Crazy v. Silly

You’ll get a kick out of this Guardian post by Charles Pierce. Just a snip:

Within the struggling Republican party, there is the Angry party and the Crazy party. Sometimes – in fact, often – those two overlap. This year, those two elements between them have produced in the current Republican field the single biggest public fruitcake in the history of electoral government. At the start, it looked like Romney might accede to the leadership of that wing of the modern GOP that occasionally can be referred to as “not insane”. (In 2000, John McCain was the unquestioned leader of this faction, and he’s spent the last seven years denying it, which is how the post became vacant.)

Romney had the money and he had the record to disenthrall his party from the influence of the extremists that have taken it over the cliff and onto the rocks below. In this, he was powerfully equipped to do his party and his country a great service. Instead, against all odds, he’s spent two years carving out yet another political subset. To borrow a famous bit from the Monty Python crew, Mitt Romney seems bound and determined to fashion himself into the leader of the Silly party. …

… Romney was a decent Republican governor for Massachusetts in that he largely let things happen and stayed out of the way. He signed on to a healthcare reform bill that was driven by the Democratic state legislature and, for all his bloviating about it elsewhere, Romney pretty much let gay marriage slide safely into the mainstream. In fact, he largely gave up on the job a full two years before leaving it.

This person is almost unrecognisable on the presidential campaign stage. He has adopted weird, angry positions completely dissonant with his personality as a smooth handler of other people’s money. One minute, he’s Torquemada, babbling about doubling Guantánamo and lecturing McCain, of all people, about the efficacy of torture. The next, he’s running a television spot about immigration in which he makes Tom Tancredo sound like Emma Lazarus. (Subsequently, on that same matter, Romney has accomplished the not-inconsiderable feat of making Rudy Giuliani look reasonable on an issue of public policy.) At some point, Romney should be forced to make a speech while his consultants stand next to him, drinking glasses of water.

I do believe that what’s left of the Old Guard pre-Goldwater/Reagan GOP look to Romney to stop the insanity. However, to get the nomination Romney has to prove his angry/crazy creds to the base.

Frank Rich calls Romney “a glib salesman who seems a dead ringer for Don Draper, a Madison Avenue ad man of no known core convictions who works on the Nixon campaign in the TV series, ‘Mad Men.'” Pretty much my impression. The Old Guard may look to Romney to bring on the Return of Normalcy. But I don’t see much in the way of passion for Romney among the grassroots.

And then there’s Huckabee. Rich thinks Huckabee may be the Republican Barack Obama.

Both men have a history of speaking across party and racial lines. Both men possess that rarest of commodities in American public life: wit. Most important, both men aspire (not always successfully) to avoid the hyper-partisanship of the Clinton-Bush era.

Though their views on issues are often antithetical, Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Obama may be united in catching the wave of an emerging zeitgeist that is larger than either party’s ideology. An exhausted and disillusioned public may be ready for a replay of the New Frontier pitch of 1960. …

… The real reason for Mr. Huckabee’s ascendance may be that his message is simply more uplifting — and, in the ethical rather than theological sense, more Christian — than that of rivals whose main calling cards of fear, torture and nativism have become more strident with every debate. The fresh-faced politics of joy may be trumping the five-o’clock-shadow of Nixonian gloom and paranoia favored by the entire G.O.P. field with the sometime exception of John McCain.

Before we get all soft and gooey about what a swell guy Huckabee is, note that as recently as 1992 he was calling for AIDS patients to be quarantined and said that hollywood celebrities fund aids research from their own pockets, rather than federal health agencies.

Seems to me that over the past year or so Republican voters have fallen in and out of love with a succession of candidates — first Giuliani, then Thompson, now Huckabee. But the War and Profits factions in the GOP hate Huckabee and will do their best to undermine him, which makes the odds he will be the nominee very long, indeed.