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U.S. Republican presidential candidates gather before the start of their debate in Ames, Iowa August 11, 2011. They are (from L to R) Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich. REUTER
Can't blame the liberal media for this motley crew.
The RNC's autopsy report noted the obvious: That the 2012 GOP primary stretched out so long that it hurt Mitt Romney by airing out Republican craziness. They didn't put it that way, because that would be admitting they are crazy, but that was the gist. So the solution?
The Republican Convention should be held earlier in the summer. It should be moved to late June or sometime in July, allowing our nominee more time to begin the
general election phase. (Note: The 2016 Olympics will be held August 5–21.)

2. Because the nominee will still need an estimated 60–90 days to prepare for the Convention, changes will need to be made to the primary calendar. If the Convention were to be held in July, the last primary would need to be held no later than May 15. If the Convention were to be held in late June, the final primary would need to be held no later than April 30. Moving primaries up will require states and state parties to cooperate.

A convention that early would be awesome. The last thing people will want to do in the summer is pay attention to a Republican political conference, what with the Olympics and vacations and general pleasantness of the season. Maybe that's by design—Republicans would've been better served had no one seen Clint Eastwood talk to an empty chair. But if they're hoping to get a lasting bounce from such a move, it's kind of hard to gauge why.

But more telling is the effort to shrink the primary period. As one conservative explained the problem:

Can anyone seriously doubt that the primary was a net negative, not just for eventual nominee Mitt Romney, but for whoever had won, and for the party as a whole? The diffusion of power to the state parties produces an interminable calendar of contests, and that space gets filled by endless debates delivering diminishing returns, while giving the media outsized power to shape the narrative to boot. Nor, of course, can Romney-haters argue that the long primary gave the underdogs the time to unseat him. It merely gave them the time to weaken him, and the party brand, while Barack Obama built his war chest.
In 2008, the long Democratic primary process actually helped build the party brand. That's because people like what Democrats are saying. The only reason Republican primaries provided "diminishing results" is that each one of them betrayed the ugliness of the candidates and the GOP electorate—from booing the gay soldier, to "let him die", to Rick Perry's "oops" moment, and on and on and on.

It wouldn't be conservative to whine about something without blaming the "liberal media," but the narratives developed over the winter primaries were the GOP's own creation. They were the ones fighting against sex for pleasure (Santorum), fending off mistresses (Cain), indulging birthers (Trump, and tacitly everyone else), flip-flopping on every issue of note (Romney), exposing their lack of empathy (Romney, and really, all of them), betraying their ignorance (Cain, Bachmann), reminding everyone of their race problems (Perry's Niggerhead ranch, all of them on immigration), and confirming their misogyny (Paul's "honest rapes").

Blame the media all you want, but those narratives were all based on facts as presented by those candidates. Perhaps conservatives could argue that the likes of Jon Hunstman got a bum rap because the media focused too much on the crazy, but I doubt that's what they'll want to argue, because they definitely don't want the likes of Huntsman representing them. The guy didn't froth adequately at the mouth.

The early convention seems like a terrible idea, but the shortened primary season is not. The more the American people are exposed to Republicans and their ideas, the worse it is for the GOP.

Of course, a confident party sure of its own popularity would be happy to have the nation's attention focused on its contenders over the span of half a year. But the GOP isn't one of those. It's a party desperate to change its public perception while maintaining the ideological status quo. And the only way you can do that is to count on people's short-term attention span, and get your nominating contest over with as soon as humanly possible.

Originally posted to kos on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 01:44 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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