The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

South Carolina Primary Day: Before My Saturday Afternoon Nap in Charleston

Posted on | January 21, 2012 | 52 Comments

The National Affairs Desk, 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.
Squinting at my computer screen while blogging about Will Folks.

Last night I lost my temper and blew up at Ben Howe, who was defending Erick Erickson’s pro-Perry bias as if it were an inconsequential thing to be shrugged off, despite its disastrous impact on the Republican primary campaign. There was a bit of back-and-forth and obviously, I recognized that Ben was arguing as a special pleader, obligated by the duties of loyalty to defend his Red State boss. But I was also personally invested, having predicted the failure of the “Phantom Menace” — and the likely consequences of that failure — before the fateful launch of the Perry bandwagon.

“What I fear will happen is that Perry will spend several months sucking up media oxygen and burning through GOP donor cash, only to collapse early next year. This will have the effect of suffocating other conservative candidates, and thereby lead to … Romney 2012.”
Robert Stacy McCain, Aug. 9, 2011

My argument Friday night with Howe was one of those situations where wisdom would have advised, “Drop it. It’s not worth arguing about. Agree to disagree.” But sleep deprivation and too much coffee had made me irritable, and Howe seemed to me to be disingenuously dismissive of Red State’s complicity in the Perry debacle.

On the one hand, you see, Red State constantly boasts of its enormous influence among the conservative grassroots. But on the other hand, having spent many months trying to convince the grassroots that the Smilin’ Texan was The Only Man Who Can Beat Romney, now Howe was trying to pretend that this catastrophic misuse of Red State’s influence was something trivial, and that Erickson should not be held accountable for it. Tired of Howe’s refusal to acknowledge the importance of Erickson’s role, and the enormous responsibility thus borne by Perry’s leading New Media advocates, I finally blew my top when Ben mockingly asked why Erickson should ‘fess up to his error.


And then I walked out to have a cigarette and regain my composure. My sudden outburst of rage was embarrassing, despite my own certainty about the essential point: Being right should count for something in the realm of political punditry.

Perry’s botched candidacy had enormous consequences: It discouraged other candidates (including Sarah Palin) from entering the race, it encouraged Tim Pawlenty to quit the race, it robbed Michele Bachmann of the boost she otherwise would have gained for winning the Ames Straw Poll and it prevented anyone from noticing the surprisingly strong fourth-place finish at Ames by Santorum’s low-budget campaign.

Well, I could write a book about all that, but I felt like an idiot for blowing up at Ben Howe, erupting in a fury like Hitler in a Downfall parody.  I should have just walked away and let the topic drop, but didn’t. So I mention it here only as a “colorful highlight” and will drop it now to give you some of the latest headlines via Memeorandum:

Gingrich Is Well-Positioned
as South Carolina Votes

New York Times

Doubts creep in as an awkward Mitt Romney
tries not to lose the GOP nod

The Hill

Poll shows big swing as S.C. votes
CBS News

Mitt Romney Campaign Begins Preparing
For Possible South Carolina Loss

Huffington Post

America hates Newt Gingrich
The Washington Examiner

Here’s video of Craig Robinson interviewing Rick Santorum last night:

Santorum’s party tonight will be at the Citadel in Charleston, while the other candidates will all be having their Primary Night events in Columbia. If Perry’s supporters are in a mood to celebrate tonight, they should go to the party thrown by the Romney campaign, to which they unwittingly lent such valuable assistance.

“Howdy. Thank you, Erick.”

Now I’ve got to take a nap, so I don’t get irritable again. I’m so tired I almost forgot the Five Most Important Words in the English Language: Hit the freaking tip jar!



52 Responses to “South Carolina Primary Day: Before My Saturday Afternoon Nap in Charleston”

  1. Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Somewhere, There Is an Island … : The Other McCain
    January 22nd, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

    […] Newt Gingrich Stops Mitt Romney’s ‘Inevitability’; Rick Santorum Places ThirdJan. 21: South Carolina Primary Day: Before My Saturday Afternoon Nap in CharlestonJan. 21: Iowa Republican Party Finally Admits That Rick Santorum Won Jan. 3 CaucusesJan. 21: Rick […]

  2. Bob Belvedere
    January 23rd, 2012 @ 7:35 am

    Methinks your should heed Dr. Pat’s advice.