Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Santorum Surges From Behind

Whatever the final tally in last night's Iowa caucuses, that's the obvious headline, given what we know about Santorum. But while humor is an effective political weapon, we have to be careful what we wish for. I can still remember activists hoping for Reagan to get the nomination in 1980, or George H.W. Bush to get the nod in '88, on the grounds that they'd be the easiest to beat.

And as ludicrous as "President Santorum" sounds today, if the economy goes south again, then whoever ends up with the Republican nomination can beat Obama. Under those circumstances, we have to hope that the least crazy among them is the eventual nominee - that is, the least crazy after Jon Huntsman drops out, anyway.

And while, arguably, we might get better results out of President Romney with a Democratic-controlled Congress than from President Obama with a Republican-controlled Congress, the reality is that if the economy deteriorates enough for Obama to be beaten, the GOP will be in control of all three branches, and it won't much matter how sane the president is.

But on the other hand, the best chance at any decent legislation over the coming years is for Obama to win re-election in a landslide, with coattails long enough to hold the Senate (a dicey proposition even in a best-case scenario), and to sweep Pelosi back into the Speaker's chair. So the thing to hope for, first of all, is that the US economy continues to improve and that fiscal conservatives in Europe don 't drag down the global economy with their folly.

And second of all, we have to hope that whoever wins the GOP nomination is as crazy as possible. Since Herman Cain is gone, and given the deep (and justifiable) loathing for Gingrich within the party elites, that makes Senator Man-On-Dog the most plausible candidate for craziest potential nominee and landslide victim.

Of course, back in reality, Citizens United means that GOP party elites are going to nominate who they damn well please and make any chance of a decent Congress a hard-fought battle under any circumstances. So we might as well enjoy the comedy while we can.

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