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Learning lessons from a failed campaign does not a circular firing squad make

Learning lessons from a failed campaign does not a circular firing squad make

Some amount of firing squad is needed in light of the loss this week of the presidential campaign.

Oddly enough, I’m not aiming at Mitt Romney himself. I agree with many commentators who say Romney emerged as a better candidate than expected, someone who came around to articulating a vision worthy of a Republican nominee. Romney grew during the campaign, and his first epic debate performance almost saved the campaign. I wish Mitt and Ann nothing but good.

I also acknowledge that every other potential candidate had issues at least as great as Romney if not greater, and it would be far too convenient to say that choosing Romney lost us the election … because it’s not clear which of the other declared candidates would have won.

That said, I’m taking aim at the establishment conservative media which sought to preempt the Republican electorate by ganging up on every challenger to rise against Romney during the primaries, most particularly Newt.  In doing so they not only defeated Newt, they missed or ignored fundamental flaws in Romney’s candidacy that eventually did him in.

There was a clear and inherent problem in the Romney candidacy.  Romney was a doomed candidate because of his background and persona.

Call it unfair if you must, but reality was reality, and that reality did not change even when blinded by hatred of Newt.

When I announced my support for Newt on November 16, 2011, I saw the problem:

A candidate has to have an intangible quality that leads people to want to get out and work, and vote, and fight like hell for the candidate. That is not enough to make one presidential (see, Obama), but it is a necessary component of general election victory which Romney does not possess….

Romney was who he was, and who he was never was an inspirational political leader who could drive even supporters to the polls.  In a business and personal context Romney inspired great loyalty, but that experience did not translate to politics.  You can change many things in a candidate, but you can’t create inspiration.

It is no coincidence that many of the headlines this week are about the McCain and Republican voters who did not show up last Tuesday.

There also were flaws in Romney’s approach of scorched earth tactics towards opponents, but not towards the media.  Newt recognized more than anyone that in order to win we had to take on the media, particularly the racial politics at the heart of the Democratic agenda:

Confronting the media was what drove Newt into the lead for a time being:

Yet confronting the media is what Romney avoided in the general election, and we paid the price.

Whether the completely dishonest and contrived “Binders” narrative or the absurd attack on Romney for Obama’s failure of leadership on Benghazi, we just took it from the media once again, and it hurt badly.

Romney’s inherent flaws were exacerbated by a supportive conservative media driven not by love of Romney but hate of Newt.  As Newt rose during the primaries by confronting the mainstream media, the conservative media rose in unison with the Romney SuperPAC to demonize Newt beyond imagination often based on old personal grudges.

Jennifer Rubin at WaPo lashed out multiple times daily with the most personal and vicious attacks.  Ann Coulter, having announced Romney a sure loser just months earlier, rose up to smite the Newt in kamikaze fashion.  Pin the Lobbyist Label on Newt became a parlor game at The Washington Examiner.

Just think how National Review’s Newt Martian Cover would have played in a general election.  Andrew McCarthy, to his credit, refused to partake:

For the Editors to single out Gingrich for this kind of raking — particularly when his accomplishments in government dwarf anything his rivals have managed to achieve — fails the test of judgment conservatives expect from National Review. The transcendent mission of our founder calls for explicating principled conservative arguments about the great issues of the day, not “winnowing” intra-GOP primaries….

The conservative media joined in Romney’s portrayal of Newt as Crazy, without any regard to the consequences if Newt ended up as nominee; those same people cried foul when Newt went after Romney on Bain, declaring the attacks practically treasonous because of how they might play out in the general election.

Yet it was on Bain and the narrative of the heartless businessman  that the Obama campaign did the most damage to Romney … just like Ted Kennedy did in 1994.  Newt was called socialist and assorted other names for raising the issue.  By conflating the defense of capitalism with the defense of Bain, we did ourselves irreparable harm.

So too the income tax return issue rose early in the process, but was shut down by a cacophony of conservative media as beyond inquiry.  It’s hard to tell how much damage Romney’s secrecy as to his income  taxes did in the general election, but it certainly didn’t help and was an easy lay-up for left-wing bloggers.

Yet none of these inherent Romney weaknesses were examined during the primaries.  Instead, we were fed a narrative of electability.  I wrote a series of posts in which I questioned the assumptions were were being told about Romney’s electability:

Voting Obama over Newt or staying home was an alternative, we were told. The closing of ranks took place with Romney as the nominee, including at Legal Insurrection. I’m doubtful it would have taken place with Newt, or Rick Perry, or Rick Santorum as the nominee.

David Limbaugh correctly summed up the reaction of the establishment conservative media (emphasis mine):

Ironically, many who’ve laid claim to sober, adult political analyses the past few years and have scolded others for their alleged harshness in attacking Obama are the very ones who have thrown caution overboard in their relentless, unmeasured scorched-earth savagery of Newt Gingrich.

Though recognizing his weaknesses, I prefer Newt Gingrich over Mitt, and Rick Santorum and maybe Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann over both. But without hesitation, I’ll vote for Romney should he get the nomination. Can the Romney supporters say the same about Newt?

Pointing out everything I have pointed out above is not a circular firing squad. It’s a lesson.

The lesson is not that we should have picked Newt.  He had his flaws, for sure, although it’s interesting to speculate as to what might have been, both good and bad.

But at least Newt had a sense of what was needed to win — inspiration and confronting left-wing narratives head on.

We picked an inherently flawed candidate pursuing a flawed approach, and excoriated every alternative. We did not trust our own electorate.

It’s a lesson I’m sure has not been learned.

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Comments

Matter of fact I just saw Rove point out Romney never recovered from were the negative ads that destroyed him as an option for would be voters. He called it a sort of “voter suppression” which it was to prevent Romney from turning the former Obama voters.
Lesson learned? If Republicans settle on a candidate with vulnerabilities (Bain) equally strong responses are in order.
I still recall…not that it matters now…some of us saying…Romney became the perfect “target” for Obama’s ideological attacks.
Rove aso pointed out while explaining where 9,000,000 million 2008 Obama voters went…Obama had no real choice but attack Romney’s character etc. Given he couldnt defend his own record.

Very good analysis. I said at the time that Newt knew what he was up against, because he already had been savaged by the hate media. I said at the time that Romney didn’t have a clue.

But Romney did better than I expected. I at first did not even plan to vote for him. (I had not voted for GWB or McCain.) I came around when he chose Paul Ryan, was disappointed but not surprised when he kept Ryan muzzled, and then became enthusiastic when Romney dared to bring up the corrupt crony capitalism of Dodd-Frank.

We should have had more of that kind of populism. I’ve been trying to convince Republican politicians of the need for it since at least 1988, with zero luck. But most Republicans were still oblivious as to the significance of what Mitt did with those remark this year.

    jimzinsocal in reply to Reticulator. | November 9, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Somethingelse occurred to me last night.
    The 12 missing voters this year compared to 2008.
    Im willing to bet money that explains the persistant difference we saw in polls/ the difference between “likely” voters v “registered” voters.
    It seems obvious a large portion of likely voters never made it to the voting booth.
    Ordinarily I may not point to that but considering the size of that 12 million, I have to assume so.

JimMtnViewCaUSA | November 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm

JOM has an interesting piece on Repub turnout. We’ll need to wait a bit to confirm that the turnout was disappointing.
http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2012/11/reports-of-republican-turnout-demise-are-premature.html

BannedbytheGuardian | November 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm

A slick political campaign /set up can win any election in any country. However they all have to face the governing bit after the victory.

At some point the bucket cannot be kicked down the road.

It is now Obama’s responsibility & for which he will be judged in history.

Mitt tried. Thats all he could do.

“We picked an inherently flawed candidate pursuing a flawed approach, and excoriated every alternative. We did not trust our own electorate.”

That seems contradictory, Prof. How…besides via the electorate…did Romney win the nomination?

And what about Newt…who I also supported…would have made him LESS vulnerable to attack on the same lying basis as the Obama Machine used here?

I agree he would have been MORE pugilistic. But would that have been reported any more than the MANY appearances and fine speeches by Romney and Ryan? I’ve read people here kvetching about how absent Romney was from the campaign, not understanding that his PRESENCE in the campaign was being essentially embargoed by the national press (and even the local press). Even people here didn’t get that because you don’t see something on the news, it does not mean it isn’t happening.

Could this be little more than “coulda, shoulda, woulda” as an indulgence?

    janitor in reply to Ragspierre. | November 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I don’t know about elsewhere, but since February 2008 when he dropped out of that race, Romney continued to campaign in Florida behind the scenes, everything from promises to power-broking and coalition-building to arm-twisting. He had the continued support from 2008 of the wealthy funders in Palm Beach and got the support of the overwhelmingly Republican powers-that-be in Florida government in Tallahassee (e.g. promised Atty Gen Pam Bondy that she would be health czar notwithstanding she has absolutely no qualifications for such a job). And more. I confess that I did not see him as a “nice guy”, although I did come around post-Ryan and given the alternatives (an anti-Obama vote, though.)

      CalMark in reply to janitor. | November 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      Romney is NOT a nice man.

      Nice men don’t tell Dem lies to score points in a GOP primary. Nice men (vs good men; two very different things: you can be both, but many are just one or the other) don’t go into Venture Capitalism, a very cut-throat business.

      Romney has the image of the decent, upright family man. That doesn’t make him one.

JimMtnViewCaUSA | November 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Just one data point.
I also came to respect Mitt. I think he would have made a great President and we are worse off for not having the use of his talents.
I have come to appreciate and value social conservatives. Not one myself but IMO the more Christians we have in this country the better. I like ’em, and I appreciate their “live and let live” attitude. As opposed to the Dem micro-control of every aspect of our lives (“for your own good”).
I don’t know any Repub who would stand against gay marriage enacted through the People….or would ban contraception. Maybe I don’t get out enough, but I don’t even know any social conservative who can’t live with the compromise of “abortion legal but not funded by taxes, and not imposed on the religious”, at least until we can come to a definitive consensus.
Yet. I have 2 daughters who informed me in no uncertain terms that these common-sense positions were not sufficient. They are for gay marriage and abortion; they bought into the whole War on Women. Perhaps it is the new version of “Repubs will shut down Soc Security” and will be wheeled out each election by the Dems?
Shocking and disheartening. But one conclusion I draw is that Repubs should make it a point to say “I stand against abortion” or “I would personally vote against gay marriage”, but ALSO VERY VOCALLY say “these issues need to be decided by the People and not imposed from above”.
A second issue (not raised by my daughters) which has been nagging me is the right’s position on defense and war. There is a war weariness. The wars have ground down families and the economy. Repubs are right to emphasize a strong America…but there has to be a better message that can be delivered on this topic. Basically supportive people mocked Romney’s position on spending for defense. Maybe we need a position like “We won’t go to war unless we intend to win it”. (Why in h*ll did we rebuild Mullah Omar’s mosque?) There is something sick about the “compassionate” warfare of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan where our guys are hobbled by rules of engagement and the enemy nibbles away for years.

    I’m with you, in San Diego, most especially on the first issue.

    I don’t know exactly where my teenage sons got their ideas of what Republican policies are, but they match those of your daughters. Much the same is also true of a good friend from Utah.

    The friend in Utah gets his news from NPR and Pacifica Radio. I suppose my boys got it from Reddit, the Jon Stewart show, or school.

    As for the war issue, Iran sent us a calling card Nov. 1. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to JimMtnViewCaUSA. | November 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Jim -you sound like a Californian.

    1- your daughters. Young women just think they are the antz pantz. It is like following the sad things on Sex in the City. They started out uber self sassy but ended up as manicured hags.

    Besides as Cool Luke will tell you here are much better pickings in the lady market in Asia & they look better much longer. And they can cook.

    2- the Wars /Military. Technology will require less ‘grunts ‘ so jobs will have to be found for them. But why join the military if you don’t want to fight wars?

    All in all Jim I lived in Ca (La Jolla ) during the good times. I find Californians tiring now with their hype hype hype. The best is in the past like that great Cali Republic bear.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to JimMtnViewCaUSA. | November 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    May I suggest that if you are still subsidizing such children you cut off all support.

    Voting for the younger generation has become too much like American Idol. They don’t see how it personally impacts anything except their self image as enlightened proponents of the media’s definition of civil rights.

      The 24th Amendment: One of the biggest con-jobs ever.

      Excuse/rationale: Jim Crow abuses of poll taxes prevented blacks from voting.
      True enough. But…
      Reality: LBJ’s planned welfare state required voters who were permanently on the dole, thus didn’t pay taxes, and who therefore shouldn’t be eligible to vote. Solution: 24th Amendment.

      Today’s kids are doctrinaire lefties. Easy to be, if you’ve never worked or paid taxes but just get to vote. Democrats have been benefiting from this monstrous mistake for a half-century now.

      TEXT
      Amendment 24 – Poll Tax Barred. Ratified 1/23/1964.
      1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
      2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    snopercod in reply to JimMtnViewCaUSA. | November 8, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Excellent post, Jim. On the issue of abortion, I personally think Steve Forbes had it right.

    I want to help make abortions disappear, where it’s just something that people don’t do unless it’s a real emergency. In a democracy, that can only happen if there’s a change of heart, a change of conscience. To move the issue forward, I would oppose abortions in late pregnancy, barring emergency. I’d oppose abortions for purposes of sex selection. I’d oppose mandatory government funding. I’d support parental notification. Beyond that, we have to persuade. We’ve got to do it one on one.

    I played golf with my usual foursome this morning. Two doctors and a retired teacher, liberal Democrats all. Been playing with them for years and there’s always been lighthearted political ribbing off & on, but rarely any substantive discussion as we’re just there to enjoy a round of golf. We’re good friends and enjoy playing together but the friendship is largely limited to our golf outings.

    This being the first post-election round, the inevitable came up. The conversation got around somehow to birth control, believe it or not, and I was stunned to learn that 2 of them believe, with absolute conviction, that Republicans, had Romney won, planned to ban birth control. Not just to ban use of taxpayer dollars to pay for it, but ban it altogether. That’s how good the left’s propaganda machine has been at disinformation and demonizing the opposition. Two highly educated men in their 60’s completely believe it, despite it being ludicrous on its face. I kept quizzing them if they really believed it – they were adamant that it was absolutely true. I asked for any specifics, a reference, a quote, a position paper or party platform language they could point me to to support that belief, but of course they couldn’t – they just knew, near as I can tell entirely on the basis of Republicans being ‘pro-life’. Never mind that even the poor among us have cell phones, flat screen TV’s, computers, cigarettes, liquor and cars, asking any female to pay for her own birth control is beyond the pale. Asking Georgetown law students to fork over a co-payment for their own birth control is beyond the pale.

    They were also absolutely convinced that had Romney won, Republicans would have shut down Planned Parenthood, not just withheld tax dollars from it. We have to have free birth control to keep 13 year old Philly ghetto girls from getting pregnant. Failing that, we have to have taxpayer funded abortions to keep them from adding to the welfare rolls. This apparently is their idea of compassion.

    I was just dumbfounded by the whole conversation. All I could say was OMG.

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Daiwa. | November 9, 2012 at 3:34 am

      Now that you know they are stupid racist dirty old men – get out ta there.

      Life is too short for that sort of stress.

Conservatives stayed home because we discerned that Romney was/is: Non-confrontational with the media a la did not refuse the debate because the monitors were known progressive shills, did not throw Libya in Obummer’s face,

The principles I want in a conservative Presidential candidate
are:
1. Believes that America is exceptional and doesn’t apologize to anybody for being the country everybody wants to immigrate to.
2. Recognizes the criminals are in charge of our financial system, in collusion with lawyers and expands the financial fraud section of the Justice department and RICO’s the banksters and their ho politicians, past and present.
3. Recognizes that spending must be cut. Eliminate base line budgeting, cut all federal past and present salaries and benefits to the median of the USA.
4. Eliminate the Departments of Energy, Education, EPA, Labor, Interior, and Agriculture and all federal unions, no union to work for the govt. Unions and their leaders have proven themselves to be criminals.
5. Eliminate the racist practice of Affirmative Action and terminate the Justice Dept Civil Rights section.
6. Send the Mississippi National Guard to the UN, arrest everybody in the building, confiscate all the keys and UN credit cards, and deport all non-Americans, that day. Interview all Americans for knowledge of fraud, theft, treason and let the ones go that are found to be petty criminals.Close all embassies and military bases overseas and cease all foreign aid. Eliminate all immigration, legal and illegal for 5 years, bring back the green card for guest workers, mandate use of the electronic SS no. check for all benefits of tax money and mandate it only go to citizens.
7. Call out Global Warming for what it is, a hoax and claw back/RICO for all subsidies to all people and countries that participated in the theft from the taxes of the American people.
8. Make concealed carry of a firearm the law of the land.
9. Call a constitutional convention to re-make the Supreme Court into a LEGAL institution instead of a IDEOLOGICAL whorehouse.
10. Deport all Muslims. This religion believes that one either converts to Islam or is put to death. There are no moderates who belong to this faith.
11. Initiate a flat tax on all income, onshore, offshore, corporate, Hollywood, foundations, trusts, estates, non-profits and churches.

Romney is SAMEO SAMEO like McCain, Dole, all three Bushes. RINO’s to the CORE. I want an AMERICAN to LEAD the COUNTRY.

    Valerie in reply to Tortuga. | November 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks so much for the caricature that even goes beyond the ads of the Obama campaign.

      Tortuga in reply to Valerie. | November 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Either get junk yard dog mean or shut up and stay home for all the good being a “nice guy” does.

        jdkchem in reply to Tortuga. | November 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm

        Damn straight! What people like Valerie don’t get is that the libs are puss-cakes through and through. They talk a good fight but when you bloody their noses they squeal like chrissy mathews and run for mommy.

        If you ain’t coming to fight stay the hell in the kitchen.

    raven in reply to Tortuga. | November 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Why Mississippi National Guard?

    liesel409 in reply to Tortuga. | November 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    So you decided it was so much better to have President Obama for another 4 years because Governor Romney didn’t fit your personal list to perfection? Wow! Way to fall for the liberal spin and fail your country.

      Tortuga in reply to liesel409. | November 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm

      No, I decided to walk door to door, vote early, call 10 others to vote, put up yard signs and vote a straight Republican ticket. IMO, progressives are the party of death for advocating, not just supporting but advocating partial birth abortion.

        liesel409 in reply to Tortuga. | November 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        Tortuga, the “you” in my post was directed to the “we” in your post. Thank you for your efforts to prevent a continuing Obama administration.

    Ragspierre in reply to Tortuga. | November 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    While I like most all of what you want…

    Santa ain’t in the political game.

    Is there a an Army unit that has not served in our wars?

2016 the so-called “Conservative” hacks will be after Palin using tropes fostered by the Commies to bring her down. They won’t touch the Democrat, just like they didn’t touch Obama.

Objectively speaking, Obama couldn’t win. 23 Million unemployed, 7.9% unemployment, less than 2% GDP growth three years after the “Summer of Recovery” and a Right track/Wrong track way on the wrong side should have meant it would have been a cake walk for whoever was the Republican.

And yet, he lost.

The clear answer has to be that he was demonized early and often, and at the same time unfairly as well. Starting in May, Obama was running negative ads on Romney using the Bain Capital lack of concern for poor dieing wives, etc. All untrue, but all uncountered and especially effective with the low information voters who thought that Romney was going to end abortion, and that he didn’t care for them. In fact, I think one of the reasons that Romney’s popularity jumped so far after the first debate was that people finally got to see the real Mitt instead of the characature that Team Obama had been running.

So the lesson to be learned is clear: Attack, attack, attack. And also, attack the press. The Democratic lap dogs are fair game. They need to be treated with the disdain they so richly deserve and belittle them as a side benefit.

Unfortunately, we are a nation in search of bread and circuses. We need to entertain more than inspire. And Obama is proof that inspiration does not work.

    Tortuga in reply to Steve in MT. | November 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Obummer just took all the negativity on Romney highlighted by his primary opponents and ran with it. There’s got to be a better way?

    janitor in reply to Steve in MT. | November 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    What gets to me are the constant refrains in the liberal media about how the Republicans ran negative campaigns with so many lies, whereas the Democrats didn’t. It’s Twilight Zone.

    jdkchem in reply to Steve in MT. | November 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Never underestimate the power of free shit.

    Voyager in reply to Steve in MT. | November 9, 2012 at 12:32 am

    If you take a look at the poll results, Romney won Independents. Obama just got more Democrats to the polls that we got Republicans out, buy a very wide margin.

    The “honey boo-boo” vote was over-rated. Low information, no opinion voters are that way because they don’t care about any of it, and because they don’t care about it, they do not vote.

    I believe that is used to be that non-aligned voters voted largely out of a sense of civic duty, rather than out of any enthusiasm for a particular candidate. In that sort of an environment, they can represent a large enough portion of the electorate to be decisive in any given election, and taking the center becomes critical to a successful campaign.

    Romney’s campaign was predicated on that being the voter environment, and had that been the environment we were in, Mitt would have won. We were wrong about that, and so we lost.

    What the Obama campaign showed is that we are now in an extremist mode, where the center is no longer valuable, and victory is determined by whichever side turns out the most of their partisans.

    We must adapt.

We had all the right people but found ourselves in a no-holds barred culture war with relativism. Conservatism is based on absolutes.

We’ve been on the slippery slope for a while now. The fiscal cliff is only one of the many dangers ahead.

Obama tapped into the shared cultural relativism with his “fair share” baloney, his “evolution” on gay marriage and his “you didn’t build that” dismissive language. Obama is Relativism Incarnate.

We need to get back to our Absolutes, do or die.

Great analysis and read. I, too, think we need someone with a record of conservatism AND the persona to explain it well to the American people AND the fight to push back at media narrative without looking like a whining sadsack. I’m not sure Newt filled the bill on all of that, and as you say, this isn’t a “we shoulda” post. But it is food for thought for next time, when historically we have a better chance of the executive branch switching parties.

I’m still a little numb from Tuesday and don’t have a clue who that person might be. But I am already hearing unsettling suggestions like Christie or Jeb Bush. The last thing I will do is support another not-quite-a-conservative. I know where that leads.

“Yet confronting the media is what Romney avoided in the general election, and we paid the price.”

There you go. And all good points. I’d been saying pretty much the same thing about Mitt Romney since 2008. He never had a clue how to take on the Left or the media. He didn’t have it in the 1990s and he didn’t in 2012. In fact, it is probably a psychological impossibility for any RINO to acquire it — doing so would mean a reshaping of political identity and terms of existence and they would no longer be RINOs. How many times does that happen?

Every candidate has vulnerabilities. Romney probably had the fewest of all. It doesn’t matter. The media will turn ours into horrors. It’s whether you define yourself and take the fight to them, or vice versa. There seems to be a deep even genetic incomprehension of this among RINOs. And so evil keeps winning.

I don’t have the Professor’s antebellum charity toward Romney. Romney lost a winnable campaign with incalculable consequences for his Party and country.

Romney should have answered unfounded attacks immediately and powerfully, and counter-attacked. Gone out himself and sent his surrogates to all the TV shows that evening or the next day. Nailed Obama for “You didn’t build that,” and other stuff.

One last thing: Tea Parties won a lot of votes opposing Obamacare in 2010. Romney couldn’t do much with Obamacare because…well…he invented it.

    Ragspierre in reply to CalMark. | November 8, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Romney couldn’t do much with Obamacare because…well…he invented it.

    Bullsh!t. He pledged to stop it.

    And either you haven’t been paying attention, or you are untruthful.

    What I wonder about is how Obama got more than 20% of the vote, and you cannot blame Romney…or anybody else but Obama…for that.

      snopercod in reply to Ragspierre. | November 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      I think most of us are smart enough to understand that a president can’t repeal an act of congress with a stoke of his pen. Sure, Romney promised to allow states to opt out, but that would do exactly nothing to stop the 16,000 IRS agents, death panels, taxes, taxes, taxes, etc., etc.

      CalMark in reply to Ragspierre. | November 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Whoa, there!

      I’m not denying that Romney pledged to repeal it. (Although if elected, I suspect he might have become “flexible” in his definition of “repeal.” Don’t get mad! Just going by the man’s history.) He couldn’t hammer and hammer and hammer Obamcare into the ground like every one of our other candidates could have, because Romney instituted government-run health care in MA.

      Romneycare WAS the model for Obamacare. Parse and deny with all the technicalities you like, but in the end, Romney’s advisers visited Obama several times during the Obamacare battle.

Was saying the same this a.m. re vigilance in counterpunching the media and not allowing them to define the candidate/establish false narratives. Highlight of the entire election cyle imo was Newt bringing the hammer down on moderators in the debates.
Bottom line, GOP doesn’t play smashmouth ball, the Dems & their media do – w/rolls of quarters in their fists. Straight to the gutter on Romney – “felon”, “tax criminal”, “cold-blooded killer” – repeating the lies often enough.
GOP counters with “President Obama tried his best…”, then Chris Christie brings the swooning manlove. Oof.
Should have got all over BAIPA and Barry’s indefensible stance. R actually lost the Catholic vote to this psychotic. Let him skate on Benghazi, F&F…

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to hglaske. | November 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    The numbers I saw said Romney did better than McCain among white Catholics. Also some white Catholics stayed home. Hispanic Catholics are another story. It’s a problem that goes beyond politics. Mexicans in particular are not well educated in their faith because of the anti-clerical laws that were in effect from around 1920-1990.

    Among white Catholics I was properly catechized before everything fell apart in the late 60s. Then there is a long gap before it was set right again. Many under 30 Catholics impress me. They see themselves as a counter cultural revolution.

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | November 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      Mexican cathlicism is a hybrid of native & Conquistidor.. Definitely not Vatican orientated.

      They have celebratory days that are simply bizarre . Currently a Death Cult is taking over the traditional graveyards. Dead gang members have 17′ high edifices built to their macabre glory.

      They would be all for their enemy (Gringos & blacks ) aborting.

      They will think nothing of exterminating blacks . Gringos they need to steal from.

        I’m a Catholic of Mexican descent and I grew up with a picture of Pope John Paul II in our living room.

        There are those who practice, I would say, demonic worship of a figure called Santa Muerte. If you google it you’ll see a strange picture of what it is. To me its a mockery of the Virgin, a skeleton in a blue robe who gives you what you want if you appease it. Many drug cartels practice this worship.

        Catholics do follow the Vatican and sadly many do practice this strange idolatry, which explains the beheadings by the drug cartels in Mexico.

        Fast and Furious hit in areas where I have family. This story needs to be told and spread through Telemundo, Univision, etc. I have a plan to get that going.

      Well, I am a white Catholic, and I voted for Romney, but only because Ron Paul wasn’t running. To me Romney works and answers to exactly the same people as Obama. I only voted for Romney because it made no sense finding another third party candidate. Romney is an American citizen, but apparently Obama isn’t. I went to Obama’s website and pulled down his PDF. I am a computer expert through and through. The certificate of live birth had 9 images, but it should of only had one. It also had a number of crude edits. In other words, no one even tried to put up a good document. It is as fake as a $3 bill. Obama has similar issue with other documents. Romney never brought up any of these issues. Romney probably voted for Obama.

Thank you for this post.
As a Massachusetts voter who has followed Mr. Romney’s political career over the years, I was amazed that the GOP would reach into this very blue state to make the author of Romneycare who has a history of changed positions on important issues its standard bearer.
Like you, I came to view Mr. Romney as a much better candidate than I had expected and I believe him to be a very good man in his personal life.
Still,to this day, I remain unsure of his core political philosophy if indeed he has one and I found the attacks on his primary opponents particularly Mr.Gingrich both vicious and untrue and Mr.Romney’s insistence that he had no ability to curtail them completely specious.
I overcame my own doubts about Mr. Romney because I saw a second Obama term as extremely dangerous though I remained uncomfortable with the candidate’s lack of outreach to conservatives. And I changed my own registration from Republican to Unenrolled because I could not stomach my state’s and the national GOP’s refusal to seat duly elected delegates to the Convention because they had supported Ron Paul. Nor was I satisfied with a party that expected me to resolve my doubts to vote for their Presidential candidate but refused to support Senatorial candidates who reflected the party’s own platform but made stupid mistakes in stating their positions.
As George H. W. Bush learned a while ago, the ” vision thing” is extremely important and whatever his faults Mr. Gingrich has vision. I don’t know who might have been a better candidate but I do believe the insistence that it be Mr.Romney this year despite serious problems with his candidacy was mistaken.
I too wish the Romneys well but I am bitterly disappointed in the election results and in the Republican party. This was a very important election in which Mr.Romney was actually better than his campaign and it was an awful one to lose. We should learn the right lessons from it.
Thank you also for all your excellent coverage of Elizabeth Warren. Her election is a particularly hard pill to swallow. I live in a sad, sad state.

NC Mountain Girl | November 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm

The first big mistake was not going after Obama’s barrage of negative ads earlier. Part of it was a legal problem that won’t happen in 2016. Romney had spent near the limit on the primary while Obama was unopposed. Obama timed his ads for when Romney couldn’t place counter ads. Someone like Newt would have been able to go after them anyway in the press but Romney didn’t.

The second big mistake came at the end. Romney should have repeated what Obama did in 2008 and buy an informercial on all the networks for the last weekend. I do think Romney had the big mo until Sandy. The need many voters have for Obama to succeed was badly underestimated. I have met people who don’t like many of Obama’s policies but think it is important he succeed for symbolic reasons of race. They naively assume anything Obama does they dislike can easily be undone when he is gone. I am no longer communicating with one such person because she said I had a duty to support Obama’s policies so he could succeed because it was God’s will. Sandy allowed Obama to be what such people wanted him to be -presidential, competent, bi-partisan. They ate it up with a spoon. A positive ad barrage the last weekend sealed the deal.

    After Romney did it to Gingrich, he put himself in an untenable pot-kettle position. Perhaps that is why he then attempted to play high road versus Obama. (Which didn’t work versus Romney for Gingrich.)

The problem is not the conservative media. The problem is lazy Americans who outsource their thinking to the media in general. Lazy conservatives pay attention to conservative media rather than doing their own homework. Liberals pay attention to liberal media rather than doing their own homework.

The question is: how do you solve the laziness that prompts going to the media for outsourced opinions?

    No, conservative Media is a big part of the problem. Brian Kilmede of Fox & Friends went around bashing every single other Rep but Romney during the primaries while never examining Romney.

    Anyone who pretends to be on our side and took seriously, for example, the Rick Perry leased a ranch that had graffiti on a rock story…. As evidence of racism… That person is at best a concern troll.

[…] in any crisis, any disastrous storm, any loss of a parent or a child, it is important not to make rash decisions or give in to anger and despair (or form circular firing squads…. It is important to get rest, to eat well. It’s time to take out that vacuum cleaner and […]

Everyone needs to read Sean Trende’s article and then go read it again.

Evangelical White’s F’ed us. Straight up. First Rape Akin in Missouri and then Rape Mourdock and then this.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to [email protected]. | November 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    The white evangelicals turned out in numbers and voted for a Mormon. Did all the Ron Paul supporters? Or are too many of them still stuck in their Utopian fantasy that if things get really, really bad the voters will finally embrace them? I can’t tell you how many I have met on the libertarian right over the years who hold that idea.

    Paul Ryan is strongly Pro-Life. So is Newt. They also know how to cope with gotcha questions on rape. Murdoch didn’t. Akin was an aberration a congressman from a heavily gerrymandered district who was never going to be ready for prime time. He won a multi candidate race in a no-run off state. If you want to stop that, make sure every state allows a run off is a target percentage isn’t met. 40% seems to work for us.

    Maybe Newt need to start a school for Senate candidates.

    1. I agree about Akin and Mourdock, and IMO our host goes too easy on Mourdock.

    2. However, the Trende article says this:

    So who were these whites and why did they stay home? My first instinct was that they might be conservative evangelicals turned off by Romney’s Mormonism or moderate past. But the decline didn’t seem to be concentrated in Southern states with high evangelical populations.

    So instead, I looked at my current home state of Ohio, which has counted almost all of its votes (absentees are counted first here).

    I don’t see how a conclusion about evangelicals can be drawn from Trende’s article.

    3. Fwiw, this is the first election I can remember in which I had to drag myself to the polls. I despise Obama, I loathe Warren, and yet…

    Melody Warbington in reply to [email protected]. | November 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Romney won handily in the Bible belt states of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. We did our part and more as I know more than a few folks who spent their time and energy in swing states working to GOTV.

    There may be some evangelicals who stayed home for whatever reason. The same can be said of any group. Libertarians, for example, did their part to defeat Mia Love and Vernon Parker in those races. Had the L votes in Montana gone for the R, we’ have that senate seat. These numbers don’t lie, and Trende offers no such evidence with regard to evangelicals in his hit piece.

myohmymanatee | November 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Mitt was right. No way to convinced 47%+ of the people who are on government dole to give it up and be productive. Mitt has presented himself well during the campaign. Unfortunately he lost, now all of us has to swallow a bigger and bitter pill to fund our bloated government social engineering programs.

1. I’m not ready to condemn Romney and I’m not ready to absolve him. Let all the votes be counted first, and let the wonks and geeks go over them.

2. However, I am one of the few people who had reservations about Romney and Palin for the same reason: the lack of a second term demonstrating an endorsement by the candidate’s constituents. Purely as a MA resident, I was not a happy camper when Romney decided not to run for reelection.

3. My head said the odds were against Romney but not prohibitively so. My gut said he would beat the odds—but be a one-term President.

4.

A candidate has to have an intangible quality that leads people to want to get out and work, and vote, and fight like hell for the candidate. That is not enough to make one presidential (see, Obama), but it is a necessary component of general election victory which Romney does not possess….

Unless a cheerful cutthroat like Lee Atwater runs the campaign, which was not the case for Romney.

5. You’re right, too many conservative pundits were not helpful. (The day before the election, I felt foreboding when Peggy Noonan and Larry Kudlow predicted victory.) I probably wouldn’t have realized the extent of the problem without your calling attention to it.

Too many conservative pundits are trying to be acceptable to the Left. Too many are trying to have a dual career as shock jocks.

6. You’re also correct that Newt alone recognized the strategic situation wrt the MSM. Romney went too easy on Obama and on the MSM.

7. We’re gaining insights but, to return to my #1, it’s premature to draw conclusions.

I will be the first to admit there were a few times I deeply regretted not having Newt’s masterful ability to confront narratives at hand this election. I believed Romney was the best candidate overall, but it was a weak field. Not many career politicians want to take on an incumbent let alone one who managed to make mincemeat of the Clintons.

Still there were good reasons Newt rose above the pack as a serious contender. We’ve allowed the left and their media lapdogs to define everyone on the right not just our candidates. We don’t help ourselves by attacking one of the best we have to influence a primary.

That said, I am not sorry I supported Mitt from the beginning. I have a hard time imagining anyone on our side surviving a billion dollar smear campaign. Mitt came close but close is not enough. The left is miles ahead on campaign strategy. We have a lot of campaign operatives who seem way more interested in ending up on “Morning Joe” than winning races. There is lots that needs to be fixed before the next election. It is a good thing to sort it all now without wounding our serious warriors in the process.

How can an electorate make informed choices in the voting booth when they are denied easy access to mass media which produces un-editorialized facts in context? Which candidate could beat the consequences of the MSM’s dereliction of duty to inform? The reality is, though the information is out there, not everyone has the time or will make the time to get it. That’s what we need to change. And, I don’t know how that will be accomplished in an electorate hooked on nanosecond clicks and which believes and expects to get everything they need to know in a tweet or a text message. I don’t really care where MSM ends up in its editorials and opinion pieces as long as they report the facts in context and let people think through them rather than telling them what to think. Right now it feels like an insurmountable task.

Professor: I’ve read a number of post-mortems today, and that was absolutely the best of the lot. Thank you.

FWIW,I stopped by my County Board of Elections this morning and chatted with the director for a while. She told me that turnout was only 69% this year vs. 73% in 2008. She also assured me that people voting “straight party” and then forgetting to cast a vote for president wasn’t a factor like I had suspected on another thread.

The most interesting answer was to my question, “Why doesn’t voting straight party ticket cast a vote for president?” She said that since only ten states in America allow “straight party” voting in presidential elections, the feds decreed that it “wouldn’t be fair” to let some states vote straight party and others not. I don’t understand the logic there, but it’s a federal requirement.

The result was baked into the cake.

Starting with the primary season. Allowing the MSM so much control was a serious error, it alienated the base and left us with the most squishy candidate, whose single greatest ability seemed to be attacking members of his own party. That he wasn’t quite so adept at, or willing to attack the opposition party or the whole damn entrenched ruling class is somehow seen as unfortunate but unintentional.

As if.

Instead, maybe next time the primaries could be designed as a competition to see who is best at demolishing the shibboleths of the left/MSM and/or making the case for actual limited government?

Raquel Pinkbullet | November 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I SAID that Romney lost because he didn’t appeal to blue collar working class whites. 3 million people stayed home. Romney was the perfect caricture for Obama’s class warfare soak the rich campaign. Blue collar whites who hated Obama were lukewarm at best for Romney because he didn’t relate to them. Because he came across as the caricture Obama painted the rich 1%.

Not exactly a good idea to run a guy who made his money on Wall street, in a cycle like this. As I said perception matters. And this has nothing to do with his conservatism.

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Good points, although Newt was fatally flawed, having been a big government proponent since he was thrown out of the GOP,essentially, as Speaker of the House.

Like Rush says, can’t beat Santa Claus. We are now past the point of no return. Obama and the democrats have crafted a permanent voting block of wards of the state,whose lives will be paid for by us milk cows. However, their demands will increase exponentially. We don’t have time to change the culture, etc. The debt bomb will explode. Only a matter of when. I fully expect the next move will be to nationalize the 10-15 trillion dollars in private retirement pension savings from “The rich”.

This is also why GOP big guns and the Conservative media along with their “enemies of their enemy are their friends” Liberals saw to it that Sarah Palin was taken out as a contender. The sheer radiant energy of Sarah’s persona compared to Romney’s was like the Sun positioned directly behind Mercury. He would have never stood a chance in the Primary.

Like you, Professor, I backed Newt. It wasn’t the most popular position but I had good reasons for doing so in Sarah’s absence.

Romney’s nomination was engineered from the beginning and it died on the operating table. Your post-mortum shows why it died.

Midwest Rhino | November 9, 2012 at 6:28 am

So a big element in defeating Gingrich was not just attacks, but dishonest attacks, and with media backing. The long knives came out for Newt, and Romney was not above dishonest attacks. He had big name backing though, and media seemed intent on attacking all Republicans, though hit Newt on his marriages.

But Democrats embrace the big lies as campaign strategy, and the media legitimizes the lie. Big media may get a little bad rap for naked partisanship, but mostly they still control the message. And that message is one lie after another to cover for Obama.

Woodward was on with Hannity trying to claim there wasn’t media bias, citing WaPo giving Pinocchios, and a few probing articles. But that was hardly enough to make up for all the network bias. Obama essentially copped to dishonest ads, saying it was OK because this election is so important.

As examples above have shown, smart people that aren’t active on a conservative or even moderate political blog just never find out the truth. Smart Facebook friends of mine, when they made their one or two political stance posts, joked about the binders, or linked to Streisand’s scripted statement as so reasonable, or attack Faux news as pure propaganda.

Then past the lies with complicit media cover, there are the billions of tax dollars unions have to spend on GOTV. They go out and drag people in, fully funded unions essentially buying votes. Billions of tax dollars to unions, quid pro quo for campaign efforts.

Before refining the conservative message, we have to figure out how to overcome the huge propaganda war, where the Democrats have complete dominance. The have the media and Hollywood and most of education. They promise free stuff and are willing to lie about almost everything. To Obama, good campaigning is purely telling big bold faced lies, with a big smile, and trashing the opponent as the evil liar.

Look I know I’m late to the party but you’re missing the real point. If you rob Peter to pay Paul you can count on the support of Paul. When the gov’t turns everyone into a dependent they can count on them for support. Romney wasn’t perfect, nobody is, but Obama’s support comes from the Blue colition of gov’t dependents and social liberals who want the gov’t to do their will. And as the economy continues to stagnate count on more people relying on the gov’t for access to OPM. It is what it is.

How about what we did right and probably would have won IF we did it better?????

9 million fewer people voted for Obama in 2012 than in 2008. Was our message causing normal hard core Democrat voters to take a 3rd option in the election, i.e. not vote?

If this was a big part of that reason for not voting then we should seriously consider refining that tactic for hard core Democrats. Hard core types will never vote Republican so they need to believe they have a 3rd choice instead of the false dichotomy of R vs D. Not voting for a crappy candidate of your party is a valid choice IF you can’t hold your nose tight enough to vote the other side.

What part of that 9 million less was the numerous State enforcement of voter ID laws in this election? Clearly no effect in Philadelphia and parts of Colorado where there are more voters than adults when such laws are not enforced.

We need to give props to Romney for running a good campaign, it was very professional but not good enough to win. We need to refine our tactics to counter demonstrable false campaign videos. I personally felt we did poorly in that area. FYI – given that Obama didn’t have a record to run upon, all he could do was lie so quite frankly the GOP leadership failed in anticipating that kind of campaign and thus failed to have a good counter strategy. When Joe Biden serially lies, there comes a point that debating such a person is pointless in the conventional sense requiring a NEW counter tactic…

Between 2 and 3 million fewer votes were cast for Romney in 2012 than McDumb in 2008. Why? Answer that question and come up with a strategy and you will win in 2014 & 2016. There is no need to compromise our principles otherwise we should simply fold the GOP and let one party rule run the US.

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