they are TOO running in ’16, they have to be because he saw the bumper stickers and everything….

  94. @Daveon,

    No worries on the multi-post. I understand. Deficits are a trigger issue for me as well.

    Last things first, the link you posted.

    - Includes significant spending cuts along with letting the tax cuts expire. The spending cuts are pretty significant.

    - Would include significant tax increases on those of us in middle income territory; including the rise of the noxious AMT. It would also increase the tax load on the working poor.

    Regarding stimulitive spending, it can work only under a limited set of circumstances.

    1) The base budget has to be controllable. Social spending, particularly Social Security and Medicare, are significant debt drivers. We could have fixed them 30 years ago both with privatized accounts, but instead the can got kicked down the road.

    2) There has to be a plan to repay the debt. Given the increase in social spending over the last decade (Medicare Part D, PPACA, etc.) we have no plan to ever get to the point where our economy can out grow our debt.

    Finally, it has been my experience that Congress always promised cuts in the out years that never come to pass. Which is why that link includes “the 1997 Balanced Budget Act to cut Medicare’s payments to doctors by about 30 percent, and the Budget Control Act’s trigger to make $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.”

    Like a lot of folks, I’ve looked at this issue every way ’til Sunday. I’ve used all the modeling tools put out by various groups/companies. The NYTimes had a great one a couple years back.

    They all agree, it is technically possible to solve the deficit by cutting spending. It is not technically possible to solve the deficit by increasing taxes….unless you think a total tax load in the 60% range is sustainable. I think that such a tax load would kill our economy.

    IMO, we will have to raise taxes at some point. However, until the spending cuts begin, I see no reason to permit taxes to increase. We have to eat our broccoli before we get our dessert.

    B/R,
    Dann

  95. Dann, firstly:

    - actually that link shows a scenario without spending cuts, just taxes, and the alternative scenario as proposed. The major driver remains the Bush tax cuts

    - Yes, it does have middle income tax rises on you, me and a bunch of other people. You are not paying enough tax, neither am I, sorry if that upsets you, not an awful we can do about that. I didn’t live in the US under Clinton but it was still lower rates than I used to pay in the UK and funnily enough I didn’t feel that short of money then.

    As for your other statements: we’re in a debt trap, and not a government one. Individuals are carrying too much personal debt during a time of reduced demand. For a capitalist economy to work, money has to flow. Companies are hoarding it, individuals are paying off debt to financial organisations who are hoarding it. Net result, fiscal contraction. Fortunately the USA has a few things going for it. Firstly, it can borrow money for free – go look at the 10 year bond rates and get back to me. Secondly, the state of a lot of the US infrastructure ought to embarrass you.

    1) The idea of a “controlled’ budget for a sovereign national government is a nonsense to start with. And any idea of privatised social security? That was tried in the UK in the 1980s – most of the people my age were sold on having our state pension savings transferred to private sector funds because it could do better than the government. Guess what? Most of them had to be put back into the government in the late 2000s because they had so badly under performed that people wouldn’t even have a basic pension on retirement. Imagine what would have happened to people due to retire in 2009 if that had been the case – they’d still have 60% of the sum they had had at the start of 2008! People would be in poverty and the government would have had to step in.

    2) Yes, there should be a plan to control debt. In 2000, the GOP shouldn’t have given massive tax cuts of a transitory surplus instead of paying down debt. It most certainly shouldn’t have given massive medicare breaks and started foreign wars without INCREASING tax to pay for it. That is the core of the problem. Obama is trying to tidy up a mess made over a decade ago.

    Frankly, what the US should do is implement a single payer healthcare system – small business owners like me want it, it would reduce medical costs at a stroke (like it does EVERYWHERE on the planet).

    Spending cuts, during a recession is stupid, enormously so. Look at Britain and get back to me. They’re in a nasty double dip by the way, but don’t worry, they say austerity is working. Ireland, there’s another one. GDP 15%(!) down on 2008, but austerity is working.

    Yeah. Right.

    I would like to see some evidence of fiscal responsibility from the right of US politics that doesn’t seem to involve balancing the budget on the poorest members of society and letting a multi-millionaire like Mitt Romney get away with paying so little tax… And don’t whinge to me that he still pays $3M a year because that’s irrelevant. If I can live with losing 30% of our income (still a 6 figure amount) I’m pretty damn sure he can to.

  96. Actually, Florida isn’t “winner take all”, except that it is. You see, the GOP didn’t like that some states moved up the their primaries, so for states who moved it up past a certain date (except maybe New Hampshire, since it’s state law that they will be the first primary), would be punished. There are two punishments:
    a) The states delegates get cut in half (thus why Florida has 50 this year as opposed to 99)
    2) The state cannot be winner takes all.
    That being said, unless a Republican complains loudly enough, it will be “winner takes all”.
    Yeah, I know, it’s kinda’ nit-picky, but hey, you have now gained knowledge! Rejoice!
    Although I don’t rejoice that my state (CO) chose Rick “Google me” Santorum. Especially since when he gave a speech here, he chuckled at a lady who was talking about kids with cancer dying because they couldn’t afford health care.

  97. While Santorum/Bachmann would be interesting, I’d personally go for a Santorum/Christine O’Donnel ticket for the sheer entertainment value.

  98. @Brent or Santorum/Palin. After all, last time planned parenthood got over three quarters of a million dollars donated in her name (it was via an email campaign, all of the “thank you for donating” cards went to the campaign headquarters).

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