Republican wishful thinkers like to rationalize away the damage being inflicted on their party by the intramural mudslinging among its unimpressive field of presidential candidates. After all, they note, in 2008 Democrats
However, there are significant differences between then and now that suggest the
Most obvious and significant is that, for all the heat generated by Obama and Clinton, they differed relatively little on major issues. To the extent that party ranks split, it was over personal appeal and loyalty, not rock-bottom principles or arguments over which of them was the true-blue Democrat.
Second, both Obama and Clinton had the political credentials that established them as bona fide serious candidates, and each had a built-in base to sustain the competition. Obama ran as the first African American with a realistic chance of being elected, and Clinton as the first woman similarly positioned.
When their hard-fought battle for the nomination was over, the competitors found a ready path to come together in the general election, and the bulk of Clinton's supporters got behind Obama. The healing was so successful that after all the votes were in, the primary loser became the winner's secretary of state, the top cabinet post he awarded.
Compare those two competitors with the rinky-dink band of Republican aspirants this year. None of them has been thoroughly embraced within their own party, and two of whom, Gingrich and Paul, are pure poison to some segments of the
Then there is the undistinguished longshot Santorum. A weak loser for re-election to the
The fact is that all four surviving candidates in the Republican mud bath, including Romney, are being diminished by throwing caution to the winds in trying to ward off the attacks on them from within the party. And, unlike Obama and Clinton in their fight, the Republican contenders have had their arsenals stocked by millions of dollars from the super PACs, thanks to the Republican-led Supreme Court's ruling that threw open the floodgates to unlimited corporate campaign contributions.
It may well happen that the 2012 losers in the Republican presidential nomination quest will fall in line behind the winner, as
The fiercely expressed determination in
The same Republican ambivalence that existed over
The famous comment of old baseball manager
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