Wednesday, February 1, 2012



Say what you will about James Carville, you have to admit that the guy is smart, very good at what he does, and always entertaining. On the night of the South Carolina primary, as Rick Santorum was getting buried, Mr. Carville made the following observation regarding Mr. Santorum’s position in the race for the GOP presidential nomination: (I have to paraphrase because, having heard, rather than read, the quote, I can’t quote precisely)

When you cut off the head of a chicken, it runs around for a little while before it falls over. Everyone realizes the chicken is dead but the chicken.

When Mr. Carville uttered those comments, it looked like he was right; by winning the South Carolina primary decisively, Newt Gingrich had shown himself to be the champion of what calls itself the conservative wing of the Republican Party. His rival for the position of “conservative” standard-bearer, Rick Santorum, finished a weak third and thus apparently had no chance for the votes and the financial support necessary to challenge the “moderate” Mitt Romney. Mr. Santorum was as dead as a chicken with its head cut off, but just didn’t know it.

However, in light of the results of last night’s Florida primary, perhaps Mr. Carville was a bit too hasty in his assessment of Mr. Santorum’s chances. Why? Even though Mr. Santorum, who opted not to spend much time in Florida due primarily to financial constraints, finished a distant third, the trouncing that Newt Gingrich took at the hands of Mitt Romney further illustrated the hopelessness of Mr. Gingrich’s candidacy. He simply has too many, to put it politely, warts, of which my loyal readers are perhaps excruciatingly aware. See my 12/11/11 post, I DON’T SALUTE NEWT. While it’s almost always foolish to use words like “never,” in this case I feel reasonably safe writing that Newt Gingrich will never, thank God, become president of the United States. As Mr. Carville also said on the night of the South Carolina primary, when one of his colleagues, noting the Gingrich presidential effort’s refusal to die, compared Mr. Gingrich to Rasputin (again, paraphrasing),

The big difference between Rasputin and Gingrich is that Rasputin would get more votes in the general election.

So if the die-hard self-styled “conservatives” are looking for an alternative to Mitt Romney, Mr. Santorum is a far better horse than Mr. Gingrich. While Mr. Santorum, despite his now not quite as ubiquitous sweater vests, is not Mr. Rogers, he is far more likeable than the prickly Mr. Gingrich. While Mr. Gingrich would be an attractive subject for a doctoral thesis in psychiatry, Mr. Santorum, at least by contrast, looks well balanced, sane, and sober. And Mr. Santorum has the humility to give glory, and credit, to God. Mr. Gingrich gives the impression that he expects God to give the glory, and the credit, to him. And then there are the contrasting personal lives of the two gentlemen, which would exhaust the ink on my Word program. The whole point is that these two are delivering the same basic message; i.e., that we don’t like big government unless the government is doing our bidding and/or reducing the size of government would have an adverse impact on us and the Constitution is wonderful until it interferes with something we would like to do. But Santorum is a far less flawed messenger than Mr. Gingrich.

It’s too late for anyone else to enter the race, and, while the prospect tantalizes the ranks of political enthusiasts like yours truly, the chances of a brokered convention nominating someone who was not in the race are both remote and somehow not right. If the forces of big government “conservatism” simply cannot stomach Mr. Romney, it is beginning to look like their only alternative is Rick Santorum. That might keep the chicken alive for a few more laps around the barnyard.

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