So Mitt Romney won the CPAC straw poll and narrowly finished first in the Maine caucuses. The absence of calamity has become what passes for victory these days. Romney’s wins are weak, but there is no argument that Newt Gingrich’s and Rick Santorum’s losses are anything other than very weak.
The nomination process will continue, and without any voting taking place, the media will look for other ways to define winners and losers, daily or, at least, every other day. All the campaigns need to be very careful and sure-footed. There is a big market for mistakes and gaffes, and they would be amplified more than ever. All the campaigns should raise money, roll out endorsements and be very careful about what they say.
President Obama has given all GOP leaders something they can talk about this week. The Obama White House will unveil a new budget containing a 1.33 trillion dollar deficit for fiscal year 2013 and he will pretend that everything is going according to plan. Remember, this is the deficit his budget hopes for. This is the deficit if Congress passes all his tax increases and spending plans. It is stunning to the point that it is hard to imagine. Voters may be numb more than riled, but maybe that is the Obama campaign plan. When Senator Obama announced his candidacy for president, he said “chronic avoidance of tough decisions” would end with his election. Well, here we are. He claims he has done a good job for three years, yet if he had pledged to get us to this point, he would have been laughed out of the race. But now he is the favorite in November.
It will be interesting to see who among the GOP leadership can make this fact come to life and sustain some alarm among voters. It will be discouraging if the political commentariat simply yawns and moves on.