Jonah Goldberg has quite a humorous column up at the LA Times describing the rebellion in Republican grass roots ranks against the "conservative establishment." Ultimately, Goldberg concludes that the problem is a general dissatisfaction with the field of Republican candidates and whether they can win against Obama. He was good up to that point, but I think he misdiagnoses the angst among the electorate. I feel pretty confident that Romney or Gingrich could win against Obama. I am less certain about the second tier candidates, but they are second tier and not likely to win the nomination. It is not the weakness of the field that is the problem, its the acts of the Republican "establishment," the punditry as well as current and former lawmakers, that are causing the angst. Not since 1964 have we seen the "establishment" engage in such a grossly unfair slash and burn campaign against our own Republican candidates. As I wrote in a post below, Are These NRO People Nuts:
Precious little of what is coming from the right leaning pundits has been reasoned criticism. To the contrary, its largely been overheated hyperbole of the ilk used by the left to demonize and delegitimize Sarah Palin.
In that sense, the actions of the "Republican establishment" have been disgusting and unforgivable. Mr. Goldberg humorously gets the angst, but misdiagnoses its genesis:
've made a disturbing discovery: I am a member of the conservative "establishment." I felt like Michael Douglas at the end of "Falling Down": "I'm the bad guy?"
For the last few years, the rank and file of the GOP and the conservative movement have become deeply disenchanted with what they see as the rubber-spined, foot-dragging quislings drinking from a trough of chablis at some Georgetown party. The term "RINO" (Republican In Name Only) has become an epithet of ideological enforcement, spit out in much the same way Mao cursed "running dog capitalists." . . .
Though he never intended any of this, Mitt Romney is largely to blame for the anti-establishment tumult. Somehow, he has managed to become the Arlen Specter of the 2012 field. (Specter is conservative-speak for "demon RINO from hell." You're supposed to spit on the ground after you say "Arlen Specter." Ptooey.)
In 2008, Romney was the conservative alternative to John McCain, earning endorsements not just from National Review magazine but from the titans of right-wing talk radio — Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Now Limbaugh insists that support for Romney proves that "the Republican establishment does not want a conservative getting the nomination." Erick Erickson, a CNN contributor and editor of the conservative site Red State, says that if Romney is the nominee, "Conservatism dies and Barack Obama wins."
After National Review issued a stinging anti-Newt Gingrich editorial, many of the same voices insisted that the magazine (where I work, though I didn't write the editorial) has, in the words of one right-wing blogger, lived long enough "to become the villain." Fox News, Karl Rove, Charles Krauthammer, George Will and even pro-Romney columnist Ann Coulter are routinely denounced as part of some RINO cabal. . . .
The mere fact that there's something one can meaningfully describe as a conservative establishment today is a victory, never mind that it is more conservative than it has ever been. But a conservative establishment is useless if it doesn't bring the nation with it. The frustration on the right stems from the fact that none of the candidates seems up to that task.