Historian Rick Perlstein on why you can snooze through Iowa and wake to a Romney nomination sometime in 2012 (my emphasis and paragraphing):
It’s a curious thing. I study Republicans for a living—I’ve done so for almost 15 years. I write books about their history; I write articles about their present. But these days, you probably couldn’t find a political junky in America less interested to the supposedly hotly contested race for the Republican nomination.
I called it for Willard “Mitt” Romney well over three years ago—the day he finished second to John McCain in 2008. That made him “next in line;” and our modern Republican Party pretty much always nominates the next in line, or at the very least The Logical Choice Of The Party Establishment.
In 1968, it was Nixon, the former vice president. In ’76 it was the accidental president, Gerald Ford. The guy who came in second in ’76, Ronald Reagan, was nominated in 1980; Vice President Bush, the man who finished second in ’80, in ’88. Old Man Dole in ’96. Son of Bush in 2000. Mighty McCain in 2008.
So why are we hearing about Ron Paul? According to Perlstein, it’s the “desperate attempts of the political press to drum up evidence of a competitive race”. (Sound familiar?)
Another pattern: the desperate attempts of the political press to drum up evidence of a competitive race, whatever the historical lessons that point obstinately in the opposite direction.
It’s not a hard argument to make: “on the ground,” things always look competitive. The vaunted party “base” plain their disgust with the sell-out moderate party elites want to shove down their throats, dutifully falling in love with a series of far-right saviors in the earlier innings: President Pat Robertson, who nearly won Iowa in 1988; President Pat Buchanan, who took New Hampshire in 1992; and All Hail Huckabee the choice of Iowa caucus-goers in 2008—but not before Fred Thompson’s moment in the sun later in the year, and after Rudy Giuliani dazzled conservatives who hadn’t yet figured out that he was a cross-dresser with gay roommates[.]
The same thing always happens next: The insurgents fall by the wayside. The base comes around. Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line.
You would think the political press would have figured this all out by now.
It’s a rather nice piece, well written and well reasoned. There’s a nice point about Goldwater (the reason all the above is true) that’s worth your thought.
Romney–Someone vs Obama–Clinton? If so, one slot left to fill.