For strung-out political junkies like me who have been following this thing since the heady days when Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, the ongoing narrative of Election 2012 probably makes at least some sense. Republicans have struggled in vain to find a unifying candidate in an attempt to appease a mish-mash of factions (according to Eliot Spitzer in Slate, at least three), while on the Democratic side, a steady drumbeat of good economic news has slowly begun to bolster President Obama's ratings.
In a typical narrative -- or story -- there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. We already know the end of this story, or a whole lot of it, anyway. The climax will come in a national election. The middle will be the struggle later this summer and into fall between President Obama and the GOP nominee. The middle will be filled with ever-increasing excitement as Obama and the GOP standard-bearer face each other in debates and trade barbs on the campaign trail as we march towards November.
Today, though, we're still in the beginning part, the primary season. And if you're just tuning in, it can be kind of confusing. Is Rick Santorum really the front-runner? I thought everyone was talking about Mitt Romney. How about Ron Paul? You mean Rick Perry dropped out? I wish the pizza dude was still there. And what the hell is Newt Gingrich doing here?
To make matters more confusing for most folks, there is now mainstream talk of a "brokered" GOP convention, which essentially means all the old party bosses getting together behind closed doors, firing up some cigars and drafting a new candidate to carry on since the other guys couldn't cobble together enough delegates to win the day. If you thought the three factions were pissed off now...
The brokered convention would be sort of like the world's greatest movie for people like me. Imagine if "Star Wars" met "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Lethal Weapon," "Kill Bill," "Alien," Predator," "Robocop," "The Road Warrior," every James Bond movie ever. And "You've Got Mail." Because hey, Tom Hanks.
Pretty awesome... but also not going to happen. It's a dream (a really, really weird dream).
Those of us who watch can't know for sure what will happen, but we've read this kind of book before. Someone will limp into the GOP Convention here in Tampa with enough delegates to clinch the nomination. But their primary opponents will have just spent an awful lot of time tearing them down, making the work of the Obama Campaign and the DNC that much easier.
But not too easy. Will the economy continue to improve? Will we continue to rebuild our reputation on the global stage?
We've still got to get through that middle part. A lot will be decided there -- everything, in fact. Including the best part of the ending: who wins.