Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Price Of Purity

Now that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has officially announced that he is NOT going to run for President in 2012 - as we were fairly sure he wouldn't - and several states have moved up their 2012 primary dates, the Republican field of candidates running for President appears to be set.

Contrary to what you may hear from their cottage propaganda industry, Republican voters are still not happy with the choices they have staring them in the face for 2012.

The fact is, as much as Republican partisans and the GOP wish 2012 could be the American political right's answer to the impassioned and lively primary season that the Democratic Party had in 2008, next year is really shaping up to be more like the right's version of 2004. The man who will likely get the nomination - Mitt Romney - is a perfect example of extremist Republicans refusing the attainable good, and insisting on the impossible perfect.

Like it or not, Gov. Christie and Gov. Perry also fit oddly similar, but not identical roles.

Before Rick Perry got into the race, Republican partisans seemed to swoon at every mention of his name. They lobbied for him to join the race, and said he was just what the Republican Party needed to win in 2012. So Perry joined the race, and not long after, he was topping the polls, beating the entire GOP field, including Mitt Romney.

That is, until Republican voters got to know him. And his HPV decision in Texas. And his penchant for the death penalty - in nearly any case. And his inability to debate well. And, most recently, questions about his true views on race.

As we noted when discussing today's edition, the Republicans' flirtation with candidates is like the ABC Network television show The Bachelor (our Assistant Editor's favorite guilty pleasure - and heckling target).

There's a reason that so few of the pairings from that show are able to withstand the real world. These people are sent on the most lavish dates in the most gorgeous and exotic locations the producers can dream up - on a sky's-the-limit budget. Under those circumstances, it's very easy to let yourself be convinced that you're in love with just about any other moderately attractive person of your favored gender.

That is, until you go back home and try to hit the town for date night with 'private romantic island' tastes - and a Chuck E. Cheese budget. Fantasy collides with reality.

For all the pining and lamenting that some are still doing about Chris Christie, the fact is, he's not who the extremists dreamt he was.

He's a socially moderate governor from a heavily liberal state in the Northeastern U.S. When the far right would want him to whisper sweet political nothings in their ear, they'd end up flat on their behind, shocked that Christie would do something like stand up for one of those brown-skinned Muslims, and call regressive Republicans crazy.

The brutal collision between fantasy and reality that we saw when Perry entered the race would inevitably have been repeated in Christie's case. The fact is, upon real inspection, there's really no one that can pass the purity test of the modern Republican Party. This group of Republicans has standards that not even Ronald Reagan himself could ever hope to meet.

What chance do they think anyone else has of measuring up?

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