Is it too early to start speculating about the 2012 GOP presidential primaries? Of course not! The race promises to be a chaotic free-for-all of backbiting and recrimination, flip-flops and opportunistic conversions, feigned outrage and vicious attacks over meaningless non-issues. Throw in the fact that the force within the party with the most energy right now – the teabaggers – are not exactly known for their restraint, and it should be a hoot.
Back in early 2007, Mitt Romney faced questions about his religion, and he and his campaign did some pushback, asserting that he was facing a double-standard. He felt he was being asked to be a spokesperson for Mormonism, while other candidates with different religions weren't being asked to do the same.
Remember when we all thought John McCain was a steadfastly principled man who didn't play that nasty political game? Yeah, I know – it seems like so long ago. But let's take a gander at what he's saying in a new radio ad. "President Obama is leading an extreme left-wing crusade to bankrupt America," McCain tells his constituents. "I stand in his way every day."
That's not a headline I ever thought I'd write. But political controversy, it seems, is the mother of invention. You'll recall that in exchange for his vote on health-care reform, Sen. Ben Nelson obtained from Harry Reid a provision under which the federal government would pick up the full cost of the bill's expansion of Medicaid – in Nebraska, but not in other states. Lots of people squawked: Why should Nebraska get special treatment, they asked. Of course, states and districts with powerful members (or those whose votes are particularly valuable at a given moment) get special treatment all the time. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a legitimate criticism.
The social theorist Eric Hoffer once wrote, in a quote that seems to have been punched up in the repeating, something to the effect that every political movement starts out as a cause, turns into a business, and eventually devolves into a racket. It seems that the tea party movement is headed that way with remarkable alacrity. David Weigel of the Washington Independenttells us: