Santorum is Doomed

My evidence? Bill Kristol thinks he has a chance.

On the night of the Iowa caucuses, Bill Kristol made a comment during the FNC coverage that Santorum would be “difficult to take down” which led me to sarcastically tweet that this meant that Santorum was doomed.

Now Kristol has expanded this position to a Weekly Standard column in which he makes a claim and a request.  The claim is that non-establishment candidates have won before and the request is that the voters “give Rick a chance.”

First, I am honestly not sure when Bill Kristol was right about a major political trend or issue.  Quite some time ago I reached the point where I could not even take him seriously as an ideologically-driven pundit (i.e, someone who might be able to provide real analysis, but simply with a clear point-of-view) to nothing more than a hack who was sufficiently ensconced in his position that is going to be heard, but really has nothing to say.  Not only is he a legacy pundit (his dad was Irving Kristol) but at this point he has both his FNC gig and his magazine as a platform which he is unlikely to lose.*

Second, his whole argument about establishment/non-establishment candidates is just made up.  He plucks examples (Carter, Reagan, Obama, and Lincoln) and acts like this is an argument.  Just saying that non-establishment candidates won does not mean that Rick Santorum has a chance at the nomination.  Further, it is unclear as to exactly how Kristol operationalizes “establishment” and “anti-establishment” candidates.  Was Barack Obama really an “anti-establishment” candidate?  Seem to me that the Democratic “establishment” was split over Clinton and Obama, as opposed to one being clearly backed by all the power-brokers in the party and the other mounting some long-shot insurgency.  Regardless, even allowing the simplistic logic that “non-establishment candidates have won in the past, so they can now!” is not an argument in favor of Santorum’s chances.

Third, Kristol’s assertions about Santorum’s chances are built on wisps of nothing:

Actually, Santorum can hope to win. He has been running to win. And after what he pulled off in Iowa, it’s foolish to suggest he doesn’t have a chance to win. His Iowa performance, and his speech Tuesday night, were impressive enough to suggest to primary voters in subsequent states that they should make an effort to judge both his capacity to win and his capacity to govern.

I will concede that Santorum can “hope to win” and that he has “a chance” but I would also say that any candidate still in the race can hope and has a chance as long as they remain active candidates.  Of course, hope costs nothing and all competitors hope, else they would not bother competing.  The issue of chances is not whether a chance exists, but what the probabilities are.   There is a chance, for example, that Mitt Romney could be hit by a bus or that some heretofore unknown fact about his life will doom him.  Such occurrences would, without a doubt, boost Santorum’s chances.  The real question, however, is: what are Santorum’s chances as the race is currently constructed?  And, further, what evidence does one have that a real competition is possible?  Kristol provides none.  And really: what candidate isn’t “running to win”?

Indeed, the piece is utterly devoid of evidence or an actual argument.  Indeed, the whole thing can be boiled down to two sentences:  Sometimes the establishment candidate isn’t nominated.  Therefore, give Rick a chance.**   Of course, since I once asked if one his columns was the “Laziest Column in a Major Paper Ever?” I am not surprised by this attempt.

h/t:  Bruce Bartlett’s FB feed.

*Of course, over time he has lost gigs at ABC, Time, and the New York Times.  No doubt some will charge “liberal MSM bias” but the truth of the matter is, his work is unimpressive.  The NYT example in particular is telling, because they clearly wanted an additional conservative columnist.

**And yes, the whole column is an attempt to build off of the song lyric “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”  Of course, said Lennon tune failed to stop the Viet Nam war (unless one is giving it a serious time-lag discount) and it certainly didn’t result in global peace.  As such, perhaps Kristol’s deployment is apt as Santorum is not getting the nomination.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Santorum is not getting the nomination.

    What a killjoy you are Steven.

  2. ponce says:

    First, I am honestly not sure when Bill Kristol was right about a major political trend or issue?

    Kristol had a famous wingnut daddy, which means he doesn’t have to be right about anything.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    My favorite Bill Kristol Quote:

    “There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America … that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”
    ~Willaim Kristol, April 4th, 2003

  4. steve says:

    I wonder if Santorum is running for VP? I kind of assume that Romney is going to pick someone who will please the base. Santorum could fill that role. I guess the downside is that it practically guarantees losing Pennsylvania in the process since those of us in PA already know the guy.

    Steve

  5. PogueMahone says:

    @Ron Beasley:
    My favorite, too.

    Also,
    How wrong is Kristol? Hell, even Dick Morris, the worst out there, sees the Santorum rise for what it was.

    Cheers.

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    @PogueMahone: How can two people who are always wrong disagree with each other?

  7. mattb says:

    @PogueMahone & @RonBeasly:
    Doesn’t anyone see the earthshattering paradox that is about to be created?! If Kristol is always wrong and he says Santorum will win and Morris is always wrong and he says Santorum will lose, this can only end to a state of quantum indecision.*

    Perhaps this is the conservative pundit’s solution to the energy crisis.

    * – Here’s an more famous example of quantum indecision that’s typically associated with Douglas Adams: “Cats land on their feet. Toast lands peanut butter side down. A cat with toast strapped to its back will hover in a constant state of rotation above the ground.

  8. merl says:

    That’s exactly what I thought, as soon as he pays the snowbilly grifter for her endorsement, he’s doomed. With Palin and Kristol endorsing him he’ll never get another vote.

  9. peter says:

    “Santorum is Doomed: My evidence? Bill Kristol thinks he has a chance.”

    So true. Thanks for the laugh.

  10. Markey says:

    Heh…

    🙂

  11. Jack Moss says:

    If you simply disagreed then say so. Insults and slander belittle the post and it’s author.

  12. Brainster says:

    I am completely baffled by Kristol’s column. One would think that the neocons would be behind Romney over the ridiculous Santorum. And while Reagan was certainly the anti-establishment candidate in 1976, he was the obvious choice in 1980.

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    @Brainster: The neocons love Santorum – he is ready for the next holy war/crusade. There is no such thing as a bad war for the neocons and Satorums’s Christian Jihad works just fine.

  14. Boyd says:

    […completely skipping over the meat of the post and focusing on the irrelevant word that struck me the hardest…]

    …operationalizes…

    Really? “Operationalizes?”

  15. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I wasn’t questioning the word’s technical existence, or your usage of it. I’m just despairing the effect the technocracy is having on our language (and your complicity therein). 😉

  16. Rob in CT says:

    I’m with Boyd there, Steven. Bah! Humbug!

    Bill Kristol: the gift that wingnut welfare keeps on giving us.

    Tthat’s a really impressive quote Ron Beasley has there, eh? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I remember generally that the pro-war side had no idea what they were talking about back in 2002-2003, but I had not before seen such a perfectly dismissive, ~100% wrong statement from one of ’em. Thanks, Ron!