The year 2012 left this conservative Republican and New Orleans Saints fan with no shortage of grievances to air and individuals on whom I would enjoy performing feats of strength near a bridge railing.
But instead of citing a myrid of individuals and entities that have made 2012 feel like the apocalypse minus the big bang, I am going to focus on just one person, though I shall break down how this individual screwed up so badly in multiple parts.
If we are indeed entering into a new American era where the liberties that have been a staple of this country for the past 236 years are soon to be replaced with a managed society buffaloed by the latest crisis, our prospects of resisting this metamorphosis dimmed the day Willard Mitt Romney decided to make a second try for the presidency.
He was from that moment the GOP’s inevitable nominee and the inevitable loser in the general election.
And while I have penned numerous columns in 2012 explaining my reservations about Romney as a candidate, apparently those who run the party didn’t get the memo, thus necessitating the creation of definitive list cataloging why Romney should not have bothered and how he squandered what little chance he had to succeed.
And now his son Tagg claims in an interview that his father really didn’t want to run for president.
As the adage that those who do not heed history are doomed to repeat it was apparently lost on a Republican Party that decided to dare America to reelect President Obama by serving up a second consecutive weak moderate candidate this past November, the GOP is only one more awful nominee away from going the way of the Canadian political dodo better known as the Progessive Conservatives while the nation continues to drift into Western European fiscal oblivion.
1. RomneyCare: Romney should have scuttled his White House aspirations the day President Obama successfully pushed through his national health care legislation. Romney’s lack of credibility as a critic on the issue as the father of RomneyCare in Masschusetts meant we were sending a fighter into the ring with one of his gloves tied behind his back. A detailed discussion of what precisely ObamaCare does would have alarmed the public but because it too closely resembled RomneyCare, the second biggest issue in America was taken off the table.
2. 47%: Perhaps the biggest political gaffe since Rum, Romanism and Rebellion cost James Blaine the presidency in 1884, the former Massachusetts governor in that one moment confirmed the suspicions of folks who had already been bombarded with charged class warfare media by the Democrats.
3. An Untested Candidate: Romney had been elected to just one office prior to running for president: a fluke election as governor of Massachusetts in a good GOP year. That Romney didn’t bother seeking re-election is an indication how a second campaign would have worked out. Winning presidential primaries isn’t a substitute for the experience a candidate receives competing in general elections. Mistakes like the 47% comment happen to unseasoned candidates, which is what Romney was.
4. Massachusetts: Nominating a presidential candidate from a state he has no chance of carrying is almost never a good idea, thougn Richard Nixon doesn’t look as bad now for picking Henry Cabot Lodge as his running mate in 1960.
5. Michigan: Romney also didn’t carry his other homestate and barely escaped the party primary there.
6. New Hampshire: Another “home state” he didn’t carry.
7. California: Home of Romney’s now famous car elevator also went to Obama, making four “home states” and zero electoral votes.
8. The Worst Campaign Operation Ever: By now we’ve heard about the beached political whale called O.R.C.A., which was an expensive failure. How could such a talented CEO make so many poor decisions for his campaign, particularly when one aide kept botching his media message but was never jettisoned. Had his camapign been a business, it would have filed for Chapter 11 before November.
9. Etch-a-Sketch: I don’t know what’s worse: that a children’s toy would become a symbol for Romney’s multiple choice positions on polarizing issues or that someone on his own team would create that analogy. The episode made Romney look untrustworthy as a campaign staffer celebrated how the candidate was always a few shakes away from having a new philosophy.
10. Paul Ryan: In retrospect, Wisconsin was going to vote for Obama no matter whose name was on the lower-half of the yard sign. One of the most curious aspects of the campaign in late October was Ryan’s schedule, which had him spending time in Deep South states like South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Was this because Team Romney needed money or was this an attempt to exile the more conservative half of the GOP ticket? My gut says the latter. Though I respect Congressman Ryan, he didn’t really contribute much to the ticket. I don’t blame Paul Ryan for making his eponymous budget proposal an issue/liability; that blame goes to the man who selected him.
11. #ClearEyes,FullHearts: Anyone have any idea what this was supposed to mean? Romney’s camapaign slogan sounded more like an unpleasant medical condition than a mission statement. At the end of the day, it proved to be an appropriate symbol of the emptiness of the candidate and his campaign.
12. Embarrassment of Riches: Did Romney think he wasn’t going to have to release his finances and why did it take him so long to do so? Romney allowed his income taxes to distract from the campaign for too long and his foot dragging made it appear he was hiding something.
13. Bad Information, Worse Judgment Apparently nobody was more surprised that he wasn’t going to become the 45th president than Romney himself. The Republican candidate seemed to play soft in the last few weeks, obsessing more about not offending than winning. Romney went easy in the last two debates and refused to push Benghazi. Romney inexplicably chose to play it safe while he was behind by two scores.
14. Bringing a Pillow to a Gunfight After going nuclear against his more conservative Reublican rivals in the primaries, Romney went soft against Obama in the general election, confirming the fears of political observers who have seen this play out before. Romney showed reckless deference against a White House that wasn’t showing any mercy. One would swear Romney had a bigger problem with Rick Santorum than President Obama.
15. The Mascot of the 1% The first Occupy Wall Street protest was a tip that the Democrats were setting the stage for a campaign tinged with class warfare references and the GOP graciously accommodated them by picking Romney. Wealth should not be a disqualifier in politics but it was obvious from the start that Romney had trouble relating to the hoi polloi, hence his decision to let down his hair and his guard in an exclusive high dollar fundraiser.
16. London Olympics Criticism: Want to distract the media from the insult and resulting coverup the Obama Administration committed by returning a bust of Winston Churchill? Fly to London and muse aloud your concerns about whether a city governed by a conservative is prepared to host the games. That bit tainted what would have been a highly successful foreign excursion.
17. Ignoring the Democrats’ Gender Jihad: Those binders of women Romney talked about would have done him some good while refuting ridiculous accusations by the Democrats that a Romney Administration would be bad for women.
18. Soft Media Blackout: If Romney was interested in trying to win back some of the 47%, he could have done himself some good making time to appear on news/entertainment programs. The Daily Show would have been a good opportunity for Romney to reach out to young voters and while there is no doubt whom its host will be voting for, the idea is to use the program to reach out to viewers, not to convert Jon Stewart. Even Don Rumsfeld went on that program.
19. Letting the Opposition Define Him: Early voting has changed the way campaigns are developed and how resources are allocated. Romney’s camapign decided to save for late October instead of introducing himself to public in May or June, a task Team Obama was more than happy enough to do. By the time Romney made his splash, the mud hurled by Obama’s paid media had hardened making image repair that much more difficult. Though the votes are counted in November, perceptions form far earlier and Romney had too much trouble redrawing the caricature.
20. Opposition to the Auto Bailout: I’m not saying Romney was wrong on this matter but when he chose to be a prominent voice against the auto bailout, his chances of carrying Michigan and Ohio dropped significantly. Next to RomneyCare, I would have thought that fronting the opposition to the auto bailout was a sign that Romney was not going to run for president again.
21. His Heart Wasn’t in It: As mentioned at the start, Tagg Romney said in an interview with the Boston Globe that his father wasn’t really interested in running. At the risk of inviting Tagg to punch me, I have trouble believing him, especially since Romney looked like he wanted to win pretty bad while he was calling the father of the modern Republican Congress a disgrace.
It was Romney’s candidacy that chased out more credible alternatives from running, which is why the overall GOP field was so weak.
If however Tagg Romney’s claim that his father was indeed a reluctant candidate, then the former governor did his party and his country a big disservice by denying the nomination to a more enthusiastic candidate.