March 4th, 2013

Romney on Election 2012

Here’s the recent Chris Wallace interview with both Romneys that everybody’s talking about (funny how many Wallaces are in posts today, isn’t it?)

I find it difficult to look at for two reasons. The first is that it makes me sad to think what might have been and is not, because I continue to believe Obama’s re-election is a disaster (one far greater than his election for a first term), and Romney’s election would have averted that disaster.

The second is that in some very basic way Romney is not the point. He never was. I supported him because he was the best possible nominee in a weak field, and because I thought he actually would be a good president. I also think he’s a good man. But he is not a compelling figure now; as he himself says in the interview, referring to his realization that he had lost:

It was a crushing disappointment. Not for us. Our lives are going to be fine. It’s for the country.

And later:

It’s an adjustment. You know, it’s interesting; in our church, we’re used to serving and you know, you can be in a very high position, but you recognize you’re serving.

And now all of a sudden, you’re released and you’re nobody.

And we’re used to that. It’s like we came and stepped forward to serve. But the good news is fortunately we like each other.

I actually don’t believe that’s the usual BS it would have been coming from nearly any other defeated candidate.

Now that I’ve read the whole interview, it reminds me once again of Romney’s qualities of essential goodness and modesty, as well as his lack of attack-dog capability. I guess those things tend to go together, don’t they?

Here’s Romney on his present role in the Republican Party:

Well, I recognize that as the guy who lost the election, I’m not in a position to tell everybody else how to win, all right? They’re not going to listen and I don’t have the credibility to do that anyway.

And on Obama today:

I look at what’s happening right now, I wish I were there. It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done.

The president is the leader of the nation. The president brings people together, does the deals, does the trades, knocks the heads together. The president leads.

And — and I don’t see that kind of — of leadership happening right now —

WALLACE: What is this president doing?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, he’s campaigning.

He’s the only one that can say to his own party, look, you guys, I need you on this and get some Republicans aside and say — pull them off one by one.

We don’t have to have these — these gridlock settings, one after the other, on issue after issue…

WALLACE: So let me ask you specifically, how do you think the president has handled the sequester, the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, no one can think that that’s been a success for the president. He didn’t think the sequester would happen. It is happening. To date, what we’ve seen is a — the president out campaigning to the American people, doing rallies around the country, flying around the country and berating Republicans and blaming and pointing.

Now, what does that do?

That causes the Republicans to retrench and then put up a wall and to fight back. It’s a very natural human emotion.

You know, when I was elected governor of my state, I had a legislature 87 percent Democrat. It was not lost on me that to get anything done, I couldn’t be attacking them. I had to find ways to reach out to them.

The president has the opportunity to lead the nation and to bring Republicans and Democrats together. It’s a job he’s got to do and it’s a job only the president can do.

It’s not a job Obama is the least bit interested in, however.

Here is a very interesting passage, which indicates that (perhaps for the first time) Romney is aware of who Obama is and what his goals are. My guess is that Romney was somewhat naive about this during the election, unfortunately:

MITT ROMNEY: And why? Why would you [a president] not want to have the flexibility to do what you think is right for the country?

The only answer that comes back is that there may be more interest in showing pain and saying, see, what the other guys did.

Look, this is the country. And — and it’s — this is — this is America we’re talking about, at a critical time. And — and, you know, Nero is fiddling. I mean, it’s — it’s, come on, guys, focus on — on getting America through a difficult time and on the track to remain the most powerful and strong nation on the history of the Earth and put people back to work.

We get too soon old and too late smart—not that being more aware of this would have mattered much during the election. The Obama campaign still would have portrayed Romney as a mean sonovabitch intent on taking away your contraception, and that’s the sort of thing that won the day. But the realization might have caused Romney to attack Obama more, for what that’s worth.

Or maybe Romney was never naive about Obama in the first place, and just thought attacking wouldn’t get him anywhere because of Obama’s high likeability ratings and the sycophantic help of the press. We’ll never know, and in a way it no longer matters.

So long Mitt, we hardly knew ye.

[ADDENDUM: Mulling it over some more, I recall that during the campaign I kept wishing Romney would have attacked Obama for his propensity to blame everyone but himself, and have lauded his own ability to avoid doing that if he were to become president. I don’t remember whether I wrote a post about it, but I thought it would have been dramatic and attention-getting if, during one (or perhaps all) of the debates, Romney had promised the American people, “Elect me, and I will take responsibility. I won’t keep blaming Obama for everything wrong with the US after he’s out of office, the way he does Bush.”

But maybe that sort of “the buck stops here” mentality isn’t something most Americans admire anymore. Obama’s re-election indicates that.]

59 Responses to “Romney on Election 2012”

  1. KLSmith Says:

    ” Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart” by Gordon Livingston. An excellent book.
    Quibble: Romney’s attack dog (or lack of) abilities did not extend to his primary opponents. I remember reading quite a few bloggers and commenters saying he’d better go after Obama like he was attacking Gingrich and Santorum.
    Sorry, but I find that repulsive. You can get in the gutter attacking your own side and then go all dignified, gentlemanly in the general. Too many Republicans suffer from this affliction. Especially certain columnists like Frum.

  2. Tesh Says:

    If he did attack Obama, what then? Get Woodwarded? Voters on O’s side would just get defensive, and undecided low information voters would probably buy into the “but Romney so meeeeeeeean” meme that would come of it. Romney isn’t the problem. Idiot voters are the problem, and pointing out the truth doesn’t seem to matter to them.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    KLSmith: I disagree.

    I even wrote some posts about it during the primary—here’s one of them, although there were others, and several discussions in comments, too. The things Romney did that opponents were calling “attacks” were no different from the usual campaign stuff, no different from what others were doing to him, and certainly no different from what he tried to do off and on to Obama, in certain ads and in certain debates and interviews and speeches. They just didn’t get any traction against Obama. And after the Candy Crowley thing (which I wrote about extensively at the time), he gave up on the attacks re Benghazi, which he was starting to successfully mount.

    My point is not that Romney didn’t attack Obama. He did, at least as much as he attacked the Republican candidates. My point is that, unlike someone like Gingrich, he’s not an attack-dog type. Attacks do not come easy to him, and with Obama he gave them up too easily when he perceived them not working. But many of his ads were hard-hitting, and he was hard-hitting in the first debate and parts of later ones. The Crowley thing seemed to knock him for a loop; he didn’t know how to respond to the obvious deception and the obvious collusion, and that was a flaw in him, I think.

    By the way, Gingrich would have lost also, and much worse than Romney, IMHO.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Tesh: agreed.

    That’s why I (unlike many bloggers and pundits) was never optimistic about Romney’s chances. I saw Obama as protected either way Romney approached. But I think he could still have been more hard-hitting, and was particularly upset by his caving during that Crowley incident.

    Would he have won had he done what I wanted? I don’t think so, but he might have. And I think that “I won’t complain about Obama like Obama does about Bush” would have been a good thing to say.

  5. T Says:

    “. . . It makes me sad to think what might have been and is not, because I continue to believe Obama’s re-election is a disaster . . . and Romney’s election would have averted that disaster.”

    I could not agree more. It is a source of profound sadness for me on an almost daily basis.

  6. Ann Says:

    Re the sadness: me, too.

    I also think Romney just doesn’t have a cynical core, and that lack is why the Crowley-Obama dance routine was able to throw him off his game in the debate.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Ann: you know, that’s one of the smartest and most insightful things I’ve ever heard said about Romney. You sum up very nicely something I’ve been trying to say but didn’t have the right words to express so succinctly: Romney does not have a cynical core.

    That is his strength and his weakness. It would not have been as much of a weakness if he’d been running against a more straightforward and less cynically and amorally opportunistic candidate than Obama, but he wasn’t.

  8. T Says:


    I agree, but it doesn’t take a cynical core to be a warrior. I think Romney is more of a manager than a warrior on behalf of principle. He may well be (and would have been as president) a good manager, but a warrior’s spirit was necessary to battle the corrupt and unscrupulous Obama machine. That is why my initial support was for Newt Gingrich.

  9. bill Says:

    Romney was able to work with an intensely Democratic legislature because Democrats tend to hold opinions across the spectrum. They look for alternatives and compromise. A Democratic goveror with an intensely Republican legislature would find them all speaking with one voice. They don’t tend to believe in divergent opinion. That seriously limits the opportunity for compromise, unless your idea of compromise is ‘my way or the highway’. Which does seem to be their prevailing view.

    In other words, the Party of No wears that appellation proudly.

  10. M J R Says:

    bill, 4:01 pm —

    I guess you’ve never heard about the ideological not-so-civil war raging within the Republican Party, much to the delight of the mainstream media.

    Republicans range from RINO / centrist to Tea Party / paleoconservative. Deal with it.

    Take off your leftie blinders and ^LOOK^.

  11. Mike Says:

    I agree with your assessment of Romney – on every count except that he was the best candidate in a weak field.

    I think he was the best candidate for the weak-kneed.

    As was McCain.

    He is a very good man and would have been an excellent President. He recognizes that himself and also knows how perilous things are now for America.

    All the more reason why he is a monumental failure, along with the people who gave him either crucial support, or who tore down the opposition with a vengeance thus clearing his path to the nomination. He would not fight; and the fighers were blocked at the pass.

    In hindsight we know for certain Palin, Santorum, and Gingrich would have been better candidates and may have even won. They were fighters. Palin perhaps should have run and did not, so maybe that disqualifies her. At the very least the rationale for defeating Obama would have been as clear as a bell and Even had they lost America would know for certain that it had chosen its own demise; that it was fgrown up and responsible for all the bad things that are happening and will happen.

    As it stands, because of all the weak-kneeds, Obama can blame Rs for everything ad infinitum and the country may truly perish.

    There are no excuses on this one. The weak-kneers wrecked the country by their choices two election cycles running.

    They deserve what they will get. The Dems as well all deserve the misery coming their way. The problem is that the rest of us, and America, are going to get what those two groups deserve, and that is not right.

  12. Jim Nicholas Says:

    I sincerely wonder if an honest, kind, decent person could be elected President, no matter how (honestly) aggressive he is in speaking the truth. Or if to win must a person be dishonest in portraying his own position and record and be cruel in portraying his opponent?

    I am afraid my hope has a tough time keeping up with my cynicism.

  13. southernjames Says:

    Romney didn’t have to go on the attack in terms of words out of his own mouth. But his t.v. ads needed to punch back. Romney’s t.v. ads (and after all, it is the shallow and visceral stuff that gets the attention of millions of voters) were totally lame. Jobs, jobs, jobity job job. Jobs. Okay, we got it. Your saying you’re going to create jobs. 90% of us already HAVE jobs Mitt. Oh, and enough with the vague “stop letting China cheat” ads. What the hell did that even MEAN?

    In the mean time, SlimeBama was “personally approve” on Ads directly attacking Romney as a PERSON. Ads stating that he lacked CHARACTER. Absolutely despicable, and shameless.

    Romney’s team needed to hit back hard, with all the low hanging fruit opportunities under their noses. Hell, just one idea: re-run snippets of Obama’s 2008 t.v. ads, (like “under my plan, every family will save $2500 on their insurance,” as just one example) with a closer along the lines of: “NONE of those promises came true. Why should we believe a word that comes out of President Obama’s mouth now? He had his chance to fix this economy and heal this country. He failed. Its time to send him back to Chicago, and get America working again.” “I’m MR and I approve….etc.

    Or how about a little scare ad, with ominous music (Jaws theme anyone?) and dark hues in the background, warning people what is coming down the road if President Obama’s “destruction of America’s health care system” is not stopped.

    How about one showing somebody sound asleep and snoring, interspersed with scenes of explosions and rioting in Benghazi — “Why won’t you tell us what you were doing while Americans were getting killed in Libya, Mr. President?”

    Would the media have howled bloody murder? Of course. Who gives a crap. Obama pulled the trigger first on those kind of ads… was time to take off the frickin gloves.
    Romney’s failure to see Obama is being anything other than malevolent contributed to his defeat. Just like the current party of stupid in Congress is failing to see that the ENTIRE strategy, and I mean ENTIRE strategy going on right now in the WH re the budget and the sequester nonsense is focused on just one thing: Setting up certain key Pubs in the House for defeat in 2014, and making HUGE push (no doubt financed by BILLIONS of under the table campaign dollars for attack ads) to try to take the House. So that enactment of the Progressive Utopia can proceed without impediment.

    But no…..Boener and Co., want to sit and chat about tax loopholes, and “finding common ground” so that it can be just like the good old days – “win win” for everybody…..

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Mike: sorry, but you’re delusional if you think Gingrich would have won.

    Another (and less harsh) word for it would be wishful thinking.

    Gingrich never had a chance.

    But the truth is that we’ll never know. However, I don’t think a single person who declared his candidacy on the Republican side would have won in 2012. And saying they would have doesn’t make it so, especially for candidate Gingrich.

    Here’s a piece I wrote on the subject of Newt as fighter. I’m all for a fighter—just one who is actually a candidate who has a chance of winning, not just a fighter for fighting’s sake.

    Here’s another piece I wrote about Gingrich, as well as this piece on the fact that Newt didn’t actually run a very good campaign, and that he rarely had to use his fighting skills in past campaigns, either.

    But I pretty much summed it up in January of 2012, in this comment of mine. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a word, and so I’ll quote myself. Note that the comment was on the very same theme we’re discussing now:

    I agree that Newt’s a street fighter. I wish Romney had more of that in him, because I agree that it’s needed.

    The problem is that “we” (i.e. conservatives) might need a street fighter—but Newt is, unfortunately, one of the worst candidates I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, IMHO, for everyone but true-blue (true-red?) conservatives. Put bluntly, he is a singularly unattractive candidate. I’m not just talking about physically, although that’s part of it.

    Most Americans are not political junkies, unlike political bloggers and commenters at political blogs. I know; I spent most of my life as a typical only-somewhat-interested American voter. My observation is that people vote at least 75% with their guts, on impressions they have of the candidates. Romney and Gingrich both are unfortunate in that regard, in almost entirely different ways. Romney is bland and goodlooking, and he doesn’t seem to have much fire in the belly or much conviction. Gingrich is quite different, but his personality is offputting to most people who are not already in his camp, and when I say “offputting” I mean it in the most forceful way possible. He repels people on a visceral level. At least, that’s my observation.

    The only other president in my memory who won despite a personally repellent quality (although of a somewhat different type) was Nixon. Americans like to vote for people who seem likable. For neither Romney nor Gingrich is that a strong suit, but Gingrich is the more unlikable. Perhaps not to you or to many of the readers of this blog, to a lot of people.

    Here’s another comment of mine from that same thread from January of 2012. Looking back on it, it turns out to have been rather prescient, I think (and note that, although I’ve occasionally been accused in other threads of having been sanguine about Romney’s chances, I was consistently pessimistic):

    (1) Gingrich is way too nasty and pedantic to connect with many John Q. Voters who aren’t already quite conservative,

    (2) Almost no one trusts the “good Newt” will last for any significant amount of time.

    (2) I don’t think Obama’s chances in the general are nearly as poor as you think. I have very serious doubts about the chances of any of the Republican contenders against him in the general. I agree that Obama is pretty weak, but I think they are even weaker.

    In one way Gingrich and Romney have opposite and perhaps equal problems, and that is on the issue of voter motivation. A Gingrich candidacy might energize the conservative base to come out and vote but it would also be likely to motivate the disaffected liberal base to do the same in protest and come out and vote for Obama. Romney might motivate the disaffected conservative base to stay home, but the liberals who don’t like Obama any more would also be more likely to stay home if Romney’s the candidate.

    For example, there’s this comment of mine (same thread—and believe me, although it’s always nice to have been correct, it gives me no great pleasure to have been correct in prediction of a probably Obama victory):

    Don’t get me wrong: Romney is a weak candidate whom the Democrats wouldn’t mind facing. But Newt is also a weak candidate whom the Democrats wouldn’t mind facing. It’s all good news for them.

    I’ve certainly never said Romney’s any shoe-in. But it’s a big error, I believe, to think Newt is either. I happen to think that signs are that Romney would be a little less weak a candidate than Newt, in completely different ways and for completely different reasons. But I think Obama has a very good chance against either of them.

    Sorry to be so depressing, but that’s how I see it.

  15. M J R Says:

    Mike, 4:32 pm — “Even had they lost America would know for certain that it had chosen its own demise . . . .”

    America ^has^ chosen its own demise. Even if the election fraud has handed the incumbent a second term, America already chose the gang that has given us the lion’s share of election fraud covering the past few decades, and America (with the acquiescence of its mainstream media) has been okay with that.

    I care about the future of my children, my loved ones, my friends, and e-friends such as exist on forums like this one. I care about those out there who didn’t fall for this incumbent turd the first time around, and I even care about those out there who wised up for the second time around — I’m a forgiving person, I am.

    As for the rest of you, including some leftie friends of various sizes and stripes, what I have to say is not printable in a G-rated blog.

  16. vanderleun Says:

    “Romney does not have a cynical core.

    That is his strength and his weakness.”

    Actually, as reality now shows there’s no strength to it, only weakness. It is pretty to think otherwise but Machiavelli would set you straight toot sweet.

  17. vanderleun Says:

    Or as someone once said (and I appropriated): “I try to become more cynical every day, but lately I just can’t keep up.”

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    vanderleun: you could not be more wrong.

    It is his strength as a human being. It would have been his strength as a leader.

    It is his weakness as a politician. Especially against Obama. That’s what Machiavelli is addressing, and he was right.

    It might have even done him in as a president, if he was vulnerable to enemies while in office.

    But he has been a very successful man in both human terms and even in business, where it seems to have stood him in good stead. A strength.

  19. neo-neocon Says:

    vanderleun: complete lack of cynicism is a double-edged sword.

    Too much cynicism is a double-edged sword.

    Balance is all.

  20. vanderleun Says:

    Well, you evidently can’t be a human being anymore if it is a leader you would be. So be it. Time to prepare for Obama/Obama ’16 — and eight more years.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    southernjames: actually, Romney had a lot of good ads. I don’t have time to search for them now, but I remember commenting here about quite a few, and saw comments about the good ones on other blogs as well.

    As far as “pulling the trigger” goes, few people realize that Romney had a built-in money and timing problem that Obama didn’t have to face. It is described here. Please read.

  22. vanderleun Says:

    I accept that. If more on the right did we wouldn’t be buying 40+ years in the desert because it feel better.

  23. neo-neocon Says:

    vanderleun: a candidate needs more than cynicism to win.

    But cynicism and toughness is part of it, for sure.

    And were you channeling your inner Yoda here, “Well, you evidently can’t be a human being anymore if it is a leader you would be”?

  24. vanderleun Says:

    By “accept that” I mean “cynicism.”

    And what Machiavelli meant, above all, was the obvious observation that when it comes to ruling men, the end always justifies the means.

    Which is why so many in the West have the continuing “problem of Machiavelli.”

  25. vanderleun Says:

    Yoda… c’est moi!

    Et apres moi, le yoda!

  26. gcotharn Says:

    I saw the Romney interview. Romney still doesn’t understand why he lost.

    I warn against this type of thinking:
    “Barack was not vulnerable; Repubs were destined to lose.”

    Bullshit. Do not allow any of yourselves to fall into that trap.

    I believed Barack was most likely to lose, and I was wrong. The Democratic Party displayed vastly more competence in doing what needed to be done in order to win:
    – more competence over half a century of dancing through American cultural intstitutions,
    – more political competence since 2007, and
    – more political competence in 2011 and 2012.

    I believed America remained a mostly conservative nation, and that would overcome superior Dem cultural and political competence, and would show at the polls. I was wrong. I should have considered Romney the underdog. Yet, and still: Romney had a legitimate underdog opportunity to win. Would’ve been an upset, but a legitimate underdog opportunity existed, even for Mitt Romney’s particular personality and history, yet Romney simply did not have the competence to exploit the underdog opportunity. Disappointingly, part of Romney’s failure was a failure of executive (big picture strategic) decision making.

    Do not, anyone, fall into the trap of believing that the 2012 election was always hopeless. That is an easy way out, and a type of self-flattering way out, and it is false. Victory was possible, even if improbable. Repubs (suck, so very very much) were not up to the task of pulling it off.

  27. vanderleun Says:

    Re: Newt Gingrich

    Even if you believe in the theory of an infinite number of universes in which all possible realities are represented I can assure you that in none of these universes Newt is President.

  28. parker Says:

    Politics, particularly Chicago style politics, is a low down dirty business. I thought Romney’s failure (and that of republicans in general) was showing any deference to the MSM. As the other major post tonight demonstrates, they are the real enemy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. BHO would be toast on the national scene without them.

  29. Don Carlos Says:

    This entire discussion is sad.
    We all know that Mitt was a better man than Baraq (Duh!), but we cannot agree why he lost, why he did or did not do what he did (and said), apparently.
    Baraq had no opposition. The ‘Pubs had twenty-some candidate debates (too many candidates), and the debate formats enabled the “moderators” to run the shows. Candidates like Santorum got hardly any questions-he and others were ignored. The fault of this lies squarely with the RNC and the GOP leaders.

    Baraq built a one billion dollar campaign cannon. With this, and with his remarkable demagoguery, the outcome is no surprise. That it surprised some of us simply shows our insularity. That Karl Rove et al. still get face time and money augurs ill for the future.
    America is not a “center-right” country. That is self-comforting BS, pure and simple. We are instead a crony socialist nation. We are in the bottom of the ninth inning with two men out and the score is 4-0 against. The amzing run on guns and ammo shows how afraid citizens have become of their Ruling Class- but all those citizens want their part of the Federal pie nonetheless.

  30. Eric Says:


    “Or maybe Romney was never naive about Obama in the first place, and just thought attacking wouldn’t get him anywhere because of Obama’s high likeability ratings and the sycophantic help of the press.”

    This has my vote. I have no doubt. On a much smaller scale, I’ve been positioned across leftist activists who deliberately avoided a debate on the merits and the greater good, and instead crassly rabble-roused and vilified, appealed to emotion and tribalism, and relied on strawmen and ad hominems. My team attempted to take the high road, instead. We knew we didn’t have the inclinatino nor the werewithal to win their game. As I’m sure is the case with Romney, though, we were well aware of their tactics and strategy. My team lost our contest, but we learned from it, and our successors won.

    FYI, our successors stuck to the high road in their message – their message was the same as ours – but they were much savvier in their maneuvering behind the scenes with the nodes of political power in our setting. They mapped out and systematically won over the factions they needed to win over.

    “”Elect me, and I will take responsibility. I won’t keep blaming Obama for everything wrong with the US after he’s out of office, the way he does Bush.””

    I’ll push one step further than this. The Republicans should have and should now aggressively rehabilitate Bush’s legacy.

    A fatal error by the Republicans, including Bush, that continues to profit the Democrats is the Republican concession of the vilification of Bush. Essentially, the Republicans have given the Dems free rein on the Alinsky tactic to always hold the opposition to strictest account and blame – whether on false or true premises, and whether or not in context – while bypassng an account of their own liabilities. The Dems fall-back position is anything they do is automatically better than the alternative of Bush and, by association, the GOP.

    The best example of this strategy is Obama’s foreign policy. The Dems excuse any failing of his foreign policy with, hey, it’s not-Iraq and not-Bush. In response, the GOP just agrees and goes along meekly with this self-defeating line of reasoning. Even when Obama’s policies exceed the severity of the policies that the Dems histrionically protested in Bush, they shrug and say, it’s okay because it’s not-Bush. (See Glenn Greenwald and Ralph Nader on the Dems shrugging acceptance of drone assassinations and civil liberties under Obama.)

    It seems obvious to me that the Republicans’ best strategy to counter the Dems’ strategy of not-Bush is to rehabilitate Bush’s image. Take not-Bush away from them. It can at least be shown that Bush led with the best interests of the nation and America’s world leadership role at heart, particularly after 9/11, and was thoughtful and justified in choosing among very difficult choices. Bush was a sincere president; Obama is not.

    In fact, I would counsel the Republicans to take this strategy a step further: demonstrate that, in fact, Obama’s record shines a positive light on the case for Bush in comparison.

    Make a credible case in the popular discourse that Obama is at least no better and quite possibly worse than Bush, and the GOP will have disarmed the Dems.

  31. Eric Says:

    PS I understand that many Republicans actually are disinclined to defend Bush’s legacy because he proved out, especially after 9/11, to be a liberal in many ways, not unlike Nixon’s liberal record. Defending Bush’s compassionate conservative and liberal (neocon) foreign policy is distasteful to libertarians, IR realists, and fiscal conservatives on the Right.

    But again, if the pragmatic goal is to disarm the Dems, Republicans should rehabilitate Bush’s image and, if they have the savvy and guts, demonstrate Bush was a better president than Obama.

  32. Eric Says:

    gcotharn, I agree.

  33. neo-neocon Says:

    gcotharn: I, for one, did not believe the 2012 election was always hopeless. I don’t think you’ll find a quote from me where I say anything like that. But I did believe it would be very very very difficult to win, although possible. I didn’t think it likely to happen, and it did not happen.

    I’ve explained what I wanted to see happen, and how I evaluated the candidates and their weaknesses and strengths, many many times, so no need to repeat that here.

  34. Occam's Beard Says:

    Romney sounds like a well-adjusted adult.

    No wonder he didn’t stand a chance.

  35. Julia NYC Says:

    Personally I don’t think anyone could have beaten Obama, the press was too in the tank for him since 2008 primaries when Hillary won the primary but they decided it should go to Obama. At that point Obama was untouchable. However, it would have been gratifying to see Romney or any Republican attacking Obama mercilessly, because at least they would have gone down swinging.

  36. Martel Says:

    Another thing Romney and McCain had in common was their refusal to attack the press. I know it’s a risky strategy, but to act as though they’re some sort of objectiver arbiters when they’re obviously not is entirely counter-productive. Yes, Sununu and others went after Soledad from time to time, but there’s no disincentive for the media to be obnoxiously biased. If they’re tough on Obama, he makes them suffer. Tough on Republicans, we try to be even nicer.

    In regards to Mitt’s character, I draw a parallel with Bush. Neither wanted to get down and dirty because it would have insulted their dignity. Sounds great, but it’s not just about them and their dignity, it’s about the millions of us who are counting on them to effectively lead us.

    When the “Bush lied, people died” meme gained strength, I was in the Army and friends of mine were putting their lives at risk. As the American public soured on the war, my friends were getting shot at more often as a result. But Bush didn’t want to get undignified and didn’t do nearly enough to bolster public support for the war. Suffer for your own damn dignity. When soldiers are depending on you, grow a pair.

    Also, Romney getting portrayed as some sort of monster when he’s done so much for people his entire life. “Vulture Capitalist” ads were running in every swing state as Romney made the noble choice to not run ads showing all the people he did so much for. The media ignored the stories they told at the convention, and we let it slide. Again, I know he didn’t help people for his own glory, but it’s not just about him. His “glory” was what we needed to get a demagogue out of the White House, and he didn’t do what it takes to make that happen.

    As a postscript, some are floating the idea that Romney should be put in charge of Detroit’s turnaround. I think he should do it. It would be one of history’s greatest ironies if he led Detroit to an amazing recovery as the rest of the country heads down the tubes.

    And he’d do an AWESOME job at it.

  37. parker Says:

    “I know it’s a risky strategy, but to act as though they’re some sort of objectiver arbiters when they’re obviously not is entirely counter-productive.”

    i don’t think it is a risky strategy. The MSM is a sinking ship.

  38. neo-neocon Says:

    Martel: I agree it would be a delicious irony if Romney saved Detroit. I don’t think he’ll take on the task, though (nor will he be offered it).

    I seem to recall Romney running a few ads emphasizing what he’d done for other people (or maybe it was a PAC running them, but anyway I do remember some ads). The problem was that information never got out to people, and certainly not enough to encounter the tsunami of negativity. But Romney was unable to counter a lot of the swing state ads with a similar ad saturation campaign for this reason: he had a built-in money and timing problem there that Obama didn’t have to face. It is described here. Please read.

  39. JJ formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Romney is much like Papa Bush – a very warm, good-hearted person. Very competent as a manager as well. Unfortunately, the President needs to be a person with true goodness backed by a spine of stainless steel.

    I have known people who worked with/for Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan. All three of them were ethical and good humans, but they also had the ability to make very tough calls that came from a deep reserve of toughness and courage. Being President of the USA requires a person who has that kind of inner resources. Not the kind who says to himself, “If I order a mission to get bin Laden and it goes bad, think of the political risks I’m taking.” That was exactly what went through Bill Clinton’s mind when he failed to order such missions on his watch. Obama had to be pushed by Panetta into the bin Laden raid because Obama was having those thoughts. It’s easy to decide you want to spend billions more on education or Sandy relief, but decisions of life or death require sterner stuff.

    That said, I believe we would be much better served by Romney as President. How could he have won? A better media response team. A better use of twitter and facebook. Letting his hair down (he was always cordial but seemingly uptight) with average people. A much, much better get out the vote campaign. And last, but not least, we will not have another Republican President until the far right conservatives and libertarians quit demanding ideological perfection and go vote for whoever is running against the progressive. My motto was ABO in 2012. Too many on the right did not accept that and failed to vote for Romney.

  40. M J R Says:

    An explanation/speculation of a sort . . .

    Why Romney Couldn’t Kill
    By Aaron Goldstein
    The American Spectator
    3.4.13 @ 6:08AM

  41. Eric Says:


    “far right conservatives and libertarians quit demanding ideological perfection”

    That’s another reason to rehabilitate Bush’s legacy.

    Those factions argue they accepted an ideological impure moderate Republican in Bush and the GOP has suffered due to the resulting stigma. If a compromise candidate like Bush will be demonized anyway, like Nixon was demonized despite his Rockefeller Republican record, then they may as well accept no less than uncompromising ideologically pure candidates.

    A strong historical parallel can be drawn between Korea and Truman and Iraq and Bush.

  42. southernjames Says:

    Eric – I agree with you, but it will never happen. The number of “purists” who loathed Bush’s “neocon” foreign adventures, and semi-liberalism domestically – and who held their nose and voted for McCain in 08, but vowed “no more” – and stayed home for Romney….their numbers have, I think, at least doubled post 2012. If not quadrupled.

    I can’t keep track of the number of posters on various sites and people I’ve talked to, who held their noses for Romney, but who now have said they’ve changed to Independent, etc., etc.

    And so….I think in 2016, whoever the GOP nominee will be, he will be tarred as a RINO, and insufficiently conservative, during the primaries. Whoever gets the nomination will be thought of as the “Establishment” pick, hand selected by Rove – whether that is in FACT the case or not.

    Whoever it is, will, without question, be a better choice for the country than Hillary Clinton. Just as Romney would have been 100 times better than the absolute disaster we now have. Won’t matter.

    The purists will stay home, and the MSM will covert the GOP candidate into a raving right wing lunatic; or a threatening Christianist who will outlaw birth control, or a total dunce/moron, or an out of touch trillionnaire, or whatever stereotype works best to scare the low information voters into going with the “safe” pick……..

    And we’ll all stand in our circular firing squad again and point fingers at each other. And have people in our ranks who are SO insulated from what 51+% (which is all that matters) of their fellow countryman believe, they actually delude themselves into thinking someone like Palin or Gingrich or Santorum could win the presidency.

    Oh, and Neo, I completely disagree with you on Romney’s commercials. At least here in Florida, they were LAME. Out of date, old fashioned – the kind of commercials politicians from both sides USED to run….back in the 90’s. Meanwhile, the other side was running twice as many; and, they were up in your face and hard edged personal attacks.

    The GOP needed to learn to fight fire with fire, and not worry about what the MSM would say about them. It didn’t happen, and it still isn’t happening on Capital Hill, with the go along, get along, folks actually thinking that this President is remotely interested in working with them.

  43. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Romney may, arguably have been the right candidate in 2008 but the reelection of Obama in 2012 revealed the true state of American’s mind-set and level of indoctrination into the left’s memes and narrative that has occurred. Romney was indeed too little, too late.

    Romney’s own words and actions prove that he is either not cognizant of or unwilling to fully face the true situation. Which made him the wrong candidate in 2012.

    That said, no republican or conservative candidate could then or now hope to win the Presidency. It’s now clear that too many Americans are unwilling to face up to their own immaturity and cognitive dissonance. Too large a proportion of America is now unwilling to accept personal responsibility and accountability for their actions, they reject the risk taking inherent to capitalism and hold too deep a sense of entitlement. Too many have accepted the left’s scapegoating of ‘the rich’, too many accept the meme that reality is amenable to ‘good intentions’.

    What the right candidate could have done in 2012 was relentlessly declare and expose the left’s manipulations and the predictable consequences of its ‘policies’, understanding that his exposure of the left would be declared by the left to be ‘proof’ that Republicans have lost contact with reality. That would necessitate a willingness to endure that characterization, to be a “voice crying in the wilderness”, so that when America’s embrace of the left brought what it had sown, home to roost…the left would no longer be able to blame it all on the right.

    That Republicans would not nominate such a truth telling candidate will result in severe consequences for America. The left is leading America ever closer to the cliff’s edge and liberal support ensures our coming collision with reality.

    It’s going to be a train wreck of not merely historical but biblical proportions.

  44. neo-neocon Says:

    southernjames: I’m going by memory with the commercials, and they were done on a state-by-state basis, I believe. So I really don’t know.

    But I agree, agree, agree with you on the rest.

  45. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I moved to FL in May, to be near my aging parents. I too thought that Romney’s ads were ineffective. I was uncomfortable with Romney’s ‘civility’ but understood his desire to appeal to independents and liberals disappointed with Obama.

    As Conservative PAC’s ads were more hard hitting, I told myself that it would be enough, thinking that with Obama’s record, Romney would easily prevail.

    I greatly underestimated the levels of indoctrination that the left has succeeded in inculcating within the American public. No less than 9/11, Obama’s reelection was a wake-up call to the actual reality we face.

    I also fully agree with southernjames POV.

  46. KLSmith Says:

    Romney had very lame (and very few) commercials in VA, also. Two critical swing states. He spent none of his own money this time out. There was never a big surge of spending at the end. He didn’t want it enough.
    As for all the “purity” stuff – excuse me if I don’t see much point in Democrat Lite. I’m not a social con, by the way. I’m a fiscal con. Bush was a good man that kept us safe but he spent way too much money – there wouldn’t have been a tea party without him and Obama.
    And, I disagree that Americans just turned into lazy, stupid, leeches five years ago. Enough of them have always been that way; the Democrats just found a way and the right candidate to get them off their sofas on election day. That, and figuring which precincts they needed to be delivered to.

  47. Mike Says:

    Neo – It can’t both be true that I am delusional and that we will never know. Why couldn’t Gingrich have won? Because professional pol and commentator said so? That’s a point I was making. We listened to the wrong people. The ones who told us they knew what they were talking about have been proven by the facts of reality to have been wrong. They did not know what they were talking about, and they didn’t know it two times in a row.

    The proof of that is in the vote totals.

    So we know Romney was not the right candidate; or McCain.

    If losing was inevitable (I do not think it was but that seems to be what you are saying), what difference was there between Gingrich/Santorum/Palin and Romney?

    For all we know, they’d have made the conservative case much better. I think they would have and my evidence is that they actually have!

    And they may very well have one. As you said, we’ll never know. Of course! But we do know that twice we made a horrible mistake in choosing our candidate. If we don’t learn from that, and in my opinion learn the virtue of courage and truth-telling to people’s faces (virtues owned by G, S and P and not by Romney), we will never win.

    When Rs want to fight and tell the truth, we will win. As long as Rs want to be accepted by liberals and the absolutely hideous culture they have created we will lose.

    We shouldn’t even let those bastards create the culture! Who gave those devils that job? I think it was the very devil himself. It does not belong to him either.

    Bottom line: You have to fight to win. You have to create culture in the right way if you want a good one.

  48. neo-neocon Says:

    Mike: they certainly can both be right.

    You’re not delusional if you think it’s within the realm of human possibility that he might have won as an extremely long shot, but you are delusional if you think it’s likely that he would have won, or that he had a good chance of winning, or if you think he “would have won,” which is what I wrote when I used the term “delusional.”

    The truth is that we can never know for sure, which I also wrote. But we can certainly know beyond a reasonable doubt, or close to it—which is that he had hardly a chance of winning.

    There’s nothing contradictory about what I wrote.

    And you don’t know much about me if you think I think Gingrich could not have won because I’m listening to anyone else, pundit or “expert” or anyone. I am basing it solely on my own impressions of the man and the electorate. I wrote reams on this subject, and exactly why I thought so, and I still stand by my words and have seen no reason whatsoever to change them.

  49. Eric Says:

    southernjames: “Eric – I agree with you, but it will never happen.”

    If Bush’s legacy won’t be rehabilitated, then accept that moderate Republicans are out, as Mike says.

    The demonization of Bush is the source of ‘othering’ moderate Republicans among voters and persuading more-ideological Republicans that there is no practical bargain in the compromise.

    Remove not-Bush from the Dems’ narrative and the rest of the damage can be undone.

  50. Mike Says:

    You never really made the case why Gingrich could not have won. Would it be “all the bad things the right people in the know” were saying about Gingrich?

    Do you have specific reasons? He won some number of primaries – and then, on cue, “all the bad things the right people in the know” said about him came into play.

    Which is exactly my point: “the right people in the know” did not know.

    The best you could say about them is that they were wrong about Romney while possibly right about Gingrich. But they are 0-2 in predictions. Why should we have trusted their prediction about Gingrich?

    Gingrich has a track record: He won the Congress in ’94. He won some primaries. His potential to win is seen in the ferocity of the opponents. That’s to be expected in a fight. Again, that’s my point. Palin and Santorum, same thing.

    Santorum actually was correct in his closing argument against Romney – that only he (Santorum) could credibly make the Obamacare argument against Obama.

    He was right about that. Romney was never able to use that club and he lost a narrow election.

    Picking him was a huge mistake, only digestible at all if we learn to never, ever, ever, ever nominate a candidate who cannot and will not fight.

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    Mike: are you kidding me? Did you read all the links I linked in previous comments here to my other comments and previous posts on the subject? If you haven’t, do a search for “Gingrich” on my blog and read everything I wrote about his character, his history, he hypocrisy, his lack of voter appeal.

    I even went into Gingrich’s entire electoral history, back to his earliest political days.

    Specific reasons galore, none of them having to do with what some stupid pundit said.

    And by the way, if I were jumping on board what pundits say, I could have enjoyed some optimism prior to the election about the prospects of a Romney victory. Instead, I was consistently pessimistic. I always thought it was a longshot, always thought Obama had an excellent chance of winning, but always thought (and still think) Romney had the best chance of all the candidates who declared.

    Which is not the same as saying he had a good chance. I never thought that, and I don’t believe I ever said it on this blog a single time. And that was when many pundits on the right (and many commenters here and elsewhere) were predicting a Romney victory or Romney landslide.

  52. Mike Says:

    It should be easy enough to boil it down to a few reasons. “Everybody said so” in all of its variations does not count. It is now an established fact of history that they got it wrong.

    And my argument included Gingrich, Palin and Santorum (at least) as well as any general candidate who could and would make the conservative case, and who would fight.

    Romney, in the end as we now know with irrefutable certainty, could do neither; and if he could then he would do neither – which is even worse. Credit to the man for running but not being capable of fighting for the cause (my opinion); damn him to hell if he could have but would not.

    The others could have and would have. You never know what would have happened had they won the nomination. I don’t care if you put up 50 links. Gingrich is a demonstrated winner. He transformed the country once.

    Even so, the job description, the search field, is narrowed by us to people like McCain and Romney.

    That search field is a proven disaster. It’s been shown to be wrong and ineffective. Reality is reality.

    And so next time, we’ll do what? Nominate the next Romney? They wanted Romney this time. They want his 2016 version next time, who is really the Bush I and McCain versions.

    Won’t happen because it’s ridiculous. In hindsight, it was ridiculous to nominate Romney.

    As I read you, you are basically saying the result was inevitable. That is your bottom line. Admit it.

    I disagree.

    A fighter is out there. Let us never nominate the next Romney again.

  53. gcotharn Says:

    “A fighter is out there. Let us never nominate the next Romney again.”

    Damn skippy.

    Except, the Repub big money is, and has been, “Waiting for Jeb”, even going back to 2011. What a disaster. And not b/c his name is Bush. Rather, b/c Jeb is a loser and a stiff and another damnable McCain/Romney style moderate … who will not communicate conservative principles to the electorate. Read it this way: Jeb will not appeal to either low info voters (Jeb is a stiff) or high info voters (Jeb will not communicate small gov principles). Repub money will have lined up behind another candidate whose major selling point is competency. Spit on competency. Competency is appealing to both low info and high info voters. That is competency.

    To this point, I have not joined the “torch the Repubs” camp. Pragmatism. However, if Repubs are so tone deaf as to nominate Jeb, then pragmatism demands burning the Repub Party to the ground. It will be the pragmatic thing to do. The Repub Party will have proven itself beyond saving. I am ready to turn my back on them forever. They do not represent me, and they do not care that they do not represent me. They believe I am a troglodyte idiot. Even as they are the true idiots.

  54. Eric Says:


    Don’t leave it to the candidates. There needs to be a 24/7/365 populist movement so that the election merely reaps the harvest. Do not count on cramming the whole farming process within an election cycle and having it to bear enough fruit. Activists on the Left are continually spreading and reinforcing their populist movement. The Right needs to engage full force and win the neverending grassroots contest.


    Give the party a winning formula, and they’ll use it. The GOP’s fiduciary duty is to win elections, not ideological enforcement.

    In the disagreement between the Tea Party and the GOP, I blame the Tea Party. The Tea Party – not the GOP – failed to fulfill their side of the bargain. The bargain was the GOP would give the Tea Party a path to elected office, and organizational resources and legitimacy. The Tea Party would give the GOP a viral populist movement to counter the Dems populist movement, ie, voters. But as soon as the Tea Party got a few people elected, their populist movement dried up.

    The Tea Party failed to deliver on their promise to the GOP yet is still making demands of the GOP.

    Solution: The Tea Party needs to go back to their original promise to the GOP and the Right in general needs to do a 24/7/365 grassroots populist movement. Go out of the in-group and go directly to the people. Confront the Left. Flood popular culture and news media so the message gets past the gatekeepers.

    The GOP cares about elections. Elections should be an end step, not a beginning step. If you want the GOP to reform, then take all the prior steps that will deliver elections to the GOP. Honor the bargain with the GOP that the Tea Party has so far failed to fulfill and the GOP will follow suit.

  55. rickl Says:

    The GOP cares about elections. Elections should be an end step, not a beginning step. If you want the GOP to reform, then take all the prior steps that will deliver elections to the GOP. Honor the bargain with the GOP that the Tea Party has so far failed to fulfill and the GOP will follow suit.


  56. davisbr Says:

    I finally came to believe that Romney was a decent man, and would have made a good president.

    Today Limbaugh mentioned that he though Romney was the most decent candidate for the presidency in the past 25 years or so.

    …otherwise, what Geoffrey Britain said. In whole, and the disparate parts.

    Except for this: the argument for electability will be forevermore wasted upon me. I disagreed with Romney’s “electability” from the beginning, but came to accept the political argument after I came to an understanding of his character.

    But. If we couldn’t get that decent man elected, what the hell does your argument of “electability” actually mean in the ground war of politicking?

    It’s become apparent that what arguing for a candidate on the basis of “electability” actually means is “I got nothin’ here, but …shut up”.

    Don’t you ever, ever try that one on me again.

    That experiment resulted in catastrophic failure (for the future of the country) with the most likely candidate in my memory for it to have ever been valid as political strategm.

    It will only be an accident of Chance if it ever succeeds.

    But as political argument?

    …it’s not worth discussing ever again. That dog didn’t hunt.

    We needed a firebrand to set a polity on fire. We got an ember that was easily quenched.

    Shame on us. We failed America by letting that thieving pack of lying scoundrels continue in office. Shame on us.

    Obama did not win. We lost. Shame on us.

  57. KLSmith Says:

    Eric: you obviously know nothing about the Tea Parties relationship with the GOP.

  58. fiona Says:

    KLSmith – I’ll second that. Having attended a meeting last night in which at least 25% of the Republican present stated that they have left the party – some of them, including me, being Precinct committeemen.

  59. Eric Says:


    I know the Tea Party has obviously stumbled in their relationship with the GOP.

    I know the promise of the Tea Party when it first coalesced as a grassroots populist movement, and I know the Tea Party has failed to deliver on that promise.

    What the Tea Party needs to do, and how it can reform the GOP, is revive its original promise as a grassroots populist movement. This time, though, they need to aggressively spread beyond their comfort-zone in-group.

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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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