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Michael Tomasky: The Problem with the Republican Party Is Not with the Candidates

Michael Tomasky:

Michael Tomasky: There Will Be No Saviors for the GOP in 2012: If Mitt Romney fails to win Michigan next Tuesday, a few high-powered Republicans have started saying, the party needs to go back to square one and recruit a new candidate…. “The senator believes Romney will ultimately win in Michigan but says he will publicly call for the party to find a new candidate if he does not. ‘We’d get killed,’ the senator said if Romney manages to win the nomination after he failed to win the state in which he grew up. ‘He’d be too damaged’ … Santorum? ‘He’d lose 35 states,’ the senator said, predicting the same fate for Newt Gingrich. It would have to be somebody else, the senator said. Who? ‘Jeb Bush.’”… If a Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels were to declare an intention to run, they’d have time to solidify support. True, they will have missed the filing deadlines to get on most primary ballots (although not to participate in caucuses). But it’s still not too late to file, for example, for California’s June 5 primary—the filing deadline is March 23. If a late-entry candidate dominated the contests he did manage to enter, he could make a reasonable case that the voters really wanted him. This can’t wait until the convention, which isn’t until late August. That would be awfully late to be getting started with a presidential race in this day and age….

But here’s the problem…. The Bush name? Please. It’s better than Nixon, but that’s about all that can be said for it. Christie’s tough-talking personality? That appeals to people on the right…. And Daniels has the charisma of an econ-department chair…. [E]ach has litmus-test difficulties. Jeb, as Rich Yeselson pointed out over the weekend at the Washington Monthly, is kind of soft on immigration…. Christie appointed a Muslim judge…. Daniels, back when he was a potential candidate, was regularly savaged by Rush Limbaugh. These are suddenly going to be right-wing heroes?…

[L]et us please be clear on why there is no savior. Because there is no one who can satisfy the base of the GOP—a cohort so drunk on ideology and resentment that they cheer electrocutions and boo a soldier—and be elected president…. The standard journalistic trope… the Republican establishment would step in at some point and not let things get too out of hand. But… if the base is driving the party into a ditch, the establishment is riding shotgun holding a shovel.

And there’s not one politician in sight who has the nerve to say anything about it…

As I have said, the ongoing collapse of Romney is more likely than not to be good for the country, but the risks are too great. As Damon Runyon said, nothing between human beings is more than 3-to-1. Anything could happen in November. Trying to save Romney from himself and from the Republican base is the only sensible thing to do...

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