Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, January 4th, 2012.

The Real Story

Republican Party

Charles Pierce:

This is the beginning of a watershed election in the history of the country. It is the first presidential campaign that we have had since the turn of the last century that has to be contested while everyone involved has to cooperate in the fiction that the whole process isn’t completely for sale.

I watched this happen in Iowa over the last three days, and I continue to be astonished why this isn’t the only story being told. This is something epochal. It is something that happens very, very rarely. It is the dawn of the age of thoroughly weaponized money, encouraged by every branch of the national government, most especially including the judiciary. Remember back all those years when Barack Obama looked down at the justices from the podium in the House chamber and read them out for Citizens United, and Sam Alito shook his head and mouthed, “Not true” visibly on TV?

Not true?

In Iowa, Mitt Romney’s super-PAC outspent the actual Romney campaign by a 2-1 margin.

Not true?

How do you like your blue-eyed boy, Mr. Death?

Romney wins by 8 votes, and Dick Morris calls it a “huge win.” This is bare naked spin, of course.

According to number crunchers, Romney spent $113.07 for each vote, while Santorum paid only $1.65. Romney’s percentage of the vote was actually less than in 2008.

Charles Pierce again:

Not that this won’t be entertaining, but Santorum’s year-long schmoozing with the evangelical base here garnered him exactly the same amount of support that Willard Romney managed to produce with a few weeks of an advertising blitz. That would not have been possible in 2008. We will see going forward how far Santorum’s sweater-vest and his gooey piety gets him when he starts wearing the bullseye, which should begin about 22 seconds from now.

Another interesting bit of info — last night the teevee bobbleheads were calling the turnout “record.” But this morning I read that the number of Republicans participating in the caucus actually was lower than in 2008:

If you read that Weigel post and do the math, 91,000 Republicans voted last night, versus 102,000 in 2008. The raw vote count was slightly higher this year, but that’s because Democrats and Independents decided to vote in the caucus, either due to Paulism or lack of anything better to do on a cold winter night.

The “Weigel post” is “Rickrolled: Three Lessons From Iowa.” The third lessons, already covered, is that Republican enthusiasm is much overrated. The first lesson is that the voters who identified themselves with the Tea Party are not small government libertarians after all; they more than not voted for Santorum. “Rick Perry, who campaigned desparately on the issues Tea Partiers say they care about — no earmarks! Term limits! Part time Congress! — got 14 percent of this vote. Michele Bachmann got 9 percent of it.”

The second lesson is that when money is speech, people can ignore it. Rick Perry spent $4 million in ads — $817 per vote — trying to sell himself as the guy who will protect us from gay soldiers, and came away with 10 percent.

But doesn’t that mean money doesn’t matter? Peter Hamby writes that the Newt surge “was torpedoed by a barrage of negative ads and mailers from Ron Paul’s campaign and ‘super PACs’ backing Mitt Romney.” And one could assume that if they’d had a couple more weeks, the same forces could have torpedoed the Santorum surge as well.

One might also assume there is a lot of giggling in the White House right about now.

Latest news — Bachmann is dropping out. No big surprise. Bachmann supporters are more likely to gravitate to Santorum than to Romney, but we’re not talking vast numbers of people here. Perry is expected to drop out any minute now. Word is that Newt is going to run negative ads against Romney, to try to take him down.

And as for Ron Paul, do read Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Update: Good discussion in the comments with Ta-Nehisi Coates’s post. The demonization of Obama and consecration of Paul going on on the Left both come from the intense desire to find the one magic candidate, the “savior,” who will single-handedly fix everything. Ironically, those of us who still support Obama more often than not are not the “Obamabots” but people who saw him realistically to begin with.

Likewise, it’s not hard to see that if Paul were elected President, his supporters would be profoundly disappointed and soon turn to someone else to “save” them.

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