The Growing GOP Civil War

Since Newt's win in South Carolina this weekend and Florida only a week away the civil war in the GOP is really heating up. The battle is establishment verses base and it's really becoming fun to watch.

First off we have this from CNN:

Veteran Republican leadership aide Ron Bonjean said on the record what most of his colleagues would only tell CNN privately.

"Most people on Capitol Hill and in Washington are very nervous about a Gingrich candidacy," he said. "It sends a shiver down a lot of Republican spines."

"You can actually feel the nervousness from Republicans around town that Gingrich could actually bring the craziness back of his speakership from the 1990s. It's everywhere."

The establishment remembers what it was actually like having Newt Gingrich in charge. They hated it and don't want to see it return. That explains this from another establishment person, Bill Kristol:

I’ve got to think Monday night’s debate further swelled the groundswell of support for Mitch Daniels. The liveliest part of the debate was at the beginning, when Mitt went after Newt—and Republicans all over America watched with fascinated horror at the thought that these are the two GOP frontrunners. The only spectacle in American politics more off-putting than Newt Gingrich in self-righteous defense mode is Mitt Romney in self-righteous attack mode. I thought Mitt’s attacks were somewhat more dishonest than Newt’s defenses were disingenuous, but it was good to move on to the rest of the debate, where little further damage was done.

And Kristol isn't alone. Artur Davis even has a piece up on the National Review calling to draft Jeb Bush.

But perhaps the best writing on the wall comes from today's Wall Street Journal, where they explain why the GOP "deserve to lose".

Getting another candidate in this late in the game isn't going to happen. All the states up to and including Super Tuesday have already finalized their ballots, so they would need a massive write in campaign to get anywhere. With a little over a month to go, that is not going to happen.

So the GOP is now stuck with either a Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich candidacy. Does either of these men have what it takes to unify the GOP base? Some might think so, but I really don't. The exit polling has pointed to a highly fractured Republican electorate and neither man has the appeal necessary to rally the troops.

When Republican voters head to the polls in November they are going to do so with a hard decision to make. Do they want to wait another four years and hope that a Mitch Daniels or Jeb Bush jumps in there, or are they willing to wait eight years to really get a candidate they can rally behind? If I were facing that choice I would prefer to give it another shot in four years.

But what really has me scratching my head is why hasn't one of these other GOP stars gotten in the race? Why did Christie, Daniels, Bush, etc. all decide to sit this one out? They would be facing an incumbent President with a low approval rating and an economy that is still on life support. It seemed like a perfect time for one of them to run, but they didn't.

Perhaps what is happening behind the scenes is the establishment would rather see Obama win and give the economy the time it needs to work out a little better. Then a real star can get in there and run. That means they have cast Romney to their own martyrdom in hopes that this might make him go away. Sure it seems rather radical, but we are living in radical times and I could see this easily being a viable argument. Hope Romney rides it out and goes away, spend the next four years getting someone polished and ready to go, then run them in 2016. At the same time hope the economy improves a little, but not enough to make Obama look good.

If political science were chess, this would be one of the best moves ever.

Of course while all this plays out there is still that civil war going on. Will the base be able to squirm through another four years of Obama? Will they be able to handle the establishment trumping their will?

The aftermath of what is about to come is going to be as interesting to watch as the actual battle. The GOP has made what was an almost impossible job for Obama seem a lot more viable - get re-elected. The best part for our side is that the GOP has no one to blame but themselves.