Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It Ain't the Recipe, It's the Ingredients

David Corn had a piece in Mother Jones on Monday discussing the renewed round of hating on Michael Steele going on in Republican Party circles about the reforms he pushed through in 2010 that moved them from a predominantly winner-take-all system, to a system where delegates are awarded proportionally.

Yes, I know, it's hard to defend Michael Steele. He's just so...weasely (Though I must admit, I loved this groove at the 2008 convention, so much that I had my friend Greg make these t-shirts):

Anyway, leaving aside his "I wanted a brokered convention" throwaway line, this was his reasoning:

Steele watched the exciting 08' Democratic primaries -- where the 2 campaigns registered hundreds of thousands of new Democrats -- with envy. In the meanwhile, McCain (who was not a particularly strong frontrunner himself), was able to wrap things up early. After March 4th (Super Tuesday "II"), McCain had 1289 delegates locked up, effectively ending the campaign. These were the standings then:

McCain 1289
Huckabee 267
(Romney withdrew/endorsed McCain on February 14th)

Here are the standings now:

Willard 495
Santorum 252
Gingrich 131
Paul 48

Welllll.....looks like someone's gonna be limping into Tampa, either after hitting 1144 very late in the game, or coming up just short (though comfortably ahead of Santorum -- see Larry's recent post about this, btw).

Was Steele's idea "The dumbest idea anybody ever had," as Chris Christie says? (2/3 of Republican party officials voted for the changes, btw. Let's not forget that).

I think not. I mean, sure, if McCain had to run under '12 rules, it might have taken him a bit longer to wrap up the nomination. But once he got going, he was a much stronger front-runner than Romney is, by a mile. He won all of these states in the South, for starters -- SC, VA (for real), NC, KY, WV....and he crushed in Mississippi. And he wasn't running against these stiffs. Romney? Ah no.

The proposition I'm making here is very simple: if the product you're selling is good, and you have good salesmen, having them on TV all the time is not a problem (see Begala quote in Larry's recent post). This Republican argument is tantamount to admitting that Mitt Romney is essentially the Gomez Adams of American politics -- the most normal-seeming person in a family that's looney tunes.

In the end, the rules are not the reason why, when Romney finally secures the nomination, he'll have to lean hard against a door w/ a circus on the other side, and try to act casual. He woulda had to do that anyway, because of what the Republicans are selling these days -- any way you slice it, dice it, sauté it or filet it.

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