Mitt Romney now joins the long list of the kinds of presidential candidates favored by the Republican establishment– nice, moderate losers, people with no coherently articulated vision, despite how many ad hoc talking points they may have.
The list of Republican presidential candidates like this goes back at least as far as 1948, when Thomas E. Dewey ran against President Harry Truman. Dewey spoke in lofty generalities while Truman spoke in hard-hitting specifics. Since then, there have been many re-runs of this same scenario, featuring losing Republican presidential candidates John McCain, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford and, when he ran for reelection, George H.W. Bush.
Bush 41 first succeeded when he ran for election as if he were another Ronald Reagan (“Read my lips, no new taxes”), but then lost when he ran for reelection as himself– “kinder and gentler,” disdainful of “the vision thing” and looking at his watch during a debate, when he should have been counter-attacking against the foolish things being said.
This year, Barack Obama had the hard-hitting specifics– such as ending “tax cuts for the rich” who should pay “their fair share,” government “investing” in “the industries of the future” and the like. He had a coherent vision, however warped.
Most of Obama’s arguments were rotten, if you bothered to put them under scrutiny. But someone once said that it is amazing how long the rotten can hold together, if you don’t handle it roughly.
Any number of conservative commentators, both in the print media and on talk radio, examined and exposed the fraudulence of Obama’s “tax cuts for the rich” argument. But did you ever hear Mitt Romney bother to explain the specifics which exposed the flaws in Obama’s argument?
On election night, the rotten held together because Mitt Romney had not handled it roughly with specifics. Romney was too nice to handle Obama’s absurdities roughly. He definitely out-niced Obama– as John McCain had out-niced Obama in 2008, and as Dewey out-niced Truman back in 1948. And these Republicans all lost.
And they’ll lose again in 2016 if they choose another of these milquetoast moderates so pleasing to the mainstream media and GOP Establishment but unpalatable to the conservative base. Memo to Republicans: Forget appealing to the mainstream media. They want you to lose and they’ll never be on your side. The next time they insist Republicans needs to nominate a Democrat-lite candidate, keep that in mind. Try appealing to your voters.
The sad, yet predictable, fact of the matter is that the GOPe who insists on foisting these losers on conservatives election after election still believes that the reason Republican’s lose is because they’re too conservative. Never mind that Mitt Romney is the least conservative Republican candidate we’ve had since Gerald Ford, and doesn’t fit anyone’s definition of a conservative. As I noted nearly a year and a half ago, the “Republican” Romney most closely resembles is Nelson Rockefeller. Indeed on issue after issue his positions are indistinguishable from the Democrats, and Romney’s brain trust felt comfortable going after those squishy Independents with whom the Establishment is so enthralled. He even managed to win them 50-45. But in the end it didn’t matter.
Obama’s campaign understood that this was a base election, and they fed his liberal base a steady diet of red (or is it blue?) meat, and they turned out for him despite the disastrous Obama economy. Conservatives, on the other hand, were forced to go vegan. Romney did everything he could to alienate his base, even, remarkably, denying Governor Palin a prime speaking slot and having his henchmen stick their thumbs in the eyes of conservatives at the Republican convention. Aren’t conventions supposed to be for uniting the party? Apparently not for Romney’s fabulously expensive, yet woefully inept campaign team.
After selecting Paul Ryan, they believed they had the conservative vote locked up and could Etcha-a-Sketch their way back to courting those elusive moderates. They didn’t, because for a sufficient number of conservatives, “ABO” was not a compelling enough reason to turn out and vote for the Mittster. They either weren’t inspired by him … or didn’t trust him. Which Mitt, they wondered, were they voting for? Moderate Mitt? Progressive Mitt? Severely conservative Mitt? Mandate Mitt? Multiple choice Mitt? Continuously shifting positions may appeal to those who lack convictions (the GOPe, for example), but to conservatives, not so much. Thus, in a nation with twice as many conservatives as liberals, Romney managed to lose a base election.
Did that matter to Team Mitt? It sure doesn’t sound like it:
Campaign manager Matt Rhoades told the Governor and his wife, “We would rather lose with you than win with anyone else,” sources said.
They got their wish. Here’s a prediction: If the GOP nominates a candidate of similar ilk in 2016, they’ll lose again. If they haven’t gone the way of the Whigs, that is. Read Sowell’s entire piece here.
Update: White House Dossier’s Keith Koffler lists seven reasons Romney lost. Here are the first two:
1. A failure to BE a conservative.
Every time Republicans nominate a candidate who doesn’t strongly back conservative ideals – George H.W. Bush in 1992, Bob Dole in 1996, and John McCain in 2008 – they lose. And every time a moderate candidate loses, everyone calls for Republicans to throw the “crazy conservatives” out of the Party and turn everyone into moderates.
Bush the Elder is the perfect case for this. In 1988, he ran as the inheritor of the Reagan mantle and won. But by 1992, having raised taxes, it was clear he was just another Country Club Republican, and voters turned on him.
Romney is a moderate. His Massachusetts Romneycare plan was the template for Obamacare. He tried to change himself into a conservative, but everyone knew he wasn’t. And so many of people who should have been his voters didn’t turn out to the polls, thinking it didn’t make much difference.
2. Romney failed to SELL conservative ideas
He picked conservative Paul Ryan, but then locked him in the attic. Who really heard Ryan spreading his gospel?
Romney’s biggest idea seemed to be tax reform, which ain’t the same as tax cutting. He was frightened it would hurt him to make the tough conservative case for Medicare and Social Security reform.
Koffler gets it. Read his other five reasons here.