This morning, slouched over his breakfast table of Bloody Marys and multicolored amphetamines, Mitt Romney, with his hair looking a fright, is surely pounding said table and angrily demanding: Will no one rid me of these turbulent pricks?
I sympathize. Mitt paid good money -- well, his friends did -- to buy this thing fair and square (plus it's his turn!) only to watch Rick Santorum and the even peskier (prickier?) Newt Gingrich prolong a rather ill-advised siege.
It's got so bad, ordinarily prudent analysts such as Ezra Klein have been reduced to asking, "Is Romney stronger than he looks?" and Ross Douthat suggests the preposterous theory that Santorum's "overall strategy might offer a blueprint for winning a future Republican primary campaign" -- the "overall strategy" being one that includes appealing to hootin'-'n-hollerin' snake-handlers who look disparagingly on primitive religions like Romney's.
In brief answer to Mr. Klein: No. And in response to Douthat: You go out there, Mr. Custer; yes Sir, you go out there and forge ahead with the dying demographic of snarling, dyspeptic, aging bigoted white folk who are culturally isolated and economically ignorant; uh-huh, that's the ticket for the GOP's revamped future -- a Father Coughlin-George Wallace coalition of medievalist hayseeds who fret less about the GDP and the global economy than gays in uniform, or in wedding tuxedos.
In somewhat longer answer to Mr. Klein, Politico summarizes Romney's longest-term weakness: "[H]e continues to have trouble in the South, traditional Republican territory." That is to say, tea-partying Bible-belters, who are also peppered throughout the West and Midwest and who traditionally have provided the margin of GOP victory in swing states. And this November, how likely are they to creak out of their overstuffed La-Z-Boys and go cast a vote for a Satanic cultist who enslaved the blue but nonetheless good people of Massachusetts with Leninist RomneyCare?
A tangled web, Mr. Romney. It's quite the tangled web you've got there.