Wow we’re reaching with the metaphors aren’t we… but stay with me on this one, it makes sense.
Now, let’s take a trip in our mind’s eye to our senior of high school, or our first 2 years of college. Remember that one really hot (or just kind of hot) chick who was also an unbearable pain in the ass? Maybe (if you were better looking and more popular than I was) you had the misfortune of dating her, or at least had to do some group project in history class or were on the volleyball team with her. She was a certified King Kong mega bi-atch. She was ill-tempered, spoiled, fickle, entitled, and truly believed her shit didn’t stink. Also, despite being hot, she thought she was the hottest goddamn chick on the planet, and acted as such. This is basically what Republican voters have turned in to.
Eh? Say what? Ok… follow me on this. Ever since the Clinton years (and undoubtedly long before, but I wasn’t alive for Barry Goldwater and Nixon) Republicans have gotten really grouchy and testy. When you get grouchy and testy (and I know a thing or 2 about these emotions) you also get very touchy, and your patience for anything you don’t like dissipates… moreover, if the grouchiness persists, more and more things that you used to be able to tolerate start to really piss you off. Now maybe it’s just a coincidence that more Republicans than Democrats are married… ahem… but the phenomenon has been exacerbated, if not created, by the rise in the right-wing media machine pioneered by Rush Limbaugh and the like.
The result? Basically, Ronald Reagan was a god, and anything less (or different) than him is just damn unacceptable. Single issues get blown up to hysterical levels for the sake of ratings, and then these single issues can sway huge blocks of voters to stand behind or drop a candidate in the blink of an eye. Example? Jeez.. where to start.. Well in 2004 GW Bush’s re-election prospects were sketchy at best. He was neck-in-neck with John Kerry, a candidate that Democrats were mildly at best excited about, and independents didn’t care for at all. The Swift Boat campaign made sure there would be virtually no Republican cross-over votes.. But what may have actually turned the tide was something else. Gay Marriage.
Wait… what? Circa 2004 with the Iraq War turning into a quagmire and no WMDs found, Bin Laden not captured, 9/11 first responders getting sick and the WH stonewalling investigations, gas prices rising, the housing bubble beginning to inflate… and what got the Republican Base fired up was gay marriage? Yup. Even Fox News was keen to this (hell, they pretty much made it the cornerstone issue).
Let’s go back to the bitchy chick analogy. Much like you can plan a romantic evening all week, book a nice restaurant reservation, buy the flowers, dress nice, shower (if necessary), and then your bitchy date’s soup is a few degrees too cold and the night is ruined, testy Republican voters can be turned off a candidate very quickly, and for reasons that should pale in comparison to actual important stuff happening all around them. But then can we really be surprised by this behavior, like when the political right was in a frenzy to crucify Bill Clinton over blowjobs and cigars and lots of Congressional time and taxpayer money was spent on this while Osama Bin Laden was planning the murder of thousands of Americans?
Ok so what does this have to do with right now? Everything. Mitt Romney was “the guy,” and now he seemingly is not. It could be for a variety of things, but really I think it’s the fact that he was for universal healthcare, before he was against it. And just in the past few days, Santorum has seemingly been running away with the polls, until the past few days when Romney has fired back with a bunch of negative ads (which everyone says they hate, then totally let influence their votes) reminding people that Santorum took a lot of earmarks, as if that was a unique thing. Suddenly Michigan polls are back to neck-and-neck. Speaking of necks, remember when Newt was hot for 4 or 5 minutes?… well that lasted until, and I’m not kidding, a bunch of people polled got turned off by the whole moon colony thing. Oops. Ron Paul can’t and won’t gain any real traction, because he doesn’t want to bomb the living shit about every country that looks at us sideways. (Ron Paul is a flawed candidate for 1001 reasons, I’m just pointing out the main sticking point with most Republicans).
In short, no one is going to be good enough for the hot chick. If Brad Pitt circa 1994 walked through the door (in this case Reagan circa 1984) then they’d get excited. Short of that, noses get turned up, and we get this prevailing attitude that there are “no good choices.” While there is some truth to that, that all of these candidates are deeply flawed, and the ones that got weeded out even more so, in my estimation there wouldn’t be ANY candidate that the Republican base is really excited to get behind, just by the very nature of right-wing rhetoric over the past 20 years. This is not to say Democrats may not be headed down this same path. The left-wing base was infuriated with Obama when he didn’t manage to overturn DADT, punish Wall Street insiders, end the Bush tax breaks for the rich, solve global warming, and save the whales all within his first week in office.
But, back to the GOP and the “no one is good enough for my daughter” routine… Right now it seems to be Santroum by default, because he is rocketing super-right on social issues. But Romney is already chipping away at his economic record, and it’s working. By the very nature of right-wing politics itself, they just don’t really like anyone. This election, and every election going forward for the foreseeable future, is going to be about how much they dislike the Democrat on the other side. And yea, they sure dislike Obama a bunch. But discontent with the incumbent may not be enough. Unless, of course, gas prices get too high. Then throw the bum out.