A ‘Corrosive’ GOP Primary Season

Political reporters usually don’t state their opinions bluntly, adopting instead a polite, semi-objective façade. They save their unvarnished views for late-night bitch sessions in local watering holes when they’re among their own.

So, it was quite unusual for one of the nation’s elite political reporters to say what he really thinks on national television in language that can only be described as crude. John Heilemann of New York magazine, co-author of “Game Change” and a fixture on MSNBC, really let it rip on HBO’s irreverent “Real Time with Bill Maher.”


John Heilemann of New York magazine. Photo: JD Lasica/Socialmedia.biz

Asked by Maher what was wrong with the current Republican presidential field, Heilemann replied:

Having spent the better part of the last year following these guys from state to state, observing them up close, I can give you a very careful, subtle, nuanced take on that, Bill: It’s because they all suck. They’re not good candidates and they’re whacked in a variety of ways…

Harsh, maybe, but largely true, as I’ve laid out in this blog in somewhat less colorful language.  A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll backs it up, too.

Four in ten adult Americans polled say the campaign “has given them a less favorable impression of the GOP”; only 10% say it’s given them a more favorable impression.

Who are those 10%? Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum’s extended families?

Most ominously, six in ten independents viewed the Republican campaign negatively, the poll showed.

And some “55% of respondents – including 35% of Republicans – believe the Democratic Party does a better job than the GOP in appealing to those who aren’t hard-core supporters. Just 26% say the Republican Party does a better job on this front.”

“The word you’d have to use at this stage is: ‘corrosive,’” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey along with Democrat Peter Hart.

Is it any surprise former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a 28%-39% positive/negative rating, one of the biggest negative spreads we’ve seen at this point in the election cycle?

It’s not just about the candidates; this goes back to last year’s debt ceiling debacle when Tea Party congressmen appeared ready to go down with the ship to get their way.

And the emergence of contraception as an important issue in the Republican primaries has been just jaw-dropping to the rest of the country, which actually lives in the 21st century.

What’s really ‘corrosive’ is the disconnect between the Republican faithful and the rest of America. It may prevent the GOP from making gains that a slightly more reasonable conservative party could take for granted in an economy like this one.

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