Clear eyes. Full hearts.
They sound symptoms of an unpleasant medical condition and I have no idea what they mean or what message they were intended to convey, yet those were the words Mitt Romney’s campaign used to define the candidate in his web banner advertisements and hashtagged tweets.
Back to this later.
Life is not unfair and it’s far less so if you’re a Republican running for president.
Academia is against you. The entertainment industry is against you. Popular culture is not just against you but adds insult to injury by calling you a bitch (credit Hip Hop’s leading thug and its first lady). The media is in full jihad against you. Hell, even the weather worked against you.
And with the exception of the latter, that kind of widespread opposition is what you should not only expect but have a plan of fighting when you run for the presidency as a Republican.
I have no doubt that Romney would have made a fine president and I share Ann Coulter’s post-election lament that it is a shame that America will never have the benefit of someone of his character, unique skill set and ability in the Oval Office.
In some ways Romney seemed made for the job, particularly at this time.
Romney looked and sounded like a president and his background in finance and business prepared him perhaps better than anyone for solving America’s economic and fiscal problems.
I wasn’t a Romney supporter throughout the primaries but campaigned for him in three states in the general election. I believed that Romney was not just better than the incumbent but the ideal man for the job.
Unfortunately Romney was not the ideal candidate for the time and he should not have sought the presidency in 2012.
Republicans rightfully mocked Al Gore in 2000 for losing his homestate of Tennessee and thus the presidency only for the GOP to embrace in 2012 a candidate who lost all three of his homestates (Massachusetts, Michigan and New Hampshire). Richard Nixon’s selection of Henry Cabot Lodge as his running mate in 1960 looks only slightly more reasonable compared to the Republican Party’s nomination of someone for the presidency who reeled in no electoral votes.
When Romney penned his editorial in November 2008 that was titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”, I assumed he had abandoned his presidential ambitions as I knew that column would haunt him in perpetuity.
While the concept of drastic government intervention in a sector of the American economy would be considered distasteful for conservative economists, I knew a bailout would be popular for those connected with the automotive industry in politically key states like Ohio and Michigan and with the public in general. Unlike banking, the hoi polloi view working an assembly line to be honest work.
Now Romney did not want the plants to close down and jobs lost but I knew that was precisely how Democrat spinners would portray his write up.
The Occupy Wall Street 99%ers laid out the foundation for President Obama’s class warfare campaign while the GOP supplied the perfect “villain” by nominating the mascot of the 1%.
And then there was ObamNeyCare.
The enactment of President Obama’s national healthcare legislation should have disqualified Romney from being a candidate, especially after the 2010 midterm congressional elections were powered by a backlash against ObamaCare.
Instead the only Republican candidate who could not credibly argue its sins and future burdens on the American public was nominated. The absurdity of Romney’s nomination was clear at the 2011 CPAC when he did not mention ObamaCare once in his prepared remarks for obvious reasons.
The uncle of ObamaCare was anointed to challenge its father.
Not being able to attack the president on his signature achievement was like trying to box Muhammad Ali with one hand tied behind your back. Losing on points as opposed to a knockout did not remove the sting or the consequences of the loss.
Pundits who pushed for Romney’s nomination will pin the blame on the 2012 presidential election on the media, the TEA Party, early voting, an out of season hurricane, rhetorically reckless GOP senate candidates, bear hugs from Chris Christie, shifting national demographics or the primary calendar.
That’s their out(s) and Romney’s. And worse yet they will say that we lost because a faux conservative candidate pretended to be a conservative too much. And we dare say liberals are crazy for trying to spend their way out of deficits?
The GOP went into a tough election against a well-funded, extremely skilled campaigner who lacked the handicap of shame and conscience and possessed all of the advantages of the presidency plus influential allies across American society with a candidate we had no business nominating.
In sports gambling parlance, we were underdogs giving points to the favorite.
Not that Romney’s rivals were improvements.
Women hated Newt Gingrich. Rick Perry’s primary debate meltdown was an inevitability. Michele Bachmann should have never bothered. Rick Santorum was a crapshoot at best: he could have been another Goldwater disaster or with good message discipline could have pulled it off.
That Santorum was the best alternative speaks volumes about the field.
The best hope of the announced candidates was Tim Pawlenty, who was ironically enough the first to fall in an election that counted for nothing (2011 Iowa Straw Poll).
The real disservice committed by Romney was scaring off better options. Had Romney passed, a better crop of candidates would jumped in the race. But by running, Romney sucked out all of the political oxygen (media attention and money) thus he drew only fringe rivals plus a hapless Perry.
Up until Hurricane Sandy, Romney was going to win despite all of the convenient excuses offered now to deflect blame.
But the Romney operation was a mess from the start and never got better.
Political incompetence (etch-a-sketch, it’s a penalty-not-a-tax) was preserved not demoted. Republican activists in opposite ends of Ohio shared stories of gross disorganization. The campaign operation I personally witnessed in Milwaukee and Denver did not inspire me.
I bet Romney never ran a business as poorly as he did this campaign.
Romney’s intra-party critics labeled him “Tom Dewey” in the primaries. Dewey, an inoffensive moderate New York governor, was supposed to win in 1948 but found a way to lose with the Chicago Tribune getting the memo late.
And so Romney proved his January critics right in November.
And the slogan?
Clear eyes and full hearts means second place.