Conservatives just introduced the Republican establishment to the business end of a two-by-four, relegating Mitt Romney to bad second- and even third-place finishes in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
I doubt the establishment types noticed. They're nothing if not out of touch. But it was a valuable exercise nonetheless.
Shades of a jaw-poppin' began to appear shortly before the voting on Tuesday.
Like a panicked Sauron suddenly realizing Frodo had sneaked past him into the volcano where the ring of power could be destroyed, Romney frantically shifted his attacks at the last minute to Rick Santorum.
But in vain.
Santorum, written off months ago, savaged Romney in Missouri (where Newt Gingrich wasn't on the ballot), 55 percent to 25 percent.
Santorum also won Minnesota, with 45 percent of the vote to Romney's 17 percent. Romney was well behind even second-place finisher Ron Paul in Minnesota and only a few points ahead of Gingrich.
Then came Colorado, where in 2008 Romney won by 60 percent to John McCain's 18. Alas, Colorado was a not-so-stronghold this time around, and Santorum made it a three-fer, defeating Romney 40 percent to 35 percent.
Those are exactly the results Romney deserved. He has been arrogant and dismissive toward his rivals lately, hoping no one notices he hasn't actually won the nomination. There has even been insufferable talk among his advisers that he may not bother with further debates against the supposedly lesser GOP hopefuls.
"There are too many of these ...," a strategist said after one of Romney's particularly leaden performances. "It's kind of like a cruise that's gone on too long."
It would be mighty convenient for Romney to avoid debates, of course, since he has the big-money backing to hide behind attack ads and not have to answer questions outside his grim pep rallies. But doing so -- long before a nominee has been determined -- oozes contempt for voters, who have made it plain in multiple states now that they want a race, not a coronation.
It is refreshing that Romney had to detour off the Road to Presumption, and it's hard to think what other evidence the establishment moneybags need to realize they're backing a dud. What part of "No thank you" don't they get?
Earth to Gov. Haslam, Mr. Trump, Sens. McCain and Dole: We don't need a president who will manage our national decline. There is scant evidence Romney would be more than a caretaker in office, assuming he can beat Obama in the fall. And that victory is doubtful when you consider how many conservatives will stay home or leave the presidential portion of their ballots blank if Romney is the GOP standard-bearer.
He still might wind up as the nominee, based on his ad-buying power. But then again, if he doesn't drop his sense of entitlement and his disrespect for voters by Super Tuesday, he may wind up catching the early flight back to Logan International.
On the subject of people who are out of touch, consider Molly Cripps, director of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development's Energy Division and promoter of taxpayer-funded subsidies for spectacularly unwanted electric vehicles.
Quoth Molly: "The state's $2,500 electric vehicle rebate provides an extra incentive to those who want to purchase a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle. We've had a great deal of interest from Tennessee consumers regarding the [Chevy] Volt ... ."
Uh, but did any of them actually want to buy it? There were 603 Volt sales and an equally un-staggering 676 Nissan Leaf sales nationwide in January. I'm guessing most of those weren't in Tennessee. For comparison, about 28,000 Toyota Camrys and 16,000 Chevrolet Impalas moved in the same month. If there were real interest in electric cars, sales wouldn't be buried in the Mariana Trench alongside abandoned cases of New Coke.
But Cripps' inventive use of language doesn't stop with equating the blistering unpopularity of electric cars to "a great deal of interest." That business about "incentives" is only half true, because the cash isn't just for people who are contemplating an electric-car purchase. People who already bought a Volt before it became eligible for the rebate can get the money retroactively if they take part in some federal study on electric vehicles.
Would it do any good to explain to state government that the handful of folks who have already purchased a Volt obviously were willing to do so without the $2,500 from the state -- and that offering them an unexpected rebate after the fact isn't an incentive, it's a windfall? And a dumb one.