Does the Right Really Want to Beat Obama? Maybe Not
How badly do the sugar daddies of the right wing want to beat Barack Obama in November? Apparently, not enough. How else to explain the jumble of conflicting results emerging from the 10-state Super Tuesday Republican presidential primary/caucus slalom, in which former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won at least five states, former U.S. senator Rick Santorum took three, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won a major prize -- his home state of Georgia?
Surely, if the moneybags of the right -- say, the Kochs and the DeVoses and the Adelsons -- really wanted to defeat Barack Obama, they'd get together in a war room somewhere, and vow to coalesce around a single candidate and do everything possible to make him win. But that is not what we see happening. Instead, it appears that Mitt Romney, who couldn't beat Santorum in Tennessee despite outspending him 3 to 1 one in that state, will likely limp to the nomination as a gravely wounded candidate.
And that, perhaps, is just as the leaders of the right want it.
Incumbents are never easy to beat, even in an election that is predicted to be as close as the pundits say 2012 will be. But more than that, the right wing is at its strongest as an opposition movement, and for fomenting opposition, Barack Obama -- at least the fictional, radical leftist, Mau-Mau, crypto-Muslim Obama crafted by the right -- is the perfect foil for right-wing fundraising and hackles-raising. Another four years of Obama will allow the right to build its resources and hone a candidate for 2016 who will not face an incumbent -- and as long as Joe Biden remains vice president through the end of a second Obama term, the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 won't even face the neo-incumbency of one who has served just a heartbeat away.
Romney's Rocky Road
Mitt Romney may have walked away the winner of the most contests tonight, but those wins came came at quite a cost, in both dollars and principles (if Romney ever really had any). The exacting requirements of the the now-far-right Republican base -- the people who vote in primaries and caucuses -- have led Romney to not only back away from his past positions on such potent flash-point issues as abortion and immigration, but have also led him to, well, lie.
This week, a 2009 op-ed piece penned by Romney brought one such lie to light. A favorite bugaboo of the right -- the Obama health-care plan that passed into law in 2010 -- has long been a weak point for Romney among the base because, as governor, he instituted a similar plan in Massachusetts. Romney has sought to quell right-wing fears by saying that while he supported a state's right to institute a mandate requiring citizens to carry health insurance, he opposes such a mandate at the federal level. On Monday, however, BuzzFeed unearthed a USA Today opinion piece penned by Romney that actually proposed just such a federal mandate. Oops.
It wasn't even a week since Romney almost lost the primary in his native state of Michigan to Santorum, and Super Tuesday found him in a similar situation in Ohio, where, at press time, it appeared that he had won the state by a single point, 38 percent to Santorum's 37 percent. With Georgia off the table for Romney because of Gingrich's home-court advantage, Ohio was regarded as a must-win state for him. Yet Romney found himself fighting tooth-and-nail with the underfunded Santorum, who has made a string of absurd pronouncements on matters ranging from contraception to the Crusades -- and whose campaign is so seat-of-the-pants that he found himself denied delegates in districts he won for lack of proper paperwork.