As I have said many times before, the Republican party establishment had for a long time fed fiery rhetoric on social issues to its party’s base in order to win votes, while following pro-oligarchic policies when in power. But the 2008 election provided indicators that the base was fed up with being used this way and wanted to wrest control of the leadership. I said that the 2012 election would bring this fault line to the forefront and show whether the establishment still had control. This has happened and the Romney-Gingrich contest is a good measure of it. News reports are emerging all over of the party establishment attacking Newt Gingrich and pulling for Romney. (See here, here, and here.) It will be interesting to see how they eat their words and support Gingrich if he should be the eventual nominee.
What is noticeable in this race is that the headliners in the Republican party establishment have so far largely steered clear of making any endorsements. They usually play safe and wait until the result is a foregone conclusion and declare their support for the likely winner. But this time around they may face pressure to endorse Romney in order to help him win.
I must admit that I am surprised that Gingrich, of all people, has emerged as the flag bearer for the anti-establishment movement. After all, he is a career politician and ultimate Washington insider, which should make the establishment favor him, but that very fact, plus that he has a lot of baggage in his past, should make the nutty base of the party skittish. The only explanation I can come up with for this weird reversal is that the party establishment is opposing him, not because they fear his policies which are reliably pro-oligarchy, but because they are rightly fearful that Gingrich is too mercurial and unstable and that he will self-destruct, giving Obama an easy re-election victory. And paradoxically, the party establishment’s opposition to Gingrich may be what is making him attractive to the base, who have never quite warmed to department store mannequin Mitt Romney.
The Ron Paul camp sees this struggle, along with the revised party rules for awarding primary delegates, as providing a possible path to the nomination, though that remains a very long shot. Recall that the Obama camp in 2008 also cleverly used party rules to amass sizable delegate totals even when they were losing primaries.