Monday, December 26, 2011

"Frank Rich on the Republican Party's Enraged Populist Movement"

Frank Rich:
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? MORE...

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