Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Talking Temperance

Sheldon Adelson apparently has a hole burning in his pocket and is determined to buy an election.  He was successful in Israel, where the electorate amounts to less than 6 million, but it is decidedly tougher in the US where over 120 million votes were cast in 2012.  You would think if you were Uncle Sheldon you'd put your money behind a horse that has a reasonable chance of winning, but in 2012, Adelson backed Newt Gingrich in the primaries.  Now, he is putting his money behind Lindsey Graham, assuming the dodgy South Carolina Senator runs for office.

Lindsey is certainly sounding Presidential these days, chastising Ted Cruz for his extremist views, saying "you can't govern the country based on being angry."  This would also rule out Ben Carson, who wears his anger on his sleeve.  But, the GOP appears to embrace anger and extremism these days, sounding more like the Taliban than a party of reconciliation.

Many conservative US Representatives and Senators rode the Tea Party band wagon into Congress by adamantly stating they would brook no compromise.  Lindsey likes to talk compromise, but when push comes to shove he generally backs out of any bipartisan agreement that would hurt his approval rating back home in South Carolina.  After all, he had to fend off six challengers in the GOP Senate primary last year.

You certainly won't hear him talk of his effort to reach out to Obama and the Democrats on an energy bill on the campaign trail.  Not that it went anywhere, because as soon as his Republican peers caught wind of it, he backed away quicker than Olympia Snowe and Chuck Grassley did on the health care bill.  No Republican wanted to be seen as embracing Obama's "socialist" agenda with the Teabaggers biting at their heels.

Jeb Bush finds himself in a similar situation, as he stood behind Obama on education.  It didn't go as far as the notorious hug that cost Florida Governor Charile Crist his Senate bid, but there is enough agreement here to seriously damage his presidential run, should he choose to enter.

Neither have declared yet, still feeling around the edges of the Republican tent to see just how many Bible-thumpers there are and if they can win the nomination without them.  But, if they both enter and Chris Christie does too, it would split the neo-conservative vote and make it virtually anyone's race in 2016.  Last time around, Mitt Romney stood alone as the only "moderate" voice in the pack with a huge "war chest" to rout his challengers, including Newt, who for a brief moment appeared to threaten Mitt.

Uncle Sheldon can get Lindsey started, as he did Newt Gingrich, but Lindsey will have to reach well beyond his small base of support in South Carolina to have any chance in the initial primaries.  His "temperance" message isn't going to resonate in the early stages of the campaign, where a disgruntled GOP electorate is looking for someone to do battle with the socialist dark forces  they believe prevail in Washington.

This is a conservative electorate that wants meat, red meat, and only after their favorite candidates have torn themselves apart will they consider a compromise candidate, and then only begrudgingly as they did with Mitt Romney in 2012.  Once again, Uncle Sheldon has picked the wrong horse, as Lindsey simply doesn't have the stomach for this type of campaigning.

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