(Denver) A few days before Rick Santorum upset Mitt Romney in the Colorado caucuses, he made a campaign stop at Colorado Christian University, where I work. As it was ending, several students asked the former senator if he would Tebow with them. The picture with all of them on a knee, heads bowed, is my favorite 2012 political image so far. Rick has got game.
I wonder, though, if the feisty Pennsylvanian’s political fortunes here are headed into the same kind of fade as the young Floridian’s football fortunes – and if so, maybe it’s for the best. (In Santorum’s case, that is; this is not one more column about ex-Bronco Tim Tebow.)
My state's caucuses on Feb. 7, you see, were just a beauty contest. A binding vote on delegate selection for the RNC in Tampa won’t occur until Republicans from across Colorado convene at the DU Ritchie Center on April 13 and 14. On that Friday, seven congressional-district assemblies will elect three delegates each. The GOP state assembly will elect another 12 delegates on Saturday.
Will the result be different when the Santorum and Romney campaigns, along with those of Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, battle it out from scratch for Colorado's 33 pledged delegates over the next couple of weeks? Longshot contenders Gingrich and Paul may show up to make their case in person, party officials say; but Romney and Santorum, the favorites, have given no indication as yet.
If you think it’s just a family feud among the Republicans, a tribe you wouldn’t join on a bet, think again. You may not be interested in politics at all – but politics is interested in you. These are not ordinary times.
The United States is headed for a fiscal crackup, our national security is at risk, and the institutions that made us a world leader in the last century are looking shaky as this century begins. Three of every five Americans in a recent poll expressed no approval of President Obama’s job performance. He’ll remain in power until 2017, however, unless the opposition puts up a strong challenger whom voters can trust.
This is where party politics are all-important, however distasteful you may find them. The only meaningful opposition to Barack Obama and his failed policies, the only counter-force that has legs and a voice and a team on the field – like it or not – is the Republican party. Hence the GOP nominating contest at DU in April and eventually at Tampa in August matters to the whole country, not just to us partisans.
America’s founders didn’t envision parties helping elect the president, but after George Washington it’s always been that way. A man (or woman) of character, judgment, capability, and experience, an eminent citizen with integrity and wisdom and the gift of command, unencumbered with the brand of any faction, is what the Federalist Papers portray as our republic’s chief magistrate. Who measures up in 2012?
Mr. Obama, unfortunately, does not. Voters in 2008 would have seen he didn’t measure up then, had not millions been swept away with emotion and wish-fulfillment; for many of us the sad evidence has now become incontrovertible. You may disagree, of course. But if you agree, the next (and only) question is whether former Sen. Rick Santorum or former Gov. Mitt Romney measures up better.
I don’t happen to have a vote in any of the upcoming Colorado assemblies. To my fellow Republicans who do, I urge them to weigh the choice according to the founders’ gold standard, and not be swept away with emotion and wish-fulfillment.
Decide soberly. Temper your partisan or ideological zeal with disinterested patriotism. If the result in five months is a Romney-Santorum ticket, and an Obama retirement in ten weeks more, we could do far worse.