Mitt Romney has a big problem entirely of his own making. He can't use attack ads to slaughter Rick Santorum in Michigan, where Ricky is reportedly leading him in the GOP primary, without doing himself a lot of harm.
Because people apparently like Ricky. Well, a lot of GOP voters do. Having lived in Pennsylvania while Ricky was a U.S. Senator, I don't like him one bit, even setting aside his 19th century politics. Who can forget his intrusion into the Terri Schiavo situation seven years ago, where he tried to make political hay out of a brain-dead woman and her suffering family? Take it from one who has had to face an end-of-life quandry, the last thing you want is a United States Senator bouncing into the scene. Yet Rick Santorum is now fulminating about federal intrusion into health care decisions. Hypocrite bar none!
But those sleeveless sweaters protect him from Mitt Romney. He's so boyish and naive-looking that he's just a cute little ol' Gingerbread Boy for the GOP folks. And his grandfather had such big hands from digging for all that "freedom"! (Grandpa, always called "Pap" in Pennsylvania, was too stupid apparently to join the miners union.)
If Romney attacks sweet, boyish little Ricky as he attacked Gingrich, Romney will look like a monster. If he hadn't gone after Gingrich with such massive overkill in Florida, he'd have some margin now for destroying Ricky. Perhaps there's a penalty to having great gobs of campaign money, i.e. the temptation to overkill and look ugly.
So what's Romney to do? How can he recapture the lead in Michigan, one of his designated "home" states, where a loss would be really, really bad?
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. And I haven't the slightest idea.
I used to counsel candidates about political moves, but, baby, this one is a wowser. I guess my advice would be: don't get in the situation in the first place. From Day One of the 2011 primary season, Romney should have spent every cent he could in Michigan on building the greatest on-the-ground campaign effort that the world has ever seen.
Because you always secure your base first.
There should have been Romney precinct workers in every Michigan precinct throughout 2011 and right up until now. He needed to make sure that he looked like "The One" to the Michigan folks from Day One so that Santorum, or any emerging challenger in Michigan, would seem like an intruder into a long-standing relationship. Only precinct workers can build that kind of bond for a candidate. Michigan should have felt courted and beloved by Romney as his own beloved base.
Because if Michigan is not Romney's base, what the hell is? He was born there, his father was governor there, and his family made its fortune in the state's signature industry. Further, since it's in the northern Midwest, there was even a possibility that the state's GOP voters are not as infected with the zany extremism that's radiating out of the South. If there was a GOP base anywhere for Romney, it had to be Michigan.
But because today's GOP are all hard-line ideologues, Romney pissed all over his chances in Michigan.
He should never have said he opposed the auto industry bailout in a state where the whole economy depends on autos. He thereby chose to court suicide. Yet he couldn't resist it because of today's GOP rigidity in sticking to its slogan-type ideology. When it comes to economics, the GOP cheerfully ignores reality and chooses to believe only its own you-know-what. It would be funny except that periodically they get the rest of the country to go along with the baloney, and then they crash the economy and take the rest of us down with them.
I'm almost 76 and I'm tired of GOP recessions. Other than Carter's (which he inherited from Nixon), every downturn of the economy in my life has been engineered by the GOP. So has every big deficit. So has every step toward the impoverishment of the middle class.
Why doesn't the American public ever learn?
For 44 years American politics has been warped by the 3 Rs of racism, "religion", and Republican ruthlessness. (That's actually 4 Rs.) Apparently it's so much more fun to hate some "other" than to THINK. Nixon's Southern strategy introduced the race card. Reagan played it further and added hatred of the poor. George W was the wolf in sheep's clothing, adding self-righteous born-again-ism to the mix.
But this is going to change. The young people coming up are better educated than their predecessors. They are also getting whacked harder by Bush's Great Recession than are their elders. They turned out in great numbers for Obama in 2008. Will they in 2012? That is the question, but it's for another time.
Meantime, let's watch the GOP Greek tragedy (comedy?) in Michigan.