As for this last image, on Facebook I wrote:
There is truth here. Not that these men are necessarily misogynists, they probably are not. But their campaign strategies are geared towards solidifying support of demographic groups who will actually vote for them, and in the general election the majority of women will vote Dem pretty much no matter what these fools do, so pissing them off really doesn't change the game for them at all.
Appealing to Non-College Educated White Males, however, the GOP's most dominant demographic, is a huge part of their game plan. The more heavily they dominate this segment of society, the more they can alienate these fellows from the democrats and Obama, the greater their chances of victory in the primaries and in November.
Being worried about what women think is a losing game for them, there is no reason for them to care what they think at all.
Since then, Romney has wrapped up the nomination. This came a little earlier than I thought it would. I actually suspected that Santorum would not give up until the convention, allowing the GOP as much of a chance as possible to try to get out of nominating Romney.
However, I think Santorum had a real moment of clarity leading to his withdrawal from the race. Brace yourselves, I am actually going to say something nice about this fellow.
I do suspect that staying in the race as long as humanly possible was Santorum's plan. I think, on the Friday before he dropped out, that he had every intention of still being in the race a week later.
I believe there were two factors that made him change his mind.
One, of course, was the fact that he was apparently looking at an embarrassing loss in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Santorum as the GOP’s next frontrunner
At this point in his campaign, politically, I think he should have been looking more towards the future than any real chance of being sworn in as president in 2013. Of course, he still had a long shot at widening the cracks between Romney and the, quite frankly, bigoted far right wing of the Republican Party to create some convention drama and an even longer shot at still derailing Romney’s nomination, either becoming the nominee himself or creating the possibility of another candidate stepping into the role.
But the odds of creating any of these scenarios were shrinking fast. Getting shellacked in Pennsylvania would have lowered the odds even further.
And I don’t think his eye should even have been on the nomination this year, at least for the last couple months. He should have been looking at 2016 or 2020, depending on Romney’s fate this fall. For Santorum, staying in the race as long as possible should have been all about positioning himself for the future. The longer he hung in there, collecting headlines if not delegates, he was building a solid foundation for a future run at the Presidency.
The GOP has a track record of elevating those who make a good showing one year to frontrunner status the next. Santorum’s campaign, for the last month or two, could have been following a John McCain strategy.
In 2000, McCain stayed in the race far past the point where Bush had locked up the nomination and was rewarded with front runner status for almost the entire duration of the 2008 Republican primaries, fairly easily wrapping up the nomination his next time out. Of course, he managed to stay in the race that year without becoming a joke.
In 2008, the McCain role was played not by Romney, but by Huckabee. However, since Huckabee decided, early, to sit this one out, Romney slid into the 2nd place role this year and, like McCain in 2008, has now completed a fairly easy primary season and secured the nomination without too much fuss or muss.
Let’s face it, the GOP primaries this year were not a close thing. Romney owned them. Most of the noise about any real competition this year was just that, noise from the media trying to keep a blowout interesting through the end of the fourth quarter. This is not to say that what competition there was wasn’t interesting, it was, and it revealed a lot about the nature of the GOP and its different demographic elements, but the race itself was not a close one at all.
If Santorum really wants to be president, he has a real chance at becoming the GOP front runner the next time around. Like McCain and Romney, he needs to spend the next four to eight years quietly organizing and he can, pretty much, claim early frontrunner status the next time around. Especially if the far right continues to dominate the party like it has, which is almost inevitable if Obama wins re-election.
However, this future front runner status depends on Santorum maintaining his credibility this year.
By pulling out when he did, the former Senator is ending on a relative high note, while he is still seen as a strong candidate. The story, however, could have changed if he stayed in the race and suffered an embarrassing loss in his home state.
So far, the humiliating 17 point loss of his Senate seat has remained out of the national press, for the most part, and has been forgotten by almost everyone.
After another brutal home state loss, I suspect that his past political failures would enter into the national conversation and the story would change from his relatively successful presidential campaign this year to his repeated failings as a candidate for political office.
In other words, the press about his campaign would turn from being mostly positive to mostly negative. By getting out now, as I said, he ends this year’s run on a high note and 2012 becomes a bright spot on his resume, not a hurdle to be overcome in the future.
All of these considerations set aside, I still suspect that Santorum was in the race for the long run this year, until the weekend before he dropped out.
He was still seen as being a factor in this year’s nomination process, his campaign was still receiving decent press, though it was starting to turn a little negative as Pennsylvania approached, and, let’s face it, a part of me really wonders if Candidate Santorum is really savvy enough to consider the arguments I made above in defense of his campaign to this point and how it poses him for a future run for the nomination.
If there was ever a candidate to stay in the race far past the point of respectability, ruining his reputation and future in a blind run towards an unreachable finish line, it would seem to be the former Senator. This would be a move right out of his playbook, blind self-immolation.
Though I am sure his campaign advisors saw what I saw for the last couple of months and have been talking to the former Senator quite a bit about how long to stay in and when to drop out. In fact, I would strongly suspect that these voices in his ears were whispering that, in order to position himself properly for the next campaign, that he should drop out before the Pennsylvania contest.
And I am pretty sure that Santorum was ignoring these voices until his daughter was hospitalized the weekend before he dropped out.
That weekend, I bet, Rick got in touch not only with some big doses of reality but that he also took a long look at his priorities in life.
Whether or not he really believed that he still had a shot at the Presidency this year, I do not know, but even a rock would be having doubts by that point. But I think he was still having fun. I think, whether or not he believed he still had a chance, that he was enjoying the spotlight that was shining not only on himself but also on his (crazy, crazy, terrible, awful, horrible) political beliefs.
And, of course, inspiring national conversations about beliefs that are important to oneself would be a difficult role for anyone to walk away from. I suspect that as long as he was inspiring these conversations that Santorum wasn’t going anywhere, even if staying in the race eventually cost him his own political future.
Until his daughter’s hospitalization, I don’t think Santorum would have dropped out of the race until his campaign faded from the spotlight, until it resembled something like Newt Gingrich’s, and then I think he’d probably stay in the race until the money completely ran out or even longer, until, like Newt, he could sit there with his toe still in the pond while doing very little active campaigning.
But that takes a lot of time and effort and I am sure that even Santorum was beginning to see that his 2012 run was over. It is one thing to be taking time away from one’s family and an ill child when one has a real shot at the White House, it is quite another to take that time for what amounts to little more than political noisemaking and rabblerousing.
I think Santorum made a very healthy choice here for himself and his family. I applaud him for it. Sure, I wanted the man out of the race. Amusing (and infuriating) as he was, any chance he has at ever reaching the Oval Office needs to be shut down as soon as possible. But I also am glad to see him (or anyone) putting his family first like this.
Yet my applause are a little bitter sweet here. By making a great choice as a human and a father he has also, accidently, made a great political move. I would be very surprised if we are not dealing with frontrunner Santorum the next time out, and that is not a good thing for America at all.
I see his exit as coming about through the following process…
My advisors keep telling me that it is getting close to the time where I should walk away, but I am not there yet myself. Wait, I need to be with my family now. Oh, okay guys, let’s schedule a press event. Why are my advisors so happy? I though we were admitting defeat and going home? Why are they so happy about losing? Why are they chanting “2016… 2016… 2016…”? Boy, that volunteer has a cute butt, I wonder if he works out? Holy cow, I’ve got to go pray now!
Okay. I tried to keep those sorts of jabs out of this post. But I couldn’t resist just one.
See you the next time around, Rick. Though I can’t say that I look forward to it.
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