September 9th, 2014

What is Romney up to?

And do we care? Those of you who couldn’t stand him in 2012 probably just wish he’d go away.

The most important thing is this: he’s not running again. The only way he would run, IMHO, is if no other candidate emerged and people begged him, absolutely pleaded.

My reading of Romney is that he’s a man who doesn’t lack an ego, but that he has far less ego than most politicians. I think he actually is interested in public service, and that right now he’s been casting about—after over a year of laying low and thinking, and recovering from his defeat—for the role he can take on to best serve the nation and even the world.

If that’s grandiose, so be it. And the conclusion I think he may have come to is that he can serve as a guide to the party and as a symbol of solidity, a “what might have been” for the American people to compare and contrast to Obama and other Democrats. As such, he can remind them that the current decline and chaos weren’t inevitable, and needn’t be inevitable for the future, if they are smarter next time and elect a more conservative candidate than Hillary Clinton or whoever will be the Democratic nominee.

Will it work? I don’t know. But I think that’s his plan, and so far he’s executed quite nicely. What’s more, there’s no other elder statesman available to fill the role. George H.W. Bush is too old and frail (as is Dole), and his son is (unfortunately) too toxic and has removed himself from the arena. McCain? Fahgettabout it; he’s lost most of what respect he ever had, and comes across as irrelevant.

New leaders will emerge, such as Cruz or Walker, or Perry or Martinez, or Rubio or Gowdy or perhaps someone I haven’t thought of yet. But none of that is clear, and they are all busy with their own political offices right now. Romney is retired and a gentleman of leisure, not that leisure has ever been his thing. Right after the 2012 election, I had thought he would fade into the sunset and we would hear almost nothing from him again. But the really dreadful events of the last year or so, particular in foreign policy, and Obama’s abysmal performance on the world scene, have shown Romney he still has a purpose and that purpose is to say I told you so.

Not for self-aggrandizement, although there is almost certainly a bit of that going on. But the main purpose is to point out the contrast between a level head (his own, that is, or the other Republican and/or conservative Congressional candidates in 2014 or presidential nominee in 2016) and the skewed Democratic ones presently in charge of things.

[NOTE: Paul Mirengoff of Powerline has an interesting take on Romney’s foreign policy approach during the 2012 campaign. He also references this Josh Rogin report that claims that:

…[L]eaders of Mitt Romney’s 2012 foreign policy brain trust have kept the team together in a secret effort to influence lawmakers and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates. This operation is called the John Hay Initiative.

It’s interesting to reflect that, during the 2012 campaign, foreign policy was not thought to be Romney’s strong suit at all. He was a novice. His only political experience had been as governor of Massachusetts, and his other work experience was in the business world and as head of the Salt Lake City Olympics, not really foreign policy credentials. However, in retrospect he did pretty well with the foreign policy prognostications, didn’t he?]

47 Responses to “What is Romney up to?”

  1. J.J. Says:

    Should Romney run again? Probably not. I don’t believe he has the fire, the all-in desire to be President that seems so necessary to be a winner. That doesn’t mean he’s not a good man, a capable man, a man who would have been light years ahead of Barack Obama in his approach to……well, everything.

    He’s got name and face recognition and that provides him with a podium from which to critique the policies of the progs. That’s a valuable weapon for the conservative side, even when many conservatives cannot stand the man. His critiques are more likely to be heard and accepted by LIVs who are now becoming aware of Obama’s blunders.

    In a 2016 Republican administration I could see him being a cabinet member of substance as Secretary of Treasury, Commerce, or even State. He’s a man who wants to serve and he has a lot to offer.

    All that said, if by some bizarre turn of events he is the nominee in 2016, he has my vote. Heck, a ham sandwich has my vote over any candidate the progs can offer up.

  2. T Says:

    . . . during the 2012 campaign, foreign policy was not thought to be Romney’s strong suit at all. He was a novice.

    IMO virtually anyone who accedes to the presidency is a novice in foreign relations (the obvious exception would be a former sec of state or a director of the CIA). Even governors of metropolitan states (e.g., Cuomo of New York) are primarily concerned with domestic agendas.

    . . .the main purpose is to point out the contrast between a level head (his own, that is, or the other Republican and/or conservative Congressional candidates in 2014 or presidential nominee in 2016) . . . .

    Also think about the impact of Romey’s endorsement in the future Republican primaries and the 2016 general election. By hammering home the “Romney was right about everything” theme, Romney essentially becomes a Republican “king maker,” perhaps the ultimate in political coattails. It makes his endorsement of any other candidate just that much more meaningful and powerful and, given the world order today, that might be the ultimate in contemporary public service.

    Under those circumstances, imagine if Romney were to endorse, say, Ted Cruz.

  3. junior Says:

    The only way he would run, IMHO, is if no other candidate emerged and people begged him, absolutely pleaded.
    —————

    This is what Romney told Hugh Hewitt (who, of course, is a big Romney booster) during an interview not too long ago.

    I would imagine that Hewitt pestered Romney enough about it that Romney figured he had to give Hewitt *some* breadcrumb – no matter how minimal – just to get Hewitt to quit asking.

    😛

  4. Kevin Says:

    He also sets himself up nicely to be nominated as Sec of State or similar if he’s interested.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    They should go into logistics, like Palin did. The reason people lose is mostly due to bad logistics. Then bad strategy. And only after everything else, is bad tactics to blame.

  6. James Says:

    Hadn’t been here in a long time, until Glenn Reynolds pointed me back today. Good to see you are still at it.

    Romney is confident, not egotistical. Given his abilities and accomplishments, I’d call that healthy. Its also healthy that he doesn’t want to run again. In some ways he paved the way for his successor candidates. I predict it will be Walker if he can hold his governor job.

    Bobby Jihndal is running an interesting campaign. He’s attempting to combine the freedom and moral agendas through a campaign explaining how religious liberty (including the raising of kids) is more important than state sponsored morality. Putting that together in a way that sells could be powerful, even if its eventually stolen by another Republican.

    In the mean time, Romney spending time in the public eye will continue to be helpful, to the extent it can be. When he lost, most people voted against him despite their opinion that he was probably a better leader. If he keeps reminding people of that, its a good thing.

  7. ezag Says:

    Simple policy statements that appeal to at least part of the 47% would be helpful. I suggest opposition to any policy that increases the cost of living. Analysis shows that is most Democrat policies.

  8. zipper Says:

    I’m from a foreign country, Louisiana.

    Jindal makes Hussein look like a heavyweight.

    Not Jindal, please.

  9. Cornhead Says:

    And how great would Mitt be as SecTreas or SecState?

    Especially after the clowns Obama had in those slots?

  10. Faceless Commenter Says:

    I don’t know how Romney means to persuade independents to consider the Republican over Hillary, but I have an idea that the minute he’s attacked for sexism, he’ll sputter out a little storm of apologies and continue in that manner while the press links him to the candidate, whoever it is.

  11. Illuminati Says:

    I don’t blame Romney for losing. When Candy Crowley conspired with Obama to throw the second debate to Obama, it was obvious that the Democrats and the media would stop at nothing to “win” the election.

    Romney has extensive real world accomplishments outside of community organizing and politics while Obama has nothing. Unfortunately, Romney is everything Democrat women hate, a smart moral conservative man who takes responsibility for his own actions and who is comfortable in the traditional male role as husband and as head of his own home.

  12. Don Carlos Says:

    Given current events, it is simplicity itself to construct a pro-American foreign policy. What’s hard is to be a snake while keeping the mice from being too restless with serpentine “leadership” wriggling through the high grass to devour the next mouse.
    All this crap about needing foreign policy experience is just that, crap from the Ruling Class. Gotta go to Harvard and its Kennedy School, right?
    Today it is easier to make foreign policy decisions than ever. The path is so totally obvious.
    Romney disappoints. No one ever did well chanting, “I told you so.” He had his chance and he blew it with a capital B.

  13. Alan F Says:

    As usual, strongly informed by her psychotherapy background, Neo describes plausible motivations (conscious and subconscious) of Romney. I hope she is right and that Romney really succeeds at converting the convert-able that someone like him would be way better than anyone the Democrats might put forward.

    I agree that Geo. W. Bush is toxic, but it is only because the left and many many fools believed the trashing of Bush. See David Horowitz’ book The Party of Defeat that details how the Left started betraying the Bush Administration’s quick and effective toppling of Saddam, which many supported, as the occupation became a bit problematic.

  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I am not among those who cannot stand the man. By all indications, he is a decent man, a public minded citizen and I would be happy to see him as SecTreas.

    My problem with Romney is that he is a business oriented large government republican and critically, one who is willing to support Ryan’s push for amnesty. I suspect, in many ways he’s another George W. Bush. Loves the country, and for a strong defense, which are strong positives but… he will never really push for a smaller government. Romney is also a “read my lips” republican, he’s set on a course until… the political winds blow too strongly against him. Thus, he’ll never really commit to addressing the underlying issues that the left is using to slowly destroy this country.

    I fear he’s more likely to endorse Chris Christie than Walker and I think he’d do so for politically pragmatic reasons, which ultimately is a formula for defeat.

    “Son, a man has to stand for something or he’ll fall for anything” and, when what you stand for is… for what you can get the other side to give, you’ve already lost.

    In fighting a war and America is in a cultural and political war, there are times when knowing, when to run away to fight another day is critical. But in any conflict in which the other side has the advantage, (and they do have the advantage because they aren’t fighting by the rules) being willing to risk utter defeat, will, sooner or later, be the only way to victory. I don’t think Romney has that in him for if he did have that quality, standing on principle would be more evident in his actions.

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    Alan F:

    Here was the Left’s plan for defeat in Iraq, in their own words. I wrote about it in the early days of this blog.

    They were planning to get Congress to cut funding, but that turned out to be unnecessary. They got their antiwar candidate, Obama, elected instead. And it didn’t matter that the war was basically won, they managed to lose it anyway.

    Where there’s a will there’s a way.

  16. expat Says:

    If Romney can prevent another flavor-of-the month circular-firing-squad campaign next time, he will have accomplished much for conservatives. He has the ability to keep people focussed on real issues and priorities. In the next administration, maybe he could function to clean up an agency. Remember, he is the one who said he likes to fire people. Go to it, Mitt.

  17. Artfldgr Says:

    about 6’2″

  18. T Says:

    ” When Candy Crowley conspired with Obama to throw the second debate to Obama, . . .” (Illuminati @ 3:34 above)

    Can’t agree there. Did Candy Crowley side w/ Obama? You bet, but the debate was lost because Mitt did not forcefully challenge her error or the debate’s asymmetry.

    IMO anyone walking into a debate with a Democrat, moderated by any media personality who expects to be treated fairly (i.e., unprepared) doesn’t deserve to win such a debate. If Scott Pelly’s dusting up by Newt Gingrich taught us anything, it taught us that!

  19. T Says:

    “Today it is easier to make foreign policy decisions than ever. The path is so totally obvious.” — Don Carlos (@ 3:36 above)

    Yup! ISIS controlled towns and daisy cutters. It’s as simple as that.

  20. Range of Light Says:

    I’m a longtime neoconservative and consider Mitt’s defeat in ’12 a tragedy. More each day I see it as a catastrophe. He’s very, very smart. He’s also got a perfect temperament for the highest office. He ‘Gets it’ fast. Our domestic landscape needed him badly and the foreign-military global situations needed him desperately. I still get a rash thinking back on the slathering Candy Crowley debate and the cheap-glib shot from the Pretender in Chief about Romney being so, ya know, yesterday thinking guns and ships and tanks are still important. Mitt appeared speechless that someone could be that vapid. Not just vapid, Mr. Romney, he’s a slimebag.

  21. blert Says:

    Ideally Mitt operates as Barry’s foil: barbing him with critiques.

    Any counter-punching by the White House must land on Romney, the EX-candidate.

    It IS true that Barry prefers to campaign forever.

    So the obvious anti-dote is to have Romney in perpetual campaign mode — harping on Barry’s horrific track record.

    Unlike most Republicans, the press is practically certain to publish his barbs.

    If Mitt was foolish enough to run again, the Democrats would own the White House for another four to eight years.

    His Mormonism is a vote killer in many swing states. For those of whom it’s a big issue, nothing can sway them. It’s simply their hot button.

    An atheist would have a better shot. — Hey, isn’t Barry an atheist? I mean, self-worship is not normally deemed religion.

  22. ErisGuy Says:

    Romney seems like an OK guy. As a politician, he’d make a fine assistant to real leader. With someone with a vision of free America to guide him, I have no doubt Romney could get the job done.

  23. Ray Says:

    “kept the team together in a secret effort to influence lawmakers and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates.”
    That makes no sense. If it’s so secret why does everybody know about it?

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    Range of Light:

    I respect Romney very much and was intensely upset by his loss because of what I think Obama’s win meant for the country and the world. But one of Romney’s biggest weaknesses in 2012 was his failure to imagine and appreciate the depth and scope and drive and amorality/immorality of the forces arrayed against him. He himself said later on that Obama’s second term has been even worse than he (Romney) had thought it would be; I think he should have realized exactly how bad it would be.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    T:

    The problem was Romney was surprised by Crowley and did not anticipate it. In the Mirengoff article I linked in the addendum to this post, Mirengoff goes into why he thinks Romney did not fight back against it in the 3rd debate. I agree with Mirengoff, but I think that it was an error of Romney’s and I was somewhat (although not very) surprised by it.

    I wrote a lot about what Crowley did at the time. If you do a search for “Crowley” on this blog you’ll find my posts on the subject. However, here was one where I tried to give advice to Romney prior to the third debate. Needless to say, he didn’t take it, but I’m not at all sure things would have been better for him in the election if he had.

  26. Spec Says:

    Instalanch!!

    I watched Romney on one of the Sunday shows. He had me smiling right up until the end where he professed sympathy for the McDonnells, saying he had even called them. That’s more tone deaf Mitt. He gets you going, nodding that he is saying all the right things and apparently heartfelt, and then he drops one of those on you.

    The McDonnells deserve no sympathy of any kind.

    That was Mitt’s maddening curse. He takes two steps forward and one step back, and never gets there in time.

  27. kaba Says:

    I was rather hoping that Romney would be selected to head the VA. He seemed a perfect choice with his known ability to rescue failing endeavors.

  28. David Renegar Says:

    Every person in America thought Nixon was Gone after losing the California Governor’s race. I think Mitt Romney has absolutely had time to access where he went wrong. An effective, highly strategic thinking executive does that all day long.

    I don’t count him out in 2016. If he runs he will surround himself with the very brightest thinking team since McKinley.

  29. Gringo Says:

    It’s interesting to reflect that, during the 2012 campaign, foreign policy was not thought to be Romney’s strong suit at all. He was a novice.

    Novice perhaps, but any Pub novice in foreign policy beats a Demo. The best foreign policy role for Demos is to be in charge of ordering the food at ethnic restaurants. At least that is my conclusion after looking at how Demos have performed in foreign policy in the last 50 years. 🙂

  30. Gringo Says:

    Neo
    He himself said later on that Obama’s second term has been even worse than he (Romney) had thought it would be; I think he should have realized exactly how bad it would be.

    IOW, Romney would have been advised to read Neo, who had stated on a number of occasions that Obama would be worse his second term, as he didn’t have the constraint of a reelection campaign.

  31. T Says:

    “The problem was Romney was surprised by Crowley and did not anticipate it.”

    Neo,

    My intended point was precisely that Romney should have anticipated it. I think it can easily be called naïve to not anticipate and prepare for every possible attack from a media allied with one’s adversary (think John McCain here). After all, presidential debate prep is not like you or I preparing alone in some dusty archives. At that level there are teams who are (or should be) tasked to propose every possible eventuality that they can conjure up, no matter how outrageous it may seem at the time. At that level there should be no surprises if the prep was done properly.

  32. neo-neocon Says:

    T:

    I disagree.

    I wish he had anticipated it. I also think (as I believe I said in an earlier comment) that he failed to understand the forces he was arrayed against.

    However, Crowley’s act was completely unprecedented in a presidential debate. It was a black swan. I don’t think anyone would have anticipated it. The problem is that he should have pressed it afterward; he decided instead to let it go (read Mirengoff for an analysis of why). And that, too, was understandable, although I didn’t like it at the time.

  33. parker Says:

    I admire Mitt as an upright person with many talents, he needs to follow Palin’s example and go rogue. Mama Grizzly could use some backup.

  34. Alfondso Says:

    Blert,
    You’re a genius! Of course! Conservatives need someone to counter the dem’s “Perpetual Campaign” And who better than Romney? The media won’t ignore him.They don’t dare.
    Imagine this soundbite:
    “We Republicans don’t believe that anyone who holds public office should spend their time, the people’s time, constantly campaigning or fundraising! That is why I am here today. To campaign for conservative, no,let me restate that, American principles!
    I hold no office. Not for lack of trying mind,(pause,wait for laughter).”

    Others are welcome to complete this speech.

  35. NeoConScum Says:

    Neo…(7:44pm).. I agree. Crowley’s behavior was despicable and I’ve imagined a very pleasant fantasy hundreds of times since. Mitt was just too closed mouth tolerant of the ‘alliance’ of Hideous Candy and His Majesty. “Excuse me, Miss Crowley, but I didn’t come here to debate you. That said, you’re both lying.” Would’a been wonderful. I, Mr. Sensitive, have a movie scene playing that goes something like, “Excuse me, Candy, you insufferable Bitch. Kindly put a sock in your lying maw and let me correct Mr. Obama on the lie about Benghazi he told in the Rose Garden and is still looking like Pinocchio repeating now.”

    Sometimes Mitt’s coolness and dispassionate delivery made me nuts. That said, I believe he would have been a true Godsend in the leadership, problem solving departments.

  36. Eric Says:

    It’s not about candidate vs candidate or even party vs party. It’s about social cultural/political movement vs social cultural/political movement with electoral politics as a lesser included element.

  37. Cady P Rice Says:

    Romney’s willingness to speak out on foreign policy may have another benefit added to those already noted: He is sending notice to our adversaries that there are still serious people in American politics.

    I think he should continue making cogent statements about world affairs and what the American position can and should be. This may serve to temper the long range plans of some people (cough, cough…Putin, etc) knowing they might have to face something other than a doofus in a couple years.

  38. blert Says:

    Alf…

    I don’t quite imagine you drafting straw lay-downs for Barry Soetoro.

    A foil’s aim is to puncture.

    &&&

    You, as the anti-Romney… I get that.

    Romney’s role is to be a harpoon — not an Ahab.

    &&&

    “Will no-one rid me of this nettlesome rival?”

    It has a ring to it.

  39. Ymarsakar Says:

    Romney and Palin, like almost all patriotic Americans, didn’t really understand how far the Left’s corruption had taken hold in their beloved country. Few people would wish to live life believing that their nation had been successfully hijacked by terrorists and Jim Jones type cultists.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    Crowley’s behavior was despicable and I’ve imagined a very pleasant fantasy hundreds of times since.

    And that fantasy would be what? Something to do with black holes and Democrat stars, perhaps.

  41. Eric Says:

    Ymarsakar,

    I get it, though you take a harder stance than I do. My solution is a competitive, genuine, first, non-stop, and always, proselytizing, spreading, full-spectrum Marxist-method activist social cultural/political movement by the People covering law, academia, education, media, popular culture – every social node that shapes America’s practical norms, mores, and zeitgeist.

    Electoral politics, the mechanism for implementing law and social economic policy, are a critical social node but it’s insufficient by itself without also seizing other critical social nodes, especially the ones that heavily influence electoral politics.

    In other words, the GOP can win the White House in 2016 and it won’t change things if that’s all that’s won in the activist game.

    The simple focus here on electoral politics in isolation is akin to sticking fingers in a crumbling dike when you’re treading water pouring in from other, growing holes. What is needed is total social cultural/political system fixes, which – short of a forced total system overhaul – requires a full-spectrum activist social movement covering all effective social nodes.

  42. richard40 Says:

    Romney might have made a good president, but he was a terrible candidate, and thus I hope he wont run again. But as an elder statesman, and a constant reminder by contrast of how awful Obama is, and how awful his chosen dem successor with be, he is useful. He could also play kingmaker, possible by endorsing a repub conservative who has tea arty support, and thereby making him acceptable to establishment repubs (note that wont work the other way, if Romney endorses another rhino it will not help at all with the repub base). He would also be good in a future cabinet, perhaps treasury or state.

  43. Range of Light Says:

    9:14am: Funny, I thought the further illustration using simple and compound declarative English sentences was very, very clear. “Excuse me, Candy, you insufferable bitch.” And following was abundantly(and, admirably)easy to understand for anyone outside(excuse, NCS)”Black Holes”.

  44. Gary Says:

    Romney lost. Must you, in your insatiable desire for defeat, keep dragging conservatives down the same old Romney rabbit hole? Let it go. Why don’t you use your platform to highlight and support real conservatives for a change.

  45. neo-neocon Says:

    Gary:

    Reading is your friend.

    Read the post and actually learn what it says.

    Or do you think the very name “Romney” should be banned from public discourse?

  46. 10 Ways Obama Has Failed as President Says:

    […] Other evidence backs up this turn in public opinion. How bad has it gotten? The last president who was widely written off by the American people as a failure, George W. Bush, now enjoys higher net approval ratings than Obama, while Mitt Romney has been going on an I-told-you-so tour. […]

  47. 10 Ways Obama Has Failed as President | What Did You Say? Says:

    […] Other evidence backs up this turn in public opinion. How bad has it gotten? The last president who was widely written off by the American people as a failure, George W. Bush, now enjoys higher net approval ratings than Obama, while Mitt Romney has been going on an I-told-you-so tour. […]

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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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