In the Arena

The Injured Party of the Third Part

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It’s not news that the 2008 presidential campaign represents a classic reversal of fortune for the two political parties: The Democrats are running an orderly Republican-style campaign with an establishment front-runner opposed by responsible challengers who tend to live by Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment–rarely and reluctantly and never directly speaking ill of the front-runner.

The Republicans, on the other hand, are disorganized in a deeply Democratic way–in fact, they make past Democratic nomination free-for-alls seem like Junior League Best Dessert Recipe referendums.

John McCain, the first frontrunner, splattered over his position on immigration and his campaign’s financial incontinence. Mitt Romney has bought his way to prominence in Iowa and prospered by proximity in New Hampshire, but he is–celestial fireworks here–a Mormon, which is considered a distant cult-cousin of Scientology by the much of the party’s religious base. Fred Thompson is a fizzle. And then there’s Rudy Giuliani, who has been using flagrant and foolish tough talk about Muslims and Democrats in an attempt to make the party faithful overlook his position on social issues. Apparently, they haven’t. A new Rasmussen poll shows drastic defections if a pro-life Third Party joined a Rudy-Hillary race. Now, these sorts of polls should be taken with a pinch of pepper. Third Parties flower in principle and wilt in practice. But you can bet that Romney, Thompson, McCain et al will be trumpeting the results of this one. I can’t wait for the next Republican debate.

PS–I should also have linked to this column by the endlessly execrable James Dobson in the New York Times, which confirms the mayhem among the faithful.