You have to take good news from Republicans where you find it, and the uplift from Michigan and Arizona is that greed has prevailed over religious zealotry as Mitt Romney wins with the help of older, better-educated and high-income voters who think the economy and the budget deficit are the major issues this year.
Looking ahead to Super Tuesday, this bodes better for the electorate as the Ayatollah Santorum surge of theocratic fervor starts to fade back into the pack of such previous would-be Romney stoppers as Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party nullification, Rick Perry’s unhorsed Washington hatred, Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 economic specials and Gingrich's three-ring marital history—-a sad circus of clowns to express the will of a major political party united only by hatred of a sitting President.
The most recent GOP candidate fails to see the bitter comedy. “This,” says John McCain, “is like watching a Greek tragedy. It’s the negative campaigning and the increasingly personal attacks...it should have stopped long ago. Any utility from the debates has been exhausted, and now it’s just exchanging cheap shots and personal shots followed by super PAC attacks.”
McCain, notes Maureen Dowd, “should know from Greek tragedy...When a man who was accused of having an illegitimate black child in the 2000 South Carolina primary thinks this is the worst ever, the GOP is really in trouble.”
Meanwhile, the Dow closes above 13,000, unemployment is inching down and Barack Obama’s favorability numbers are rising. Even as Romney savors his Michigan victory, the President is on the attack, telling an audience of auto workers:
“Some even said we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’ Think about what that choice would have meant for this country, if we had turned our backs on you, if America had thrown in the towel, if GM and Chrysler had gone under. The suppliers, the distributors that get their business from these companies, they would have died off...
“More than one million Americans across the country would have lost their jobs in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In communities across the Midwest, it would have been another Great Depression. And then think about all the people who depend on you. Not just your families, but the schoolteachers, the small business owners, the server in the diner who knows your order, the bartender who’s waiting for you to get off...Their livelihoods were at stake as well.”
Mitt Romney may be beating off the last of his challengers for the nomination, but the 2012 first team on the other side is waiting in the wings.
Update: Make the heading of this post read 1½ to ½ as final Michigan figures show Romney winning the popular vote but splitting the delegates.
Santorum has a point in rebuking reporters, “Don’t give Romney all the spin.” Problem is, it’s not just the media but many sane Republicans who find it hard to believe that such an off-the-wall candidate is still in the race.