One Step Closer
You knew it would happen.
This morning, MSNBC's Chris Jansing referred to a vague notion that "President Obama was the big winner last night." Now, at 11:00 a.m. eastern, Ed Schultz is saying "the anti-Romney club is starting to galvanize" with "stars aligning" as Santorum becomes "the right candidate at the right time." Last night, as Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were running neck-and-neck, network heavies Schultz, Chris Matthews, and Lawrence O'Donnell already were pushing the idea that Romney is deeply distrusted within the GOP, Santorum is a growing force, or the race has become more unsettled.
Don't believe any of it. There could be a late entrant to the field or maybe a draft at the convention, but either is unlikely. If a candidate is chosen from among those currently in the race, we- and they- know who it will be. There is a reason the former Massachusetts governor, in his speech to supporters after the caucus ended, congratulated the former Pennsylvania senator for scoring "a great victory" (not for doing well- but for a victory!) and it wasn't only to appear to be a nice guy. He knows that ultimately Rick Santorum absolutely will not be the nominee. In the past month or so, there has been only one candidate in the race with any chance to upend Romney at the convention and, thanks in part to the pounding Newt Gingrich took from Romney's SuperPAC, the former House Speaker is dead in the water.
Obama surrogates posing as pundits isn't pretty. And it does no good for the liberal, or the Democratic, cause to have conservative and moderate Republicans, the mainstream media, and virtually everyone else in the country other than liberal Democrats to write off MSNBC, misjudging it as part of the "liberal media." In prime time it is, with Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, and Lawrence O'Donnell, a network promoting not liberal causes or Democratic causes, but Barack Obama. (Rachel Maddow, with somewhat more commitment to principle, is an exception. And she is not likely to boost a GOP candidate hostile to gay rights.) Sharpton, who wouldn't stop referring last night to "Willard" (instead of "Mitt" or "Romney"), is the most brazen example, having been plucked from the roster of informal Obama advisers in order to waste the viewer's time at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
Mitt Romney's 25% share of the overall GOP vote was, admittedly, underwhelming and unimpressive. But he initially planned to bypass Iowa, figuring he could begin in New Hampshire where he was, and is, a heavy favorite. Iowa, with its preponderance of evangelical Christians, was known to be unfriendly territory for the Mormon Romney, where in 2008 he was defeated by Reverend Mike Huckabee. Romney had to avoid finishing third in Iowa; instead, he finished an extremely strong second or extremely weak first.
Gingrich now promises to be Barack Obama's prime surrogate. He wouldn't put it that way, of course, and it might be unwitting, but his vow this morning to join Rick Santorum in denouncing and condemning Romney will be doing the President a great service. That is, in the long run, advantageous for the country, chipping away at Romney's image to Obama's advantage. But it's the only thing left for a bitter guy who knows it's over for him, with only a glimmer of hope for the candidate, Rick Santorum, he now has to pretend he likes.