“If either [Romney or Santorum] is nominated, conservatives should vote for him. But suppose the accumulation of evidence eventually suggests that the nomination of either would subtract from the long-term project of making conservatism intellectually coherent and politically palatable. If so, there would come a point when, taking stock of reality, conservatives turn their energies to a goal much more attainable than, and not much less important than, electing Romney or Santorum president. It is the goal of retaining control of the House and winning control of the Senate…

“If Republicans do, their committee majorities will serve as fine-mesh filters, removing President Obama’s initiatives from the stream of legislation. Then Republicans can concentrate on what should be the essential conservative project of restoring something like constitutional equipoise between the legislative and executive branches…

“Beginning next January, 51 or more Republican senators, served by the canny Mitch McConnell’s legislative talents, could put sand in the gears of an overbearing and overreaching executive branch. This could restore something resembling the rule of law, as distinct from government by fiats issuing from unaccountable administrative agencies exercising excessive discretion.”

***

“All in all, the conventional wisdom seems compelling. As a card-carrying member of the mainstream media — a group that creates and sustains the conventional wisdom — I’m inclined to accept it. And yet there’s one conspicuous gap in the-election-is-already-over story: the polls. While the Republicans have been destroying each other and embarrassing themselves, the polls for a general election should have shown a collapse in Republican support. They haven’t — at least so far…

“Guesses about the Electoral College lead to the same conclusion. Obama is ahead, but the outcome isn’t certain. Real Clear Politics gives him 227 electoral votes against 181 for the Republican nominee, with 130 in doubt; 270 are needed to win.

“So it’s a puzzle. Logic and most evidence suggest the election is over. But the polls seem to dissent. Could it be that the real story is that Obama’s not a shoo-in even when he should be?

***

RUSH: Now, one thing about this notion that it’s over. George Will says (paraphrased), “We gotta be honest with ourselves. These two guys aren’t gonna beat Obama. Let’s face it. Santorum? Romney? Eh, not gonna happen. But we can stop Obama. We win the Senate; we hold the House.” Just this week Obama met with Democrat governors to discuss ways of getting things done over the heads of Congress. Without using Congress. By dictate, by executive order, by fiat. Here is a man who has already violated the Constitution with this contraception business!…

So while we think, using Civics 101, that Republican majorities in the House and Senate could stop Obama, he doesn’t care what the Constitution tells him he can and can’t do. And he’s going to care even less in a second term when there will be no accountability, no election to win, no base to hold, no independents to worry about. He’s not gonna worry about Congress. He’s not gonna have one care in the world, in a conventional political sense, that would put limits on his desires and behavior. The only thing would be Michelle…

Impeachment? That’s one of the recipes. Anybody think that’s gonna happen? I don’t think so. I also think, as a practical matter, it helps to have a fight over the presidency to ensure victories in the House and Senate. How are these House and Senate victories gonna happen if attitudinally you think you’ve lost the presidential race? What would the consultants say? “The way to win the Senate is to go out and say to the American people, ‘We know that we’re not gonna beat Obama, and therefore we still have to find a way to stop him, and that’s what we need you for!’

***

“But as a tactic, is the thing even possible? History says no. In the 20 presidential elections since 1932, as tallied by The American Presidency Project, the winning candidate’s party has only seen losses in either chamber of Congress nine times, or less than half. Which makes sense, since it’s hard to imagine too many instances where voters would like a presidential candidate enough to elect him, but hate his party so much that they throw out Congressional incumbents. So, Will’s theory is looking pretty shaky.

“But! In six out of those nine instances when the party that won the White House lost Congressional seats were when incumbent presidents won re-election, just like the scenario that Will imagines. It happened to Roosevelt (twice), Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton. So, not bad odds! But here’s where the whole thing falls apart. To win the Senate under Will’s theory Republicans would need to pick up four seats (remember, they need to get to 51, since he’s assuming that Obama’s vice president will still be able to cast any tie-breaking votes)…

“So, for Republicans to pull off the trick Will wants them to try, they would need to buck 80 years of political history, and somehow manufacture a swell of anti-incumbency in the Senate races while letting Obama walk to victory uncontested.”

***

“By every objective measure, the GOP has a reasonable chance to defeat President Obama—probably between 1-in-3 and 1-in-2. Given this opportunity, it would be crazy not to do everything one can to effectuate an outcome so devoutly to be desired. This doesn’t mean falling in line early behind an inevitable nominee or suppressing criticism of the likely nominee. If some of us have tried to expand the presidential field, it’s because we’ve been unconvinced that the current field offers us the best hope of victory. If some of us have resisted Romney inevitability, or an early Romney coronation, it’s because we don’t think that Romney’s nomination — or at least his easy and early nomination — would increase Republican chances of winning the presidency. Others differ on these questions. But whatever differences conservatives have in March about candidates, strategy and tactics should not affect our determination in the fall, when there is a Republican nominee, to turn our energies to defeating President Obama…

“If you think the country’s in decent shape, go for control of Congress. If you think it’s the mid-1990s again, go for control of Congress. If you’re fatalistic about American decline abroad and the end of limited, constitutional government at home, go for control of Congress. If current trends don’t deeply alarm you, or if you think alarm is futile because the rot is too deep, the decline too long-standing, the problems too un-fixable — then, go for control of Congress. Try to limit the damage and slow the collapse.

“But if you reject such fatalism as a failure of nerve, and such declinism as a failure of understanding — and conservatives should — then do everything you can to win the White House. Perhaps always, but certainly in 2012 — there is no substitute for victory.”

***

“Nothing Will or Erickson says about the weakness of our most likely nominee, or currently second most likely nominee, is anything I haven’t said before in substance. I am not so pessimistic about the general election, however, notwithstanding these weaknesses.

“But neither asks the question whether, if we are so sure to lose with our current top two choices, we should stop playing it safe and swing for the fences.”

***

“‘Sean, George Will ought to have his pundit’s license suspended,’ Buchanan said. ‘When you go for the presidency of the United States, that’s the way to win the House and win the Senate,’ he said. ‘If Obama wins the White House, he could very well hold on to the Senate and really take a lot of seats in the House.'”

***

Via Mediaite. Content warning.