The Republican presidential primary season has produced, if nothing else, a sense that any given week can make a big difference, which of course has been a boon to the 24/7 news cycle media organizations.
Who’s up, who’s down: it seems that none of the slowly-dwindling field of GOP candidates is immune.
This past week has produced more surprises, especially as the results of the New Hampshire primary came in yesterday. But they’ve generally been lost on the bulk of the cadre of official pundits who’ve continued blabbering away non-stop, and, again, that’s because of the astonishing short-sightedness of their perspectives.
Two big new realities that emerged from the fray in New Hampshire are these:
First, the only rock-solid, steady campaign effort is that of Ron Paul. He has not suffered the ups and downs his rivals have, but has enjoyed a stable and growing voter base, now achieving the upside of 20 percent. Moreover, in this economy and in this field of choices, this is not going to go away.
Second, the Achilles heel of Mitt Romney has been struck, not by any Democrat, but by blood-lusty rivals in his own party. The label that has now been pinned on his backside reads, “Kick This Corporate Raider.”
The nature of Romney’s private sector history, as revealed by Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, involved not just the cavorting of an carefree super-wealthy plutocrat, but the practices of a man who padded his fortune by exploiting and “reorganizing” the misery of failing companies, usually with major personnel downsizing.
This, suddenly, has become red meat for the Democrats, and the re-election chances of President Obama.
A week ago, it was common wisdom that Romney represented the greatest challenge to the president’s chances for a second term, were he to get the GOP nomination. But now, it appears that he’s could be the most vulnerable, the greatest and most obvious symbol of everything that has been crushing the middle class and poor in the nation. What a perfect foil!
Psychologists would argue that there is a reason Romney displays such a bloodless lack of personal warmth on the campaign trail. It’s because he’s operated as the dispassionate manager of failed and destroyed lives for all his years at the helm of Bain Capital.
Corporate raider entities are akin to those big ugly birds who circle overhead while a starving or mortally-wounded beast gasps for its last breaths. Carving up and selling off such carcasses is what they exist for, and they don’t do it for free. They act on behalf of the investors in both the dying company and their own. The disposition of workforce, except for determining how many jobs need to be cut, is the last thing on their mind.
Along with hedge fund managers, sub-prime mortgage and derivatives peddlers, corporate raiders are on the lowest rungs of market capital’s predatory feeding chain.
That’s because these kinds of businesses are not focused on generating real, tangible wealth – the kind of efforts that create demand for new jobs and the education resources for a more skilled workforce – but on a fictitious paper wealth. The corporate raider does not look for growth and expansion, but solely for how to produce the expected “return on investment” for his investor clients.
At least Rick Santorum has got some blue-collar “props.” Not withstanding his extremist social agenda, his steel country roots could, in the long run, prove a more formidable challenge to Obama than Romney. Possibly by a long shot.
But then, reality intervenes in the form of the Ron Paul phenomenon. It is an outgrowth of the populist angst and rage that helped fuel the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements. It is flat-out irrational, but nonetheless in-your-face real.
Analysts cannot gauge the Paul candidacy from the standpoint of his platform or political agenda. It is wacky. But it is precisely because of that fact that his movement cannot be ignored.
That popular anger, including as it grows among the young, could become socially dangerous unless it is assuaged by someone who effectively addresses the problems that inflame it. It is not going to simmer down, or go away, any other way.