The Kitchen Sink & The Whole Nine Yards: How The Right Reacts To Losing An Election
Right now, Barack Obama is winning this election. That’s really not in dispute. Sure, he could be anywhere from 1 percent ahead to 8 percent ahead nationally, and in some key swing states – Florida, Michigan, Ohio, he is up as well. Despite the millions of dollars invested by the Romney campaign, the outside Rove and Koch groups, and the day in-and-out drumbeat of the conservative media — Barack Obama is currently beating Mitt Romney.
Hold on to your hats, because its going to get crazy.
In 2008, as it became clearer and clearer that Obama was going to beat McCain, the right went nuts. That’s when Palin attacked Obama for “pallin’ around” with terrorists, when the McCain crowds — their worst fears keyed up by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh — started getting whipped up into a frenzy… it got bad.
I think this will be worse.
Worse because they have thrown everything at this President. The smears and attacks on the Clintons, in many ways, have been far superseded by the modern conservative movement. People forget that Fox News hadn’t even begun until Clinton’s second term, and it didn’t have the power it does now. Rush Limbaugh wasn’t on as many stations, and on and on and on.
Before Obama was inaugurated, they’ve been on the attack. They never let up. There was no honeymoon period, no breathing room afforded to him. They’ve assailed him as a socialist, black nationalist and any other caricature that keeps the right’s old and shrinking base up at night in a cold sweat. They’ve even had victories, with the midterm elections most significant of them all. But they’ve also kept losing to Obama. Health care reform passed and survived a Supreme Court challenge. The stimulus passed and has helped to reverse the Bush Recession. There have been victories for the right — they did their darndest to lower America’s credit rating — but Obama’s ahead.
Right now they can’t understand how the radical leftist caricature they’ve created in their mind is beating the most generic Republican ever. Trust me, I’ve been there. I couldn’t understand how a royal idiot screwup like Bush was losing to a generic Democrat like John Kerry. Like me, the right is thinking right now that sure — Romney doesn’t actually inspire anyone, but he’s Republican enough to defeat Obama in this climate. But he isn’t.
It’s already beginning, you can see Fox beginning its lurch into swamps that are more fevered than usual. They’re hearing their conservative base audience beginning to bray for blood, and they’re going to serve up the red meat in bulk. Romney’s bumbling campaign is in the process of making the McCain, Kerry, Dole and Dukakis campaigns look like models of efficiency and discipline, and it’s making the right’s core mad as hell.
Even worse, while John McCain did in fact indulge the fringier elements in his party during his campaign (mostly through Sarah Palin, their spirit animal), he had some kind of line. Willard “Mitt” Romney has no such scruples. They haven’t quite done it yet, but I suspect if Obama’s current lead keeps up or — God forbid — increases, we’re quite likely to see Romney and the Super PACs hit the switch on really crazy stuff.
Already you’ve got the conservative base and media pushing Romney to go all the way. Romney’s just weak and craven enough to do it, even though I suspect he has a few people advising him (and Rove from afar) that the real base stuff will do wonders for him with the mouth-breathers but is a turn off to true swing voters. In September of an election year, Romney still hasn’t quite sold himself to the base (not even Kerry had a problem like that).
It isn’t a situation that’s good for America, but in the short term it should be pretty entertaining. Few things are as fun as watching the right blow a gasket on the national stage. I’ve seen them at their apex — the 2004 election, and I’ve seen them at lows in 2006 and 2008. This is not a repeat of 2004, and their behavior as a movement and party is out of the 1964 playbook.
Because of partisan near-parity, we won’t see a repeat of the ‘64 results. In spite of their lackluster candidate and his tepid campaign, there are major states that just won’t shift out of the GOP column no matter what. They’re going to win Texas, for instance (though I wouldn’t bet on that in 2024…) but they’ve always had this crazy beast inside yearning to be free.
Unleash the beast, I’ll get the popcorn.