Welcome to another day in Club Sunshine.
Has there ever been an American election in which every day beams with so many rays of bright comic absurdity? Today should be an especially hot day so Factor 50 might be in order. The sun is barely up yet we could quite easy write a quick thousand about Ben Carson who has surprised everybody (possibly including himself) by announcing that he’s dropping out of the race but not suspending his campaign. Or is he suspending his campaign but not dropping out of the race? It really doesn’t matter. Confusion is the chief quality that Carson brought to the Republican road show and it seems appropriate that he departs the scene in state of abject befuddlement. This is the guy who once got lost between the edge and centre of a debate stage and turned traditional logic upside down by trying to convince the public that he did have the homicidal tendencies needed to stab a guy. This is the man who ensured that the national debate was about the Egyptians and why they really built the pyramids. He’s the brain surgeon who can describe neural activity with metronomic accuracy yet has a picture in his den that might accurately be titled ‘Ben and his best friend Jesus’.
Carson will be missed, if he’s actually going anywhere and I’m not convinced that in his confusion he won’t turn up at tonight’s Fox News Debate. Yet we need not worry. His place in the national mud fight will be amply filled by Mitt Romney who will speak today about the state of the race for the Republican nomination. It should make for irrelevant viewing.
The intervention of Romney is not what you might call ‘thinking outside the box’ on behalf of the Republican establishment. Donald Trump is succeeding because the conservative base are tired of their political masters picking square-jawed dullards who lack the personality to communicate a popular conservative message at general elections. It would logically follow that the Republican establishment will not damage Trump by unleashing a square-jawed dullard who lacked the personality to communicate a popular conservative message at a general election. Romney makes Jeb Bush look hotrod. He reminds me of every American blockbuster movie that requires somebody to play the president. He’s Bill Pullman in Independence Day or Bruce Greenwood in National Treasure: Book of Secrets. He’s the perfectly cast actor with great hair but a rotten script. He’s not even the kind of actor who can ad lib his way through a scene and probably has an autocue fixed to his bathroom mirror.
He is also the opposite to everything that Trump represents. He’s upmarket, country club, and enjoys dressage. Trump is downmarket, club casino, and it’s questionable if he knows how to spell ‘dressage’. Romney is the kind of politician to have a butler called Jeeves. Trump would call his Knuckles. The whole thing is set up for a quite delicious rumble.
Who will win? Well, I doubt if Trump woke up this morning and groaned at the thought of the day ahead. What could Romney possibly say to harm Trump? According to CNN, he will announce that ‘Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud’ and that he’s ‘playing the American public for suckers’. That’s not a bad line of attack if it could be sustained over weeks. The problem is that neither Romney nor the conservative elite have weeks to spread that message. Besides, Trump’s sins are generally well known and have been repeated countless times on the debate stage, in TV attack ads, as well as by the hosts on all the late night talk shows. If John Oliver’s takedown didn’t take Trump down, what chance Romney? Trump’s voodoo — and, yes, it is a form of voodoo — is that he convinces people against their own convictions.
The suggestion has been made that Romney’s intervention might be the first step in his entering the Republican race. It’s highly unlikely. Would Romney wish to be labelled a loser for a third time? Yet if it were true, I doubt if Romney could break Trump. He would be another reminder of why the Republican message has failed to ignite popular conservatism in America. He would also represent an act of unfair gamesmanship by the establishment, lending legitimacy to Trump’s claim that the RNC are not upholding their end of the bargain struck last year when candidates and party committed themselves to a fair fight.
This afternoon Trump’s response is easy to anticipate. It will probably be a variation of ‘the guy’s a loser’, ‘I don’t listen to losers’, and ‘Mitt Romney is a reason why America is a nation that doesn’t win anymore’. He might also launch into the facts of Romney’s failed nomination and failed Presidential bid. It would be sensible to do so. It would remind his voters why the Republicans have had difficulty touching Obama and the fight they face preventing Hillary Clinton from becoming the 45th President of the United States.