One thing seems clear from Saturday’s South Carolina primary: Republican voters don’t like any of their candidates very much. It’s hard to disagree. In the last few months, not one of the current candidates has offered a new idea or an original thought. Oh, some have shifted position slightly to pick up ever-angrier and more conservative voters, but mostly they have shouted louder, spent more, and double-downed on meanness. This is now all about them, not us. But don’t we know enough about them already? Rick Santorum has staked out his turf as the most rigid social conservative since Torquemada. But since he also lost his Pennsylvania senate seat by a 2-1 margin, electability would seem to be an issue. For months Mitt Romney has moved painfully to the right on social issues – only to get beaten up for being a successful businessman with an aversion to paying taxes. Isn’t that the very model of a modern-day Republican? Newt Gingrich is just shameless. Battered by Romney’s superPAC in Iowa, he came back with one of his own in South Carolina and headed straight for the gutter . . . where he thrived. Ron Paul, it seems to me, has been the most thoughtful candidate, his positions the most interesting. They are also nutty.
The process itself has become repellent. It has stripped people who are vying to become our next president of every shred of their dignity. How low can we go? Enter Sarah Palin.