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The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check

The Heart & Soul of Party politics - Part One
James Campion
Republicans Define Internal Battle For 2008

Despite dismal approval ratings, second-term numbness, and a celebrity fatigue worthy of the latest Britney Spears meltdown, George W. Bush is still the president of the United States. Love him or hate him, he represents the man holding the prize currently being grappled for daily across the contiguous map. And although most of the Republican candidates have conspicuously kept his name out of the debate, his specter looms large on how each may ultimately gain party favor by rallying every wing, inevitably becoming, well... becoming Captain Shoo-In.

Mitt Romney Buys Nevada
McCain wins South Carolina
Make no mistake; Bush is president because he was able to represent the pro-corporate, geo-conservative, and religious-right segments of his party, while also managing to hold a place for its dwindling moderates. So far several of the current Republican candidates have only been able to match this template as a group. No individual figure has yet emerged to connect the dots, something that needs to be rectified before the final bell rings in Minneapolis this September.

    The alternative is a convention looking oddly similar to the fractured goofiness of the Democratic Party forty years ago, absent doped-up student theatrics and subsequent cop beatings.

    At the time of this writing, Mitt Romney is now the third Republican presidential candidate to achieve victory over three different contests.  Romney best represents the "New Bush", an establishment frontrunner; primed and garnished as the Grand Old Party's most serviceable representative of its fiscally conservative/military-industrial-complex platform. His only competitor for this title is Fred Thompson, a retired Tennessee senator cum actor, who has displayed a less than enthusiastic fervor to compete, and as a result, has not. Just the same, Romney has failed to spark passion across several other key Republican agendas, mostly the fairly moderate or culturally obsessed Christian lobbies.

    Romney's fragile balancing act on the "electable" tightrope is mainly due to an affected hedged-bet with social conservatives and war hawks while clumsily managing to consistently distance himself from them. Romney's Achilles heel is that Arizona senator and one-time loser in this endeavor eight years ago, John McCain, has also adopted this type of Clintonian/Bushesque two-faced boogie. While Romney has been hatched from a queer religious bent with questionable blood-stances on race, gender, and other hot-button political death-knells, McCain has traveled from the other end of the long and winding independent/moderate road, soliciting hard-line conservatives with only modest success.

    Former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, joins McCain in this purgatory. In the arena of vague socio-political positions, be it abortion, gun control, or gay rights, or the unenviable tact of backing the party-harangued Bush Immigration Amnesty plan, McCain and Giuliani are a two-sided coin. Giuliani also joins McCain in trumpeting the current administration's wacky war plans, using a strength-in-defense-stance to corner the all-important "fear" market exploited with Machiavellian brilliance in 2004 by the recently ostracized Karl Rove.

    But McCain and Giuliani also share something more damning; the "near-broke, barely-maintaining" image laughably ignored by Romney. With an obscene heap of cash unrivaled by any candidate standing, Romney officials' plan all along has been to use unlimited funds and party muscle to all-but obliterate their "moderate" competition, as a phenomenal lack of interest will surely jettison Thompson's Reaganville flop.

    Ah, but not to be denied is the very vocal, extremely motivated, and heretofore unshakable foundation of the party's main 2004 voting block; Evangelical Christian conservatives, represented notably by former Arkansas governor and current Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee. After an upset bid in Iowa, the Huckabee camp has been driving the God-Vote home, unleashing the candidate into Bible-waxing infinitum.

    As long as Huckabee hangs around he will continue to hoard the anti-gay, pro-life, Christmas fascists, and if and when he goes, may be a powerful endorsement to whomever is left; a bad sign for Romney, who has spent an inordinate amount of time and money mudslinging Huckabee left, right, and in between.

    Finally, there is the variable Alternate National Candidate Status, executed with superb precision by the Bush Cabal in 2000. The once motivated Anti-Clinton Engine set its collective sights on the droning visage of Al Gore, the poster-boy for eight long years of the Same-Old-Crap. This allowed Bush to eradicate the loose-cannon nonsense of an independent-minded McCain campaign with one goal; recapture the White House for the Republicans. Without this safety net -- since Republicans are now the ones pitching eight more years of the Same-Old-Crap -- the need for someone who can shine in a general election is not yet revealed itself.

    Repeat: Not yet.

    A few more Clinton surprise victories or another streaking Obama run could change all that. But if things continue to be mucked up across the ideological aisle, then closer to home the party's three or four or five divisions will need to be mended. Failing that, one will emerge as the singular voice and dominate the fall agenda, providing a clear choice for the remaining fifteen percent of the electorate who will not be expected to vote blindly along party lines.

    And as Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush kick themselves for not throwing their tattered derby into the ring, the always-dangerous Mike Bloomberg waits in the wings to fill the vacuum from his Independent perch.


© James Campion Jan 20th 2008

New Hampshire: Same Song & Dance
James Campion
Madam Shoo-In Weeps To Upset/Mac Is Back & Rudy Exhales. Momentum Halted. Freight Train Derailed. Revolution stalled.
Iowa: What Happened?
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Obama Rises, Hillary Skids/GOP Field Swings Wide On A Holy Huckabee Blip

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