it's entirely possible that bullshit is the best thing to happen to rick santorum's campaign since exit polls allowed him to create the underdog narrative that have made the race for the republican nomination a bit more interesting. for one thing, if you google "santorum bullshit", it generates a page full of links to his outburst against a new york times reporter. any politician would jump at the chance to have a google search of his/ her name + bullshit turn up anything but a critical analysis of their record. and this is an especially great victory for santorum, who has been fighting a severe google disadvantage for the entire campaign. bravo.
obviously here at more like space, we've grown kind of fond of "fighting santo" [no, you said you hated him. you said you hated everything about him. you called him "a dangerous, mean-spirited, sanctimonious creep" right on this blog. -ed.], so to hear the hero of social conservatism get all potty-mouthed sends shivers up our spine. particularly because he was totally right. while he might have uttered the words "mitt romney is the worst candidate to run for the republicans" [i'm lazy so i'm not checking the phrasing- rest assured he said something pretty much exactly like it and probably more than once], it was always when he was speaking on the issue of health care and his point was that, if republicans wanted a candidate who would stand against the idea of them having their tax dollars used to fund affordable health care for all citizens, romney was not their guy, because of that whole providing public health care in massachusetts dealie. and when you think about it, he's not only right about the reporter's question being bullshit, about about the whole health care debate too. double bullshit? [i think that's a summer menu item at burger kind -ed.]
the romney campaign was quick to characterise santorum's reaction as an "epic temper tantrum", probably trying to bury the notion that it reinforced santo's undeniable flawed humanity in contrast with romney's creepy robotic perfection. i'm kinda glad that santo hasn't backed down from the dirty word, if only so that i can watch t.v. news commentators struggle with new ways to avoid using the term "bullshit" in ways that don't make them look like prudish eight year olds [hint: mission impossible]. fcc regulations give curse words the kind of power normally reserved for valdemort. talk about bullshit.
it does, of course, feel like the romney campaign has entered metastasis, slowly but surely spreading to different branches of the party with the inevitability not so much of a conquering hero as the exotic disease he brought home with him from wars abroad. even cnn couldn't be bothered to cover santo's decisive win in louisiana over the weekend and normally wolf blitzer and john king will cover a race for elemetary student council if it gives them the chance to talk voter data and break out the big board. [as an aside, dom has a theory that the board is actually a very high tech murphy bed where wolf sleeps at night, accounting for the fact that he seems to turn up first thing in the morning to talk electoral aftermath, even when vote counting goes into the wee hours.]
party heavyweights like jeb bush [no, i'm not making fun of him] have stepped forward to endorse romney with statements like "yeah, we should probably start making it look like this is the guy we want". endorsing someone by saying it's time to quit acting like the party has a choice in the matter is about the only thing more depressing for the average american conservative than the prospect of having to get excited about a romney candidacy.
but team romney don't see any reason to stop there. john sununu apparently dismissed the idea that the republican nomination race should continue because all the "significant republicans" had already endorsed romney. wow. if i were mitt, i'd be on the phone asking sununu if he'd consider endorsing someone else. if you could make a list of loaded terms that a candidate saddled with an image of privilege and distance from the common man should avoid, "significant" would be right up there. even if you know that very rich people can buy their way into office, you do usually still have to go through the motions of getting the votes. [they're working on that -ed.] telling people who can vote that they're not significant is some pretty epic bullshit.
seriously, it's apparent to everyone that the best thing that romney has going for him is that he's unlikely to offend the sensibilities of the mysterious "independent voters", or as i like to call them, the "bland block", a sliver of the american voting population who apparently object to candidates who believe in just about anything and who are only capable of developing opinions one election at a time. this is the group to whom the world's largest, wealthiest and most visible democracy has surrendered its decision-making. talk about bullshit.
if i haven't said it before [you have -ed.], i think strategic voting, while sometimes necessary, is a pretty contemptible strategy. it's the sort of thing that should make you feel dirty for having to do it. voting for someone you don't like just because you think he or she has a better chance of winning against someone you like less is a sure way to perpetuate mediocrity in politics and to continue to cede power to the "bland block" that all democracies seem to develop. pretty much any political opinion santo ever utters makes me feel queasy. i still believe that a battle between him and barack obama is a battle of one set of ideas and moral values against another. i'd like to see what the result of that battle would be.
instead, it really does seem like we're going to be left watching obama vs. the results of the republican corporate marketing machine; the candidate who's tested best with middle-of-the-road focus groups in flyover states, who looks sort of like people think a president is supposed to look like, which is more or less like the main character from "american dad". and despite the fact that recent elections indicate that people don't actually tend to vote for that kind of person, the marketing department seems to have decided that this is the horse they're going to ride. and to allow that to dictate party strategy is just utter bullshit.
in the end, it looks increasingly like those responsible for marketing romney are the only ones excited about their candidate. to most of the rest of us, and i think to most republicans, the last man standing seems less inspiring and presidential and more like the kind of repulsive by-product of an overly vigorous process. there should really be a term for that.