In honor of President’s Day, I thought it a good time to discuss the latest twists and turns of the 2012 Election. Of course, with President Obama running unopposed, most of the action is on the Republican side of the aisle, and it’s getting rather baffling.
I’m inclined to write off Ron Paul, but then again he has that annoying tendency to overperform, as is the case in Maine last week. As of yesterday, Mitt Romney “enjoyed” a 156-vote victory state-wide. This is in a moderate New England (is Maine officially considered New England?) state, known for sending to Washington such conservative firebrands as Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Both in terms of it’s regional closeness to Romney’s “home” state and it’s position on the political spectrum closer to Romney than Paul, Santorum or Gingrich, Romney should have won this handily. As it is, there are serious accusations that the process was fixed, and not from the usual Paul conspiracy theorists. Rachel Maddow, another known right winger, went so far as to do actual research before making such accusations on her show.
So, in Maine, Paul over performed at the expense of front-runner Romney. Santorum came in third and Gingrich a distant fourth. I’d write Gingrich off and suggest that he go write his next book, but there’s a whole slew of southern states in the next batch of primaries and caucuses, including Newt’s home state of Georgia.
Then there’s Mr. Santorum. I felt silly considering the guy a contender after he won Iowa, and anyone who took him seriously, say before Christmas would have been deemed certifiably insane.
Well, I’ve shared my analysis that the good economic numbers are savaging the GOP economic message, and most likely their chances of evicting the Obamas from the Whitehouse. So, how do you do down-ballot damage control? The three G’s.
God, Guns and Gays.
Well, Obama’s done nothing about guns. He’s repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but he’s stayed out of the marriage equality debate. That will be fought in the states and the courts. That leaves God.
So how is Obama attacking the Almighty? By insisting that all health insurance policies cover contraception, even those offered to employees of religiously-affilitated organizations like colleges and hospitals, but not the churches themselves. Now, the initial policy called on the organizations to pay for contraceptive coverage, but Obama quickly backpedaled to the position of having the insurance companies foot the bill.
Naturally, this has not stopped a flurry of attacks on women. There’s the legislation in Virginia mandating a trans-vaginal ultrasound for any woman seeking an abortion, a fetal personhood bill, legislation in Congress allowing any employer to not provide contraceptive coverage on moral grounds, a hearing on birth control with all male witnesses, a comment from Rick Santorum’s money man that all a woman needed for birth control was to hold an aspirin between her knees, and even a comment from a Fox contributer, a woman at that, that women serving in the US military should expect to be raped by the men along side of whom they serve. (This statement should be as offensive to male soldiers as to female, by the way.)
All the current Republican candidates for the Presidential nomination are coming down on the same side of this in an attempt to appeal to the far right that seems to make up the Republican Primary electorate. From the campaign trail to the capitol to the state houses, one would think that the Republican Party is unified in choosing this assault on women as an election year campaign theme.
What I don’t get is the reason. It’s not like the GOP runs well among women anyway, but this seems absolutely suicidal. I understand running to the base in the nomination fight, but in the age of blogs and Youtube and a whole array of organizations cataloging these actions and developing answers to them, it’s not like the nominee will have an easy time pivoting away from extremist rhetorric to a more moderate general election message.
Maybe some good will come of this. Maybe, the result will be that women turn out and crush the Republican party with such numbers that the GOP will finally realise the folly of playing politics with women’s health. I’m not hopeful of this, however. I think Obama has pretty clear sailing barring an attack on Iran or some other calamity, but I could see the GOP maintaining just enough control somewhere to make them think this tactic works.
So what’s next? What’s next is Romney’s “home” state of Michigan, where his father was a popular three-term governor. Romney has declared the state a must-win, but has backed off those words in the face of Gingrich saying that a loss in his home state would raise serious questions about Romney’s viability in the general.
Newt, the questions have been raised and they are out there waving in the breeze like Old Glory.
So what is Michigan looking like? Well, Romney’s in trouble. It seems that the home of the US auto industry did not take kindly to Romney’s willingness to let the state’s livelihood die rather than pass the auto bail out. I can’t imagine why. The beneficiary: Rick Santorum.
After Michigan is Super Tuesday. Choose a narrative:
1) Romney’s money and organization serve him well in multiple coast to coast contests, erasing the doubts raised by the Minnesota, Colorado, Missouri debacle and putting Santorum and Gingrich in their places.
2) Gingrich performs well in the south and is resurgent, making the race, a true three way affair again. (Heaven help us!)
3) Santorum puts Gingrich away and overperforms at Romney’s expense.
4) Ron Paul show’s he’s for real.
The only narrative that keeps Romney in front is number 1.