Here’s a good way to measure how much trouble the Democrats are in right now. Before the new Congress has taken a single vote, before Harry Reid has discovered, via a tough fight, just how much farther right the whole Senate has moved, before any of those new GOP governors have made their presence felt, before all those new Republican state assemblies have had a chance to do anything…
…before all those things, Al Hunt feels the need to call the GOP “leaderless.” In today’s column, Hunt looks at the many weakness and few strengths of the GOP presidential field for 2012, and reports:
There is no candidate like a Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan or Bob Dole, waiting his turn as the nominee. “We’re not going to do what we normally do, nominate the steady beau,” says Richard Land, a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the Republicans’ most influential social conservatives.
As the grassroots Tea Party movement showed in state after state in the 2010 congressional elections, this is no longer a hierarchical party. And the field of contenders doesn’t overwhelm anyone. “All the major candidates have significant problems,” Land says.
Hunt seems to think that since there’s no GOP old bull — a Reagan, Bush, Dole — standing first in line for the nomination, that the GOP is in serious trouble. Or at least perhaps that’s what he’d like you to think. But the interesting part of Hunt’s column is the part he didn’t spend any time really thinking about, and that’s Lands comment that “this is no longer a hierarchical party.”
Certainly, lack of hierarchy hasn’t done the Democrats too much harm over the years. And when the GOP has nominated the next Old Guy in Line — think Dole or McCain — it hasn’t always been a strength. In a climate so …changed… that an establishment Republican senator like Orrin Hatch will come and talk on my little Tea Party TV show to make a direct appeal, it’s clear that the old ways are over. Or at least on hold. But Hunt then goes on to detail a very conventional list of potential nominees, in a very conventional fashion. Hunt never once considers that 2012 might just be a very different environment. For a guy who loves his global warming, Hunt sure can’t see how hot things have gotten in GOP/Tea Party politics.
So is the GOP candidate, whoever he or she may be, a lock-in for 2012? Hardly. I have no idea what will happen, who will hold the standard, or what kind of campaign they’ll run. But I do know that you can’t use old models to make predictions about a party coming to grips with a brand-new insurgency.
The Tea Party has changed everything — except Al Hunt and his DC Beltway buddies in the mainstream media. Maybe having stormed the walls of Washington, it’s time for the Tea Party to make a determined assault on our institutional media.