1. We’re probably doomed. Well, not doomed, just looking at some tough probabilities. If the latest employment report sets the pattern for the economy going into the next ten months (or even somewhat less), it would take a good Republican candidate running a good campaign to beat Obama. It looks like the best that we can hope for is for a mediocre Republican candidate who will run a competent campaign. On the other hand, if we have a global financial crisis, then the odds shift against Obama. But the rest of us live with the consequences of a global financial crisis. Since I happen to live on this planet, I would rather not have to do that. Doomed (well not really doomed.)
2. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what feels so wrong with Santorum’s eliminate corporate income taxes on manufacturers/working-class right-wing industrial policy/blue collar Italian-American strategy (well other than the policy problems.) It just seems out of sync with the times. If it was 1973 and Santorum had just read Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics, Santorum would have a cutting edge strategy for winning over non-Southern white working-class Democrats to the Republican Party. That strategy might still (or might not) make some difference in the primaries, but I don’t think it will resonate with the country at large (or resonate enough.) It feels like he is running on some kind of discarded early draft of Reaganism without Reagan. Republicans need a future-oriented politics of effective but limited government and economic growth that can plausibly offer higher living standards and a minimum of security. Mitch Daniels and Bobby Jindal have shown what this kind of conservative politics can look and sound like at the state-level. Santorum hasn’t shown that he can do it at the national level. He is close sometimes. He is much better at talking about entitlements than any of the other Republican candidates. He just isn’t quite good enough. He isn’t quite sharp enough (I can’t get more precise than that.) The worst part is that he isn’t a million miles away from what he needs to be. I just doubt that he ever gets there.
On the other hand, Romney seems to lack all principle (at least when it comes to the kinds of things that are at issue in contemporary American politics), and Gingrich has become a con man whose program and rhetoric are a disgrace. So Santorum can look pretty good.
3. I agree with Peter Lawler and hope for some miracle that gives us another, better Republican candidate. But it would be a miracle.