I watched most of the Republican debate this evening, and I’ve got to say, it is good news for Obama. He’ll win re-election.
This isn’t partisan wishful thinking on my part. I don’t make the same claim for the Inslee—McKenna race for Washington governor. I have my (very strong) preferences, but the outcome of that race is far from clear.
There isn’t much uncertainty left in the 2012 presidential race. Obama will win, absent of some sort of catastrophe.
You know, some scandal like Obama or Biden shooting a friend in the face, or outing a CIA covert agent, or firing numerous “non-compliant” U.S. attorneys, or getting busted lying about warrant-less domestic spying on Americans, or starting an illegal rendition program, or authorizing torture of prisoners, or misplacing palettes of $6.7 billion U.S. currency. Stuff like that.
I mean, that shit would absolutely sink any President’s chances at a second term…bar none (unless he is a Republican).
Here’s what I have learned from the debate. The Republican candidates (except for Ron Paul) are situated sharply to the right. Ron Paul is a Libertarian kook off in some other political dimension, with zero chance of making it through the primary, but the rest of the pack are extremists! Extremists of the teabagging ilk.
Seriously…at one point (here), a Mainstream Republican in the audience pointed out that he was feeling left out, and asked what candidates would do to take a balanced approach that would include him. Mr. Santorum started out the discussion by pointing out how he had eliminated welfare and set up the template for eliminating other entitlements, like Ryan’s proposals to end Medicade, food stamps. He then pointed out that the “Teaparty is a great backstop for America.” It came off more than a little cccccrazy and not at all inclusive of the mainstream Republican questioner. Bachmann was next and gave a slightly less crazy answer(!)—the Teabaggers R U, she said. Herman Cain started his answer pointing out that the Teabaggers are “not too negative and not too critical.”
Mmm’kay then…feel better, Mr. Mainstream Republican?
Another amusing example of candidates trying to out-crazy each other can be found in the extended exchange on NASA beginning at 7:00 here including the Newtster’s claim that “we’re not a developed country” because of NASA (8:06). What the fuck?
All of the candidates reject the TARP and auto bailouts (at 5:28). So fuck you Detroit! Even Herman Cain, who once support TARP, explains his flip-flop (2:10). The candidates spent most of this debate trying to out-wingnut and out-teabag each other. (Except Paul, who was just being himself—quite sensible about 40% of the time, a lunatic 40% of the time, and too incomprehensible to really tell 20% of the time.)
Everyone knows that candidates swing toward the extremes of their base during primaries and bounce back to the center during the general election. But things are different now. The Teabaggers have dragged Republican candidates not just to the right, but to the extreme right. As they maneuver to out teabag each other, their statements and positions are captured in audio or video in an easy-to-disseminate format.
In the mean time we have Barack Obama, who will not be seriously challenged in the primary. He’s a centrist. He sold himself as a centrist in 2008, and has pretty much lived up to it (or down to it if you are significantly to the left of Obama). He has a solid grip on the center, and he will sit there like a rock through the primary season while the Republicans joust over who is the teabaggiest of them all. The winner of the Republican primary will come out looking like Paul Ryan on Oxycontin wielding the mighty Loofah of conservatism, and will to battle his/her way back to the center, where Obama will be firmly entrenched.
A hope for the Republican might have been to adopt the Bush 2004 strategy: “TERRORISTS, TERRORISTS, EVERYWHERE!” But, oops…Obama killed bin Laden.