November 9th, 2012

The blame game…

…is a losing one.

I remember my sinking feeling when, during the run-in to the 2012 campaign, each person I thought had a chance to win refused to run, until all of them had been eliminated from the race. Never mind who they were; my list of good candidates would probably have been different from yours, anyway. Let’s just say that for me, Mitt Romney was not among them. The point is that when the slate shaped up, and the Republican debates begin, I was stunned at what a weak field it was.

That’s not to say they were weak people. Each had many admirable traits, each had strengths. But it was pretty clear that all of them would have big problems beating Obama, who inexplicably remained popular and charismatic (that is, popular enough, and charismatic enough).

I thought Romney was the best prospect of the bunch. Still do. Unfortunately, he had flaws: somewhat wooden, not good at articulating conservative principles, mega-rich white guy, Bain history, label of flip-flopper, and even his extraordinary handsomeness which bordered on the unreal.

I also knew (and everybody knew) that whoever was the eventual nominee would be the subject of a relentless attack machine the likes of which we’ve hardly ever seen before in our lifetimes in this country—unless you count what was mounted against Sarah Palin in 2008. That was the incredibly successful template. The details would be different—because each candidate’s vulnerabilities are different—but the strategy would be the same: “Kill Mitt”—or “Kill Sarah,” or “Kill” whomever the nominee would be.

It worked. For example, unmarried women became deathly afraid that Republicans would take away their contraceptive rights (and by the way, Limbaugh’s attack on Sarah Fluke didn’t help the Republican cause any in that regard, although he’s a free agent and not a party representative). It also worked (mostly, the Bain and elitist stuff) to depress the working class Republican vote in swing states like Ohio that could have put Mitt over the top.

Romney tried to counter the attacks, but it was too little, too late. I’m not at all sure, however, that anything would have helped. When a campaign is willing to get as dirty as Obama’s was willing to get, as well as to lie, and especially when the MSM backs that campaign up, it’s extraordinarily difficult to fight back without seeming mean yourself. That’s especially hard when fighting a sitting president with 50% approval.

There’s a great quote attributed to LBJ, a man who knew an awful lot about politics:

Legend has it that LBJ, in one of his early congressional campaigns, told one of his aides to spread the story that Johnson’s opponent f***ed pigs. The aide responded “Christ, Lyndon, we can’t call the guy a pigf***er. It isn’t true.” To which LBJ supposedly replied “Of course it ain’t true, but I want to make the son-of-a-bitch deny it.”

So even fighting back against attacks by denying them, and explaining the truth, tends to give them legs. When an opponent is willing to say anything to destroy you (including that you helped someone to die of cancer in some circuitous way), then you’re already in trouble. Romney actually fought back against some of this stuff, but it was more or less like a game of whack-a-mole that never ended, and the cumulative effect was to weaken him.

But don’t kid yourself—they would have had a field day with any of these candidates, just in different ways. We can’t wait around for the perfect candidate to present him/herself. Not going to happen. So I’m asking you to stop the incrimination and blaming, because the other side feasts on the petty and counterproductive squabbling we’ve been having among ourselves since Tuesday. That doesn’t mean criticism is off limits—criticism is encouraged. What went wrong? How could it go right next time? It’s solutions we’re after, not divisiveness.

Of course, we could come up with great solutions and suggestions here, and that doesn’t mean anyone will take them up next time. But word spreads, and there are ways to be heard if an idea is good enough.

31 Responses to “The blame game…”

  1. texexec Says:

    “and even his extraordinary handsomeness which bordered on the unreal.”

    You want handsome? Go to this page and check out THIS Bush!

    I would think a woman of any age would find him VERY handsome.

    Not a bad resume either for seeking political office:

    36 years old
    successful businessman
    married to a beautiful Latina he met in law school
    speaks Spanish fluently
    a lawyer
    just filed to run for office in Texas

    Check him out at

  2. expat Says:

    I’m with you, Neo. I surfed around a bit today and found the WEB full of I told you sos. Now, some are even using the ORCA failure to prove that Romney is an idiot. If all these people were as smart as they think they are, why weren’t they drafted as candidates.

    I’ll try to end on something positive: the governorships. We’ve had progress made in individual states by Republican leaders, and perhaps even more will become more courageous about fiscal responsibility and in other areas. Prove Mitt right that we need a the states to be a laboratory of ideas. We can use the best results to sell our program before the next campaign season. Remember, we are a bottom-up country.

  3. texexec Says:

    Oh yeah…served in the Navy with a different name so he wouldn’t be a target.

    Can you envision him in Navy dress whites?

    (C’mon y’all…I’m straight!)

  4. T Says:

    “we could come up with great solutions and suggestions here” and many commentors already have.

    I am most excited by Occam Beard’s comments in a previous post that we need to turn their tactics back on them and another commentors idea that the right needs to develop a counter news organization which at least balances out if not ovewhelms the leftist MSM.

    In fact all of that already exists in a nascent form. Fox news, of course which is but one balancing voice, is joined by the Breitbart organization and

    Now what needs to be done is the next step. Have wealthy financiers like the Koch Brothers and other conservative venture capitalists develop these web vehicles into full blown bonafide news organizations so that they become recognized, legitimate and ubiquitous by 2016.

    It would be absolutely and delightfully karmic for Bain Capital to do for them in four years what it did for Staples.

  5. Curtis Says:

    It’s not Romney that stupid; it’s the idiots that didn’t take the time to find out who Romney was and accepted the Democrat’s slander who are stupid. Piling stupid on stupid, they couldn’t even figure out that their non-vote was a vote for Obama. How much does it take to be a citizen? Vote. If you do nothing more, at least vote.

  6. KLSmith Says:

    George Allen (VA)
    Rick Berg (ND)
    Denny Rehberg (MT)
    Tommy Thompson (WI)
    Linda McMahon (CT)
    Scott Brown (MA)

    Looks like a lot more establishment Republican Senatorial candidates lost than Tea Party backed candidates. Four of the six were very winnable.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    KLSmith: Scott Brown was toast. Warren is the sort of candidate Massachusetts adores. Brown only won in 2010 on the wave of anti-Obamacare sentiment, and because he was up against a very poor candidate.

    I don’t blame this one on anyone. Brown’s election was a fluke.

  8. Papa Dan Says:

    T has the right idea. We need a well funded organization like Soros Media Matters. We have the structure in Newsbusters, but really they preach to the choir. Breitbart was one step better, but they rely on the internet for distribution. We need buys on the major networks to expose the coming shenanigans as they are happening.

  9. vanderleun Says:

    Well…. you could always fight a lie against you by launching, a la Lyndon, an even bigger lie against them.

    But that would not be the way of the death thirsters.

  10. T Says:

    I’d like to offer another perspective on the past election. I looked recently at a national electoral map showing the distribution fo the vote: A sea of red with blue mostly at coastal pressure points.

    The first obvious point is that the left controls the high population centers, the pressure points if you will, and therefore exerts an undue influence on national elections; no secret here. The second point is my speculation about party identity.

    My city, Pittsburgh, has been a Dem bastion for close to a century. It’s like a “little Chicago” but with less corruption. That last statement is important because on the basis of the “old boy crony system” the city actually functions, and it doesn’t function that badly either (but it ain’t perfect). I am involved in civic activity myself and I’ve found the local Republican party to be, quite frankly, relatively useless. It’s not just because of their lack of power or control, but in cases where they could help, or have some effect, they seem to be at wit’s end. Like the court eunuchs, not only can’t they, but they seem to have even forgotten how.

    As a result, when one needs to accomplish anything one relies on the Dem power base, and the people I’ve been dealing with have been emminently reasonable to deal with (even those knowing I’m a registered Republican). It dawned on me that Pittsburgh is still like dealing with the old Dem party of Tip O’Neill and JFK, the working man’s party if you will. It is my speculation that many people visit that same local mindset on the national Dem party.

    Now we know nothing could be further from the truth. The Nancy Pelosies, Elizabeth Warrens and Howard Deans have no ideological relalionship at all to JFK or Tip O’Neill, but I offer thaqt the national parties are so distant from the local decision making that affects day-to-day lives that the locals simply don’t recognize that distinction.

    As they say, “all politics is local,” and one of our jobs is to distinguish between the hard left that now controls the bulk of National Dem activity from the local political system which, at least in some cases, may be an actual 50 year throwback to times gone by.

    I think we do this, in part, by Occam’s Beard’s suggestion of taking the left’s fight to the left. Also by unrepentently uncovering the mask of the liberal national Dems while distinguishing them from local Dem throwbacks to a former age.Nancy Pelosi does not equate to Tip O’Neill and Barack Obama is not LBJ. Hell, Obama is not even Bill Clinton.

    Also, successful red states, like Texas and North Dakota can play a major role in distinguishing rational governance from the liberal Hell-holes (is that liberal Hell-whole?)of California and Illinois, and they should continue to attract as much business from dogmatic leftist states as they possible can. This will help serve to economically starve the beast, and is one area (statewide influence) in which I agree with the libertarians who wish to hasten fiscal Armageddon; hasten it in California, Illinois and New York.

  11. T Says:

    Papa Dan,

    “We need buys on the major networks to expose the coming shenanigans as they are happening.”

    No. We need a new network (actually networks) to rival the MSM so that there is no way that events like Benghazi, the new EPA anti-coal regulations, Iran firing on our drones or Fast and Furious can be swept under the rug by a complacent media. They need to be reliable and credible alternatives to the MSM otherwise the word will still not get out.

  12. Curtis Says:

    I suppose, however, there is some validity to the argument that a non-vote is communication to the Republican Party that their continual selection of candidates that are too middle of the road won’t be supported. Conservatives win elections and I that was Limbaugh’s vote and it is my thinking. However, once the candidate is selected, and especially in this crucial watershed election, a non-vote was a vote for Obamacare, a liberal Supreme Court, isolation of Israel leading to a third world war, more debt and unemployment and inflation . . .

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    Curtis: somewhere I have an old post where I write about the meme “conservatives win elections” and try to analyze it on the national level. The only case we have was Ronald Reagan. On the local level there are certainly more examples (Scott Walker being one, a conservative who won in a blueish state).

    The only other conservative ever nominated nationally was Goldwater. He lost. So we have an n of two. Not really very big, is it?

  14. Papa Dan Says:

    T- New networks are a great idea, but they are the long game. How many years was Fox the Simpsons and Married with Children before a national audience was established that enabled Fox News? Six years at minimum. We need something now. 30 second Newsbuster spots in local buys on the major networks in cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland during Leno will reach beyond the conservative choir.

  15. T Says:

    You’re correct, they are the long game. I don’t discount the need for short term impact (tatical) but the long game (strategic) is what, IMO, will win the war.

  16. Papa Dan Says:

    T- You also mention the blue collar dems of the big northeast and midwest cities. You’re right, for the working stiff and small business owners they are the only game in town. I believe in capitalism because it protects the rule of law that establishes the only true level playing field. Dems have established themselves in these cities as the only way to even hope to succeed. The blue collar dem votes that way, because he’s protecting his job. We must find ways to make these people understand the serfs they have become, that even the dem strongholds only survive because somewhere beyond the borders of their city is thriving capitalism that ultimately allows GM and Ford to exist. They have to understand that national crony politics will kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

  17. Curtis Says:

    Neo, good points on the idea that we don’t know about conservatives winning at the national level, an assertion made less tenable by changing demographics. What if Palin had run? Would it have been the same result occasioned by the increase in conservative vote but loss of the moderate vote?

    But it’s just a damn shame, isn’t it. Because for this time, this presidency, Romney was perfect. I think his decency and experience provided the best chance at unity and bi-partisan effort possible and then, of course, there’s his business acumen as well as a sound foreign policy.

    And it would been much better for my health and with a view towards bettering it, I taped a quote to the wall today that came from “Garner’s” daily email I get. It was this:

    It is only as we fully understand opinions and attitudes different from our own and the reasons for them that we better understand our own place in the scheme of things. S.I. Hayakawa, Symbol, Satus, and Personality 35 (1963)

    Hopefully, if I can come to a better understanding of the various peoples and their reasons for voting for Obama, I can better understand my proper response.

  18. parker Says:

    I understand that Brown’s 2010 election was a fluke; but adoration of Cherokee Warren boggles my tiny brain. My brother in law in MA is definitely liberal per my standards, but I know he didn’t vote for the Harvard squaw.

  19. parker Says:

    As far as the blame game goes, I point my digit at the MSM.

  20. George Pal Says:

    Curtis above was right – the fault was not in Romney but the electorate. In a country still disposed to all that went into the making of it, Harold Stassen would have been sufficient to beat the likes of Obama. In a country disposed to ‘self’, no matter the cost – even to wrecking the country – no one could beat Obama but by a bidding war.

    Knowing ‘they’ could never elect an Obama, the Left elected a new people. The Right, wishing to be relevant, might undertake the same but haven’t the generations and decades to spare. The only course is the one little valued among most of the readers and commenters here – wait for the free fall and listen for the thud. A deconstructed Constitution, demolished social cohesion, the subsumption of our institutions into ideological presidiums (see DOJ), and the extortion of enterprise into either compliance or oblivion (see Chik Fil A) will bring about a fall; and either an educated electorate or a strong man. I think it will be a strong man. John Derbyshire was right – we are finished. But then I was wrong about the election, so…

  21. Papa Dan Says:

    When the reckoning comes, they will run right back into the embrace of the left by default if we don’t have an active program warning them of the impending consequences of the choice they have made, and present a viable alternative.

  22. texexec Says:

    For those advocating a new conservative oriented network, that sounds fine, but it better provide non-news programs that people want to see…especially those before and after the news hour…highly entertaining non-political programs. Then slip in conservative leaning news programs.

  23. texexec Says:

    Scott Brown was helped when he won by the fact that it was an off-year election also. Didn’t have to buck the straight Dem vote in a presidential election year.

  24. Papa Dan Says:

    texexec-That is why I advocate 30 second buys on the established networks with a smart rebuttal of the approved MSM narrative of the day, placed during shows like Leno. Make them realize that there is another side to the story, and sometimes that may be the only news they get of a story.

  25. Curtis Says:

    The clear eyed mastery of Mark Steyn:


    Americans as a whole have joined the rest of the Western world in voting themselves a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. The longer any course correction is postponed the more convulsive it will be. Alas, on Tuesday, the electorate opted to defer it for another four years. I doubt they’ll get that long.

  26. kcom Says:

    There’s only so much you can do. Once people in sufficient numbers start voting themselves big gobs of other people’s money you are on the slipperly slope and heading downhill. It will only speed up in the future as, borg-like, more people are assimilated. (“Hey, as long as they’re handing out free money I’m going to get my share.”)

    There used to be enough personal and social integrity in the country that it was understood there is no free lunch and others don’t owe you a living (or health care or contraceptives or cash for your clunker). But since that idea now seems to be lost for a determinative fraction of the population it’s hard for me to conceive it being regained. The snowball will continue until the crash comes because there is no incentive for people to become more responsible, only incentive to become less. Lacking something? Just vote to force someone else to give it to you. That’s the behavior that’s being rewarded (and will be until the money finally gives out). And the problem will be not just that there are no more golden eggs, but the goose will be dead, too.

    We really are heading into an Ayn Rand world, where an increasing fraction of the population believes other people owe them free goods and services by virtue of their existence. It’s hard to see how we can climb back up the slope to change this dynamic when the numbers with this belief have ballooned so dramatically over the last few decades.

    Ben Franklin said it all:
    When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.

    How could it not?

  27. kolnai Says:

    With respect to Occam’s suggestion, and the growing consensus among us – the “base” – that it’s a good idea, here’s a piece that should be read:

    Playtime is over. Let’s see what we’re made of.

  28. kcom Says:

    Quoting myself above:

    There’s only so much you can do.

    Meaning, there’s only so much you can do within the current set of rules governing elections and voting. If the rules stay the same and enough people discover, a la Ben Franklin, that they can vote themselves other people’s money with no personal penalty, and there’s no legal mechanism to stop them, society as a whole (or at least a prosperous society as a whole) is screwed. How long that takes, I’m not certain, but the outcome is certain.

    Of course, there is more you can do, but it would require changing the rules – or ignoring them. Rebellion, secession, civil war, a crash and re-organization, etc. I guess now I do understand how the Roman Empire (and perhaps more importantly, the Roman Republic before it) fell. A little bit at a time, at first, almost innocuously, and then faster and faster until it was too late and too hard to climb back up that slippery slope.

  29. expat Says:

    How about finding some chick lit that challenges the received wisdom of the young unmarried women? It couldn’t be too overtly political, but perhaps have an admirable character who can defy PC.

  30. rickl Says:

    texexec Says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    With all due respect, you have GOT to be f*cking kidding me.

    We need another political dynasty like the Kennedys? F*CK THAT.

    Besides which, I frankly think he looks a little creepy.

  31. KLSmith Says:

    Neo: you are right about Scott Brown. note, though that I said 4 out of 6 were winnable. just making a list of the non-TPers that lost.
    I’ve really enjoyed your blog (and plan to keep reading) but, I feel the need for some perspective in my life. I’ve neglected my house and yard too much these last 5yrs. A long, slow American train wreck I couldn’t take my eyes off. Being a changer myself, I felt like I woke up a bit on the late side. It felt like waking up just in time to see the light from a train barreling through a tunnel at our great nation and it’s ideals.
    I agree with rickl on his concept of this election being like game 7 of the World Series. (and I’ll add we were in the 9th with 2 strikes against us).
    The Republican party seems to want to abandon their base – that will not work out well.
    I admire all of those who have not given up hope. I always thought that people that felt there was no difference between the two parties were crazy. Now I wonder if they were right and we’re just watching the political equivalent of professional wrestling. Plus, the American public just proved how profoundly stupid they are.
    This is my too long way of saying that, I really don’t want to rain on other people’s parade, be the ants at their picnic. I’ll vote but, I think we are now on the same path as the Europeans and we won’t be going back.
    And I don’t want to stink up your blog with my gloomy attitude.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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