Jonah Goldberg explores the similarities between the Republicans of 2012 and the Democrats of 2004 and writes that they’ll “only grow between now and election day:”
In 2004, the Democrats became obsessed with what left-wing bloggers called “fighting Dems” — candidates who didn’t hold back their disdain for George W. Bush and the GOP. Howard Dean was their man, and for more than a year Dean was way ahead in the polls and what might be called the media primary. But when “Deaniacs” failed to deliver actual victories, the panicked party lurched to John Kerry, who married Ted Kennedy’s politics with Michael Dukakis’ charm. Exit polls showed that Democrats opted for Kerry because they thought he would be the most electable candidate in the general election, not because they liked him.
Normally, the internal dynamics of the GOP tend to be very different than those of the Democrats, but the tea parties might serve as a version of the left-wing “netroots,” not only in terms of funding and organizational passion but also in their hunger for “fighting Republicans” who give no quarter. The challenge for the GOP is to avoid a replay of the Democrats in ’04, which means finding a candidate who is both fighter and fixer.
Right now the only politician who has succeeded in fusing the hunger for substance and style is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and he’s not running.