It’s not surprising to me that while the Washington Post inadvertently proves my point about the Santorum double team carried out by Paul and Romney in Wednesday night’s debate, they fail to understand that Santorum represents one leg of the conservative stool, as the media celebrates Paul and Romney attacking a leg on which Santorum is not really resting. First of all, let us be clear that Ron Paul is not conservative. He’s libertarian. Second, let us be likewise clear that Romney is a liberal masquerading as a moderate. For Paul to attack Santorum from the right is no surprise, at least on economic and liberty grounds, but for Romney to join in is a bit like being attacked by Barack Obama for being too liberal. There’s something annoying about an attack from Romney on earmarks, as he’s lobbied for them in his own gubernatorial career. It’s an inconsistent attack demonstrating Romney’s desperation that shows how willing he is to recalibrate himself to situational demands.
More, the double-team(and this gives that term new meaning) clearly demonstrates that Santorum was the victim of a set-up Wednesday night. The questions were scripted, the audience was stacked, and Paul and Romney carried out their hit. The thing many people are missing, including the Washington Post, is that in truth, Santorum actually managed to bear up well.
One of t he things people claim is that they want politicians to tell them the truth. I think that’s a bunch of aimless happy talk, because when they do, they are frequently crucified for it. Whether you like it or not, or agree with it or not, what Santorum said on Wednesday night about politics being a “team sport” is true: You simply can’t get legislation through if you’re a perfect purist. Witness Ron Paul. His legislative agenda witnesses few actual successes, but it’s easy to be uncompromising in this context if all one is really doing is making a political statement with no actual intention of implementing one’s ideas.
Of course, some compromises aren’t really that at all, but are instead complete surrenders. Knowing the difference between real compromise and surrender is important to succeed in a legislative branch that consists of 536 voting members(when the Vice President presides over the Senate.) When Santorum admitted that while serving as Senate Republican Conference Chair, he had to push bills he didn’t necessarily like, that’s true, I’m certain. The problem is, most Americans don’t know that position exists, or what its holder does, if they’re familiar with the term at all.
This is a year when such nuances may not matter to voters. Instead, many seem caught up in the huff-and-puff of the media memes of the day, as they come and go. Details don’t matter, and I think this is what Romney’s banking on. As I concluded some time ago, this whole primary season seems to be a scripted affair, as one after another of the alternatives to Romney have been pushed hard, obtained front-runner status briefly, and been ditched with a clearly coordinated effort to keep Romney out front. Go back to the beginning, and look at the charts.
Bachmann went up, won the straw poll, and was chopped up by Perry’s entrance as she was portrayed as a wide-eyed loon with simple picture selection in the media. Combined with a few gaffes on her part, she was quickly eclipsed. Perry rose, and became front-runner, and stayed there until an “oops” moment in a debate that added to his previous weak debate performances, and soon he too was on his way down. Then we had the rise of Herman Cain, and right on cue, as he had attained the top of the polls, here came the stories claiming he was guilty of this, that, and the other. Down he went, and then along came Gingrich.
In Iowa, Paul, Santorum and Romney all hammered on Gingrich, and this sent him downward, but the problem is that Newt wouldn’t stay down, so they hammered on him a bit more, Drudge going nuclear, and Rick Santorum wound up the beneficiary. Today, Santorum should realize what has been done as they are now doing to him what they did to Gingrich, and Cain, and Perry, and Bachmann, and anybody else who rises to challenge Romney. The most disappointing part to me is how willing conservative voters have been to be driven along in this way.
It’s bad enough that it’s been plain for some time how this is being managed, but when I see Santorum and Gingrich getting sucked into this, I think they’re both missing the point. They’re both being picked off, one at a time, but rather than put their heads together to cut off the head of the snake, they spent too much time going after one another. Finally, I think the two of them are beginning to realize it, and if Santorum didn’t see this last night, he never will. If he’s smart, he will try to form a strategic alliance with Gingrich much as Paul has done with Romney. This is what Gingrich began to do before he was ambushed in late January, when he brought along Cain and Perry in support of his candidacy.
If Romney and Paul can get together for their own nefarious reasons, it might be time for Gingrich and Santorum to consider the same. I think it’s fair to suggest that a strategic alliance aiming at the elimination of Romney is a good idea, but the only way they’re going to do that is to begin exposing Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts. Romney likes to talk about his time in the private sector, and his management of the Olympics, but he avoids talking about his record as governor, except to tell us he managed to balance his state’s budget four years in a row. What he doesn’t advertise is the fact that it is required under law. Santorum made that point in Wednesday night’s debate, but I think the significance is lost on some people.
Will Romney ever face the sort of examination the others have undergone? It’s looking unlikely, as the media is saving all its best dirt for the general election. Bank on it. I Paul and Romney succeed in making this a two man show, Romney will win the nomination, and Paul will be able to exact some sort of promise for his role. I think it’s fair to say that if Gingrich and Santorum don’t wake up to this reality, they’re in big trouble. While most clear-thinking Americans have noted the apparent Paul-Romney tag-team, the two people who most need to notice it and work against it have not: Gingrich and Santorum must start to think about how to coordinate a bit. Knock out Romney, and it’s a new ball-game.