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Unexamined Premises

Willard Agonistes

January 21st, 2014 - 12:34 pm
Romney-Bain-Capital-money-shot

What, me worry?

Like my PJ colleague, Victor Davis Hanson, I too am pessimistic about the future of our country. Like many of us, I fell into the trap of thinking that, during the election of 2012, the country would somehow come to its senses and evict from the White House an obviously unqualified charlatan with a threadbare act, and that we would begin the slow restoration of Foundational values to the Republic. Andy McCarthy, Roger Simon, Victor, Roger Kimball, Dr. Helen, J. Christian Adams — all wrong. And these are not stupid people; neither is Michael Barone, who also fell on his face.

But we have an excuse — we were had. By the GOP nominee, Willard “Mitt” Romney, a man with apparently serious daddy issues who never should have run because, deep down, he knew he wouldn’t win. And therefore didn’t even really try. If Obamacare is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated upon the American body politic, then Romney’s candidacy runs a close second. (And here we thought that the wretched John McCain was the worst candidate we’d ever get.) It’s time that conservatives learn and absorb that lesson, and ensure that it never happens again.

What else to make of a new documentary film, Mitt, whose principal message was recounted by Byron York the other day:

For viewers who follow politics closely, especially for Republicans who desperately wanted to defeat Barack Obama, there is a revelation in “Mitt” that is not just unexpected but deeply disheartening. At a critical moment in the campaign — the two weeks in October encompassing the first and second general election debates — the Romney portrayed in “Mitt” struggled with a nagging pessimism and defeatism, unable to draw confidence even from a decisive initial debate victory over President Obama. Deep down inside, the Romney seen onscreen in “Mitt” seems almost resigned to losing to Obama in those crucial showdowns.

Yes, you read that right; as they say in Cajun country, it’s enough to make you want to slap your mama:

It didn’t start well. Team Romney went into the first debate bruised and reeling from the controversy over Romney’s “47 percent” remarks. “Mitt” includes a scene from Romney’s debate preparation in which Sen. Rob Portman, playing the president, used the controversy to nail Romney in a quiet but devastating way. The “47 percent” statement was so damaging, Portman/Obama argued, not only because it was made behind closed doors — and thus represented Romney’s true feelings — but also because it was the foundation of Romney’s policy proposals. Romney didn’t have a very good answer.

On top of gloom about the fallout from “47 percent,” there was a general fear in the Romney camp about Obama’s debating skills. “We were really nervous, just thinking about President Obama,” son Josh Romney said. “He’s a great speaker and he has the mantle of the presidency.”

In a family get-together before the debate, someone in the family noted that Romney had done well in many, many Republican debates. “Will this debate be different?” one son asked. “Will you be intimidated by the fact that [Obama] is president?”

“Sure,” Romney said. “Are you kidding?”

“We shouldn’t be intimidated,” interjected wife Ann, sounding concerned. “You should not be intimidated by him. I am not kidding, Mitt.”

“He’s a very good debater,” York quotes Romney saying of Obama. “He’s a lot better than the other guys.”

What, him worry?

What, him worry?

Let the record show that I was never much of a Romney fan. As I wrote in January of 2012 in the New York Post:

Lost in the weekend’s back-to-back debates in New Hampshire was this illuminating remark by Democratic strategist Donna Brazile after Saturday night’s soporific contest in Manchester: “Mitt Romney won tonight because no one touched him. And for Democrats, you know what? It was good news for us . . . because we believe that the weakest candidate is the candidate that the Republicans are not attacking. And that’s Mitt Romney.”

The remark drew guffaws from some of the other assembled party faithful and media commentators, but Brazile spoke the truth. Democrats do believe that Romney is eminently beatable, the perfect foil for President Obama, in fact…

After all, the whole point of the primary season is to let the rank-and-file electorate decide whom the nominee should be — not the party elders and the media. And yet, from the start, it’s been clear that Romney is the choice of the Beltway GOP establishment, which regards conservatives and Tea Partiers as the grubby unwashed.

Meanwhile, Democrats and their media allies have been busy measuring Romney for the Occupy Wall Street/One Percenter memorial bad-guy suit. They can’t wait to rip him apart over his background as a corporate turnaround specialist who may have saved some golden parachutes but put ordinary folks out of work.

My conclusion then is my conclusion now:

But expect more of this as the campaign progresses, as the Democratic media complex desperately tries to change the subject from Obama’s failed stewardship to those nutty Christian moralizers on the right.

Will the Republicans let them get away with it? Or will they heed Brazile’s words and make sure they field their toughest candidate in November? Because this race is not to the swift, but the strong.

As the originator of Romneycare, Mitt was the single worst candidate the Republicans could nominate in an election that should have turned on the now-confirmed disaster of Obamacare, the one man who could not take on Obama’s “signature legislative accomplishment.” And, of course, he didn’t. Romney was despised even in his own “home” state of Massachusetts for trashing the state of which he was a one-term governor when it suited his larger political ambitions. Naturally, he lost it in a landslide, 61-38.

But wait, it gets worse. After winning the first debate against a listless Obama, Romney still thought he hadn’t done well, that the president would do better next time, and that he didn’t really have much of a chance:

Romney wasn’t buying it. Instead, he went into an extended monologue on how his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, was a better man than he will ever be. As he spoke, Romney held the notes he had made during the debate (candidates are not allowed to bring any notes with them to the stage, but are allowed to make them during the debate). Romney pointed out that in every debate he began by writing “Dad” at the top of the paper.

“That’s what I start with: ‘Dad,’” Romney explained. “I always think about Dad and about I am standing on his shoulders. I would not be there, there’s no way I would be able to be running for president, if Dad hadn’t done what Dad did. He’s the real deal …”

Good Lord. 

Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit has some trenchant thoughts:

I think Romney lost for three reasons. One: He’s right that Obama isn’t an aberration. There’s a huge constituency for the European/blue-state model in the U.S., whether it’s fiscally sustainable or not, and demographic change is more likely to expand it than shrink it. I don’t think it’ll be many years before we see another Republican president but I do think it’ll be many years before we see another Republican landslide. Two: He got out-organized. The irony of the passages from the movie flagged by York is that Mitt was, understandably, worried about his obvious weaknesses (his ability to communicate with voters, his unjust image as a rich guy who’d inherited all his successes) but not worried about his supposed strengths, i.e. his managerial acumen and organizational efforts. He should have been. Obama’s data-crunchers and behavioral analysts evidently ran rings around Team “Project ORCA.” Oh well. Three: Romney suffered from the same problem McCain did, albeit to a lesser extent — there was no real point to his campaign.

No point, that is, except a conflicting sense of entitlement (on display during the nomination fight) and a crippling lack of confidence that sought to atone for his privileged upbringing. It’s worth noting that that dear old dad, George Romney, was also a loser, who torpedoed his own presidential campaign in 1967 with his notorious “brainwashed” remark about Vietnam.

The textbook definition of “empty suit.” And yet, for some reason perhaps even unknown to Mitt himself, Dad was his beau ideal. In this clip one can clearly see that the acorn didn’t fall very far from the tree: good old having-it-both ways Mitt, as adumbrated by his father. Romney’s refusal to admit that Romneycare was fatally flawed and conceptually harmful resulted in his pretzeling on the subject, which convinced a grand total of nobody that he would repeal Obamacare (because, let’s face it, the GOP doesn’t really want to repeal Obamacare) or could somehow make the gigantic kludge work.

And that, in the end, was the story of the election. A man born to wealth who also made his own way in the world felt that he could not beat a man from nowhere of no accomplishment and no discernible skills other than the ability to read a TelePrompter. Only in America.

Related: “Don’t Feed Us This Mitt Again,” Tom Blumer implores the GOP, elsewhere at PJM.

(Thumbnail image on PJM homepage by Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com.)

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I only have one rule for next time. I'll support the person who will fight the radicals as hard as he or she will fight rivals in the party. Romney spared no expense and had no honor in trashing his Republic rivals and rolled over like a dead whale against Obama.

After the first debate, in spite of himself, Romney had the race in the palm of his hand. Then he gave it away by allowing the criminals to run the Benghazi scam in the second debate. It was such a slam-dunk that you have to at least consider the fact that it was orchestrated not just between the obese ideologue debate monitor and Obama, but also with Romney himself. Then, the fool didn't even follow-up with the plain facts. It was unbelievable...or perhaps, all too believable.

There was a handful of us predicting it months before it happened, but of course, we were hounded from this site by people who didn't want to consider what was plainly obvious to the few. Romney was such a perfect foil that it was almost as if they designed him.

The other guys might not have won, but at least they would have tried.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ryan, like Rubio, is for amnesty and couldn't even win the one debate he had with the dumbest man to ever hold the office of vice-president.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
As the originator of Romneycare, Mitt was the single worst candidate the Republicans could nominate in an election that should have turned on the now-confirmed disaster of Obamacare, the one man who could not take on Obama’s “signature legislative accomplishment.”

Romney was not the single worst candidate the Republicans could nominate and I can prove that with just two words - John McCain.

There is no way to know, only speculation, but I doubt any of the main candidates for the Republican nomination would have defeated Obama. One thing that is not just speculation is that anyone who just sees the tree of Romney is missing a whole lot of the forest.

But, in any case, if the Republican party establishment succeeds in passing amnesty, the Republican party is terminal.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (111)
All Comments   (111)
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More of the "Conservative" base come out to vote in 2008 than did in 2012. And the Conservatives pundits did it. They started bad mouthing Romney and made their endorsement of him when they made it clearly not whole hearted.

People can argue like Walsh does and list Romney's faults, but in fact the same people did not think that of McCain Palin and Romney Ryan was a more conservative ticket.

Romney's self doubt is in Walsh's head. It is an impression not a fact. Walsh actually gives no clear example.





47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
re: Romney and squish Republicans, the Democrats are sharks, stupid but vicious, Republicans are gold fish, look and act nice but timid & don't want to appear to have bad table manners. They think nice wins.
Romney was very good in his first debate but then and in combination with the usual jelly fish Republican consultants, collapsed.
If, I say If, Obama is a good debater he is a better liar. That always helps, especially if you're a Democrat, more so if you're a sick, pathological liar.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mitt Romney is a good and decent man and would have made a fine President. That the author of this article would mock Mitt Romney, for (among other things) the respect that he has for his father, is indicative of the harmful smugness that has infected the Republican/conservative movement.

Before the last election, the author of this article, and other self-proclaimed conservatives, couldn't wait to enlighten us all re Mr. Romney's supposed flaws. Before the last two elections and in the past 5 disastrous years, how much criticism from liberals/Democrats have you heard/read directed at Barack Obama (or Joe Biden for that matter)? Ronald Reagan spoke of a rule originated by his state's party chairman: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican". The liberals/Democrats appear to have embraced the basics of that rule. How ironic it is that the conservatives/Republicans appear to have dismissed it.

Unfortunately, (as so thoroughly demonstrated by this article and by many of the following comments), the fault-finding continues, by and against conflicting groups of conservatives/Republicans. Until all factions of conservatives agree to find common ground and unite to support and guide their candidates (and each other), all that the Democrats have to do is sit back and gleefully watch the destruction.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Have you noticed the Ruling Class Republicans are never interested in Party unity when it helps conservatives? They fought like wildcats to pick Ford over Reagan and Bush over Reagan. Did you not notice how much unity the RC Republicans threw at Ted Cruz and Mike Lee recently?

It's the 40-55% of the Party that will just define ANYTHING the Ruling Class Republicans say or propose as responsible and reasonable that have turned the GOP into just a faction of the commielib establishment. If you don't have stomach for a fight, don't expect any changes. The GOP and the weak wing of the Party are more interested in either getting their guaranteed Silver Medal for no work or returning to the dopey TV programs until that Tuesday every other November. If the Party wants unity, they better join us. The only unity I see them working on is their unity with the Democrats.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I vowed not to vote for McCain after McCain/Feingold -- a federal law restricting political free speech. I was dumbfounded -- dumbfounded -- that a Republican would actually strike at the very basis of Free Speech the founders intended...political speech. Then to see McCain fold against Obama was sickening.

I was then very discouraged to see how ruthless Romney was in taking down fellow Republican competitors in the primaries, only to fold against the now-proven failure Obama. The only glimmer was that one debate, then, nothing.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I know he lost, but I thought Mitt Romney was one of the most decent men to run for president in my lifetime. I think he would have been an excellent president. It's easy to blame him, but this was not a tough call.

That is, the problem isn't Mitt. The problem isn't even Obama. The problem is that there's an electorate that would elect and re-elect Obama.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
He was and is. But he was a poor candidate, especially given the circumstances, whose crippling lack of self-confidence should have caused him not to run.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Self-confidence is overrated. Hitler had it and where did that get him? Obama certainly has it and where has it gotten him? Well, OK, quite some distance, but the Fat Lady ain't sung yet. In any case, a President without self-doubt is dangerous.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I knew Mitt (that's the House I'm Running for the Senate) Romney didn't want to win in Debate 2 when he let Candy Crowly cow him with the "Terrorist" reference.

I could see Ronald Reagan in that same situation;
"Candy, I'm glad you coordinated with my opponent to have those transcripts on hand today. Will you please be so kind as to read to all of us here that passage to which you are referring, the one where my opponent referred to the attack as a Terrorist Attack, and not just some general mention of Terrorism in the Speech."
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Which is why Ronald Reagan was a winner and Play-it-Safe Romney was not.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I know no one want's to talk about this and the writer ignored it. Romney was a Mormon. A lot of people don't like the Mormon religion and fundies in particular. Some issues like "Jesus and Satan are brothers," "be a God and live on your own planet," etc. They stayed home.

Also the demographics; the whole country is now left of center. After years of public school teacher indoctrination, college, the media, the news, the list goes on. Maybe we can win at the state level but not at the national level. Republicans can field the best candidate possible but they will fail. Now is a time for consolidation and articulating a better message.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Better message? Like what? These future GOP bumper stickers?:

"Believe it: we can continue to spend ourselves to oblivion."

"Abortion is a good thing, unless you want a baby. Besides, millions of illegal-now-legal immigrants will take care of the missing babies."

"92 million unemployed Americans living on EBT cards, unemployment and welfare while still driving a car, owning smart phones, flat screen TV and cable is where we want to be."

"More federal agency regulation will solve our problems."

"Celebrate homosexuality. It's got a future!"

"Unions -- the way stuff gets done!"

"Solar Panels warm you every night."

"Public Schools -- molesting your children mentally, emotionally and physically their entire childhoods."

"We can make Obamacare work. Trust us."
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
While a lot of the columnists here kept pushing Mitt at us, I would note that many of the commenters (us) were not all-in for him.

Maybe you should listen to the people who read the columns you write.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
As I repeatedly said, we have no leaders.

47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You can clearly see the statist shift in mentality of self-professed Republicans in these comments. Most of the commentators to this article sound like Moderate Democrats, as opposed to Republicans.

I've seen several people argue that Romney was only partially responsible for his rotten performance. The rest of the blame? Does it go to his campaign manager and advisers? No, that blame goes to the entire GOP and anyone who criticized Romney. The collectivist mindset is shocking.

This same group of people in the other recent Romney article on PJM deride people like me for being too ideologically pure. They say we're trying to purge "moderate" and "centrist" voices from the party, but those same folks demand that my voice be purged from the party. So, they're all inclusive and stuff unless I have an opinion, then I should get out. Sounds like the radical Democrats talking to me.

Everyone's a little hypocritical to an extent, but I've traditionally associated the Republican brand with people who at least attempt to live their principles. Here at PJM, there's a large core of self-professed GOPers who are much more comfortable in the ideology of the statist Democrats.

"You can have your own beliefs, so long as they aren't opposed to mine."
"I believe in responsibility, Collective responsibility."
"Individuals aren't responsible for their own success or failure, everyone else is."
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
NAME ONE.

Whom should the GOP have nominated instead?

Bachmann??
Herman Cain??
Gingrich??
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sadly, you are so right, ... er, correct. The new generation of GOP was not ready yet, any of Ryan, Rand, Rubio, Cantor, Jindal, etc. Couple of other governors and senators.

But the unfortunate point is that Romney could have done better, he failed in the test. As I so painfully say, the public did not make an unreasonable choice, all things considered. Obama obviously wanted it more and made a better effort to get it, no matter what a loss he was once elected.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of the available candidates, I'd have preferred Santorum. However, you're presuming that the choices we ended up with were the only available choices from the start. There were several conservative potentials (Jindal and Daniels come to mind) who sat out the race altogether ... partly because they sensed it would be a two-front war against both the Dems AND GOP party leadership. Don't do your damnedest to preëmptively scour the field, and then point to its thinness.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Santorum's statements on the right of the state to interfere with sexual behaviour would have created a firestorm of negative publicity if he had become the nominee. He would have suffered the same fate as Akin and Mourdock losing GOP states. And what did Santorum ever run? His big claim to fame was welfare reform. Some reform. The bill got shifted from the states to the federal government and there are now more people on the dle than ever.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You've got me mistaken: I'm not saying Santorum would have won the general election. But then, Romney didn't either, and no other GOP candidate was going to. But as has been shown, some general-election losses are more productive than others, shifting the national conversation in desirable directions, and laying the groundwork for future victories. Santorum had a reasonable shot at achieving that much, but Romney failed miserably even there.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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