In Panic Mode, Some GOP Bosses Float Idea of Another Romney Run

Is the Republican Party collapsing before our eyes, as some of the nation’s most seasoned Washington-based political reporters are saying?


The Washington Post on Friday said that GOP party bosses in their city are in a panic mode because they cannot sideline the ever-unpredictable and abrasive Donald Trump, or the increasingly odd, afactual and politically inexperienced Ben Carson from leading their 2016 presidential ticket. Their biggest donors are sitting tight. Party leaders have even discussed recruiting Mitt Romney to make another run next year.

All of this comes as Trump went ballistic in Iowa on Thursday, comparing Carson to a child molester for his apparent violent streak as a youth, and mocking him for magically making himself over by surrendering to Jesus. Just when we think we've heard it all from Trump, he still manages to surprise.

As Jeb Bush said in last Tuesday’s televised debate, every time the GOP 2016 candidates say something stupid, the cheers go up in Hillaryland. That may be true, but it would be the height of folly to think that the nation’s business elite who really run the Republican Party — the Fortune 100 companies, their executives and trade associations — are going to allow the party that’s hardwired to protect their property and wealth to disintegrate without taking extraordinary measures.

As satisfying a spectacle as it is to see the GOP’s presidential posse come apart at the seams, it’s premature to relegate the Republican Party to history’s dustbins. Cornered rats are the most dangerous, the saying goes, and that’s where the GOP side of the 2016 campaign seems to be headed.

In other words, sit tight, because the real show about how Republican money, power and influence works will soon begin. If the Post’s report is correct about party leaders floating the idea of recruiting Romney, that signals what the Republican National Committee’s most curmudgeonly member told AlterNet several weeks ago: the party, which runs its convention by its own rules, can ignore the caucus and primary results and nominate another candidate at its national convention.

How can that be? As Curly Haugland explained, the caucus and primary process sends slates of delegates to the national convention, and in their first order of business, the delegates adopt rules for running the rest of the convention. At that early moment, it’s possible to adopt rules allowing other names to be brought into nomination. Yes, the scenario of a nasty floor fight is messy, but it is messier than the latest Trump show?

In the meantime, the vanity and ambitions of the wannabee Republican presidents has actually provided a great public service. The early launch of their candidacies, whether or not they officially declared, means that Americans have seen them unfiltered, up close and without the propagandistic makeovers of political ad men, even though a good many are singlehandedly sponsored by billionaires and their super PACs. It’s amazing to behold. At a time when progressives are bemoaning the prevalence of the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling unleashing torrents of campaign cash from the 1 percenters, the 2016 campaign has started so early that anyone paying attention has seen the GOPers as the vain, vacuous charlatans most of them are.

But don’t think the party that has voted scores of times to overturn Obamacare, or repeatedly shut down the federal government, or wants to eradicate New Deal or Great Society safety nets is about to quietly slink off and disappear into the night. The mainstream media’s analysis of the last GOP presidential debate more or less said its most significant feature was that it raised the question of what it means to be a real conservative in 2016.

That is a bit absurd. There’s nothing conservative about this crew. The correct word is radical and how far to the repellent and reactionary right each of the 2016 contenders would go. When Trump declares he has no respect for the University of Missouri president who resigned in the face of student protests calling him insensitive to black students, he’s channeling George Wallace standing in the school house door vowing Alabama’s universities will never be desegregated. When Marco Rubio abandons past stances, like on immigration reform, to pander to the GOP’s white nativists who are likely to vote in early 2016 states, and then tells every corporate interest he’ll do whatever it takes so they can make more money (even though many want comprehensive immigration reform, since underpaid workers means profits), he’s being neither principled nor conservative. He is pandering and being transparently opportunistic, which isn’t predictable or seasoned enough for the GOP’s business establishment.

It’s not clear where we go from here. The real history of America has been guided by political elites doing whatever they can get away with to protect wealth-holding classes, whether their assets took the form of slaves or something else. History’s details vary over the decades, but some dynamics do not change that much. Political parties used to have turbulent histories, unpredictable and volatile national conventions where the winner—especially within the party that professed the most fealty to monied interests—was inevitably chosen by his era’s business elites.

Who will that be for the GOP in 2016? It’s hard to say. But you can be sure the Republican Party will not go down without a fight—even if it means a nasty one inside party ranks. Many people have said they have had enough of the various Republicans running for president. But stay tuned, because there’s a lot more coming as the arc of the 2016 campaign shifts orbit and gets more serious. 

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