There’s no surprise over Mitt’s decision to drop out after all. I was only a little surprised at how quickly he came to that decision… although, I probably should not have been.
I previously expressed some irrational exuberance over the idea of Mitt diverting away some of the Establishment dark money Bush, Inc. is counting on. Everyone knew, then and now, that Jeb would be the eventual selection for GOP nominee, of course… but anything to disrupt Jeb’s speedy coronation would be the Establishment’s loss and, therefore, our win. Unfortunately, the Establishment came to the exact same conclusion. To quote myself:
Now this certainly doesn’t mean Mitt has a reasonable shot this go-around. He has a losing track record now and, more importantly, he’s now running against the GOP’s premier ruling dynasty. But even a moderate distraction of a Bush (or a Clinton) is automatically a good thing in my book, and there are enough members of the 0.1% who have lingering fondness for Mitt to make him a moderate distraction.
From the New York Times:
The campaign to deny Mr. Romney another chance began almost immediately… William Oberndorf, a prominent California investor who supported Mr. Romney in both of his previous presidential campaigns, had emailed a group of 52 powerful Republicans, including former Secretary of State George Shultz, the investor Charles Schwab, Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois and the Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos with a blunt message: we need to support someone else…
Mr. Oberndorf wrote: “We are fortunate in Jeb Bush to have an extremely talented and able candidate who, I believe, has a far better prospect of winning a general election than Mitt. Moreover, Mitt has now run twice and has had his chance to be president.
And as Mitt is nothing if not an Organization Man, he stepped aside when the right people asked. Same as he did in 2008.
And in the process, we get a glimpse into how exactly our ruling class makes its decisions. There are no underground meetings, no Eyes Wide Shut secret cabals. Just email listservs. As the email implies, they had already made their decision before Mitt announced, and they were in no way swayed by the announcement. As some of the donor class made clear in the NYT article, they had to move rapidly to nip Mitt in the bud before he got to do precisely what I hoped he would do; that is, sway a few donors and their PAC money away from Bush.
Now before any liberals get too smug: the exact same scenario would play out on the other side if someone like Al Gore or Joe Biden also made a bid for the Establishment’s support. They would get shut down, hard.
Neither side will be all that concerned about insurgent candidates. They do not take it amiss if a Scott Walker or a Jim Webb grabs the bully pulpit of a vanity candidacy, just as long as they do not seriously disrupt the coronation of the chosen one. Which they won’t.
Both sides remember the nightmare of the Dem primaries 2008, when the elites could not decide between two candidates. It is not a nightmare that will be repeated anytime soon.