How Crazy Do You Have to be to Get the Republican Nomination for President?

With Rick Santorum’s poll numbers on the rise, it seems like there might be a meaningful race between him and Romney for the Republican nomination. Perhaps feeling confident after his February 7 sweep of the primaries in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota, Santorum may be going all in. Grist just did a great roundup of Santorum’s increasingly radical talk on the environment:

Note that Santorum doesn’t take the common GOP route of arguing that the science is inconclusive, or even just denying that climate change is actually happening. He takes the extremeInhofe-ian view that the whole issue is fabricated for nefarious purposes. Science journalist Chris Mooney unpacks the implications: “In using the word ‘hoax,’ Santorum is apparently endorsing theglobal warming conspiracy theory … that a shady international group of scientists, NGOs, and leftwingers (especially European ones) are out to hamstring economies to advance a red, or at least pink, agenda of global governance. To do this, they need a covert issue to scare everyone into the kinds of changes they demand — hence the bugaboo of global warming.”

Herman Cain probably set the best example for the other candidates. His poll numbers were soaring with his preposterous proposal for a flat 9% tax rate for individuals and corporations. Things only fell apart for him when it came out he didn’t treat some of his former employees as evenly as proposed to do with the rest of us.

All of this could be really dark and depressing as the candidates compete for how low they can go. But things just did take a positive turn. President Obama’s approval rating just went above 50% for the first time in 8 months. The economy has picked up and jobs are being created so that has certainly helped his numbers. But I imagine some of this crazy talk from his potential opponents has him looking better and better in many people’s eyes.


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