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Mon Dec 26, 2011, 10:08 PM

FRANK RICH: The Molotov Party

The Molotov Party
For the new GOP, conservative isn’t nearly radical enough.

By Frank Rich
Published Dec 26, 2011

Even those who loathe Karl Rove’s every word may be hard-pressed to dispute his pre-Christmas summation of the Republican circus so far: “the most unpredictable, rapidly shifting, and often downright inexplicable primary race I’ve ever witnessed.” And all this, as he adds, before a single vote has been cast. The amazing GOP race has also been indisputably entertaining, spawning a new television genre, the debate as reality show. Installment No. 12, broadcast by ABC in the prime-time ghetto of a Saturday night in early December, drew more viewers (7.6 million) than that week’s episode of The Biggest Loser. It’s escapist fun for the entire family (Hispanic and gay families excluded). Or it would be were it not for the possibility that one of the contestants could end up as president of the United States.

Rove does have one thing wrong, however. His party’s primary contest, while unpredictable, is not inexplicable. It is entirely explicable. The old Republican elites simply prefer to be in denial about what the explanation is. You can’t blame them. To parse this spectacle is to face the prospect that, for all the GOP’s triumphal declarations that Barack Obama is doomed to a one-term presidency, the winner of the Republican nomination may not reclaim the White House after all.

In the standard analysis of the race, which the embattled GOP Establishment is eager to believe, the rapid ascent and implosion of each wacky presidential contender is seen mainly as a passing judgment on Mitt Romney, the android who just can’t close the deal and improve his unyielding 25 percent average in polls of the Republican electorate. The Old Guard professes to have no worries. That steady 25 percent has been good enough to induce much of the press to portray Romney as the “presumed” (if not the “commanding”) front-runner ever since Beltway handicappers like Mark Halperin of Time and Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post labeled him as such early in 2010. One day or another Romney will surely make good on that bet. He has money, organization, and the looks of a president (or perhaps an audio-animatronic facsimile of one). Eventually primary voters will exhaust all conceivable alternatives and accept that no Chris Christie will descend from the heavens as a deus ex machina. Then they will come home to the 25 percent leader of the pack, because that’s what well-mannered Republicans always do. Add to this scenario the GOP conviction that much of the electorate shares its judgment that Obama is an abject failure—he’s “an incumbent nobody likes,” as Peggy Noonan framed it—and the presidency must be in the bag.

But this narrative is built on a patently illogical assumption: that a 25 percent minority is the trunk wagging the Republican elephant. What makes anyone seriously assume that the 75 percent will accommodate itself to that etiolated 25 percent rather than force the reverse? That lopsided majority of the GOP is so angry at the status quo that it has been driven to embrace, however fleetingly, some of the most manifestly unqualified, not to mention flakiest, presidential contenders in American history. The 75 percent is determined to take a walk on the wild side. This is less about rejecting Mitt—who’s just too bland a figure to inspire much extreme emotion con or pro—than it is about fervently wanting something else. While the 75 percent has been splintered among the non-Romney candidates, it is largely unified in its passionate convictions. Just because Trump and Cain have folded their tents doesn’t mean those convictions have fled with them, or that financial underwriters like David Koch (a major Cain enthusiast) have closed their checkbooks...

http://nymag.com/news/frank-rich/gop-2012-1/


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Reply FRANK RICH: The Molotov Party (Original post)
FourScore Dec 2011 OP
cthulu2016 Dec 2011 #1
jaysunb Dec 2011 #2
tblue Dec 2011 #3

Response to FourScore (Original post)

Mon Dec 26, 2011, 10:30 PM

1. This is a very good piece, but Rich overstates his argument

He says there is no reason to think the whacked-out 75% anti-Romney vote will coalese around Romney.

But it doesn't have to. Only a fraction of it has to.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Mon Dec 26, 2011, 10:54 PM

2. Great read. k&R

as usual.

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Response to FourScore (Original post)

Mon Dec 26, 2011, 11:23 PM

3. I have missed frank rich!

Thanks foe sharing. He's my favorite.

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