Philip Rucker and Robert Costa really have something special in today’s WaPo. They tell of “growing anxiety bordering on panic” in the GOP. “Republican elites” fear that Ben Carson or Donald Trump could put Hillary Clinton in the White House and could even cause the Senate to fall into “Democratic hands.”
The party is “paralyzed” over disagreements about how to “prosecute the case against” Carson and Trump and that there is no “silver bullet.”
But these are not “normal times,” the authors warn us, because the other candidates don’t have “a sense of what might work this year.” Even worse, if Trump or Carson were to fall, “there’s no telling to whom their supporters would turn, if anyone.”
(Cue scary music.)
[ASIDE: Have Rucker and Costa forgotten this is a primary race? If Carson or Trump supporters go away, that means the other candidates get bigger slices of a smaller pie. Those “missing” primary votes don’t magically turn into Hillary or Democratic Senate votes in November. But what good are facts and reason when WaPo is trying to scare up a panic?]
But there might be… one man.
Are you ready for the big reveal?
Wait for it…
We have to get to the fifth graf of Rucker and Costa’s turgid — nay, tumescent — prose before we get to an actual quote from an actual person who might have an actual clue about what’s going on in this race. And to whom did they turn?
An old Mitt Romney hand:
“The rest of the field is still wishing upon a star that Trump and Carson are going to self-destruct,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, a former adviser to 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. But, he said, “they have to be made to self-destruct. . . . Nothing has happened at this point to dislodge Trump or Carson.”
Gosh, there’s nothing self-serving in that quote, is there? The question I leave to you, Dear Reader, is whether the self being served is Fehrnstrom — or Rucker and Costa.
The rest of the story relies on unnamed “other Republicans” who are so “desperate to change the dynamic” that they’re mapping out a strategy to bring back Romney, even though he shows “no indication” of wanting to run again.
And even though Republican primary voters show no indication of wanting him back.
Lower down in the story our intrepid muckrakers turn to 80-year-old former GOP New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, who it is safe to say might not represent the future of the party. Way, way, way lower down they talked to party pro Charlie Black, who shows no sign of panic whatsoever, saying that the contest “will eventually fall into the normal pattern.”
The closest thing to real panic in the GOP is over the big money guys, who so far are mostly sitting this one out — but that only makes sense, given the size of the field and that their previous favorite, Jeb Bush, is in a slow-motion flame-out.
But panic? Mitt Romney?
Don’t hit that panic button just yet, and don’t listen to the insiders when what the voters seem to really want is someone from far outside the Establishment.