Looking at this chart, it's clear that the party just doesn't have a clue who to vote for, that they're willing to vote for just about anyone who they think can beat Obama (see: Trump, Donald and Bachmann, Michele), but tire of them just as easily as they get excited about them. Cain is just the latest in a series of Republican hopefuls who are the "flavor of the week." Christie got the Republican elite all wet with excitement, and coulda been a contenda, until he unceremoniously put the kibosh on their hopes.
Which means what, exactly? Once the Cain express runs out of steam, or, judging by this interview on "The View," derails itself (more on this in a moment), will the GOP base finally get behind the good looking Mormon from Michigan? Does he possess the conservative bona fides to get nominated by the party and elected by the American people? Well, David Frum seems to think so:
I put my hope in three things: (1) Romney is not only very intelligent, but he also has demonstrated through his career a devotion to facts over ideology. (2) Romney has visibly not been caught up in the panic and rage against President Obama that has done so much to distort Republican thinking since 2009. (3) Romney has not signed up for the kind of ultra-deluded tax-cutting as solution to all ills program advocated by Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman. His unwillingness to over-commit himself during the Republican primaries signals an openness to future contingencies should he be elected president.
Well, David. Not. So. Fast. (note: watch the whole Stewart video; it's a total hoot!). Jonathan Chait also senses a real problem here.
Republican moneymen and pundits are starting to flock to the Mitt Romney banner, sending forth the word that it is time to bow to the inevitable. But the Republican voters just do not like Mitt Romney. The depth the of the base's resistance to falling in behind next-in-line Romney has continuously shocked observers, resulting first in the rise of Donald Trump, then Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry. Now Perry is swooning, and his support has gone to ... Herman Cain! ... I don't think Cain can win the nomination, and I'm not sure he really wants it (as opposed to a nice Fox News gig.) Saying you might vote for Herman Cain for president — of the United States, not of a pizza chain — can only be read as a cry of protest. I don't see how Republicans could be making this any more plain. They do not want to nominate Mitt Romney.Chait's italics, my emphasis.
So, then what? Does Sarah Palin become a factor at this point by jumping in herself? Sullivan ruminates on that point extensively (as he always does when thinking about his ex-girlfriend from another life). Here's his main point:
[R]emember her favorite word and self-branding: the rogue. It's possible she could also run as an Independent or Tea Party candidate next year, especially if Romney wins the nomination, and hits a bump in the road. ... The obvious problem [if she does mount a third-party run] is that she would all but guarantee the re-election of Barack Obama. Is she delusional and narcissistic enough to plow onward regardless? You betcha!
What this all shows is that, with time really running out for anyone who hasn't yet declared their candidacy, the GOP has to choose from: a well-coiffed Mormon flip-flopper; a shit-for-brains Texan with Dominionist tendencies who sees no daylight between our Middle East policy and that of Israel; a bat-shit crazy congresswoman with a closeted gay husband with some pretty wild conspiracy theories; an inexperienced pizza entrepreneur who still believes being gay is a choice and who would actively discriminate against Muslims if he could; a Jack Mormon with no-name and a previous relationship with the Socialist Kenyan Muslim; a twice-divorced adulterer who opportunistically leapt into religion and a six-figure bill at Tiffany; a former Senator who is eternally Google-hobbled; a whacked-out septuagenarian Texan who would undo the Civil Right Act because it impeded business; and a handful of unknowns whom no one will ever know.
The GOP establishment is sweating bullets right now because they know that Obama can beat every one of these candidates based solely on his record (even if only by a slim margin with some). He has had some abyssmal failures, of course -- most notably, his failures to get a public option in the ACA or to paint the GOP-led House as completely anti-middle class. But there is so much meat to his first three years that have improved life for millions (including the lives of the Tea Baggers who would just as soon lynch him from the nearest magnolia tree), that the establishment just knows they're done for until 2016. I think that there must be some secret discussions going on between them and Palin's people, urging her to hold off until then, when her Democratic opponent (whoever he/she is) will have considerably less star power than Obama. (The only person I can think of to follow in Obama's footsteps right now is Hillary Clinton, and she'll be 69 years old by that time and not completely dispossessed of the Clinton stigma.) The last thing the establishment wants is a third party run now to pull the Tea Party base out from under them and cost them not just this election, but perhaps the next two or more. Seems to me that their enmeshment with the white, Southern, Christianist right was quite the Faustian bargain, no?