I caught up with some reading over the weekend, and here’s what stood out about the campaign:
1. Despite most of the national press mocking Mitt Romney’s “seriously conservative” performance at CPAC, he won the vote. Probably meaningless, but I would be interested if he bought the vote — straw polls being notoriously subject to financial manipulation — or earned it. If the latter, it may also be meaningless because CPAC may represent more establishment conservatives — think Ms. Coulter — who have already shown a willingness to hold their nose for Romney. (Also, I don’t think future chroniclers of the 2012 election will look back on Romney’s squeaker in non-binding Maine as a turning point either.)
2. Haley Barbour could answer my CPAC questions. He remains the best commentator on Republican politics I know. His speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library in which he outlines trends in the party is really worth reading.
3. The birth control issue may yet turn around and bite the Republicans, as the payroll tax deduction did. As Andrew Sullivan points out, opponents of the Obama compromise could look extreme and Rick Santorum could be the poster child, as he plays to a narrow, but powerful Southern GOP bloc of anti-contraception “pro-personhood” voters.
4. Almost every four years in my adult life, there is talk of the possibility of a brokered convention — for Democrats. It is just something we do when the race gets boring. I think it is something to do with wishing we could go back in time and visit great conventions of the past and see what it’s like to go to the thirty-second ballot. (Many more roll-calls than that, and I think the pool of possible nominees could be approaching retired political consultants.)
But now the talk is of the Republicans having one. However remote this possibility, I am ambivalent about it from a partisian standpoint. Part of me accepts the conventional wisdom that it would be a disaster for the Republicans, a bitter reprise of the grievances and fissures that have marked the primaries. But part of me worries that it could lead to a better nominee: Chris Christie, John Thune, or Jeb Bush.
However, as entertainment, how great would a deadlocked convention be? And, of course, there is a familiar figure already lined up to produce it. A person who was selling this scenario as recently as this weekend at the CPAC convention: Sarah Palin.