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Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Nevada Caucus And Beyond

Feb 5th, 2012

I am not sure this is actually even news but, yes, Mitt Romney won yesterday's Nevada GOP Caucus. Thanks in no small part to a huge turnout of Mormon voters (roughly 25% of ballots cast) and a ground game he's had in place since before the last Presidential election, there is no surprise in this. It's worth noting that Romney actually received less votes than he did when he took the state in 2008. This exposes the serious disgruntlement among the rank and file that the GOP establishment continues to fail to address.

How Newt Gingrich proceeds, along with his increasingly complicated motivations, is a more interesting story. As Reuters reports, he's still showing no signs of pulling out:

"I'm not going to withdraw," Gingrich told reporters, repeating his frequent vow to continue all the way to the Republican nominating convention in Florida in August. "I'm actually pretty happy with where we are."

Where some see this as delusion or simply more evidence of his "rage," it's not merely the lust for vengeance that keeps Newt fighting. His continuing campaign is, in part, a shrewd response to a serious populist rebellion of self-described conservatives against the GOP. Many who ordinarily draft missives against the evils of "liberalism" have turned their attention to their own "leaders."

Steve McCann writes:

"The machinations utilized in the past (with the exception of Ronald Reagan who was not the Establishment's choice) to maneuver the primary voters into choosing the previously anointed Mitt Romney has now come out in the open as the awakened silent majority is no longer willing to be fooled or taken for granted."

"...the collective and coordinated vitriol and false or misleading accusations against Newt Gingrich by virtually all in the Establishment, led by the so-called conservative media, is unprecedented. Twice he has arisen, after being vilified and shunted aside, to challenge Mitt Romney and perhaps win the nomination; but the fact that he has been successful in fighting for conservative ideals but in an unorthodox and often contentious, and at times unreliable, fashion has the Establishment in near hysterics. All the other challengers were easily eliminated or made irrelevant, as they did not have the money or experience of knowing how the game is played, but Newt refused to just slink away. Never has the Republican Establishment trained its guns on any one candidate in such an unbridled and unrestrained way."

The GOP establishment has managed to garner an enormous amount of sympathy for Newt. Which is, in itself, amazing. The possibility that he could begin to outperform expectations in the weeks ahead as a result of this is growing. This doesn't mean he can win. It does mean he could be a a force the party actually has to deal with at the convention.

Picking up on McCann's piece, Kurt Schlichter calls for a full scale, intra-party battle:

"The GOP Establishment we keep hearing about is real, and it is also doomed.

That will not change whether the Establishment’s candidate Mitt Romney wins in November or not. After the election, the battle really starts; what is happening now are just skirmishes in a fight for control of the Republican Party. Not the soul of the party – if it had one, it auctioned it off long ago – but the mechanism of the party. The Grand Old Party matters only as a vehicle to carry our banner forward.

To do that, we need to seize control, and we do that by destroying the Establishment starting next November 7th."

Where Kurt is wrong is in his absurd assertions that the Tea Party will somehow be the future face of the establishment. The fight he calls for, however, is already underway. And, the establishment is "doomed."

Newt is the only experienced Republican to take advantage of this anger. He has invoked the "establishment" endlessly.

Keith Koffler reads the tea leaves better than McCann or Schlichter:

"The conservative Republican base understands Newt Gingrich better than the GOP establishment thinks.

They are aware of his intermittent apostasies and occasional adventures with crackpot policy. They know Mitt Romney is the one with executive experience and that Gingrich can’t really run things.

And they don’t want Gingrich to run things. They want him to destroy things.

If you are in Washington and you see a member of the Republican establishment, say, walking down K Street, wrap your arms around them. He or she needs a hug, because probably for the first time ever in a Republican presidential primary the establishment is in danger of being completely ignored."

I think it's unlikely Newt will be able to resist the opportunity to settle so many scores. Certainly not when so many members of the base are more interested in a reckoning than an election.

Again, this looks very much like the Democratic field of 1980. Which is great for progressivism. Where that vulgar slug-fest pushed the country into twelve solid years of GOP dominated policy, the rabid and vicious extremism ahead may do the same for the Democrats.

Go Newt.

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