by John Avlon
Conventional wisdom gets recycled too often in political conversations this time of year–and right now, conventional wisdom says that the Mitt Romney juggernaut is going to sweep through February and that’s all the news that worth fixating on. But today’s contests in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri–offer a number of different narratives that are worth looking at up close.
1) Mitt Could Lose – Call off the coronation. Some polls show Rick
Santorum in position for a strong showing in Minnesota tonight. It’s a state whose GOP contingent is divided between the center-right sensibilities of Tim Pawlenty (now supporting Mitt) and Michele Bachmann, who isn’t supporting anyone, but whose supporters could find reason to back Newt or Rick Santorum, especially the more social conservative among them. So keep an eye on Minnesota tomorrow night – it could hold up a stop sign to the Romney campaign.
2) Rick is Trying to Knock Out Newt – It’s a fight for the far-right,
with Rick Santorum’s campaign taking out ads comparing Newt to Nancy Pelosi and President Obama in Colorado. Ouch. The name of this narrative game is to establish Santorum as the true social conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, eyeing a two man race on the road to Tampa. Rick has more money right now, but a defiant Newt has said repeatedly that he isn’t going anywhere.
3) Missouri Doesn’t Matter – No disrespect to the Show Me State, but
the primary today is a beauty contest. No delegates will be awarded and Newt isn’t even on the ballot. The real contest will be March 17th–St. Patrick’s Day–when a caucus will start the process of delivering delegates and voters will be able to cast their lot in with Newt. The only real news that could come out of Harry Truman’s home state tomorrow night will be media momentum – is Santorum can do well with evangelicals here and in Colorado, he’ll have some evidence to say that he – and not Newt – is the real conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.
As tensions in the Middle East expand from Iran to include Syria, Libya and Egypt, former U.S. assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin said despite level language from President Obama, there's plenty of worry away from the cameras. "Behind the scenes, the U.S. is very, very, very worried" about Israeli action on Iran.
Rubin described this as the "psychological warfare" stage–with a rising possibility of one side or the other taking action–which could lead to region-wide conflict that might make Iraq and Afghanistan look like "small potatoes."
NPR senior strategist Andy Carvin describes the shelling and bloodshed underway in Syria as some of the most dramatic–and heartbreaking–he's ever covered. "These people feel like the world has let them down." Noting that Syrian cities like Homs have no basements, the people under attack "have nowhere to hide" and the result has been the horrific loss of life and traumatic injuries of women and children–many of most awful scenes being quickly uploaded to sites like YouTube in the hopes of gaining the world's attention–and action.