While the Florida Republican primary is a spectator sport for many of us here in the Sunshine State, there’s a sense that we all may be witnessing history in the making.
If Mitt Romney clinches it, which, as of this writing, it looks like he will, it could represent the high water mark for tea party influence in the GOP. Yes, he won it dirty by outspending Newt Gingrich five-to-one, but winning by stuffing obscene amounts of money into the system has an honorable history here.
Romney’s victory will be a triumph of blandness, and a late-in-the-game spasm of muscle flexing by what is left of the Republican establishment⎯a group of old bulls that still has trouble accepting that their dalliance with the tea party was a Faustian pact.
It’s a shame that Newt could not have taken Florida; a big prize from such a diverse electorate could have accorded him the credibility to slingshot to the nomination. In the end, the nation would have benefited from a clear-cut matchup between the creed of the social/fiscal conservatives and the forces of progressivism. In the general election, we could have hashed out which philosophy we as a people wished to be our guiding star and defining principle for the next few years.
Instead, we will get tapioca pudding out of the pragmatic, timid wing of the Republican Party. The presidential election will be a “clash” between two moderates who agree on more than they disagree. It will devolve into a meaningless slugfest based on personality, and the hackneyed old “who would you rather have a beer with?” poll. It will bore us to death.
We’ll miss you, Newt. We’ll miss your overarching ego, your shoot-from-the-lip inanities, and your half-baked intellectualism. Most of all, we’ll miss your passion.