Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Irony of Santorum's "Success"

Rick Santorum has enjoyed an almost incomprehensible wave of support in the GOP Primary over the last 2 or 3 months. But the bloom is clearly off the rose and Rick's popularity is going the way of so many of his predecessors in the on-again/off-again fight for front-runner status against the indomitable Mitt Romney.

"Sweater Man" Sinks in Recent Polls
In hindsight, the Santorum factor isn't as inexplicable as it first appears. Santorum's strength came not from his own conservative virtues, but from the "vices" of his competitor anti-Mitts. Rick Perry torched himself with poor debate performances and a serious illegal immigration faux pas. Herman Caine became embroiled in allegations of sexual scandal. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann fell to ridicule from the left and a lack of personal gravitas, and late-comer Jon Huntsman never got off the ground. Ron Paul doesn't play ball in the Mitt/not-Mitt tournament and stands apart with a loyal, but too-small constituency to factor in the contest.

Newt Gingrich, alone, offered voters a quasi-viable not-Mitt alternative to Ricky. With the appeal of "big ideas" (code for big government solutions) and a big mouth for debate, Newt captured the imagination of the anti-Mitts and flared into front-runner status for a fleeting moment. But he soon withered under the heat of scrutiny when his big negatives were exposed as well. And yes, you can credit Romney for shining the light on the dark side of Gingrich's moon in a great practice expedition for the Obama contest.

So Santorum rose again; like a Phoenix out of the ashes of his self-destructed brethren (and sister). But it was only after all the other options burned out. Let's face it, where else were the anti-Mitts to go? Ricky has made the egocentric assumption that it was a warm pro-Santorum wind that blew him into contention, and not the chilly anti-establishment backdraft. But he is wrong! Santorum is now the victim of the very voters he courted so successfully. Having campaigned as the quintessential "Not Mitt" candidate, that's now ALL he has going for him, and the voters are beginning to see that it's a a few thousand straws short of a bale.

Former Senator Santorum is now sinking fast even in his home state of Pennsylvania where some polls have him trailing the Gov. Pundits are pushing him to get out, if only to save himself for a future Presidential bid. But I predict that in or out; win or lose in PA, Santorum is a sunken dinghy.  He's a candidate with limited appeal; mostly to those who care ONLY about social issues and the trappings of moral courage, but who lack the courage themselves to take a close look under the hood. Santorum is the real faux conservative in the race. Just look at his voting record.

In a future contest, if you stack Santorum up against likely GOP rivals like Marco Rubio, Governor Christy, or even Rand Paul, Santorum doesn't stand a chance. No, Santorum's days as a national candidate are numbered. And that's probably pretty rational, as well.