THE ROMNEY WATCH
Mitt Romney, the man still likely to be the national face of the GOP in the 2012 elections, is learning just how difficult it will be to hide the ugliness that populates his party. Like a father who sends his unruly children out of the house when entertaining company, Mitt Romney wants to secure the nomination and take on Barack Obama without disruption from the ranting, racist, misogynistic, know-nothing conservatives of the far right. But he just can't get them to leave.
For the past couple of weeks, Romney has been forced to endure the food-throwing of Rush Limbaugh, whose boorish tirades against Sandra Fluke have led to full-scale repudiation of the syndicated gasbag from all quarters — except the Republican Party's conservative base, that is. Unable to send Limbaugh to his room, Romney could only administer a shamefully gutless response.
The Obama team is happy to tie Limbaugh around Romney's neck, along with all the crazed assaults on women's reproductive health, wild-eyed calls for more war, and other nonsense that passes for policy doctrine in today's GOP.
Romney's tragic relationship with the right-wing base was reinforced again this week, when the presidential nomination process focused on primaries in Alabama and Mississippi — the heart and soul of today's Republican Party, but what Romney called an "away game."
The voters there rejected Romney, handing him embarrassing third-place finishes in both contests. His pandering references to grits and catfish weren't enough for an audience looking for red meat — fully half of all Republicans in the two states believe that Obama is a Muslim. They chose Rick Santorum — like Romney, a Northerner of very different Christian practice (Santorum, from Pennsylvania, is Catholic), but one who carries an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association and calls for tearing down the wall between church and state.
Romney is now forced to trod along, trying to persuade his party to fall in line. He will probably be able to buy his way to the nomination. But that won't make the conservatives go away quietly.