Opinion: Fear and Pellegrino on the campaign trail - Joe Scarborough
Four years ago, political reporters and millions of Americans were inexorably drawn into the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. No matter who won the Democratic nomination, we knew history would be made. Even on the Republican side, John McCain was the last of a breed: a war hero candidate who spoke convincingly about the need for Americans to believe in causes greater than themselves.
Given the sweeping narrative of 2008, it’s little wonder that watching Ron Paul and Rick Santorum fight a few Mormons for the GOP crown is proving to be a less-than-thrilling way to spend a political season.
Exciting races are more than entertaining: they are clarifying for citizens and educational for candidates. This campaign is neither. That means the choice between Obama and Mitt Romney will likely remain muddled and that this waltz to the Republican nomination will not toughen Romney up for a long year ahead. Four years ago, the cut-and-thrust of the Democratic primaries strengthened Obama for the fall.
Another problem for the Republicans at the moment is that the largely lethargic race is making the field’s extremes loom ever larger — and the extremes are making the Democrats’ case against Mitt Romney. Primaries often seem to be more helpful to the other party, but this is especially the case in 2012 since Super PAC spending amounts to significant free media for Chicago.
David Axelrod might even think about sending a thank-you note to two unlikely figures: Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.