Dreams of returning to glory in 2016 on a wave of . . . Jon Hunstman-mania? More common than you might think, Dear Reader – at least in some benighted quarters.
Here’s the Cliff Note version: Establishment Republicans (what’s left of them) tire of feigning allegiance to the Movement to escape cannibalization. So the dream begins with a Movement-Romney car wreck in 2012. To pave the way for radical moderation in 2016. Moderation of course is relative. But that’s marketing.
Does every dream star Huntsman? No. But he’s a convenient reference. A placeholder for full throated moderation unleashed. That he failed so completely in 2012 is a minor quibble.
Republican Fantasies Require Democrats Do The Heavy Lifting
This dream’s highlights? Obama and Democrats (note the distinction) do all the hard, dirty work: absorb Movement punches, tire them out and stagger to be last man standing in 2012. These dreaming Republicans lack the spine and commitment to take back their party the old fashioned way, on the ground, from local to state and federal levels, think tanks, etc. They’re actually more feckless than their rootless Democrat counterparts. Which says a lot.
You might well ask how a militantly moderate figure could ever navigate base-controlled primaries. Or whether 2012 failure might merely further radicalize the Movement, excusing failure with Romney as convenient scapegoat. Can militant Republican [sic] moderation survive in a Citizens United world?
You’re right to wonder. We’ve posed the same questions. Already, for example, Scott Walker in Wisconsin is calling for “Let Ryan Be Ryan” and to Ryan-ize Romney. The blame game goes both ways.
Dreamers answer that their money-shot (if you will) is 4 more years of political and economic stagnation. Obama’s just a nice guy but a flawed political figure. Leaving the door open for Americans desperate for seemingly practical, across-the-aisles solutions. From ‘a uniter, not a divider’. As dreamers get more excited telling this tale, they imagine [Hunstman/Jeb/Your Name Here] surging through the primaries riding a tidal wave of agreeability and common sense. USA! USA! But with BMWs and Volvos.
The Script Needs Work
Implausible? We agree with you. The Establishment Republicans sound so much like the Bourbons in exile. They’re essentially passive. Obama will stop the Movement now. Events, fate, Providence then will deliver circumstances in 2016 ripe for them.
Establishment Republicans themselves do nothing. As they have since 1993. These dreaming Republicans are like lilies in the field (per Ecclesiastes). Worse, they have no ideas of their own. In fact, to hear their laundry list of what Republicans should campaign on, it’s often Newt without Newt. Simply because those ideas are already out there – national prestige programs are the rage, like the Moon again for some reason. Their own version of Prague Spring – Newt with a ‘human face’.
Complicating matters? Both Biden and HRC already embody the marketing space these Republicans dream about. True, fatigue with Democrats in 2016 is a real possibility, and a referendum on a third Obama term tricky. Yet they and other national Democrats can actually practice politics now and then.
We enjoy reading La Noonan’s latest catty column on the Romney campaign. Or Kristol’s despair. Car wrecks command attention. Although the election’s still close. But the long game? For these dreamers, 2016 is no longer idle salad fork chatter but now with the main course.