David Frum is not happy with media coverage of the GOP presidential campaign. Writing for CNN, the former George W. Bush speechwriter complains that everyone but the party's current frontrunner are getting all the coverage. Turn on the TV and we see Sarah Palin zipping around on the back of a motorcycle or talking heads wondering "when Texas Gov. Rick Perry will join the presidential race and when Newt Gingrich will quit," he says.
Meanwhile, the man who was and is the actual front-runner in the Republican presidential race rates barely a mention in the media commentary.
I'm talking about Mitt Romney of course, the former governor of Massachusetts who has polled first in almost every Republican presidential preference poll since January 2009. Yet somehow the commentariat will not believe it.
Frum speculates that the commentariat dismiss Romney's current standing as pure name recognition -- as if Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich aren't household words. "Wait till the other candidates open fire on his health care record, his abortion flip-flop, his prior support for same-sex unions!" he says, putting himself in the pundits' place. "His balloon will pop as soon as Republican primary voters start paying attention."
"And yet ... it turns out that Republicans who are surveyed by pollsters are paying enough attention to have popped more than a few balloons already. Not just self-evidently absurd candidacies like Donald Trump's, but presumptively serious candidacies like Newt Gingrich's have already imploded. Smart and appealing politicians like Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels have tested the waters and found insufficient support," he writes. "Meanwhile, Romney continues to raise money, collect important backers and ride along in first place in the polls."
Whatever the reason, the media is all but ignoring the Mittens campaign. Not that he's skyrocketing forward by any means. The party struggles to find a credible candidate and no name is cracking twenty percent in national polls. But Romney is at the top of every one. In Iowa, he beats that one-fifth mark, scoring 21% among voters there. But nationally, a PPP poll has him tied with Sarah Palin at 16% each.
And it's here that things get interesting. I doubt that Palin is going to run. I could be wrong, but she doesn't seem interested in anything other than celebrity. That celebrity is based on the perception of Palin as some sort of leader of some sort of important thing and that perception goes out the window if she loses the nomination -- doubly true if she loses big. Better to sit it out and let people speculate on what might have been than to jump in and prove yourself nothing more than a loudmouth.
But Palin seems intent on knocking Romney down -- even if she's not going to run. She ran to Massachusetts to basically photo bomb Romney's presidential announcement, under the pretense that it was really important to be there to mangle the story of Paul Revere.
Part of the reason for this was that it was a dick move and Palin is an awful troll. But another part is that the Tea Party hates Romney. Palin is supposedly a Tea Party leader, so it's important that she run out in front of that particular parade. That way, she can pretend to be leading it.
It was "RomneyCare" that laid the groundwork for the dreaded "ObamaCare" -- complete with the individual mandate. Mitt has previously supported same sex unions. And Mitt is running as far away from his previous positions as he can. It's not hard to see why the Tea Party hates him; not only is his history too liberal for them, but he may be the most inconsistent candidate in the field.
Still, the way things stand right now. Romney is their best candidate against Obama, but in a fit of ideological pique, the Tea Party would rather lose than see Mitt Romney win. And if Sarah Palin knows anything, it's how to get out in front of the Tea Party and pretend to lead it.