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Tomasky: No GOP 'Saviors' in Sight

Before Mitt Romney's "The trees are the right height" meltdown, you could say that at least one GOP candidate appeared to be fairly sane, if totally unprincipled in his waffling on every major issue. Now, however, even that exception is in some doubt.

As a result of Romney's unhinged rant, the growing chorus of Republicans calling for a replacement messiah has begun to rattle the rafters. The prospects are not promising, as Michael Tomasky explains in his Daily Beast post, "There Will Be No Saviors for the GOP in 2012."

What the party needs is not simply a new candidate. It needs someone with the courage to stand up and say that the GOP has gone completely off the deep end--and that the party could run an amalgam of Ronald Reagan and Mahatma Gandhi and he wouldn't win as long as the party's inflamed base keeps with its current attitudes. But it lacks such a person utterly. It's a party made up of on the one hand unprincipled cowards, and on the other of people devoted to principles so extreme that they'd have serious trouble attracting more than about 42 percent of the vote.

Tomasky considers the possibility of one of the three most frequently-mentioned saviors, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels, stepping up, and assesses their prospects:

...Here's the problem. First, let's consider the three men named above. What's so savior-y about them? The Bush name? Please. It's better than Nixon, but that's about all that can be said for it. Christie's tough-talking personality? That appeals to people on the right. But it could wear thin. And yes, the avoirdupois factor is an issue. Most Americans don't want a president who looks like that. And Daniels has the charisma of an econ-department chair.

More importantly, each has litmus-test difficulties. Jeb, as Rich Yeselson pointed out over the weekend at the Washington Monthly, is kind of soft on immigration, and there is no single issue that revs the engines of the far right like that one. (Jeb opposed Arizona's immigration law, among other things.) Christie appointed a Muslim judge and said, in a lacerating statement aimed directly at the kind of people who make up the GOP base, that opposition to said judge was based on "ignorance." Daniels, back when he was a potential candidate, was regularly savaged by Rush Limbaugh. These are suddenly going to be right-wing heroes? Others mention Paul Ryan, but they're just being delusional. Ryan would win about the same 15 states Santorum and Gingrich would, maybe 20, but most definitely not the right 20.

Writing at CNN Politics about a 'Plan B' memo circulating in GOP circles, CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and Senior Producer Kevin Bohn also note the growing desperation in the Republican camp:

...One knowledgeable GOP source confirms that some Republicans are circulating the deadlines and the basic math that would allow another candidate to get into the nomination fight and take it all the way to the convention. More than a half dozen states' filing deadlines have yet to pass. A majority of the delegates to the national convention are still up for grabs. One more factor to be considered: many states are choosing their delegates proportionally, which makes it easier for a candidate pick up delegates without outright winning a state...

...One of the Republicans who has seen the memo said "no one is hoping that this will come to play," regarding a new candidate entering the fray. Yet some Republican partisans feel they need to make some contingency plans depending on the outcome in coming primaries. Other veteran Republicans contacted by CNN dismissed any possibility of another candidate entering the contest at this date.

Tomasky surveys the wreckage and potential 'saviors' and concludes,

"...There is no one who can satisfy the base of the GOP--a cohort so drunk on ideology and resentment that they cheer electrocutions and boo a soldier--and be elected president of the United States. Period...They can't see the obvious paradox--that their lust for the White House is making them submit to all the wishes of a fanatical base, which is exactly what will keep them from winning the White House.

In other words, anyone smart enough to craft and deliver a sensible message isn't going to get any traction with the tea party and wingnuts, who appear to have veto power in today's GOP. Still, we know that someone will be nominated --- just don't expect a lucid moderate Republican on a white horse to appear on the horizon.