I couldn't help but think about that as I read Al Giordno's take on what just happened in Florida.
But the costs of this victory to Romney go far beyond the $17 million in attack ads he and his Super PACs deployed to stop – now for the second time in a young campaign – the rise of rival Newt Gingrich. Hell hath no wrath like a Gingrich scorched. The former House Speaker is the Keith Richards of US politics: no matter what debauchery he passes through he never dies. Newt is the zombie candidate. Burn him, bomb him, poison him, hack him into a thousand pieces and he quickly reassembles and gets back up again, madder than before and coming right back at ya'.
This is what sociologists call backlash and its something our macho-infused culture seems to not understand at all. How does Gingrich (representing the tea partiers at this point) respond to the nose punches Romney dished out in Iowa and Florida? Does he simply wither and go away? I think not! He comes back with an even more deadly scorched-earth approach. Its what Gandhi was referring to when he said that "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind"...everyone loses.
David Frum gets it and that's why he worries about a Romney win in the primaries coupled with a loss in the general election - it will lead to a tea party backlash.
For non-tea party Republicans, this second outcome opens all kinds of ugly, ominous possibilities. If candidate Romney loses, tea party Republicans will claim that the GOP lost because it failed to nominate a "true conservative." That claim may fly in the face of political math (how would a more extreme candidate win more votes?), but it will pack a lot of emotional punch. Intense partisans are always ready to believe that the way to win is to be more intense and more partisan.
There ARE alternatives to the tit-for-tat nose-punching that feeds backlash. In perhaps the most macho arena of all, Mohammed Ali showed us that "float like a butterfly - sting like a bee" can be successful against braun any day. What it takes is the endurance to engage the "long game" rather than going for the immediate knock-out and the smarts to know just the right moment for the bee sting (my gawd, where was Michael Moore and his talk about "tutu's" when Ali was referencing butterflies and bees in the boxing ring?)
Remind you of anyone?