Shrum in his weekly column for The Daily Beast says it is way too early to declare Romney dead. The debates are always difficult to predict and the problems overseas could erupt and push the election one way or another. In this social media world, one incident can change the dynamics of a race. Just ask Mitt Romney who saw his blunder in every media outlet this week.
The eminent and articulate commentator says that if Romney should lose the election there could be all out 'civil war' in the Republican Party. Shrum writes:
There is a civil war gathering in the Republican Party. It looks more and more like a dispirited and disappointed collection of factions, preparing to lay blame for a lost presidential election and to do battle to shape a new direction for the Grand Old Party.
Last week the view hardened that the Republican nominee was in close to terminal trouble. Having lost the summer as he let the Obama campaign define him, having lost the conventions when he let Clint Eastwood step all over his acceptance speech, Mitt Romney spectacularly lost his head on Sept. 11 during the mob attack on U.S. diplomats in Egypt and Libya. He came across as a low-life opportunist rushing to exploit a national tragedy in order to score political points and then doubling down on this venal dumbness with a smirking and contentious press conference. This week he may well have finished the job, with video leaking of him referring to 47 percent of the electorate as government moochers.
The commentator writes that if Romney should do poorly in the debate:
After the first debate, see if the doubts become a rout. One measure will be the conduct of the Republican super PACs. The corpulent moneybags of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson probably will continue to flow into the presidential ad wars; after all, Adelson stuck with Newt Gingrich as Gingrich struck out in the Republican primaries. But hardheaded operatives like Karl Rove could shift their resources to Senate and House contests. They’ll deny it even if they do it. And it wouldn’t be good news for Democrats; the possibility—or probability—is already worrying party officials.
Such a scenario also would set the stage for the GOP’s post-Romney civil war. The Tea Party Republicans who detest, or more accurately hate, this president will be maddened by his reelection. They will rage against it as illegitimate, stolen, un-American. You name it, they’ll say it. And they will tear at the GOP’s 2012 nominee as insufficiently conservative and insist that Republicans in the Senate and House block a second-term Obama at every turn.
The Daily Beast columnist says this will be 'civil war' between Bush Republicans and Ryan Right Wingers:
This outcome—in an Obama second term, in 2016, and campaigns beyond—will be magnified or modulated by the course of the irrepressible conflict between the Jeb Bush Republicans and the Paul Ryan Republicans. The two men represent very different paths. Bush stands for a tempered conservatism; he understands the impending demographic doom of a reactionary, anti-Hispanic Republican Party. He’s writing a book on immigration; as he said this summer, “Don’t just…say immediately we must have controlled borders. Change the tone...I think we need a broader approach.” Ryan, on the other hand, champions a hard-line approach on immigration, along with virtual repeal of the New Deal and the social progress of the 1960s.
Bush’s attitude—I’ll borrow from his father and call it “a kinder, gentler” conservatism—could be broadly acceptable in the country, even if his brother George was all but anathema at the 2012 Republican convention. Ryan is out of step with the majority of Americans not only on immigration but on his budget plans and across a wide range of domestic policy. If Romney goes down, then Bush, the practical choice, and Ryan, likely to be lionized on the right, will be the 2016 front-runners for each faction of the GOP. Meanwhile, Republicans on Capitol Hill will have to determine whether to be modestly practical—or relentlessly ideological.
In summary Shrum reminds us of Santorum sitting in the wings:
In an America where the party of angry white men increasingly speaks for and to a permanent minority, it could take another defeat and maybe another before the GOP comes to its senses. Surely Romney himself would have been better off in the general election if he had defended his Massachusetts health-care reform and sounded occasional notes of pragmatism and compassion. But then, of course, he never would have been the nominee. He could even have let us assume he wore pajamas to bed. Now hovering over his apparently desperate march toward a concession speech is the specter of Republicans fighting their protracted civil war. Someday, somehow, someone will do for the conservative side of our politics what Bill Clinton did as the progressive who brought Democrats back to the mainstream. But post-2012, maybe even Ryan won’t be pure enough; it could be full-Santorum ahead.