Thursday, October 27, 2011

Complacency Unwarranted

You can't get much more articulate and perceptive (evidence, here) than David Atkins, regular contributor to Digby's Hullabaloo. But he is wrong about the likelihood of an enthusiastic GOP base in the 2012 presidential election.

Atkins links to a New York Times article in which Alison Kopinski writes (types)

With the nation’s first nominating contests just two months away, a large majority of Republican primary voters have yet to make up their minds about the candidate they would like to see as their party’s nominee for president in 2012.

About eight in 10 Republican primary voters say it is still too early to tell whom they will support, and just four in 10 say they have been paying a lot of attention to the 2012 presidential campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Herman Cain, the former restaurant executive, is riding a wave of support among Republican primary voters that has placed him in a statistical dead heat with rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in a race that has been characterized by momentum swings among the candidates.

The poll found Mr. Cain with the highest level of support, with 25 percent of Republican primary voters, and Mr. Romney with 21 percent. This difference is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.

Adding to the fluidity of the contest, about one in 10 Republican primary voters say they would like to see someone else nominated.

Atkins thus observes

What most Democrats are looking for is basic competence and an eye for the common good. We are willing to mostly overlook race, gender, personal foibles and even difficult votes made in the past, because we understand that people are people, both life and governance are hard, and no one is perfect. We have an easier time of this.

So far, so good. But then he goes off track, concluding

The GOP purity train is such that they're not going to be happy with anybody they pick. And that, at least, is a silver lining to their increasingly radical cloud.

Significantly, when Herman Cain, whom polls now indicate is the favorite of the greatest number of registered voters of the pro-life party, appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight, he repeated faithfully the primary pro-choice talking point:

Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn't have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue.

And for those who believe Cain was talking only about abortion in the case of rape or incest, a moment later, asked by Morgan about "these things"(i.e., abortion generally) the candidate maintained

The government shouldn't be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make.

All across the country GOP legislators and chief executives move aggressively to curtail abortion rights or the opportunity of a woman to choose abortion and GOP politicians proudly claim to belong to the "pro-life party." Herman Cain goes on national television and gives the pro-choice argument. And those Republican politicians, the GOP popular base, and the pro-life interest groups which have strengthened the party for decades rise as one to say: nothing.

Maybe they, especially the rank-and-file voter, weren't aware of Cain's remarks. Or perhaps a substantial portion of Republicans favor abortion rights or are relatively indifferent to the issue, characteristic of the corporate base of the party.

Or maybe it's something else. Perhaps his demeanor- direct and dominating, nothing vague- or his statements. On Meet The Press, Cain had stated "The objective of the liberals is to destroy this country."

Nothing as a prelude, no explanation necessary: "the objective of the liberals is to destroy this country." When Morgan sought elaboration, Cain asserted he meant "economically" and, a moment later, contended "It is their mission. Because they do not believe in a stronger America, in my opinion. Yes." A straight-talker. Uninformed and prone to contradict himself, but conservative and unrepentant, a man who has accused President Obama of being a liar with an economic approach that is "bulls_ _ _."

Most Repub voters, apparently, like and even respect that sort of thing. And it's not an electorate that's "not going to be happy with anyone they pick." Once the candidate, even if the relatively reasonable Romney is selected (as is likely), GOP voters will be happy, even enthusiastic. They really, really dislike Barack Obama- the policies and the man. Revving up the base will not be a problem, with or without a rebel yell.

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