I'm a right-of-center guy. (Surprise!) Not a Tea Party enthusiast. But I would say that Rick Santorum and I would agree on a lot of things. Never mind on which things we disagree, but suffice it to say that I got no major beef with his positions on a number of things.
But . . . .
Let's assume that I'm a Republican primary voter.
Let's assume that I really, really think that Barack Obama has been a poor President and must be defeated for the good of the Republic.
Let's further assume that I'm a mainstream conservative voter, right of people one might generally think of as politically "moderate."
And let's say that I've decided, based on the laceratingly astute analysis I read in The Cool Hot Center ("Advice for Republicans: Scratch that Itch, and Then Move On"), that Newt is not the guy.
But hey, there's Rick Santorum.
Assume that I trust Rick Santorum to advocate forcefully for mainstream conservative principles based on (most of) his record and his utterances during the campaign.
But maybe I view Mitt Romney, on the other hand, as a straight-down-the-middle moderate. Forget about whether he is correctly so characterized, just assume that I believe that he's to the left of Santorum. And maybe I don't trust him to be as conservative as he claims. and in general I don't like moderates because some of their views are immoderately to the left of center.
But now let's say that absolutely no one in his right mind thinks that Rick Santorum can defeat Barack Obama, but that many of those same people think that Mitt Romney might. It will be tough, that POTUS is a smooth and crafty deceiver, but Mitt would at least have a colorable chance. And I've heard these opinions, and seen these polls, and I more or less think it's true.
So why in God's name would I vote for Rick Santorum if, assuming my position were shared by enough like-minded people, it would guarantee the re-election of Barack Obama? What possible satisfaction could there be in gloating in 2015 over my vote in 2012 while my health care deteriorates, my retirement funds erode in value, the only vehicles allowed in the HOV lanes are EPA-approved GM electric vehicles praying they get where they're going before their batteries die or asplode, my house is entirely lit by miserable curly light bulbs that I hope don't break and poison the dog, I can't buy replacement parts for my Colt Python, and I watch John Roberts swear in new Justice Alec Baldwin? I exaggerrate, a little.
Obama v. Santorum = Obama, for a dead-bang certainty and even fewer constraints on his statist agenda through 2016.
Obama v. Romney = Maybe Romney, who may be at worst moderate, which at worst is better than Obama at Obama's best, and probably a whole lot better because Romney will know who got him elected.
I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, friends of mine on the Right.
It's just got to be Romney.
Returning very briefly to the non-hypothetical world of the Cool Hot Center:
I think Rick Santorum shows a lot of signs of kookiness (forcing the teaching of intelligent design -- don't get me started), and he's the Leonardo di Caprio of this campaign. Directors are always trying to cast Leo in old-man roles (Howard Hughes, J. Edgar Hoover) and romancing beautiful women of prime age (Sharon Stone, in "The Quick and the Dead"), but it never works because he still looks and sounds like he's 14. Santorum is unimpressive, he's way too far from the mainstream, he's devoted to social positions that the Right has already lost and are not going to be reversed, and he's peevish. He got absolutely killed in his 2006 Senate re-election bid, 41%-59%, and part of the reason (only part) was that he was perceived as something of an arrogant jerk.
Mitt Romney looks and sounds good (perhaps a little less pomade), he's flip-flopped in the direction of conservatism, he'll more than hold his own with Obama, and he'll have a first-rate campaign organization. His Mormonism is a nothingburger. It means less to voters than John Kennedy's Catholicism did in 1960, and less than Obama's race and affiliation with Jeremiah Wright did in 2008. I would be far less concerned about religion influencing his governance than I would Santorum's, who's no friend of church-state separation. He looks like a President and I'll bet he'll find a hard copy of his birth certificate somewhere.
And he's got a sense of humor.
He's welcome to the slogan I have composed for him:
"Mitt is It."
I urge all seven of you who will read this before your state votes tomorrow to keep this in mind as you reach out towards that touch-screen at your local polling emporium.
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