Thursday, January 06, 2011

Gearing up for a delusional 2012

Delusions of adequacy. There's no other way to explain it.

With the newly-sworn Congress barely in session, we are well into the horse race leading up to the 2012 presidential election. Chronologically, we're entering the third year or "autumn" of the cycle, and appropriately the nuts are starting to fall from the trees.

Thus far the Obama administration has governed differently than candidate Obama campaigned, frustrating progressives and liberals and compromising away hoped-for policy gains. Given both disappointment among the base and the slow pace of economic recovery, especially unemployment, you'd think the president would be particularly vulnerable to a primary opponent. Certainly, some on the left would welcome the prospect of a Democratic primary, but at this point it doesn't seem likely.

The water is a bit muddied by the successful lame-duck session, which demonstrated that once in a rare while Democrats can accomplish something, yet generated a sense of frustration and wondering where that can-do competence had been the previous two years.

Frustrations notwithstanding, a credible primary challenge on the left seems increasingly unlikely. That leaves the GOP side of the aisle where the excitement is to be found.

Starting with a blast from the insufficiently distant past, CNN reports that former Senator Frothy, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, is making preparations for a 2012 White House run:

A source close to the former senator from Pennsylvania confirms to CNN that later Wednesday Santorum will announced [sic] that he's bringing on board one of the top GOP political strategists in New Hampshire, a state that plays a crucial role in the race for the White House. Santorum will also next week make another visit to the state, which traditionally holds in nation's first primary in the presidential calendar.

Haven't we suffered enough? It's hard to imagine a world in which a Santorum candidacy would be taken seriously, but then I look at the current House of Representatives and wonder if he isn't an ideal stealth candidate. He's got the social conservative bona fides Multiple Choice Mitt lacks. He was a wingnut before teabagging asshattery was cool and the public at large doesn't have the longest of memories.

But things could be even more entertaining. Gazing northward from my comfortable home in Minnesota's Fourth Congressional District, we find the Sixth District, a rather "special" place represented by the always entertaining (usually not deliberately so) Michele Bachmann.

Michele Bachmann is always unpredictable – her logic isn't like other people's logic. There was speculation she would consider taking on Minnesota's senior senator, Amy Klobuchar, who will stands for re-election in 2012. It turns out Bachmann's ambitions may be a bit more grand in scale:

MinnPost has learned that Bachmann loyalists have already begun holding conversations with activists and officials in key early caucus and primary states and will begin travelling to those states in the coming weeks and months. Internal conversations have already begun about who might leave her Washington and district offices to staff a potential bid. And Bachmann told reporters she will likely visit additional early voting states in the upcoming months.

I have to admit this is a bit mind-numbing. Bachmann's ability to raise vast sums of money, mostly from out-of-state, was demonstrated in the 2010 election, but that's not the same thing as a national draw for votes. Bachmann's idiocy is a known quantity in the Sixth and they vote for her anyway. It's probably a mistake to think Americans nationwide, even a majority of GOP voters, are equally forgiving.

There is yet some amusement value to be had here. The GOP leadership created the monster. As Hot Air observes, "[a] 'Palin vs. Bachmann' storyline in the primaries would be the political event of a lifetime." Yeah, it would. The GOP leadership has fed the teabagging beast for electoral advantage, praying all the while they could keep it under control. But the beast doesn't want to be controlled.

When Bachmann stopped having her way with the GOP leadership in the Minnesota Senate, she launched her quixotic bid for Congress in the Sixth. Bachmann aspires to leadership, having recently formed the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives and campaigned actively for far-right candidates in the 2010 season. Not only were her attempts to secure a leadership position within the House GOP solidly rebuffed, she was denied a desired seat on the Ways and Means Committee, to be placed on the Intelligence Committee. Now in principle the Intelligence Committee is prestigious, but it's also a committee that by nature of its work is often out of the limelight – something troublesome for Bachmann, who follows TV cameras like a moth to flame.

Rep. Keith Ellison had this to say about Michele Bachmann's possible candidacy:

I think it would be great for her to run for president. I think she has strongly-held views which she should test on the whole of the United States – see how her views are received across the country, not just in the comfort of the 6th District.

It certainly could be educational:

I think her views would not match up with the mainstream of American society, but I do encourage her to try it, I think it would be a very good thing for her to get out there – and maybe she should resign from office now so she can devote all her time to her presidential run.

Educational indeed. This has potential for some great political theater. Please Michele... please GOP.

(Cross-posted from Greg Prince's Blog.)

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