Friday, February 24, 2012

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Another Day, Another Bubble

Readers of this column know that The Prairie Editor said right after
it filled with hot air that the poll bubble of Rick Santorum would not last
long. Nevertheless, the former senator from Pennsylvania has enjoyed
several heady days of leading in many state and national polls, and of
shaking up the Republican establishment which had anticipated Mitt
Romney winning his party's nomination for president. As the last of
more than six or seven persons mentioned for the top GOP spot on the
2012 ticket, and to have "bubbles" showing them briefly ahead of the
long-time frontrunner, it was probably inevitable that Mr. Santorum
would have his moment in the political sun. But there was a reason he
did not emerge earlier, and had to wait until everyone else had their
turn in the spotlight.

That reason was telegraphed in 2006 when Mr. Santorum, after two
terms in the U.S. house and two in the U.S. senate, was defeated by 18
points for re-election in Pennsylvania. Although Mr. Santorum worked
hard and persistently in Iowa to gain attention and votes, and ultimately
did win the Iowa caucus, he was not vetted until very late in the process.
That vetting has revealed someone who held contrary views on social
issues when he entered politics to the ones he now so passionately
espouses, and who behaved as a typical politician throughout most of his
time in the nation's capital. In regard to the views he now holds, many of
them are expressed in such absolutist terms that, while they may please
some in the Republican "anybody-but-Romney" base, they are almost
certain to turn away most in the political center that is the vital component
of victory every U.S. presidential election.

Predictions are always a risky endeavor in politics, but it now appears that
Mr Santorum's bubble is bursting in advance of the Arizona and Michigan
primaries, and Mr. Romney will win both. If this happens, the media, so
sensitive to its own opportunities to create melodramatic news environments,
will proclaim Mr. Romney "back on track" until Super Tuesday when, like
a "ghost of Christmas past," Newt Gingrich will likely arise one more time
from the media-created political ashes to be that "last" obstacle to Mr.
Romney's nomination in Tampa.

In fact, Charles Dickens could have not written a better script for this cycle
of the presidential election. Mr. Obama says it is "the best of times," and
the Republicans contend it is "the worst of times." The Prairie Editor does
not have to labor with difficulty to suggest that the latter argument will
likely prevail in voters' minds on election day.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman
All rights reserved.

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