car·riage re·turn

n. the lever or mechanism on a typewriter that would cause the cylinder on which the paper was held (the carriage) to return to the left margin of the page

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I hear America singing…and I don’t like the tune.

The youth of America today is
So wonderful
And I’m proud to be a part of
This gigantic mass deception 

- Frank Zappa,Flower Punk

With Willard Romney winning his (second) firewall state last night,the identity of the eventual winner of the Republican nomination has been rendered all the more unpredictable. For Romney,the media,and political junkies,this latest development in the knock-down,drag-’em-out GOP primary is a dream come true. For Romney’s chief rivals,Senator John McCain and former Gov. Mike Huckabee,as well as any American concerned about the survival of the nation,this is potentially very bad news.

The GOP field is littered with less than ideal candidates. The candidate most palatable to the majority of voters –McCain –has proven himself as inconsistent in winning delegates as he is famously steadfast in his policy practices. While admirable for his willingness to say what he thinks no matter the cost to his political stature,McCain has run a considerably less convincing campaign than he did eight years ago (when he should have been nominated),and has yet to expose the majority of his rivals for what they are –absolutely undesirable in any situation.

Governor Huckabee continues to amuse the country with statements about Constitutional amendments likely to run afoul of the Establishment Clause,cementing his status as America’s answer to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. I might happen to agree with Huckabee’s statement in the most broad and general terms,the same way I agree with George Washington and former Czech President Václav Havel on our responsibility to the Order of Being,but that’s as far as I’d be willing to support Gov. Huckabee’s position. Anything more would violate this nation’s rules of the game.

Even given Senator McCain’s frustratingly inconsistent primary results and Gov. Huckabee’s status as a smooth-talking theocrat with absolutely no foreign policy credentials,Willard Romney is by far the worst still-relevant Republican candidate.

(Rudy,beating Dennis Kucinich by a mere three thousand votes in Michigan should get you kicked out of the next debate. That,and the fact that you have won fewer delegates than Ron Paul. Sadly,it probably won’t.)

Scarily,it looks like Romney’s chances at the nomination have improved,particularly when one considers the previous “long march to the nomination”scenarios figured he’d merely need to finish a strong second to McCain in Michigan to stay viable. As Ross Douthat put it a week ago,“He’ll [Romney] still have the NR [National Review] endorsement. If he seems viable,he’ll have Rush Limbaugh,Hugh Hewitt,and the rest of talk radio in his corner. And he’ll be up against one candidate who –so far –only does well in GOP primaries when independents are allowed to vote,and another guy whose appeal still looks awfully sectarian.”

At this point,according to CNN Romney’s sitting in the lead in terms of delegates with 42. That’s double Huckabee’s total (21) and even more again than McCain (19). If Romney survives South Carolina,he stands a good chance of winning Florida and sewing up the primary on Super Tuesday. This despite Romney’s carte du jour policy stances,his blatant lies,overwhelming negative campaigning,and his “‘I’ll say anything! Anything! I’ll fit your hubcaps with crushed diamonds!’campaign”in Michigan. What the hell are Republicans thinking?

On the Democratic side of the primary,Hillary Clinton continues to look strong. She dodged a bullet with Obama’s dampening of the racism plot line,despite Tim Russert’s efforts to revive the issue during last night’s debate in Nevada. I doubt either Senator Obama or John Edwards care to start a discussion about the Clintons’suspect Civil Rights credentials,though they might be wise to do so,and thus she continues to evade karma after her campaign’s latest marginalizing,mudslinging venture. Hillary seems to be deepening her siege on the Democratic nomination,and it’s looking less and less likely that she’ll be unsuccessful.

As a reader of Andrew Sullivan noted,what we might be faced with,then,is an incredibly polarized Willard vs. Hillary race “despite the unpopularity of both among the American people as a whole,simply because the majority of Republicans still like Bush and therefore like Romney,while the majority of Democrats still like Bill Clinton and so like Hillary —with the majority of Americans in the middle of the spectrum getting shut out of the process completely,as they usually do.”

This has the potential to be both a complete disaster and the best possible scenario for American politics,depending on what your outlook is. Both candidates stand a chance at splitting their parties’coalitions. Romney’s nomination would fit the GOP the same way Bud Selig fits Major League Baseball,but it would serve to piss off any Republican hoping for a change in course or even a chance of winning in 2008. Hillary’s nomination is going to piss off a ton of people,Democrats and non-Democrats alike.

Both Willard and Hillary essentially represent a continuation of Bush 43 by other means,an entirely unacceptable proposition in light of the economic catastrophe facing the country,to say nothing of the dilettantish foreign policy credentials of both candidates.

Polarized (paralyzed?) between Willard on the Neo-con right and Hillary on the Establishment left,the vast majority of the American voting public would be unrepresented. Economists might call that a “market inefficiency. ”I call that the best chance to save the election and simultaneously critically weaken the two party system. The problem is finding a candidate who can both seize the opportunity and pay some of the freight necessary to wage a national campaign.

Some mayor ain’t gonna cut it,no matter how much scratch he has.

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