Really interesting things continue to happen in the GOP nominating process. I was so hopeful of a Gingrich nomination I forgot the fundamental dynamic of the GOP: Fall in line. The establishment came out and knee-capped Gingrich with a surgical viciousness that would leave mobsters impressed. Newt got buried beneath an avalanche of negativity in Iowa. Bachmann hit him as she works to become Romney's running mate. Paul hit him because he genuinely hates him. And Romney and Rove unleashed a torrent of Citizens United money against him.
Poor fat bastard never knew what hit him, which is ironic since he mastered this form of political combat two decades ago.
It really does seem that the GOP has become an awful hybrid of both Nixon - on the politics side - and Tea Party - on the policy side. The things coming out of Romney and even Hunstman's mouths are horrific, right wing nutty stuff. Listen to Perry and Bachmann and you're liable to wonder what the hell happened to the party of Eisenhower, or even the policies of Nixon and Reagan. John Birch has taken over the GOP.
The sad thing is that Romney will win the nomination and then proceed to disavow a lot of what he has been saying for the past three years. He will backtrack and become the "moderate" candidate. Without some effort, the media will let him, because the narrative that they have internalized is that Romney is the moderate. His actual utterances will be irrelevant in contradicting this narrative. Hopefully, the agents of the blogosphere will provide a hard pushback, but as the Politifact debacle over "Lie of the Year" shows, it probably won't work all that well.
The real peril for Romney is that as he immediately jettisons his previously held positions with the speed that Gingrich jettisons a wife, he will come under scrutiny from the Tea Party. They simply don't trust him already. Once he starts actually showing what a weasel he is, it could get ugly.
Right now, he's the nominee. The question is, does he try and move back to the center? I think he knows he has to, but what happens next? More importantly, who runs against him from the right?
UPDATE: Booman offers this:
The truth is, though, that these voters (both the informed and semi-informed) really should keep applying their scalpel because they'll eventually eliminate Romney, too, and realize that the only responsible choice is to reelect the president. They'll get to that point if they examine their assumptions about the president, which are almost uniformly false. Even where they have Obama pegged correctly, they're wrong about the Republicans. If they're concerned about the national debt, for example, and don't want the U.S. to become like Greece and default on its debts, the last thing they should do is vote for the party of Reagan and Bush. But hope springs eternal with these folks, and next time will be different. Next time, the GOP will eschew tax cuts for the rich, cut spending, and balance the budget. Except, they won't. They've shown who they are now for thirty years, and they're only getting more psychotic and less evidence-based.