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Teflon Or Kool-Aid?

A recurring theme that I’ve noticed recently is the media marveling at Republican presidential candidates’ uncanny ability to shrug off their rather sizable baggage, which of course must be because of their mad political skillz.

Herman Cain, before his one-woman-too-many final implosion:

Six in 10 Republican primary voters say the charges of sexual harassment against Cain make no difference to their vote. Still, 30 percent say the charges make them less likely to support him.

Of self-identified Tea Party supporters 71 percent say the allegations make no difference, as do 67 percent of conservatives.

Newt Gingrich, of the three wives, serial infidelity, and overall history as an ethically-challenged loose cannon:

Mr. Gingrich’s skill in facing criticisms head-on — sometimes fiercely rebutting them, sometimes apologizing for past errors in judgment — has only swelled his support. And his strong debate appearance in Iowa on Saturday, in which he faced a barrage of attacks, showed his resiliency.

And even Mitt Romney, vulture capitalist:

So far, however, Mr. Romney has managed to dodge most efforts to brand him as a true Gordon Gekko….


…Mr. Romney appears to have kept a studied distance from the most current Gilded Age….

I have to wonder, though: Is it really their shrewd political acumen that prevents them from getting dragged down by their sordid pasts?  Or is it that their fellow conservatives or Republicans just don’t really care because they’re on the same team?  Or consider the alternative even worse?

Did Cain (again, up until the last-straw affair revelations) and Newt really do such a great job of handling or deflecting the fallout from their sleaziness, or was it just a matter of the tea and non-tea branches of the right wing each deciding that their respective philandering gaffe machines were so much more awesome than the flip-floppy Mormon that their glaring family-values hypocrisy didn’t matter?

And did Mitt really do such a great job of distancing himself from his history of destroying jobs and looting companies, or was it just a matter of establishment Republicans seeing him as the only candidate who could defeat the corporation-hating Socialist-In-Chief?  (Come to think of it, since when have establishment Republicans ever considered destroying jobs and looting companies to be a bad thing in the first place?)

This will also be a question worth asking about Obama when he opens up a ten-point lead on the Gingrich-Bachmann ticket next fall – because I don’t think it’s going to be a reflection of his political genius, and it sure as hell won’t be on account of his masterful presidenting.

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