Recently by Charles Goyette: The State of the Union: Just Another Reality Show
With wins in Michigan and Arizona, Willard Mitt Romney, the establishment candidate, appears to be back in the driver's seat in the race to the Republican presidential nomination. Meanwhile, Ron Paul continues to add to his delegate count.
Establishment Republicans are a breed unto themselves. If you go to their long-term planning meetings, if you listen to them talk about their Party's future, it's like listening to well-known lyrics of familiar tunes. It's all about broadening the base, getting more young people involved, becoming relevant, how to capture enthusiasm, more young people, using the internet, reaching out to young people, figuring out how to fundraise in the digital age, getting more young people.
Now, along comes Ron Paul, who offers them exactly what they want: young people, enthusiasm, an unbeatable social media campaign, devoted volunteers, better demographics, new fundraising success, a campaign worthy of the digital age, relevance, money, excitement, and (did I mention?) young people.
It's exactly what they have wished for. Exactly what they need. And they turn their back on it.
What do Republicans actually do? They like to give their nomination to the candidate who they think deserves it. Principles and ideals are off the table. The Party's future that they worry about is forgotten. Because all they really want to do is give the nomination to the candidate whose turn it is.
Look at Bush the Elder. The Reagan Republicans never liked him. In fact, I knew a delegate to the Republican convention that nominated Reagan in 1980 who typified that view. She even refused to vote for Bush to be on the ticket. Even though he was Reagan's pick. But after Reagan, it was Bush's "turn." He got the nomination.
Bob Dole had been Senate minority and majority leader for 10 years. He had been Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976. It didn't matter that he had no vision to stir the people like Ron Paul does. All Dole could do was talk about process; dry, boring tales about the times he invoked cloture. Thrilling. But in 1996, it was his turn. He got the nomination.
John McCain was said to be a war hero. After losing the nomination to Bush the Younger in 2000 and despite standing for a lot of things that Republicans said they opposed, after Bush's eight-year romp, it was McCain's turn. He got the nomination.
Which brings us back to Romney. Like George W. Bush, Romney's father had been a figure in Republican politics, remembered today only for the help he gave the Party's old guard Rockefeller establishment in trying to stop Goldwater from getting the nomination in 1964. Mitt Romney himself has been a governor, and, more importantly, ran a close second to John McCain in 2008.
So it's his turn.
That's the other thing about the way the Republican's choose their nominees. They have to be establishment figures. That helps them decide whose turn it is. So, true to form, the Arizona and Michigan primaries went to Romney. He's an establishment guy. And it's his turn.
Still the Internet is filled with pictures of Romney addressing people in a mostly empty stadium, gymnasiums with nobody seated beyond the first couple of rows, and campaign rallies that would even make the Maytag repairman feel abandoned.
At the same time, Ron Paul is packing them to the rafters, overflowing rallies with hundreds turned away, cheering crowds of thousands, shoulder-to-shoulder, elbow-to-elbow supporters, wild in their enthusiasm for Ron Paul and his message of freedom, peace, and prosperity.
As he does better and better with the people, out comes the establishment, sharpening its long knives. Here's the New York Times' recent judgment: "Ron Paul long ago disqualified himself for the presidency by peddling claptrap proposals like abolishing the Federal Reserve, returning to the gold standard, cutting a third of the federal budget and all foreign aid and opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
We've been down this road before. The establishment likes its central bank-Wall Street axis running the Republican Party. It prefers its candidates be big government, big spending blue bloods of the Rockefeller wing of the party: George Bush, the elder son of Wall Street's Prescott Bush and the man who made possible the bumbling, big-spending W. Bush years that ended in financial panic; John McCain, who sounded like a confused beauty pageant contestant when Ron Paul asked him a simple question about economic policy; and the flip-flopping, easily molded Mitt Romney, who fits the mold of an establishment Republican candidate.
Still, Ron Paul continues to get more delegates. My friend Michael Shedlock of Mish's Global Economic Analysis has done a good job crunching the numbers and concludes that the odds of a brokered convention — one in which Romney doesn't have enough delegates to cinch the nomination on the first ballot — is better than 50%. See his numbers here.
It's enough to make next week's Super Tuesday interesting. And by the time the convention rolls around this summer, maybe the Republicans will have figured out what a Rasmussen poll reported yesterday — that Ron Paul beat Obama in a head-to-head matchup, and outperformed all the other Republicans against the president.
Wow! All the things the Republicans want: Youth, energy, enthusiasm, grassroots support and fundraising. And did I mention young people?
All that and a victory, too!