Saturday, January 28, 2012

Primary Incivility

For some time now I have been commenting on the general nastiness that has enveloped the Republican nomination process. As I see it, the process if awash in negative emotion and incivility.

Victor Davis Hanson tries to move the warring parties toward comity by making it a no-fault situation. Tactically speaking, he can note that both Newt and Mitt are indulging in the same kind of negative campaigning, but, truthfully, Romney bears the greater part of the responsibility.

It does not make sense that a sane and sensible man like Mitt Romney would be leading a scorched earth campaign, but he is. And he should be held accountable.

Certainly, it’s not a winning strategy.

Hanson offers a cogent analysis, coupled with a warning:

But something about this particular spat seems nastier than, say, Romney–McCain or McCain–Bush (and remember, neither of those eventual nominees won the popular vote in the fall), or even Ford–Reagan and Reagan–Bush.  Romney supporters are not just for Mitt, but furiously seem to loathe Gingrich; Gingrich’s team equally seems to hate Romney. This is especially odd given that on the issues, there is very little actual difference between the two candidates at all (which might, counterintuitively, explain the animus: personal characteristics, style, comportment, class, and background instead are the main differences between the candidates, hence the clumsily dubbed “Tea Party vs. Country Club” rivalry).  

The question then arises whether, in the event Romney wins, Gingrich supporters will get out and support him, or, should Newt get the nomination, Romney people will fall into line. So many op-eds and TV ads are popping up so quickly that it almost seems impossible that any of these critics could ever endorse someone whom they have so thoroughly trashed in print or video — and whose line of argumentation will be drawn upon by Team Obama. At their worst, is not either Romney or Gingrich vastly preferable to Obama? I would think so.

Meanwhile, we are only vaguely aware that 2011 GDP growth did not even crack 2 percent, another puffed-up subsidized green company hit the dirt, and Obama climbs in the polls even as he should be having his worse quarter ever, given the debt, Keystone, recess appointments, and defense cuts. In military terms, strategy would be almost surreal: first, defeat and utterly humiliate a friendly rival, then expect to enlist what survives to form a new unified and harmonious army to defeat the heretofore untouched common enemy.

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