I have been trying, as best I can, to sound the alarm about the damage being done by the scorched earth tactics of the Romney campaign and its supporters in the Republican political and media establishments.
The effort long ago left the political realm and has devolved into a collective settling of decades-old communal scores. Romney very adroitly has exploited to his advantage some of the deepest intra-Republican personal and emotional grievances and grudges.
“It not about winning here anymore,” one Romney staffer told BuzzFeed. “It’s about destroying Gingrich — and it’s working.”
Humiliation, not mere electoral defeat, appears to be the goal. Much as among warring communities in the Middle East and the Balkans, Romney supporters even have sought to deprive Newt of his own history.
Last night I posted Romney is winning his battles, but losing our war, about how Romney is tearing apart a very fragile coalition which will not easily be put back together anytime soon.
This election did not have to turn so destructive. As in 2008, going negative was a conscious decision by the Romney campaign in response to an opponent rising on a positive message in Iowa. The problem, it seems, is not with the opponents, but with the way in which Romney runs campaigns.
Mark Levin, who supports Rick Santorum, has been a voice of decency and clarity as to the attacks on Newt. Mark has just published a note on Facebook which gets to the heart of the problem, Character matters and Romney’s worries me (emphasis mine):
I am beginning to think that the nature and level of attacks being launched by Mitt Romney against Newt Gingrich, which he would surely use against any conservative threatening his nomination, are going to make it very difficult for Romney to unite the different factions of the GOP and the conservative movement behind his candidacy should he win the nomination. While I have said that I would vote for Rick Santorum, I am appalled at the “anything goes” assault on Gingrich.
Romney is not a conservative in the traditional sense, and he has a record of big-government Republicanism. Even many years after the success of the Reagan administration, he sought to distance himself from Reagan and the GOP, self-identifying as a progressive and independent. Thus, he resorts to spending multi-millions of dollars trashing his opponents, rather than providing thoughtful arguments on conservatism and constitutionalism. Lest we forget, it was Gingrich who was trying to run a positive campaign and who offered to debate Romney one-on-one, asking Romney to stop with the millions in unanswered ads attacking him. Romney declined. I have no doubt that Romney would do the same thing to Santorum if Santorum was rising in the polls, albeit on different issues.
I have said that Romney is in many ways Richard Nixon, and that Romney would not successfully lead efforts to repeal Obamacare but, in fact, would grow the federal government in many respects. Romney’s advisor, former senator Norm Coleman, has now said as much. That is Romney’s record. Despite having been a businessman, he was not a defender of free market capitalism while governor. Romneycare is, as Santorum pointed out, a top-down government health care system with an individual mandate that is breaking Massachusetts’ treasury and destroying private health insurance. It is a disaster. Romney also backed cap-and-trade and TARP (as did Gingrich).
My great fear is, however, that he is the weakest candidate who can face Obama and will go into the general election with a fractured base, thanks to his own character flaws, which are now on display, and his tactics of personal destruction. Moreover, while Romney can swamp his Republican opponents by 3 to 1 or more in every state with his spending advantage, Barack Obama will be raising more and spending more to beat him in the general election, meaning Romney’s financial advantage will be non-existent.
We better start paying a lot more attention to holding the House of Representatives and winning the Senate with a bunch of solid conservatives. I have spent a year on my radio show identifying and interviewing these candidates, and will continue to do so.
I’ve been struggling to come up with a good analogy. Perhaps this works. I’ve dealt with many businessmen who just can’t leave the last nickel on the table; they not only have to get a favorable deal, they have to get a deal which humiliates those on the other side of the transaction.
I don’t know if Mitt Romney was the type of businessman who could not leave the last nickel on the table. But that is the way he is running his campaign.
And we will all pay the price for it.