Thursday, January 5, 2012

Still, a Party Divided

Yesterday, while commenting on the results of the Iowa caucuses, I suggested that the Republican Party is now Mitt Romney’s party.

Since it is, I added, “a party … divided against itself,” then Romney himself bears responsibility for the division. Last month I introduced the same theme in a post entitled: "A Party Divided Against Itself Cannot Win."

This morning Dan Henninger picked up these themes in his column in the Wall Street Journal.

He summarizes the theme in his subtitle: “The divider of the Republican Party is its frontrunner, Mitt Romney.”

He opens on this note: “'A house divided against itself cannot stand,’ is attributed mainly to Newt Gingrich's and Barack Obama's favorite Republican, Abraham Lincoln, but its appeal to unity has been around since the Gospel of Mark. As is its habit, the Republican Party is trying to affirm this eternal truth one more time.

“Much as it benefits the incumbent president, there is little point in not admitting the obvious: The Republican divider is the party's front-runner, Mitt Romney. This is the one clear message delivered the past half year by the patient people of Iowa.

“Once all the other top-tier Republican presidential candidates chose not to run, the heavyweight Mr. Romney should have cruised well above the bench-warmers who opposed him in Iowa. It never happened.

“Mr. Romney had already run in 2008's Iowa caucuses. You can guess what his vote percentage was in 2008. That's right, 25.1%, essentially what he got in his eight-vote win Tuesday.”

I saw the cause of the Party’s divisions in the relentlessly negative campaign that Romney has been running. Scorched earth, we may call it, but Romney’s attacks on his fellow Republicans have produced a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. They have demoralized the party faithful and bode ill for the general election.

Add to that Romney’s failure to articulate a positive agenda and you have the makings of a divided party.

Henninger offers a different take on the Iowa caucuses, one that is well worth examining. He sees voters yearning for candidates who have a consistent political message and a consistent set of beliefs. That would mean Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.

When you vote for them you know what you are voting for. You may not agree with everything they are saying but at least they been consistent.

With Romney you never know who you are voting for. Even today, Henninger documents, Romney tends to hedge his bets by taking both sides of important issues.

He adds that the rationale for the Romney candidacy bespeaks cynicism.

Henninger writes: “The problem is that any campaign running on a mixture of electability and inevitability this year is by definition filling the atmosphere with a lot of cynicism.”

Republicans are voting for Romney because the party establishment has declared him to be both electable and inevitable.

They also seem to believe that they can do business with him. Romney is helping Republican grandees to tamp down the menace posed by the unruly masses of the Tea Party.

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