Commentary: The Rick Perry/Mitt Romney Political “Horserace”
It would be a mistake to believe that the “mainstream” media and press are only interested in boosting ratings as they play up the contest between Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in their quest for the Republican presidential nomination. While increased viewership is a definite “plus,” their ultimate concern is the re-election of Barack Obama. And they have made it abundantly clear that Romney would be their preferred candidate in a general election race.
Romney’s political philosophy bears a far stronger resemblance to Arizona Senator John McCain than does the thinking or track record of Perry. And this portends two possibilities for a liberal advantage. First, if Romney were to win next November, his frequently vacillating past stances on major defining issues would pose far less of a threat to the ongoing liberal agenda than Perry’s blunt and intransigent opposition to ideas with which he disagrees. Secondly, the mere fact that Romney bears so much baggage in this department makes him a far less formidable candidate than Perry. But while the leftists clearly know this, their ostensibly objective mouthpieces are determined to paint a distorted picture for the American public.
So, with each passing day, another attempt is made to chip away a little more of Perry’s initial momentum. Eventually, his liberal opponents hope they can sufficiently undermine him and neutralize his campaign, thus leaving the frontrunner spot open to Romney. Unfortunately, the entire field of Republican candidates is essentially participating in this ploy, apparently unaware that the nomination is in all likelihood already settled on one of these two. The realities of last week’s Florida debate, which devolved into a free-for-all almost entirely directed at Perry, reflect a dangerous myopia among virtually all of the other contenders.
In truth, the long term damage may have been done to themselves and not their intended target. The actions of those candidates made them appear petty and even lacking in their own merit, and the orchestrated nature of the onslaught served to reveal their own weaknesses. Each of Perry’s antagonists focused on a particular flaw in his past record or governing philosophy. Yet on an individual basis they each just as stridently avoided certain controversial areas, thereby telling volumes about themselves.
Michele Bachmann relentlessly focused on Perry’s admittedly misbegotten effort to vaccinate young girls against the human papilloma virus (HPV). In the end however, her actions appeared excessive and gratuitous. How many times can one play “gotcha,” repeatedly directing the discussion back to a single action which Perry readily admits was a mistake? Clearly, her aim was not to alert the public of a looming danger, but to garner as much political advantage as possible from the situation.
In stark contrast, Bachmann was comparatively delicate around Perry’s “Ponzi scheme” characterization of Social Security. While taking a few pot shots, she avoided denigration of Perry’s strident descriptor, since Bachmann is herself regularly criticized for being overly provocative in her comments on key issues. Instead, she allowed that duty to fall to Romney, who was likewise careful not to direct too much attention towards the HPV controversy, since he well knows that a single overreaching executive order by the Texas Governor is far more easily forgivable than the methodical destruction of personal liberty represented by Romneycare, and the Pandora’s box it helped to open, Obamacare.
Significantly, Bachmann was joined by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who likewise decried the excessive nature of Perry’s HPV vaccination debacle. Yet Santorum never approached the often repeated criticism of Perry for having supported the presidential candidacy of Al Gore two decades ago. Santorum would certainly not want the topic of past political alliances to go full circle, which would inevitably evoke discussions of his own support for the infamous Pennsylvania Senate RINO (since turned Democrat…officially) Arlen Specter.
From the onset of the debate, it was clear that the object of the entire production was not to learn what beliefs the Republican candidates upheld, or how their guiding principles might play out if one of them were to win the election next fall. Instead, the whole focus was how to cut into Perry’s current lead. And any lingering doubts that this might be the case were thoroughly dispelled in the ensuing days since the debate, with one “news story” after another trumpeting a possible dissipation of Perry’s momentum, only occasionally peppered with grudging concessions of the significant lead he nonetheless retains. In the same vein, polls showing that Romney might be gaining on him are jubilantly and prominently reported.
In the process, they undermined and trivialized the entire conservative groundswell of the past two years, which is an enormous price to pay for the possibility of merely getting “one up” on Perry.
America has already reaped the grim results of a presidential election decided with no more regard for its consequences than an episode of American Idol. It would be a crying shame for the Republicans to respond by making their determination of a nominee in a manner reflective of the reality show “Survivor.”
Admittedly, this chain of events could redound to Romney’s benefit, at least in the short term. Having gained five points against Perry according to some polls, the Massachusetts Governor presents by far the most likely candidate to be frontrunner in the event that Perry’s popularity dissipates. And this would suit the political establishment and their media minions just fine.
A Perry presidency constitutes an opportunity to fundamentally steer America back from the abyss of socialism and cultural collapse. At best, Mitt Romney in the White House would represent a “time out,” after which liberalism could pick up its agenda slightly delayed, but ultimately unabated. Leftists would caterwaul in either case, but they know that, in the long run, they could far more easily recuperate from the latter.
The end game will be next November’s showdown with Obama. The time to start considering that eventuality is now.
Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming. He has been involved in politics at the local and state level for many years. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com