Republicans drifted through much of 2012 in trickle-down fantasyland, self-deporting to a mystical world where Mitt Romney's rightward shift during the primary helped their candidate. Election Day shook the party awake, forcing Republicans to reckon with their purity problem. Louisiana Governor and 2016 wannabe Bobby Jindal disavowed Romney's they-just-want-gifts comment all last week, and the Sunday shows featured a barrage of Republicans disparaging the man they had envisioned as president. "We’re in a death spiral with Hispanic voters because of rhetoric around immigration," said Senator Lindsey Graham. "And candidate Romney and the primary dug the hole deeper."
On Meet the Press, GOP strategist Mike Murphy shared the view that "the biggest problem Mitt Romney had was the Republican primary." But Murphy strayed a little too close to the third rail of conservative politics when he said the party shouldn't base its views on "Rush Limbaugh’s dream journal." Rush, of course, never takes a critique lightly. "The Republican primary, as far as [Murphy is] concerned, there were too many conservatives in it saying too many stupid things," Rush said on his radio show this afternoon. He also mocked the claim that his audience—15 million strong—is an unrepresentative slice of America. "Okay, so you people are all white, 65 and over, and you live in the sticks. And you are screwing up the Republican Party, because you are believing what I say. This is their explanation for having lost."
The media and political class quickly embraced that explanation on November 7, and Rockefeller Republicans reappeared shortly thereafter—you know, the conservatives who just want to limit government, not destroy it; who can find a middle ground on immigration reform instead of expelling 12 million people; who don't mind gay marriage, just want it left to the states. But you can't look to the rhetoric of political elites to judge whether the Republican Party will actually change the substance of its policy. That's a decision in the hands of the conservative base: Rush and his 15 million friends who reliably decide GOP primaries. And they seem none too happy about the party's return to moderation.
So They Say
"I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that."
—Florida Senator Marco Rubio when asked, "How old do you think the Earth is?"
Daily Meme: The Inaugural 2016 Meme
- If you thought journalists would take a short nap before rip-roaring back into action before the next presidential election, you were wrong! The 2016 media market is booming. GQ interviewed Marco Rubio, sprinting out of the starting gate to the lead of the Republican Party pack.
- His meme-worthy "I'm not a scientist, man" stole the show, but the senator also professed his love for Eminem and hatred for Pitbull's "party songs."
- But maybe the contender was slyly professing faith in science?
- Or maybe he's just thinking really, really far ahead to the 2016 Iowa caucus. Who knows, but we have four more years to grill him on the subject.
- Democratic possibility Andrew Cuomo is already facing a firing squad, starting with Salon's Alex Pareene, who called Cuomo a fake Democrat, and ending with our ownPaul Waldman, who says the governor may think he's already passed the ideological smell test and doesn't need to cater to the Democratic party hearty anymore.
- Tina Brown told New York Magazine that she'd hike across America for Hillary Clinton.
- Although Hillz assures us all she wants to do is lounge around her house watching HGTV.
- A Los Angeles Times columist is rooting for a Sarah Palin presidency, having apparently slept through the entire 2008 election.
- Rick Santorum, silver medalist in the 2012 Republican primaries, wrote an op-ed inUSA Today proclaiming the GOP has a fever, and the prescription is more Rick Santorum.
- Wonk fallen angel Paul Ryan got the A1 treatment in the Grey Lady.
- Is it all too soon? Absolutely. But, with only policy to write about, pundits have to get their kicks somewhere.
What We're Writing
- Mike Konczal ponders the next steps for the liberal economic agenda.
- Heather Hurlburt explores Obama's future possibilities for Middle East policy.
What We're Reading
- Super PACs have been disappearing nearly as fast as Romney's Facebook fans, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
- In case you were curious, New York magazine made an A-to-Z guide of the top Internet searches for Megyn Kelly, according to Google autofill.
- FiveThirtyEight shows that Utah had the biggest partisan shift in the 2012 election—not too surprising given the state's ties to the Mormon faith.
- Arizona is still counting votes almost two weeks after the election.
- Banks are already trying to thwart Elizabeth Warren two months before she joins the U.S. Senate.
- TPM chats with the Republican fringe—the conservatives who don't mind same-sex marriage and legal abortion.
- Get excited for Cory Booker vs. Chris Christie in 2013.
Poll of the Day
Pew Research asked voters to grade the presidential campaigns based on how well they engaged with the public, and, to say the least, they were not impressed. While Obama netted a B+ in 2008, he dropped to a C+ this election cycle. Romney got a C. The rest of the American electoral apparatus didn't fare too well either—those surveyed gave campaign consultants, pollsters, and voters C+s too. Press fared the worst, with a C-.