Primary Silly Season

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Presidential primary campaigns seem to drop everyone’s IQ by 10 points–and more in the case of the candidates. (And for opinion journalists? Don’t answer that. . . ) The thought came to mind while reading the latest lame attack on Santorum from Romney. The latest email reads “Santorum: Washington’s Being Managed Just Fine.” The press release quotes Santorum saying (in part): “[T]he issues in Washington D.C. are not issues of management. There’s not a management problem in Washington D.C., all right?” It goes on to make the (legitimate) point that Santorum has no executive experience and no true private-sector experience either. But does anyone doubt that what Santorum was saying is that the problem with the federal government today is philosophical and constitutional rather than managerial? And that this quote has been taken out of context?

This attack follows the hits on Santorum for having supported earmarks in the past even though he renounces them now. Which raises the question: Does the Romney campaign really want Republican primary voters to hold the candidates’ past apostasies against them even when they’ve been abandoned? Do they think they can win a fight conducted by those rules?

Romney’s been on the receiving end of some unfair shots himself. As far as I can tell, the bit about emergency contraception is one of them. But his own campaign’s unfair shots don’t even seem likely to be effective.