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Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Excruciating Choice: To Hope for a Romney or a Perry Nomination?

Over at No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve M. asks Is Beltway Denial of GOP Insanity the Reason Romney Won't Fight Back? Essentially, Steve points out that a large portion of the media Village can't bring itself to admit that the modern GOP has basically gone insane because it hurts them too much to acknowledge this. (For my money, this is because they're afraid that recognizing the modern GOP's insanity would sound too "partisan" and thus would damage their self-identification as "politically savvy -- yet at the same time politically innocent -- insiders"). He suggests that Mitt Romney actually believes the Villagers when they assert that large swathes of the GOP still consist of reasonable, moderate voters and that those voters are sufficient to prevent Rick Perry from stealing what Romney thinks is his nomination.

Like Steve, I don't believe that -- I think the nomination is going to be decided by the increasingly unhinged teabaggers and their supporters, who are after all the most active and strident group within today's GOP. And so I think Steve is onto something when he suggests that "denial of the GOP's psychopathy harms the one not-quite-crazy Republican still standing in the race." Truthfully, though, I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.

On the one hand, and for strictly short-term political reasons, I think I'd be delighted to see Perry get the nomination over Romney. Were Romney to get the nod, it would only provide further cover for the Villagers to continue denying that the modern Republican Party has gone off the rails. Moreover, I think Romney would have a real chance at winning the general election given how terrible the economy is likely to remain. And that, of course, would be pretty much all that is needed to complete the corporatization of America.

I also believe quite the opposite about Perry. Personality-wise, Perry is pretty much as extreme as they come these days: an unapologetic Bible thumper whose only clearly articulated plan for dealing with the problems that beset our country and his own State of Texas is to pray for Jesus to make it all better, an adolescent who brags about how he named his custom-made boots "Liberty" and "Freedom" and that he carries a laser-sighted pistol with him when he goes jogging, and a snarkish bully captured on video after announcing his presidential bid telling a journalist to "give [Romney] my love" and blowing a kiss toward the camera.

This type of blowhard might play well in Texas and amongst the GOP faithful in general, but they tend to turn off everybody else. Bush may have been just as psychopathic, but at least he had the political acumen to run for president claiming to be "a compassionate conservative." Perry, on the other, seems to revel in hippie-punching and pissing off as many non-(GOP)believers as possible. Which is at once why he is now the Republican front-runner, and why I also think that he would lose the general election to Obama. It is also why a Perry nomination would help to "immanentize the eschaton" of getting the pundits and the bipartisan fetishists (and I'm looking at you, Mr. President) to acknowledge how far off the rails the GOP has driven itself.

On the other hand . . . hoping for a Perry nomination just seems wrong. I tend to think that nobody should be actively hoping that a callous, hot-headed know-nothing might snag the presidential nomination of one of our country's only two national parties. And, hey, I have to acknowledge that I could also just be wrong about Perry's chances of winning the general election. Romney would knowingly and greedily complete the corporatization of America, but Perry would do the same out of simple thick-headedness and a Texas understanding that this is how "bidness" gets done. But Perry would also further institutionalize the worst Christianist, xenophobic and anti-science impulses our nation has to offer. Which would be even worse.

So when it comes to hoping for a particular GOP candidate, that's the choice presented. Gamble I'm right about my assessment of Perry's chances in the general election and root for him to win the Republican nomination, or hedge my position and root for Romney and then hope that Obama beats him in the general election but console myself that - even if Obama loses - at least Rick Perry isn't squatting in the Oval Office.

It's a tough call, and looking over the Republican field all I can say is Thank God (and my state's election laws) that as a registered Democrat there is no possibility that I will be forced to actually vote on this.

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