Rule #1 of Republican Fight Club: Always be the most outrageous person in the melee.
Rule #2 of Republican Fight Club: Remember everyone else is also trying to follow #1.
Rule #3 of Republican Fight Club: The 11th commandment is as dead as a doornail.
Seriously, Super Tuesday was painful to watch. Gingrich’s “YAY GO ME” speech in Georgia was… barely coherent, full of big (and vague, and strange) ideas, and (as usual for Newt) utterly divorced from reality – so much so that even Fox News couldn’t stomach it. Virginia had the strangest match-up, of plastic versus downright nuts (with plastic winning 59% to 41%), and Oklahoma and Tennessee let their freak flags fly. Still, the reporting was somewhat disappointing, with nothing rising to top the best political headline EVER (yes, the double entendre was apparently intentional). Meanwhile, Romney was… Romney. Shrink-wrapped and uninteresting (warning, link may cause unconsciousness and possibly drooling). So what did all the fuss mean? Anything? Bueller?
To completely oversimplify things: what we’re seeing here is a knock-down drag-out caused by the attempted merger of fiscal and social conservatism within the GOP through the vehicle of the Tea Party. It worked for a while, but then Jim DeMint and others got involved, and the social (read religious) conservatives decided that they were going to drive the bus now, thank you very much. This made some (more) of the fiscal conservatives bolt for Ron Paul, and made the (vanishing) Rockefeller Republicans run screaming in the general direction of Mitt Romney. This latter part was a happy accident for Romney, since, they were trying to get away from Gingrich (who has cornered the braindead, forgetful, and Clinton is the most evil man EVER vote) and Santorum (who has cornered the Religious Fundamentalist vote). It should be noted that the two Catholics are so crazy, they lost the Catholic vote to the Mormon. Just throwing that out there.
The apparent fragmentation and chaos is not something new at all; the party has held some deep internal contradictions ever since the Reagan coalition, and the divisions are now beyond the bailing-wire and duct-tape phase. It’s at this point that I want to wax eloquently about a flywheel rotating at a speed that is generating a higher centripetal acceleration than the tensile strength of the wheel itself can withstand (and the spin rate of the wheel is increasing), but I’ll just cut to the chase and say “the whole thing is going to go kablooie sooner or later, it’s just a matter of time.” The GOP may survive as an organization, and even if it doesn’t its death throes will be something to be seen (from quite a distance, if possible), but I’m thinking this is the beginning of the end of the broad coalition that Rick Perlstein described in “Nixonland.” I can promise you that the process will NOT be gentle or pleasant for anyone involved.