Higgins: The lead dogWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it just me, or does it seem like the Republican primaries began about six months ago, after a decade of debates? That’s OK. Don’t spend too much time pondering this as, whether we like it or not, only 6-1/2 primaries have been completed, and that leaves 1, 2, 3, … oh yeah, 43-1/2 left.
We know now that Rick Santorum won in all three this week, though only two of them actually counted. While Santorum won in Colorado and Minnesota as well as in Missouri, that last state will actually choose delegates through a caucus yet to be held (hence the 1/2). We also know that he won the Iowa caucuses, in spite of the fact that the state Republican Party can never officially say so, having totally botched the process. Therefore Santorum is in the lead, having won more primaries, right?
No, wait, while only winning two primaries, New Hampshire and Florida, Mitt Romney has currently won more delegates to this summer’s Tampa gathering than any of his competitors. Besides, Romney has been the presumptive front-runner since the process started. So that makes mighty Mitt “The Man,” right?
Well don’t tell that to Ron Paul supporters, who see their best chances in caucus battles to come where delegates are not handed out on an all-or-nothing basis. Although Rep. Paul is receiving little attention that isn’t calling him politically incorrect names at a minimum and crazy fairly often, he has gathered a staunch group of supporters who fully expect him to make it to the convention and influence what happens there. He does have delegates committed to him, at least for the first vote, and will gain more; and with the fervent supporters in his corner, there’s little doubt that the doctor’s in the house, right?
Then there’s Newt Gingrich. Oh sure, he might have the first name of a diminutive amphibian, may foolishly have not registered as a candidate on the ballots of some of the upcoming events, and the only primary that he’s won might have been in a state neighboring his home in Georgia; but the former speaker is a seasoned campaigner who has been counted out before and come back. Any who write him off this early do so at their own peril. All he needs is the next debate (OMG, there’s going to be another debate) to get him back on track at his rhetorical best and establish Newt’s credentials near the top of the heap, right?
I could be wrong here, but it seems like this year’s primary process is more like a sled dog race in a blinding snowstorm. All the dogs are running like crazy, all are supposed to ultimately be part of the same team, and each is supposed to be pulling in the same direction; but none can tell if they’re really getting anywhere in weather like this. That’s OK though, because few if any care at this early point in the competition except their most ardent fans, with so much that can change the results in the days and weeks ahead.
The only ones in fact making a big deal about the interim results are the dogs themselves, hoping that by claiming to be the best, they might gain a different position in the team … and a different view ahead. It’s no fun after all, if you’re going to spend the entire race looking at the south side of a north-running dog. What few seemed concerned about however, and what’s a far more important issue, is the direction that the sled seems to be heading and whether it’s the right one. Judging by recent confusion, the constant yapping and snapping of the team at each other, and the missteps of each dog in turn, this bunch seems more than capable of running off a cliff by the time November rolls around.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not question the heart of any of the team, nor their willingness to run the race to its end. I do however question each one as to the destination that they’re pulling toward, for themselves and this nation. I likewise question whether any of them has yet shown the sense of direction, the strength and the promise to be the lead dog on the sled.