All of the GOP bigwigs who took a pass on challenging the president had reasonable reasons. Jeb Bush probably concluded that not enough time had elapsed since his brother’s disastrous terms in office. Mitch Daniels couldn’t convince the wife and kids to go along. Chris Christie had a healthy sense of humility about his readiness. Haley Barbour had enough self-awareness to realize that the optics of a fat white Mississippi governor running against the nation’s first black president weren’t going to be too good. Yet, it’s also true that none of them thought it would be easy to beat the president. I think these prospective candidates also took a long look at the state of the Republican base and concluded that it would be difficult to win the nomination as a moderate, especially with a well-funded Mitt Romney already in the race. Witness what happened to the campaign of Tim Pawlenty. So, considering all this, I think Rush Limbaugh’s analysis is too conspiratorial.

“But the resentment for the base that the Republican establishment has is obvious, and of course the Republican establishment knows that. They know that the Tea Party is not embraced, that the Republican establishment’s trying to marginalize the Tea Party. So really, at least for me, is not hard to understand. Now, there’s an abject sense of panic that has set in over, ‘Oh, no! You mean this race is gonna go on? Oh, no!’ Yeah, the race is gonna go on. See, they thought that this would be over before it started. Remember what I told you. ‘They’re gonna split the conservative vote and elect the moderate.’ They were gonna stand traditional theory on its head.

They decided, ‘We’re gonna lose from the get-go. We’re gonna nominate a moderate. We’re gonna take conservatives in our party that we can’t stand and we’re gonna have as many of them up there as possible splitting vote.’”

You can look for signs that this was truly the case, but I don’t think you’ll find any. Rick Perry got in because he thought he could be the conservative candidate and that he could win. Herman Cain wanted to sell books. Michele Bachmann wanted attention. Jon Huntsman was taking votes from Romney, not the other way around. Maybe Rick Santorum is in on the grand plot, but you can’t say the same about Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul. If the establishment wants Mitt Romney to be the nominee, it isn’t because he’s moderate. It’s because they think he’ll do better against Obama than Santorum, Paul, Gingrich, Bachmann and Perry.

However, I think Limbaugh is correct about this next part:

Today, Limbaugh continued putting forth his feeling that it would be great to see the fight go all the way to the convention. But he noted the worry that many Republicans seemed to have about it, theorizing that they never thought they could beat President Obama, were only trying to get control of both the House and the Senate, and are in a “full-blown panic” now simply because they don’t think a Newt Gingrich nomination can do that for them.

I think Limbaugh has hit upon the reason most Establishment Republicans are fairly unconcerned about Romney’s conservative bona fides. They don’t expect him to win, only to keep things close enough that they can hold the House and take over the Senate. With Gingrich, they think they could lose 40+ states.

I think that they’re right about that, but I’m becoming less and less convinced that Romney will actually do better. The truth is, he’s a terrible unlikable politician who has no sustainable principles and no fervent supporters. His supposed business experience has been transformed into his biggest liability by Republicans.

So, what does he really bring to the table? That’s he’s never been reprimanded by Congress or asked his wife for an open marriage?

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