Drudge features this headline: WASH POST: REPUBLICAN PARTY PANIC; MOVE TO DRAFT ROMNEY. Sure: because Republican voters are nostalgic for the days when we were getting clobbered by Barack Obama. Because the base is looking for a return to the past–the same dynamic that has made Jeb Bush such a powerhouse candidate.
Less than three months before the kickoff Iowa caucuses, there is growing anxiety bordering on panic among Republican elites about the dominance and durability of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and widespread bewilderment over how to defeat them.
Who are these party elites? Probably a handful of office-holders (or, worse, former office-holders), along with a donor or two and members of the consultant class whose clients aren’t doing well. Whoever they are, the party’s “elites” have little or no influence with voters, as manifested by the Trump and Carson phenomena.
Party leaders and donors fear that nominating either man would have negative ramifications for the GOP ticket up and down the ballot, virtually ensuring a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency and increasing the odds that the Senate falls into Democratic hands.
That’s true. I think most Republican voters recognize that Trump and Carson both have fatal deficiencies (e.g., American voters aren’t going to elect a politician who says that wages are too high) and, once the voting actually starts, will turn toward one of the several excellent alternatives who are in the race.
According to other Republicans, some in the party establishment are so desperate to change the dynamic that they are talking anew about drafting Romney — despite his insistence that he will not run again.
Romney isn’t going to run, and if he did he wouldn’t stand a chance; not after New Hampshire, anyway. GOP voters have zero interest in going back in time, or in re-nominating the man who lost the last election. I think the Post knows that. I think reporters also understand that it is the Democrats, not the Republicans, who are desperate–so desperate that they are trying to avoid holding debates, for fear that voters will realize what a terrible candidate Hillary Clinton is, or notice that Bernie Sanders is an elderly socialist.
The Post quotes former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean as an exemplar of the GOP “elite,” describing him as one who “for most of his 80 years has been a pillar of his party.” I doubt whether five percent of Republican primary voters could identify Tom Kean. The Post gives the last word to George Voinovich, a man whom, I confess, I had completely forgotten:
George Voinovich, a retired career politician who rose from county auditor to mayor of Cleveland to governor of Ohio to U.S. senator, said this cycle has been vexing.
“This business has turned into show business,” said Voinovich, who is backing Ohio Gov. John Kasich. “We can’t afford to have somebody sitting in the White House who doesn’t have governing experience and the gravitas to move this country ahead.”
He’s backing John Kasich. That tells you all you need to know.
Along the way, the Post quotes a single voice of not just sanity, but relevance: Nikki Haley.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, herself an outsider who rode the tea party wave into office five years ago, explained the phenomenon.
“You have a lot of people who were told that if we got a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate, then life was gonna be great,” she said in an interview Thursday. “What you’re seeing is that people are angry. Where’s the change? Why aren’t there bills on the president’s desk every day for him to veto? They’re saying, ‘Look, what you said would happen didn’t happen, so we’re going to go with anyone who hasn’t been elected.’”
That is exactly correct. The party’s so-called elites aren’t the solution, they are the problem.