I'm going to be honest, here. I'm just as bored with the Republican nomination race as everyone else is by now. The mainstream media pundits have done a mighty job of trying to keep the excitement alive, but it's just not working anymore. I can do math, and Mitt Romney has been the obvious winner for at least a month now -- which even the pundits are beginning to sheepishly admit.
So instead of dwelling on "what Mitt's Wisconsin win means" today, instead I'd like to invite you to look backwards with me, and recall the journey we've already made up to this point. Because I was bored, I created a semi-artistic image to chronicle the highs and lows of the 2012 Republican nomination race. I did this by taking a snapshot of the RealClearPolitics.com graph of the Republican polling for the whole field so far, and then filling it in to resemble a majestic range of mountains, stretching off into the distance (I left the original colors and lines intact, and also left the logo and color key to give full credit for my "artistic inspiration").
[Click on image to see full-scale version.]
When the 2012 race began, the Republican voting public was faced with a daunting range of sharp peaks ahead, but these were mostly obscured by the nearest foothills. The first steps on the journey to the nomination peak were across the gentle, rolling swell of Huntsman's Hill. This ridge was a breeze to get over, as its long and low profile required little effort to ascend.
Upon entering the valley beyond, Bachmann Knob stood out along the skyline. While the hillsides were a bit steep, and the gullies to be crossed ran off at crazy and bizarre angles at times, it presented no real difficulty to surmount. From Bachmann Knob's modest heights, the first truly challenging mountain on our climb dominated the view -- Perry Peak. Also from this elevation, Romney Ridge became visible off in the distance, as did the Ron Paul Piedmont in the foreground.
The Ron Paul Piedmont is one of the more regular features on the entire landscape, it should be noted. The ridge is low, due to its advanced age compared to the surrounding mountains, and while parts of the Piedmont are thrilling to get over, other areas are dangerously unstable ground. Figuring out which was which wasn't too hard, and we crossed the Piedmont behind Bachmann Knob, on our way to our first daunting high point.
Perry Peak was a sharp and steep climb. Expert equipment was required to scale its lofty sharp peak. The lack of oxygen in the air became more and more noticeable, as Perry Peak demanded our full attention. This anoxia is dangerous, because it can dull your brain to the near-vertical cliff on the other side of Perry Peak. The falloff after Perry Peak is brutally lethal, if you're not fully prepared for it.
Once over Perry Peak, and safely down from that deadly dropoff, Mount Cain hove into view. Cain was actually a rather fun climb to make, as while the angle upwards was steep, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience to walk the wide path to the top. Mount Cain, it should be noted, is exactly 999 feet lower than the elevation of Perry Peak. The walk back downwards off of Mount Cain was also mostly pleasant, although the crosswinds were so fierce it did blow a number of skirts awry among the female members of the climbing party, which led to some embarrassment.
This would be the last chance we'd have for such levity, as this was the point on our expedition when the peaks shot upwards to cleave the sky. The twin peaks of Gingrich's Graveyard were the first brutal heights to conquer on our way upwards. The first of Gingrich's Graveyard to be surmounted is Inevitability Point, and the winter snows howled while we inched our way upwards. When we finally made the top, the view was spectacular, but we didn't linger long. The wide open mouth of Newt Gorge was a rollercoaster ride steeply down into the depths, while crazy echoes bounced off the walls around us. From the bottom of Newt Gorge, we headed straight back up again to the lesser heights of Southern Strategy Pillar. This would be the most technically challenging climb of the entire expedition, but once over the top we used the well-known Fundamentally Cracked route down, to exit Gingrich's Graveyard for good.
We did not descend all the way down to the rocky depths of Gingrich's Graveyard though, where it almost meets the Ron Paul Piedmont, as instead we turned right to go through Rick's Canyon (a cul-de-sac, really), where we could see the Santorum River below us, ending at the brownish and frothy Santorum Falls.
Once through the gap, Mount Santorum loomed above us. Coming upon Mount Santorum is always somewhat of a surprise, as this ridge is quite low at the start, and does not climb for such a great distance that it remains hidden for the whole time behind the more mighty peaks of Gingrich, Cain, and Perry. But once across the crazy escarpments of Gingrich, Mount Santorum shows its true majestic face. Although springlike, the air turned a bit cold here, so we all donned sweatervests for the push to the top of Mount Santorum.
The ascent is a steep one, so we climbed as conservatively as possible at this point. Once on the top, however, Mount Santorum becomes quite disappointing, because it never really rises as high as it looks like it should, and we could see from this vantage point the long and lingering dropoff along the cold shoulder in front of us.
Luckily, we didn't have far to climb down before we were able to traverse to our true objective all along, Romney Ridge.
Romney Ridge, while it climbs ever higher, is the most boring climb since we started out on Huntsman's Hill. The view downwards is spectacular, as the lesser heights of Santorum and Gingrich are clearly visible, and even the Ron Paul Piedmont is discernable off on the horizon. But Romney Ridge, as we said, is a dull and predictable mountain, offering no challenges and soon boring us all with its monotony.
Which is kind of where we started, so that's a good place to end this fanciful spring daydream.
-- Chris Weigant
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant