Is Mitt Romney unstoppable?

Keep those gloves on, Mitt.

Mitt RomneyArena Asks:Mitt Romney has won the New Hampshire primary, the Associated Press projected as polls closed Tuesday night.

How much closer does this bring Romney to being the Republican nominee? Can any of his rivals realistically stop him in South Carolina, Florida or beyond? And which of them is the most likely to drop out?

My Answer: Romney won by barely the numbers he had to get to look like a real winner in his almost-home state. But he did what he needed to do and barring a self-immolating mistake will stay just enough ahead of the pack to become the Republican nominee.

It’s unclear to me why people (read, “media”) continue not to take Paul seriously, despite his strong showings in New Hampshire and Iowa. Many of his ideas are likely to prevail within the party even if he does not, and that could give Romney major heartburn in a general election. Paul is likely to stay in just to make this happen.

Huntsman made the showing he needed, but he can forget about the Southern states. Not only do they not speak Mandarin, but his positions are way too sensible to break double digits in bright red Evangelical territory. He’ll leave after South Carolina with his head high and probably a chance at another ambassadorship in the offing.

Newt will get increasingly full of pious baloney. Still, he knows the South and won’t bolt the race until he’d have to sell some of Calista’s Tiffany jewels to stay in.

Santorum rightfully got his nose rubbed in the dirt despite–or maybe because of–claiming to be the Jesus candidate. He has passionate acolytes in South Carolina, making it likely he’ll make a last ditch effort to rise from the near-dead.

So all in all, with Perry back for South Carolina, it looks like another bruising battle there and maybe on to Florida.

Here’s the link to my original post on Politico

Will ‘man on dog’ bite Santorum?

For once I like title Arena gave to today’s question about whether Rick Santorum’s way out of the mainstream views about sex will get noticed after the media swarm in the wake of his IA caucus near-win. Please tell me you’ll help keep this buzz alive. Because in truth I don’t trust the press to keep shining a light on it–and there are devastating implications for women’s rights as well as gay rights if the public doesn’t know Santorum just how zealously would work to take them entirely away.

Rick Santorum (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)Arena Asks: In a recent CNN interview, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum tried to put space between comments he made that appeared to equate homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality, Political Wire reports.

“In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing,” Santorum told the Associated Press during a 2003 interview. Santorum recently told CNN: “I didn’t connect them. I excluded them.”

Will these comments haunt Santorum on the campaign trail? Or will they be lost in the hubbub of the election cycle?

My Answer: Right now Rick Santorum is the Flavor of the Minute with the press. That’s the best thing that could possibly happen IF reporters keep on finding (which they will if they look) statements like his “man on dog” comparison to homosexuality. Santorum made that comparison, from which he is now trying to distance himself, in a slippery slope litany of what he speculates might happen if social definitions of marriage were to include the possibility of homosexual unions.

But he can’t distance himself from his repeated disdain for gays and lesbians let alone same sex marriage, IF the media keeps on doing its job. For example: “Is anyone saying same-sex couples can’t love each other? I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?” (Santorum’s Philadelphia Inquirer column, May 22, 2008)

It will also become increasingly obvious that at the root of his opposition to marriage equality is medieval beliefs about the nature and purpose of human sexuality as anything other than procreative in the patriarchal position.

Santorum’s outrage about the Lawrence v Texas decision that struck down Texas’s anti-gay laws caused him to reveal his opposition to birth control too. Santorum said: “[If] the Supreme Court says you have the right to consensual sex within your home, you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery…It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold–Griswold was the contraceptive case–and abortion.” (AP interview, April 7, 2003)

He promises to go after contraception head-on if he were to become president: “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country…. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” (Speaking with CaffeinatedThoughts.com, Oct. 18, 2011)

Peel back those retrograde ideas about sex and “how things are supposed to be” and you inevitably find misogyny deeply rooted in fundamentalist and traditional Catholic theology.

Santorum’s warped and bigoted ideas about sex and social policy will only be lost in the shuffle IF the press fails to do its job and keep reporting them after today’s Santorum media-feast is over. It’s a big “IF” and the future of many fundamental liberties depend on it.

Here’s the link to my original post on Politico

Would Santorum’s Surge Part Iowa Waters but Sink Him in General Election?

Hooray, just one more day till the Iowa Caucuses will be over. Then we can immediately start obsessing about New Hampshire. Meanwhile, what do you think about Rick Santorum’s chances for a strong finish tomorrow night?

2012 VoteArena Asks: On the last full day of campaigning before Iowa’s GOP caucuses, Mitt Romney is working to hold on to his narrow advantage as he faces a surging Rick Santorum. A Des Moines Register poll released Saturday showed Romney and Ron Paul locked in a close race, with Santorum rising swiftly to challenge them.

Will Santorum’s surge last? How much of a threat does the former Pennsylvania senator pose to Romney’s lead?

My Answer: Elections are like rivers–never the same twice. Every election is a unique moment in time. And Iowa’s political waters are parting for Rick Santorum at the crucial moment, just before the caucus votes, leading some to anoint him the next Moses they hope can lead the party to victory next November.

With the solid workhorse and seemingly mainstream Republican candidate Mitt Romney is on one side and candidates on the other who are either loaded down with baggage or are just plain wacko, Santorum’s political fortunes could easily rise so significantly as a result that he becomes the strongest vice presidential candidate, even if his lack of money and organization prevents him from being a real contender for the top of the ticket.

Of course, because Santorum’s virulent anti-gay and anti-women’s reproductive freedom track record goes beyond rhetoric to policy leadership while in the Senate, he is ideal for the Republican Right’s true believers. But when it gets to the general election, that strident position, which will come to sound as loopy as Michele Bachmann’s outlandish assertions about the HPV vaccine, should sink any ticket he’s on in defeat.

Key constituencies beyond Iowa will remember that Santorum’s outrage about the Lawrence v. Texas decision that struck down Texas’s anti-gay laws caused him to reveal his opposition even to Griswold v. Connecticut which legalized birth control. Santorum told the Associated Press: “[If] the Supreme Court says you have the right to consensual sex within your home, you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery…It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold–Griswold was the contraceptive case–and abortion.”

Here’s the link to my original post on Politico