Believe it or not, it all might depend on whether the “Tea Party” wants to just watch and sip tea (kinda metaphorically), whether this grass-rootsyish (although totally corporate-backed) “movement” is all spent form their 15 minutes of pseudo-fame, or whether all that Obama/socialist-hatin’ fire and rhetoric still burns hot enough to organize and throw their weight behind a candidate. Well, here’s the rub. They hate Romney (for 101 reasons before they even get to the Mormon thing). Even more than John McCain. Probably nearly as much as Obama. They are not all that wild about Newt and his 3 necks, 3 wives, and numerous ethics problems when he was S.O.T.H. Sure, they like Santorum, last standing in the wingnut bible-thumpin’ ultra-right club..but most are savvy enough to realize he couldn’t win a race for dog catcher in a rigged election. How about Ron Paul the…isolationist? errr.. no. So what to do if you’re a frothing hard-right malcontent all fired up and pissed off that they took our jerbs?!
Good question. Well, it hasn’t been a good few months for the Tea Party and their ilk. The whole Komen Foundation/PPOA debacle blew up in their faces like a drunk frat boy acting on a dare with a roman candle. Ok, that wasn’t a TP (that’s for Tea Party) sponsored thing per se, but it’s borne of the same beast. Then there’s TP sweetheart Christine O’Donell, whose PAC is all but broke. Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry were TP darlings but are now none too popular, even in their home states, after their failed presidential runs.
The more the hard-right power grabs, the more moderates and right-leaning dems, who have been fleeing from Obama in droves from about mid-2009 due to unrealistically rosy predictions about the pace of the economic “recovery,” (if that’s actually a thing), are turned off. The eventual GOP nominee needs the independents to win, plain and simple. Moreover, the GOP has benefited greatly by left-wing malaise, much in the way many conservatives sat out 2008, beaten down by 8 years of Cheney/Bush, and none too excited about McCain/Pain..err.. Palin. Hard right incursions into privacy, the availability of contraception, self-defeating ultra hard-line stands on immigration, and the never-ending fight to criminalize abortion are waking the sleeping giant that was/is the Obama/Democratic ground game.
The latest polls are increasingly painting a better picture for Obama, and a bleaker picture for any potential GOP contender. The economy does seem to be gaining some traction, finally, and GOP attempts at stonewalling have been met with furious opposition from constituents. Wahh.. Such is the danger of laying everything wrong with the country at the feet of the incumbent. It worked with Bush, because in late 2008, everything was shitty and turning shittier by the hour. Namely, the economy. And today, the economy still sucks, but is apparently trending in the right direction. The stock market is robust, we’re more or less out of Iraq, there’s end in sight for Afghanistan, and oh yea.. Obama gave the order to kill that Bin Laden guy. Yes, shit with Iran is getting scary, and Obama is damned if he does or doesn’t on that front. Still only traditional, generic “Dems are weak on defense” lines will be of any potential value, since Bin Laden, bombing Lybia, and strong rhetoric with Egypt and Syria have not left a lot of exposed flank where any Dem. presidential candidate would usually be vulnerable. Typical hawkish lines will work with the entrenched conservative crowd, not so much with moderates and centrist Dems, who, if anything think Obama may be too involved in foreign military adventures.
So, where can they hit Obama, how effective will it be, and most importantly, who’s the guy? Well, let’s back up a bit and once again talk about the TP. While my conservative friends gleefully trumpeted Obama’s sagging poll numbers and got excited over the TP, as if it really was a grass-roots movement of a majority of centrist Americans all pissed off about Obamacare and socialism and terking our jerbs!, those of us who were a little more objective tried to warn them that.. umm… yea, that’s not really what’s happening here. I’ve seen this crowd before. It’s the lady who torpedoed the already flailing McCain campaign on national TV telling him she’s worried that Obama’s an “A-Rab.” It’s the frothing anti-abortion crowd that shows up to completely unrelated stuff like marathons and breast cancer walks (understand why now?) It’s the hard-right theocrats who don’t understand why the Ten Commandments shouldn’t be in every classroom and the King James Bible shouldn’t be required reading in every public school. It’s Orly Taitz and the birthers, whose latest attempt at proving Obama’s not eligible to be president was pretty much literally laughed out of court by a judge in freakin’ red-ass state Georgia. Also, yea, it’s umm.. not so much grass roots as cash roots… funded and inflamed by those who gain financially from the rhetoric and rancor.
Herein lies the problem. The GOP nominee, whomever it is, is gonna need the TP, or whatever smoldering ruins are left of that movement. Elections are decided when the middle decides to lean to one side, and the base is motivated. Much like my liberal friends made the mistake of assuming the entire goddamned country took a huge ideological shift to the left when Obama got elected, the political right also incorrectly assumed the country had a huge case of buyer’s remorse, and were really actually somewhere to the right of Jesse Helms, just waiting to unleash all kinds of hard-right whup-ass on Washington. Well, no, sorry.. you were wrong too. The far ideological left and right continue their flawed notion that the majority of Americans are on their side, for whatever reason. And let’s be honest.. what passes for the conservative “base” at this point.. well, it’s not exactly attracting lots of moderates.
So where does the “ugly” part come in? Well, if we look past what’s already been established – like Newt’s way with the ladies, Mitt’s history of animal cruelty, Ron Paul’s nutty racist rants, and Santorum’s belief that homosexuals are on par with those who commit bestiality, there’s this stark reality: Should this battle carry on into the summer, the remaining GOP candidates, and this has to make any remaining non-rabid ideologue Republican strategists shudder, will have no choice but to go all in and pander as hard as they can to the conservative base. These guys. Oy… vey..