On the way into work yesterday morning, I listened to Neal Boortz, Atlanta’s local talk radio blowhard, as he tried valiantly to convince one of his callers that Newt Gingrich was not atop the national polls in any category. On the way home, I listened to Sean Hannity’s nationally syndicated radio show as he lamented to Herman Cain that voters for Romney hated the idea of Gingrich as the nominee, voters for Gingrich hated the idea of Romney as the nominee. Hannity saw no way for the party to get either camp to budge and come together behind one candidate.
The modern GOP base is a test tube baby, and Newt Gingrich is one of the mad scientists who concocted the volatile mix of ingredients that went into shaping their worldview. The Republican Party powers that be figured out years ago how to mold its most reliable demographic into a voting bloc who has been thoroughly indoctrinated with a common, if nonsensical, credo and a common language. this is a feat the Democrats have never been able to replicate among their own ranks. Now it looks like the GOP has to pay the piper this year as their supporters regurgitate the idea day in and day out that the “liberal media” is trying to tell them who they should choose as their presidential nominee.
I’m no fan of Newt Gingrich. In fact, “Newt Gingrich” is the latest nickname I have bestowed upon our overly yappy little terrier/Chihuahua mutt of a dog. But I have to agree with him when he insists, to the delight of many Republican voters, that the media not dictate his demise. One of the disgusting things about our political process is we don’t really want to see it work. Predicting the winner before the contest starts has become more important than actual vote counting.
If the Republican presidential primaries were a traditional 72 hole golf tournament, for instance, we would be announcing the winner on first day of the contest as soon as the players walked off the green of the fourth hole. If this were the Super Bowl, we would be declaring the winner in the first quarter, after three and half minutes of play. When only 5.7% of the 2286 possible delegates have been awarded, and the front runner, Romney, is only in the lead by 61 delegates, I can’t see what the rush is to close this thing out so quickly.
Although Mr. Romney would be my preferred candidate if I were a Republican, so much has come out about him in the last two weeks that it would be premature for any of the other candidates to throw in the towel just yet. If you were to look at Romney’s victory in Florida, not as a Gingrich apologist, just without the awe that political reporters usually have when they talk about the millions upon millions of dollars that get spent in ad buys, you could also come to the conclusion that the Romney campaign had to spend over a million dollars per percentage point to seal its latest victory.
The Republican powers that be and their media cohorts mock the principles of democracy when they insist that this presidential primary race, a race that just got started, is already over before it began. American Idol takes more time than the GOP to decide who will be the winner. Maybe I’ve got a different calculator than the ones they sell at Pundits R Us, but from where I sit, it doesn’t get to be mathematically improbable for Gingrich or Paul or Santorum to win until after Super Tuesday on March 6th. If anything, the lack of certainty over who has a lock on the nomination these last two weeks has made Mr. Romney work harder to be a better candidate, and forced him to deal with some issues he was going to have to deal with anyway in the fall.