The first official vote of the 2012 race is today in Iowa. It looks like the result will be a near tie between Paul, Romney and … I can’t believe I’m typing this .. Santorum. Perry and Gingrich are likely to finish a ways back. Bachmann and Santorum are likely to be way back.
This thing has already dragged out over a year and I think I’ve made my opinions of the candidates clear. I haven’t blogged much on Rick Santorum but I should have. It was utterly predictable that after Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich and Paul he would be the next out of the clown car to surge in the polls (hold out, Mr. Huntsman, your turn is coming!). But, to be clear, this man is not a limited government conservative. He supported every big government program of George W. Bush. He supports an aggressive foreign policy. He was a world-class porker for Pennsylvania while simultaneously opposing the freedom of people to pork who they want and use birth control while porking. With Santorum, you don’t have to infer that he’s a religious radical. He has openly stated it.
Pretty soon, that will be remembered. And we’ll be back to Plan B, which is Mitt Romney.
For the record, I think Obama is going to win re-election this year no matter who the nominee is. There’s always a chance if some major scandal erupts or the economy tanks again, which is why we should find a sensible candidate. But Americans hate unelecting Presidents and the GOP still has a foul taste for too many voters. And the early returns on the economy are hopeful. However, I think it is likely that the GOP will make big gains in the Senate and retain control of the House. In the end, that’s the more important fight. George Will has a good column out expounding on this topic.
Although they have become prone to apocalyptic forebodings about the fragility of the nation’s institutions and traditions under the current President, conservatives should stride confidently into 2012. This is not because they are certain, or even likely, to defeat Barack Obama this year. Rather, it is because, if they emancipate themselves from their unconservative fixation on the presidency, they will see events unfolding in their favour. And when Congress is controlled by one party, as it might be a year from now, it can stymie an overreaching executive.
I’m not yet convinced that the GOP is sane or reliable enough to have the entire government in their hands. I can live with divided government … if the GOP can force some fiscal discipline.