So a famous conservative who’s been positioned to know more about Rick than most of this sent me this very probing question and real analysis:

Question: Who’s more electable against Obama? Romney or Santorum? The election is ultimately going to be about getting the economy moving again, or in other words, jobs. Santorum has a feel for that issue—-I loved the “dignity of work” language that married up with the “dignity of every human being” language on Tuesday night. It sounded Reaganesque in its largeness of spirit, its connection with ordinary American aspirations and what is best in us. He wants to get Americans working again, making things, contributing to building up the country in productive ways. There’s a lot to like about all that: it would nail down supermajorities in the white working class which remains, after all, the largest demographic in the country. Can Romney connect with the white working class in that way? I don’t think so. He looks and talks like the guy who showed up at the factory to tell you that all of you were laid off and the company was moving production to Asia. In your mind’s eye, you can already see the attack ads against Romney from Obama’s superPAC: interviews with people who were laid off from companies that Bain Capital bought and sold explaining their sorrows, with a caption about how much Bain pocketed by the maneuver. Obviously, Romney’s Republican opponents couldn’t put up those kinds of attack ads; equally obviously, Obama will. I have a hard time seeing how that connects with people with household incomes below $100k. It seems to me that the short-sightedness of the Republican elites is that they just don’t get how devastating that’s going to be to the Romney campaign in the fall. The reason they don’t get it is, of course, because their own household income is above $200k.

In other words: Romney is a boss (the guy who laid us off, as this expert says and Huckabee said) who’s about the importance of productivity and so tax breaks for the rich. Santorum is the defender the dignity of real work and the real worker (and so tax breaks for manufacturing) as the foundations of our productity and as something and someone infinitely valuable for their own sakes. I’m not sure that’s the whole answer to the question of who’s more electable, but it’s surely part of it.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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