March Madness is here and what an incredible spectacle it has been. Let’s review the final four. First we have Mitt Romney, panderer extraordinaire. His “y’all” and “cheesy grits” placed him in first place in this category. We are waiting with baited breath to see what he will say to the folks in Illinois. Next we have Rick Santorum. His challenge is to see how far to the right he can go. Between his views on contraception and evolution, and his statements regarding immigration and Iran, he wins the trophy for pulling the Republican Party and its candidates as close to the cliff as it has been since the Goldwater days. We are pleased next to acknowledge the pompous arrogance of Newt Gingrich. I continue to be surprised that people keep saying that he is so bright. A PhD. does not necessarily indicate intelligence, it often indicates perseverance. Certainly, that is the fact in Gingrich’s case. Really, look at who they have been comparing him to. Watch to see how many outlandish statements he makes now that he doesn’t have the debates or money to put him in front of an audience. He needs to make shocking comments to get free media attention. Finally, we have Ron Paul. He in truth is a pseudo candidate. His goal isn’t the nomination, but rather like so many before him, visibility for his minority view of the world. He continues to have little or no impact on the process.
Who will end up winning this Republican tournament? At this point, it is really hard to say. What happens in Illinois will begin to tell the story. This is a contest that Romney was expected to walk right through, but the contest is much closer than that right now. But in truth it makes little difference who wins the nomination at this point. The Republican Party has been so damaged by its own candidates, that walking back to the center for the national campaign with any degree of credibility would seem to be very difficult. I suspect that we will see the display of March Madness move on to the month of April Fools and one can only dream of what will bloom in the wonderful month of May.
In the meantime, the American electorate has surprised us in the past. It elected Bush for two terms and let’s not forget what it did in 2010. The Obama campaign professionals are wisely moving forward now, not waiting until the more traditional time of National Convention fanfare. They realize that this a nation that is extremely polarized. It is clear that the challenge will be to energize the electorate to make sure that they come out to support Obama. That will require a strong organization and the funds to challenge the Republican candidate on the airwaves. Remember the mythology the Republicans created about Kerry. Let’s not assume that the electorate is knowledgeable and informed. They have proven too often that they are not. Let’s assume that it is this campaign’s job to educate and energize. Let’s all be a part of that effort. But you can’t help but enjoy the spectacle of March Madness.