At the point of Perry's decline , both the Tea Party faction and traditional party conservatives had already started to work in loose tandem, stepping up their outreach on what for all intents and purposes fleshed out to be an "anybody but Mitt" crusade. They now began focusing the full weight of their effort into pitching woo to the churlish Chris Christy, hoping to coax the notoriously thin-skinned New Jersey Governor into running. Both contingents -- hard-right and traditional party conservatives -- pushed, pleaded, and pushed some more against Christy until finally, the weight of the governor's own immutable opposition to challenging Obama fell on them like a ton of bricks.
A marvelous fantasy
But, the stakes seem to have been raised as a result -- in the midst of all this -- of Herman Cain's surprising ascension to national frontrunner status among the Republican candidates. Cain's position makes the GOP's 2012 presidential outlook a much more direful one since at least Romney, Perry, and Christy, it could be argued, all belong on the same court with President Obama. It has become doubtful that the same can be said about Herman Cain.
Thus, with the base's rejection of Perry's weak overtures and Christy's strong rejection of overtures from the base, the "architect" -- Rove -- along with more traditional party conservatives including Jeb Bush and Haley Barbour were faced with what probably has become a dreadful process; a general revisiting of all the pertinent elements involved in winning a campaign -- reviewing polling data ; running projections; convening focus groups; crunching numbers and so forth -- only now re-calibrated to factor in the frontrunner status of Herman Cain.
Obviously, at some point during this process, it became clear that a "Cain mutiny" is in order due to the fact that for all Cain's wit and aplomb, the GOP's unlikely frontrunner is ill-suited to be the Party's 2012 standard-bearer, period. Particularly, if the idea is to package him as an example that the GOP "gets" the supposition about a "post-racial" America now willing to elect an African-American president regardless of party affiliation. Clearly more political entertainer than knowledgeable statesman, Cain would be unable to hold ground as the GOP's formidable African-American answer to President Barack Obama. To fill that role, the Party perhaps needs to look in the direction of Colin Powell.
But that's another story. As for Cain, there's an obvious and completely understandable air of doubt about his ability to inspire a broad section of the American electorate into voting Republican the way candidate Obama did for the Democrats. Many observers realize that like Obama, Cain can be witty and even charismatic. But many also share a wholehearted awareness of the fact that the similarities between the two pretty much end there. Unlike the cerebral Obama, Cain is an accomplished brain fartist blessed with an insight on self-promotion that would do P.T. Barnum himself proud. It's that skillfulness at self-promotion in fact, which is largely responsible for Cain's rise to frontrunner status.
But regarding substance on policy matters, Cain obviously falls short of what's required to inspire confidence among mainstream America to the degree that he's incited the passions of the GOP's Tea Party base. Indeed, Cain's strategy for success has been fairly simple; it's just all Tea Party, all the time. Thus far, Cain's been the best of the GOP's cast of anti-Romneys in brewing up that particular Tea Party blend of insanely outlandish rhetoric ("Muslims are trying to force Sharia law on America"); bi-polar political positions such as being both for and against abortion; and poorly thought-out policy proposals like his now-ubiquitous "9-9-9" plan. And he's been best at doing it from within that hard-assed, chest-thumping sphere of sheer ignorance that Tea Partiers find so addictive. It's Palin-inspired shtick that has served him well in finagling his way to frontrunner status. The problem is, such shtick doesn't play well with the mainstream.
This means that for traditional party conservatives, the current state of affairs is likely one of eye-gouging frustration considering that overall, the Republicans have fairly well-executed Mitch McConnell's "one term presidency" edict. In one way or another they've managed to keep the President on the ropes both legislatively and politically for a good portion of his term and force Obama into policy concessions that have completely demoralized a large portion of his base; which is a factor that could affect Democratic turnout in 2012. And of course, there's unemployment. Economic forecasts continue to show the national unemployment rate remaining over 9 percent up to and beyond Obama's first term.