The Other McCain

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

Memo From the National Affairs Desk:
‘If I Could Walk That Way …’

Posted on | February 29, 2012 | 44 Comments

Chris Moody and Steven Crowder with Crowder’s haawwtt fianceé, Hillary,
at the Santorum event in Grand Rapids, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012

“Another Wednesday morning, another hotel room, another grim bout with the TV Morning News . . . These goddamn Wednesday mornings are ruining my health.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

When I woke up in an interstate highway rest area somewhere west of Lansing, Michigan, this morning, it was half-past seven, and a four-hour nap in my car had scarcely touched the surface of the overwhelming fatigue that had forced me to pull over about 3 a.m. and conk out.

After getting a cup of “Premium Roast Coffee” from the vending machine — yeah, right — I cranked up the car and began driving back toward the hotel in Troy. The GPS told me I’d be there before 9:30, so I envisioned a quick shower, then napping an hour or two in an actual bed before I had to pack up and leave by noon. By 3 p.m., I’d be at my sister-in-law’s house in Ohio, ready to sling together another column from a state that is sure to be a key battleground in next week’s Super Tuesday contests.

Once I was on the road, I called my wife, and the call completely scrambled my plans. My wife informed me of a family emergency (never mind the details) which obviously required my presence at home. News of this sudden personal misfortune, following so closely on the heels of political misfortune, only aggravated the sense of gloom that had seized me as I watched the vote totals being updated at Rick Santorum’s Tuesday night party at the Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. You may get a sense of my mood from my American Spectator column today:

Rick Santorum lost Tuesday’s primary here in Michigan. All the spin in the world can’t change that fact, and if Mitt Romney goes on to win the Republican presidential nomination, political historians will point to Feb. 28 as his watershed moment. Exactly how Santorum or any other GOP rival can beat Romney now is an increasingly difficult scenario to describe.
The best way to understand the significance of Mitt’s win in Michigan is to imagine the opposite result: Had Santorum won here in Romney’s home state, it would have been a shattering blow to the aura of “inevitability” and “electability” that has always been Romney’s strongest argument as the “It’s His Turn” candidate whom the Republican Party traditionally nominates. A win on Romney’s home turf would have sent Santorum surfing a tidal wave of momentum going into next week’s Super Tuesday contests in 10 states. Had Santorum won Michigan, it would have set off panic in the ranks of the GOP establishment, stirring new talk of a brokered convention to anoint a “respectable” candidate like Jeb Bush or Mitch Daniels — someone, anyone! — as the nominee.
Instead, after an all-out battle that lasted three weeks since Santorum’s Feb. 7 triple wins in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, Romney scored a narrow victory in Michigan that will enable the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign to boast of a “comeback” that ratifies his claim to legitimacy as the rightful heir to the nomination. . . .

Read the whole thing. It didn’t help my mood, of course, that WiFi problems kept me offline until 11 p.m. Tuesday night, so that I had to write my column in a blazing hurry just to file it at 1 a.m. Furthermore, the attempt of some Santorum supporters to sugar-coat the Michigan disaster — to pretend that it was something other than a disaster — only made my mood worse.

I hate losing and second place is not a victory. It is defeat, a failure, and while I understand the need of a presidential campaign to put the best possible public spin on a lost primary, I don’t like being spun. If you lost the vote by 3 points, don’t talk to me about delegate counts.

I don’t want to hear that crap. You lost.

Competence is a valuable commodity in politics, and nothing angers me quite like the attempted defense of incompetence.

The Santorum campaign suffered from self-inflicted wounds — unforced errors — in the days and weeks leading up to the Michigan primary, and we ought not pretend otherwise. We cannot undo the mistakes made, but we cannot learn from our mistakes until we admit our mistakes.

A worthy cause has suffered a terrible setback owing more to the errors of its friends than to the skill of its enemies. This makes me angry, and all the more so because I was unable to prevent it.

After I got off the phone with my wife, I called fellow Santorum supporter Quin Hillyer and we talked, among other things. about the robocall-to-Democrats debacle, which we can expect the Romney campaign to use as a whip to flog Santorum.

Quin and I agreed that the robocall wasn’t so much a “dirty trick” as it was a dumb trick. Had it worked — if a surge of Democratic crossover voters had pushed Santorum to victory — it would have been largely forgotten in the aftermath. Victory is the balm that soothes all wounds. But it backfired badly and probably cost Santorum more votes than it gained him. Frankly, it reeked of desperation.

At any rate, I don’t have much time to worry about that stuff now. Nobody’s paying me for political advice, and there’s no sense volunteering free advice, because the people who get paid to run campaigns never pay attention to advice from amateurs. I mean, what the hell do I know about media and communications strategy, right?

And now there is that family emergency at home, which necessitates my return to Maryland and a forced departure from the campaign trail, which I hope will be brief and temporary. I stopped into this rest area on I-80 and slept a half-hour in the car, because I never got that nap in an actual bed that I’d planned this morning. There is an explanation.

Monday, I’d been a guest on Mike Rosen’s radio show on KOA 850-AM in Denver, and Rosen had become argumentative when I explained that I’m a Santorum supporter. Rosen’s a Romney kind of guy, and we went back-and-forth for most of an hour. He’d offered to have me back on and so, shortly after I returned to my hotel in Troy, Rosen’s producer called to ask me if I’d be willing to come on to discuss the results of the Michigan primary. Sure.

So the segment starts and, when I mention the Santorum robocall, Rosen plays the audio clip of the call and begins to excoriate Santorum’s criticism of the 2008 TARP Wall Street bailout as “populist.” This prompted me to reply that not everyone who opposed TARP did so on “populist” grounds, but there were sound economic arguments in favor of letting the banks take their losses from the collapse of the housing bubble. I pointed out that Michelle Malkin was among the most vocal opponents of the TARP bailout.

Rosen replied (and I merely thumbnail his argument) that those who opposed TARP did not have an adequate “grasp of economics,” which prompted me to interrupt, “Wait a minute, Mike. Are you telling me that Michelle Malkin doesn’t have a grasp of economics?”

Malkin lives in Colorado, and I’m sure she would be astonished to hear herself criticized as inadequately informed about economics.

Anyway, so I didn’t get my nap, and headed out on the road, but grew weary after a few hours and pulled over in this rest area on I-80, conked out for a half-hour, then came inside to use the restroom. They’ve got a Panera Bread outlet here that offers free WiFi, so I went back to the car and got my laptop, deciding to write a post to update readers on my travels. And when I looked at the large wall map — “You Are Here” — to find out what location I’d use as my dateline, I saw that the nearest town is Oberlin, Ohio.

Oberlin College is Michelle Malkin’s alma mater. Just a coincidence.

Anyway, these long days on the road are taking their toll, and I’ll be happy to get home and sleep in an actual bed. When you drive hour after hour and sleep in your car, you develop certain discomforts that can best be described by reference to an old vaudeville gag.

Guy walks into a drugstore and asks the lady at the counter where he can find the talcum powder. The lady at the counter is young and shapely, and offers to show him where to find the product.

“Walk this way,” she says.

Boom-ba-da-boom, ba-da-boom.

Guy says, “If I could walk that way, I wouldn’t need the talcum powder!”

Perhaps not the most discreet way to explain how miserable I feel right now, but those old vaudeville jokes are always good for a laugh, and if we couldn’t laugh at our misery, we’d never be able to stand the strain.

By the way, if you’re wondering about how they voted Tuesday in Hell, Michigan, the results from Putnam Township Precinct 1 are now online:

Rick Santorum ……… 96 (37%)
Mitt Romney ………… 80 (30%)
Ron Paul ………………. 42 (16%)
Newt Gingrich ……….. 29 (11%)

So even if Santorum lost Michigan, at least he won in Hell.

Let’s hope that the Santorum campaign has better days ahead, and now I’ll get back in the car and keep driving until I can get home to my family, and sleep in an actual bed.

— 30 —

Update (Smitty): linked ad POH Diaries.



44 Responses to “Memo From the National Affairs Desk:
‘If I Could Walk That Way …’”

  1. newrouter
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

    godspeed sir

  2. Adjoran
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:09 pm

    Good luck with the family problem – our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    I appreciate your blunt assessment of the outcome.  Agree it was Santorum’s unforced errors – including several statements which may not have been wrong at all of themselves, but foolishly mistimed – that ruined his chances for an upset. 

    The first and biggest, IMO, was touting the chance of winning the state in the first place.  He should have just gone to Michigan saying, “Look, it’s Mitt’s native state, but they award delegates by district and I am going to win some of them.”   Keep expectations down, and maybe even not attract the Romney campaign’s attention so early.  The polls didn’t help, but they should have been dismissed by Santorum.  You always want to over-perform.

    It’s not over, but the pressure is on.  Ohio is as close to a must-win for Santorum as Georgia is for Gingrich.  If he wins that, and maybe Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Idaho (watch out for the Paul Gang there), he’s back in the thick of it.  But if Romney wins Ohio, he is going to be very hard to stop because even the holdouts among the money men will begin to believe it’s inevitable.

  3. Adjoran
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

    I don’t see why the lack of WiFi means you can’t write a column.  Even something as simple as Notepad can store what you write, it’s done and all you have to find is a signal to upload it.

  4. Bob Belvedere
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    What newrouter and Adj said.

    Do be careful.  The third part of that storm will be dogging you most of the way.

  5. Bob Belvedere
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

    Or WordPad.

  6. richard mcenroe
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    Hoping for the best with the family emergency, and just pointing out that this is why they never made General Longstreet Morale Officer.

  7. Bob Belvedere
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    Adj is right: it ain’t over yet.  Ohio is the key.

  8. richard mcenroe
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

    We’ve let this party slide too long to hope it could be arrested  and reversed all at once; you don’t go from the Coral Sea to Tokyo Bay in one trip.  It’s going to be a campaign, not a high noon shootout.  I’ll take those delegates (and more if the final count amends the total) and move on from there.

  9. Delegate Count In Michigan A Tie, But Santorum Still Lost - The POH Diaries
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

    […] was the last hope for conservatives to have “anybody but Romney.” He’d been on quite a roll, but unfortunately for […]

  10. Zilla of the Resistance
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

    Please be safe getting back home, Stacy. You are in my prayers.  I’m sorry things have been so bad for you, hope your family stuff works out. Hang in there, and remember, it ain’t over till the Ken Doll is coronated – I mean nominated.

  11. Dave
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

    Idaho is almost 25% LDS overall (and probably a somewhat higher percentage among Republicans). I’ll be shocked if Mitt doesn’t win there easily.

  12. Ericdondero
    February 29th, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

    Stacy, you didn’t mention Arizona one single time in your piece.  No, you are wrong.  If Santorum would have won Michigan, it wouldn’t have mattered much, CAUSE HE GOT BLOWN AWAY IN ARIZONA!!!  AZ is 10 times more important than Michigan.  It’s a Republican State.  Michigan is not. 

    Sheesh dude!  Just because you happen to be in one state and not another doesn’t mean that particular state is more important. 

  13. William Quick
    February 29th, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

     Richard, some of us have been fighting to arrest the slide since at least 2004, when it became clear what the GOP had become.  That’s nearly eight years now.  How long is this project supposed to take?  Twenty?  Fifty?

  14. DonaldDouglas
    February 29th, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

    Actually, Robert, perhaps Santorum screwed up with the robo calls, but the delegate count does matter because it drags out the nomination longer and gives Romney opponents ammunition: The dude can’t put the nomination away. 

  15. TR
    February 29th, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    Yeah.  While Stacy is stringing for WeSmirch (via Crowder pics) seems he conveniently missed the consistency of his own former voting history. 

    That is Stacy McCain is soooo proud of his (wasted) vote for Bob Barr in 2008 that he has neglected to report that Bob Barr now supports… (wait for it) … Newt Gingrich.

  16. Mike G.
    February 29th, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

     Bill, the Progs have been working their magic for generations. It will take at least a generation to get things back to “normal.”

  17. TR
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

    BTW, (now having actually read you lastest missive) sorry to hear that Mrs. Other and the family is having difficulties.  Best regards to you and your family.

  18. ThomasD
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

    Overall the Idaho Congressional contingent is also of a  decidedly big government/RINO bent.  This will translate into much back scratching support for Willard.

  19. ThomasD
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

     Given the alternative it will take as long as it takes and not one moment less.

  20. richard mcenroe
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

    Bill, right there with ya,and I’ve been fighting the fight from LA, which is like refighting the Alamo in Guadelajara.  Even if we don’t go all the way back to the Sanger/Roosevelt/Wilson/Dewey dawn of the progressive movement, the Dems have been greasing this slide at least since LBJ, and that’s what, 50 years now?

  21. Adjoran
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

     No, Michigan is more important BECAUSE it’s a blue state in the Rust Belt.  We haven’t won it since Reagan, and probably won’t this year, either – BUT if we can make them spend time and money on Michigan, we’ll be in great shape to win nationally. 

    And as Barone notes, Romney’s appeal to the affluent suburbs can cut Obama’s support off at the knees.

  22. Adjoran
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

     At least Barr is consistent.  He betrayed the Republicans who supported him his whole career to go LP, now he betrays the LP to suck up to Newt.  Well, one unfaithful bastard deserves another, I always say.

  23. Wombat_socho
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

     A petty consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Or do you seriously think Stacy’s lone vote would have swung the so-blue-it’s-damn-near-ultraviolet state of Maryland to McCain?

  24. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:46 pm

    I thought today was Tuesday.  I am all screwed up and not even on the road like you.  

  25. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

    Super Duper Tuesday!  If all the GOP candidates are “Frankenstein” who is the angry mob with pitch forks and torches?  

  26. ThomasD
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:51 pm

    Is it just me or does Crowder look like he should still be in high school in that pic?

  27. JeffWeimer
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

     And Romney’s Michigan robocall was proud to announce that Santorum was endorsing Romney…in 2008.

    So basically the question is, what exactly is your point?

  28. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

    Thank you for your hard work Stacy.  

  29. Adjoran
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

     Yeah, and if he lost the delegates but Romney got fewer votes than in 2008, that would have been the spin, or a lower percentage.  What matters is Santorum called a win, had a double digit lead, and lost the state.

    The fact is Santorum hit a plateau at 36% in the Gallup 5-day rolling average from the 18th-20th of this month, and since then he has been dropping like a rock, down to 25% nationally as of the poll ending yesterday.  11 points in a week is a nose dive, and he has no one to blame but his own mouth.

  30. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

    Stacy:  I am sorry about issues at home, I pray they are not too serious.  

  31. JeffWeimer
    February 29th, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

    Godspeed Stacy. Make it home safe, take care of your family. Politics is important – it’s your livelihood. But it’s not so important compared to His Grand Scheme. If you need anything, I’m a phone call away.

  32. Adjoran
    February 29th, 2012 @ 11:08 pm

     Hey, a haaawwwt young woman like that will keep you feeling like a teenager.

    Don’t worry, once they’ve married, she’ll put some years on him fast.

  33. Uniden
    February 29th, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

    Fortunately, the Democrats “Operation Hilarity” didn’t work, though it did keep Romney from winning Michigan by around 10 points.  Had only Republicans been allowed to vote, Romney would have crushed Santorum.

    Had Santorum won, you could have banked on another 4 years of Obama as it would have been a bloody fight to the Convention with Romney being forced to put Santorum on the ticket.


  34. Michael Swartz
    February 29th, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

    Well, you should be home by now – Oberlin is close to where my daughter lives and it’s an eight-hour drive for me to this end of Maryland from there.

    Safe travels, and thanks for the enjoyable reading of your Michigan coverage. Hope the emergency is taken care of and the tip jar is filled for Ohio, since that’s my native state and I sure can’t cover it!

  35. Mike Rogers
    March 1st, 2012 @ 1:44 am

    John Cleese said “if I could walk that way, I’d be arrested!” although these days, one would be more likely to get propositioned by Fred Karger.

  36. Confutus
    March 1st, 2012 @ 1:48 am

    Romney’s the guy with the business degree and experience, and it was a somlicated issue. If  TARP was a close call for him, I won’t fault him too badly, because I think he was right on the outo bailout. So was Santorum, but pretending that he was one one side and Romney on the other..yes, dumb, on top of other things. 

    I don’t think Santorum is the fanatic crazed bigot the media paints him, But the media have been distorting religion at least since Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. Romney rattled him and he went off message, started babbling private opinions that are not necessarily wise public policy, and forgot the furst law of holes. He ought to have been more wary. Romney won’t fault him on those (it would do him no good and much harm), but others will.

    The robocall.. yeah. Desperate, and desperate politicians do dumb things. I speculated when he went off on the Romney OWS and collusion with Paul tangents that his internal polling numbers must have been looking awful, but  what he was doing wasn’t going to help.  What he’s done since then…in a few days, when the polls catch up to the news,  Ohio’s going to start looking more grim than hopeful. Third look at Newt, but third place and falling behind isn’t going to persuade anyone of his electability.

  37. Bob Belvedere
    March 1st, 2012 @ 8:07 am

    Look at that grin on his face.  He knows what he’s got and, as my gay hairdresser used to say, ‘he”s feeling real necessary’.

  38. Bob Belvedere
    March 1st, 2012 @ 8:07 am

    Me too.

  39. Pathfinder's wife
    March 1st, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    Karnak!  I thought you were dead?!

  40. Pathfinder's wife
    March 1st, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    In the meantime, yesterday what did Romney fall into?
    The Blunt-Rubio bill.  I could say that if a certain somebody’s campaign (and supporters around the web) hadn’t used religion and contraception as a hammer to pound Santorum ruthlessly (and ruthlessly is the key descriptor here), then a certain canidate might not have gotten stung with it.

    The religion card hasn’t been played yet — just wait, just wait.

  41. Confutus
    March 1st, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

    Santorum has been represented (most unfairly, I think) as a bigot trying to impose theocracy and federal bedroom police, but the damage is done…he can’t explain without making it worse.
    Romney is plenty willing to pound Santorum on economic matters and his voting record, (that’s how the game is played, these days)  but I don’t think he himself has even touched the religion and contraception  issues, and I don’t think he will.  The same people who are attacking Santorum can’t wait for Romney to give then an opening.
    Some of Romney’s overzealous supporters are less cautious about it.  More fools, they.

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