My current assumption about the 2016 GOP primary is that, barring an act of the Trickster God, its end stage will devolve into an epic battle between Rick Santorum and whichever schlub the “sane” business rump of the party can shepherd through the contests between the snake handlers and the glibertarians (JEB!, Jindal, and Cruz being the current contenders). However much those of us in the Reality-Based Community regard him as a godsbothering sideshow freak who becomes ever more dislikeable the better he’s known, Santorum got the ‘Best of Losers’ ribbon in 2012 — no matter how much money Mitt Romney and his supporters fed into the primary woodchippers, the dumb sullen heart of the Stupid Party gave Sanctorum their votes. And Repubs, committed authoritarians that they are, treat “It’s His Turn“ as one of the prime directives; thus McCain followed Dubya, and Willard followed McCain, and Sanctorum fully intends to follow Willard in the next quadrennial circus parade.
It therefore makes me a very happy Democrat that Rand ‘Thanksdad’ Paul is already making a strong bid to play the Third Party Spoiler, per Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly:
Can Rand Paul’s “Constitutional Conservative” Coalition Hang Together?
In the wake of Rand Paul’s trip last week to Iowa, which seemed design to launch (or at least aggressively explore) a 2016 presidential candidacy, certain elements of his potential nomination-campaign coalition are looking at each other with suspicion. As WaPo’s Peter Wallstein noted, he’s been spending a lot of time with conservative evangelicals—earlier in a trip to Israel, and last Friday in meetings orchestrated by Christian Right impresario David Lane—and they want to be assured he’s not some dope-smoking sodomite libertarian…
This sort of evangelical outreach is giving the heebie-jeebies to leading libertarian writer Nick Gillespie, who complained in a Daily Beast column that Paul is trying to serve two masters…
Both Wallstein and Gillespie frame the controversy at least in part by wondering if Rand Paul is a different animal than his father. But both probably know this suggestion that libertarians and quasi-theocrats are at each other’s throats when it comes to Republican politics is an exaggeration. Ron Paul had a pretty strong evangelical following himself; his support among Iowa home-schoolers, for example, was key to his political strength there. And both Pauls have had close links to the U.S. Constitution Party, that theocratic organization which basically believes God wants government to defer to the churches on cultural issues and to property-owners on economic issues….
Thing is, what Rand Paul has isn’t a political philosophy, it’s a highly successful family grift business. Senator Aquabuddha is the perfect candidate for the “Suburban Gated Community” demographic of the modern GOP — prosperous white guys with good educations, most of them fellow beneficiaries of their parents’ success during the postwar prosperity boom, who want to drink good whiskey and use modern contraceptives while lecturing their underlings about how God wants them to be poor and stupid. He’s too inexperienced to woo the Money Party, and too lazy to go full-metal Jeebus-slobberer in the hinterlands, but I can see him (or his handlers) busily peeling off just enough votes from the divergent wings of the modern GOP to cripple the whole circus.
And if we’re really lucky, he’ll hire Stuart Stevens! Jon Chait, at NYMag:
Mitt Romney was probably going to lose last year regardless of what he did, but he did make some puzzling moves, such as appearing with Donald Trump to accept a high-profile endorsement. [Wednesday] Romney strategist Stuart Stevens told National Review this move did not hurt Romney at all, because there was no chance Romney could ever top Trump’s popularity:
“I think people that don’t like Donald Trump aren’t going to vote for Mitt Romney,” Stevens added. “He did it in Las Vegas. He’s very popular in Las Vegas. The guy’s on television for a reason. People like him.”
You hear that? He’s on television. They don’t just go putting maniacs on television because they stir up attention or anything. Television executives are going to make sure a majority of voters approve of you and your political ideas before they let you on the air….