A Primary Question

by Jonah Goldberg

Right now the GOP base is still  ravenous for red meat. But it seems to me that if the times keep getting evermore interesting (to borrow a Chinese proverbial formulation) the red meat might become less appetizing. Things are getting so ugly so fast, there may come a point — soon — when the nominees need to show they can reassure people, markets, etc. not just throw elbows.

Personally, I’d like to see Michele Bachmann show she can be a bit more presidential. It’s an odd-place for the near front-runner to be that Ron Paul seems more reassuring. If I were advising her, I’d tell her to go into the upcoming Iowa debate with the demeanor of a  president-in-waiting (Hillary Clinton, who was more concerned about sexist double standards than Bachmann is, had that poise down). She should go after Obama more in sadness than in anger. If I were advising Pawlenty I’d hammer the idea that the country doesn’t need any more drama, it needs calm, serious leadership to steady the ship of state (“leadership only Tim Pawlenty can provide”). I have to say I wouldn’t tell Romney to change much of anything. I think he’s handled himself very well so far. His lack of leadership on the debt issue was cynical but smart. As for the others, I’m not sure how many of them are playing to win at this point. If I were advising Newt, I’d tell him to work overtime creating that time machine so he can go back and start over.

Also, without going the full-Huntsman, a bit more presidential-level leadership will probably buy some favorable mainstream media coverage as well.

Anyway, it just seems to me that if the chaos continues, the market for GOP bomb throwing will shrink and intensify. That means while the base of the base will want more, the majority of the majority will want less. 

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