Mitt Romney won Arizona easily and took his native Michigan by just three percentage points, but in the end he did take it. That’s good news for the Romney campaign, good news for the Republican Party and good news for the United States of America.
It helps no one to have one of our major political parties take a headlong plunge into fanaticism and willful ignorance. That’s what the nomination of either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum would represent. And while Romney’s pandering makes him a less than stalwart champion against those tendencies, under the circumstances he’ll have to do.
David Brooks described the GOP nominating process well the other day, writing:
” … we’ve had a primary campaign that isn’t really an argument about issues. It’s a series of heresy trials in which each of the candidates accuses the others of tribal impurity. Two kinds of candidates emerge from this process: first, those who are forceful but outside the mainstream; second, those who started out mainstream but look weak and unprincipled because they have spent so much time genuflecting before those who despise them.”
Romney is clearly the second type of candidate. And the sad thing is, should the former Massachusetts governor go on to win the nomination but lose the general election, his defeat will be cited by many as confirmation that the Republican Party loses when it chooses moderation. What ought to serve as a warning sign about the political perils of extremism will instead be interpreted as a validation of extremism.
Over at Redstate.com, conservatives are making that argument already, predicting a Romney loss this fall and taking solace that “at least we can be rid of him and, hopefully, his most ardent cheerleaders on November 7th.”
Yesterday, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine announced her retirement, stripping the GOP and the country of one of the last remaining moderate voices in the party, a voice that in truth had already been all but silenced. Robert Bennett of Utah has already been purged. Another of the endangered, Republican icon Richard Lugar, is fighting for his political life in Indiana against a primary challenge. As John Danforth, a former senator and himself a symbol of a wiser, saner GOP, warned last fall:
“If Dick Lugar, having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”
The forces within the party that feed on RINO meat have gotten so desperate for prey that they have turned on Orrin Hatch of Utah, a man whose conservative credentials were once considered impeccable. At this point, Hatch’s future rides on the outcome of party caucuses on March 15, and may have to survive a primary challenge after that.
It’s hard to know where all this leads, but the sense continues to grow that we’re building toward something noted in the history books as an important political turning point. I do know that when the circus comes to town on March 6, the Georgia primary, I’m picking up a Republican ballot and voting for MItt.
In your heart, you know that’s right.
– Jay Bookman