Dear Commons Community,
The NY Times columnist, Ross Douthat, has an insightful piece today on the Republican presidential primary race. His main point is that conservative populists are not able to sustain momentum – at least not in these early stages. He reviews the ups and downs of Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain. Besides their poor showings and gaffes during the debates and interviews, he connects their rise and fall to Fox News:
“…the weird celebrity culture that Fox News creates around conservative politicians, which can make Republican presidential campaigns feel like cable news auditions. Thanks to Roger Ailes’s network, the right’s populist folk heroes have career incentives to choose superficiality over substance — the better to follow in Huckabee’s and Palin’s footsteps, and segue into a career as host of “Bachmann Overdrive” …
This is the irony of Fox’s impact on Republican politics. In a sense, the network’s shows have given right-wing populism a larger megaphone than it’s ever had before. But by turning populism into mass entertainment, they’ve made it less and less likely that a conservative populist will ever actually deserve to win.“
He concludes that this bodes well for Mitt Romney.