I can't think of a more appropriate way to begin the Republican caucus day in Iowa, than with Chris Matthews' closing segment of Hardball Monday night. This stinging rebuke should haunt Mitt Romney for years to come.
'"Let Me Finish" tonight with this", Matthews begins:
This Republican caucus in Iowa has the looks of a travesty, a victory of dollars over democracy, financial equity over equality.
Romney is destroying the only opponent he fears for the nomination, with the relentless wealth-driven advertising campaign the voter can only escape if he turns off his television set. He`s doing it without his fingerprints on the ads, without his face or his name attached to it. He`s doing it while he stands before crowds, reciting their verses from "America the Beautiful".
If there`s ever been a more cynical use of money and media, it is hard to recall it. And so, what exactly will Tuesday nights results mean, will they mean that Iowa likes Romney? Or will it say that the voters of Iowa have been used to destroy his most formidable national opponent?
What it looks like Iowa will say, in the headlines at least, is what it says often, that it likes the candidate who adheres most closely to the evangelical line. In this case, they have a perfect vessel, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. He`s pro-life, he educates his children at home, he`s opposed to same sex marriage. He is to the evangelicals and other Christian conservatives, one of them.
So, if Santorum gets up around the high 30s tomorrow night, that will be about right.
Ron Paul will also get his share of the vote tomorrow, the libertarian vote, bolstered by the young and the anti-war of all ages.
You may have noticed that no Republican has even whispered the name W. in this campaign. Try and find Republicans who are ready to stand up and say the Iraq war made sense or want a decider, as they call themselves out there, working the rope line for them.
No, this campaign fits a groove. The evangelicals have found their soul brother, the libertarians have a genuine article in Ron Paul. And the conservatives who are looking for someone who thinks like them and could still beat Obama have seen their hope killed by an expensive, stealth campaign that`s left them with a choice of voting for Mitt Romney and I bet they flinch from that. They will hold back in hope of finding some way to avoid voting for someone they know in their souls is not one of them.
If Mitt Romney even breaks 50 percent of the vote tomorrow night, it will be a victory of stealth over openness, cynicism over conviction -- and as I said -- financial equity over equality of voters, and dollars over democracy. How ironic it was that it was the conservative who made this kind of campaign legal.
That last line from Matthews, "How ironic it was that it was the conservative who made this kind of campaign legal," if you watch the woman sitting near the bottom right...check out how she lets out an audible "gasp" there.
If there is a Romney win tonight in Iowa, I don't think poor Mittens can take home any joy after this spanking from Tweety. A win tonight for Romney will be a shameful moment, and a non-event. Hopefully he will at least have the decency to cut his acceptance speech short.