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Romney’s Bad, But His Base Is Worse

To pin recent stumbles on Stevens would be to overlook Romney’s role in all this. As the man atop the enterprise – in effect, the CEO of a $1 billion start-up – Romney ultimately bears responsibility for the decisions he personally oversaw, such as the muffling of running mate Paul Ryan’s strict budget message and his own convention performance. – Inside the campaign: How Mitt Romney stumbled

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM with the fascinating article on Politico by Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei is the real answer to the title’s question. How did Mitt Romney stumble? Any Republican trying to win approval of the fever swamp base of the GOP is bound to have problems once he or she turns to the general election, because how they presented themselves in the primary isn’t going to win against Barack Obama. The next issue is that any candidate willing to turn himself into the right-wing hero of his base is likely not worth much in the end, because he or she does’t have a compass and just wants the power of the presidency.

Hey, but let’s blame Stewart Stevens and the consultant class. It’s easy to do, because for the most part they’re awful. When the candidate won’t take responsibility or control is where the problems begin.

Let’s also remember the same right-wing base who whipsawed from Newt Gingrich to Rick Santorum, with Herman Cain in the middle, finally settled on Mitt Romney, because he was the only one with the money and campaign infrastructure to outlast the flavors of the month.

Everyone who has ever been in a losing campaign can find someone inside that campaign to blame. They can find reasons for the loss, too, that comfort them.

But take a look at the campaign to date. Just look at very recent history, say, the summer of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy trip. Look at the convention after that.

The reason Mitt Romney is losing is because of Mitt Romney. He’s one of the worst politicians we’ve seen in the last twenty years and he’s not gotten better as the campaign rolled on. He and his campaign just keep screwing up.

The article on Politico is a fascinating read, but it skirts the fundamental issue. How can any politician make it through what the Republican base puts them through and end up with the stances that got him or her nominated being what the majority of American would want in the White House?

Jeb Bush didn’t want to run this year, neither did Chris Christie, so instead we got Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Why? Because the base demands their right-wing red meat and the allegiance to things that most voters who are Republicans don’t.

Mitt Romney is exactly the candidate Republicans deserve. He represents the type of politician that can make it through the right-wing obstacle course that is the primary season.

What we’re also learning is that Mitt Romney would make a very bad president, because he’ll say anything to get the power of the presidency, while showing none of the leadership skills required for the job. He can’t even run his own campaign. How he ran Bain Capital and made it successful is a whole different skill set, because that was centered on numbers and making them add up. Politics is about the people, but Romney knows absolutely nothing about us, because the only ones he’s been talking to the entire time he’s been running for president are the extreme elements in the Republican base who don’t represent the wider American electorate.

Massachusetts Mitt might be able to win, but he can’t show his face in today’s Republican Party.

People do want a change from Barack Obama. There’s just no evidence right now they want it so bad as to throw the dice on Mitt Romney.

The ad above is an answer to the Romney campaign’s troubles. They’re now getting down to broad specifics, a purposeful oxymoron. Whether anyone cares at this point is hard to tell. Most are waiting until the first debate, which sits on Mitt Romney’s shoulders like dead weight.

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30 Responses to Romney’s Bad, But His Base Is Worse

  1. Ga6thDem September 17, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I was making the same point to a wingnut friend of mine. I said Romney has had to spend so much time pandering to the far right that it has caused him a ton of problems. I wonder what the numbers would be if Mitt had been allowed by the GOP base to be a moderate? Of course, he hurt himself when he picked Ryan. Who thought that was a good pick I wonder?

    • Taylor Marsh September 17, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      Mornin’ Ga6thDem.

      Well, Ryan might have been a decent pick if they’d had a plan to explain his economic ideas when they rolled him out. If they’d started with a REAL substantive conversation heading into Ryan’s austerity, with Romney giving economic specifics that took a page from Ryan, while not being Ryan’s American Enterprise Numbers.

      BUT THEY HAD NO NARRATIVE AT ALL FOR RYAN. Sorry to yell, but it’s political malpractice on Romney’s part.

      As you know, Ga6thDem, I think he should have found a woman. ANY woman, or at the very least a Latino.

      But Romney feels sympatico with Ryan. Nice, but without a narrative to explain his own extremism, you’re screwed, though I believe Romney was screwed from the start, because the base he had to court is filled with cranks. Anyone sucking up to these people deserves to lose.

      • Ga6thDem September 17, 2012 at 9:03 am #

        Good morning back to you!

        I still think even with a narrative the Ryan plan would have been a hard sell because it promotes austerity for everybody except the military industrial complex in this country.

        • Taylor Marsh September 17, 2012 at 9:04 am #

          There’s an easy case to make that you could be right.

      • spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

        Nominating Ryan at all was political malpractice. It was a pointless sop to the base that is going to be super toxic as crunch time amps up the pressure.

        The more you learn about Ryan, the more you realize how out of touch the chattering class that resides in the fetid,fowl swamps of the Potomac are. Ryan is not serious, he is delirious. That the Congressman was lionized by the Moron Media is just another example of how badly the press is doing it job.

        Ryan is a true-believing ideologue of the Ayn Rand set. That means he should be fed powerful antipsychotic medications until some semblance of sanity manifests itself. He should be in a nut house, not in the Congress– oh, wait, never mind; Congress already is a nut house, thanks to people like Ryan (and the folks who vote for ideologues like Ryan.)

  2. secularhumanizinevoluter September 17, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Great posting Ms. Marsh.
    Although I must confess to some degree of WTF? after being castigated time and again for pointing out the repug/bagger/UBER base is exactly what you just pointed out they are.
    I couldn’t and still can not understand how anyone with any empathy, or two functioning brain cells in the same cranium can vote for Mitt da Twit and Lyin Ryan.

    • Taylor Marsh September 17, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      Your point is always about their racism, which actually isn’t their biggest problem.

      You also say the base who nominate the candidate is the entire GOP. I know they are not.

      Someone voting against Obama on the economy & taxes could easily vote for Romney/Ryan. It’s practical, but also emotional with people who don’t believe government should have such a wide role in our lives. I don’t see any surprise about that.

      • spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

        “Your point is always about their racism, which actually isn’t their biggest problem” TM

        Meh, the politics of resentment does seem to me to be one of the largest problems for the GOP. Linked with the Authoritarian and Reactionary world view of the primary voters, it is one of the bigger Elephants in the Elephant Party. Republicans have been main-lining the politics of resentment sine Dick Nixon. They have been on a reactionary tear since Barry Goldwater. The toxic mix of Social Reactionaries,NeoCon Imperialist Propeller-heads, and Corportist Crony Capitalists is the Republican Party these days. That is your base as it stands, the power that be.

        To truly understand Republicans these days, if you are not talking about how the goal of restoring the White Male Patriarchy of the 1950′s motivates so many of the primary voters (and how it drives those same people to vote in the General); you are ignoring a huge phenomena in our present political landscape. It is not the only piece in the puzzle, but it is a rather big one.

        • Cujo359 September 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

          start quote:

          To truly understand Republicans these days, if you are not talking about how the goal of restoring the White Male Patriarchy of the 1950′s motivates so many of the primary voters (and how it drives those same people to vote in the General);

          end quote

          I think all you need to understand about that phenomenon is couched in the discussion right here. Progressives are great at calling people racists and bigots. When it comes to relieving the economic problems that are often behind racism, they’re not so good. Every time I hear or read the phrase “white male privilege”, I cringe. It’s almost inevitably uttered by someone who has made his or her living in an office, with decent to high pay, and at least some minimum level of security. It’s not uttered by white men with barely a high school education who are lucky to find a job that pays minimum wage. Yet I can guarantee you that they realize, better than most progressives do, that when it comes to evening things out for everybody, it isn’t those folks in the offices who will pay the price. If you think otherwise, let’s discuss when those Bush tax cuts were repealed by a Democratic Congress eager to set things right. They’re used to the idea that shit rolls downhill, and they’re as near to the bottom of the hill already as they want to get. When they hear that because they’re white, and worse yet male, they’re part of the club as far as folks they’d gladly trade places with are concerned, they know perfectly well they’re not going to benefit when things get better for everyone else.

          When Howard Dean suggested that Democrats ought to try to reach out to Southern whites, the backlash from progressives was amazing, at least to me. People really seemed to think the progressive movement would lose its soul if there were some bigots who happened to agree with it on some issues. From this, among other things, I’ve learned that there are a lot of progressives who love their own prejudices more than they love being effective.

          So, I think that if progressives want to start breaking up that Republican front of bigotry and all that other evil, they can start by giving those poor and lower middle class white folks something to look forward to besides free birth control, and punish their politicians when they don’t deliver. Until then, lament about all that longing for the 1950s all you want, and it’s not going to change a thing about why all those white folks vote Republican. They know where their bread is buttered, too.

          • spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

            You forget that many of the TEA Party faithful ARE upper middle class whites working in nice digs. Plus Progressive can (and do) attempt to talk about economic issues to lower-class whites all the time, but get drowned out by Gun, Gays, Sluts and Nig-CLANGs.

            Plus if you look at the Dems Dean did get into office in the South, I do have an issue there. First, they were the first to cut and run on Public Option. Second, they were part of the Blue Dog alliance that turned the Stim into weak sauce. Third, they were the yahoos supporting Stupak. Not a proud record Cujo359.

            Unfortunately working class white are more than willing to have someone lower on the shit-pile than them–even if they have to push those people lower themselves. Their life could rightly suck, but as long as they have someone to look down upon below them, its not all bad.

            I am still at heart a Deaniac Cujo359, I would rather see more and better Democrats in Congress. But the more is not any good without the better. I see no point in having a Democrat whose postion are indistinguishable from Reagan Democrat of 1980, ei a Republican. And to run in the South and win you have to Run as Reaganite.

            One last niggle, Patriarchy does not equal privilege, all it means is that is that there is someone even lower on the totem pole that you. You may be poor white trash, but at least you are not one of them … fill in the banks. You may live in misbegotten shack, but at least you can lord it over the woman you married– and the kids. You may be neck deep in shit, but at least your standing on the shoulders of someone totally submerged in it.

          • Cujo359 September 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

            start quote:

            You forget that many of the TEA Party faithful ARE upper middle class whites working in nice digs.

            end quote

            So what? From the perspective of someone who isn’t, what difference does that make? They all work in nice digs, no matter which of the two major parties they work for.

            start quote:

            Plus if you look at the Dems Dean did get into office in the South, I do have an issue there. First, they were the first to cut and run on Public Option.

            end quote

            Again, so what? I’m not talking about the politicians they recruited, I’m talking about the idea of trying to appeal to Southern whites based on what progressive politics can offer, which is what Dean’s message was. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has become home to all the conservative politicians who can’t succeed in the GOP any longer, and that is a trend that would have gone on whether Dean had been there or not.

            start quote:

            One last niggle, Patriarchy does not equal privilege, all it means is that is that there is someone even lower on the totem pole that you.

            end quote

            I didn’t invent the phrase “white male privilege”. Nor do I routinely accuse the other side of bigotry or racism when there are other possible explanations for their opinions or behavior. When you talk down to people, you can talk all you want and still not be heard. I’d rather argue with them about all the other justifications, until all we’re left with is bigotry. That’s something people really need to work through on their own. Most probably won’t, but some will. Yes, I don’t always manage to do that, but that’s what I try to do.

            I don’t for one moment think that any of what I suggest here is going to fix progressives’ problems in the South, or anywhere else where conservatism reigns. It’s just another thing that’s holding them back.

  3. angels81 September 17, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Racism may not be their biggest problem, but I think it is the root of their hatred for Obama. A black man in the white house goes against everything they think made America great. Their belief that Obama is a Muslim, not born here, communist, anti-christian is rooted in racism. They see the America they know slipping away to people of color and Obama is the beginning of that slide were white males don’t rule anymore.

    • Taylor Marsh September 17, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      That’s certainly what many Obama loyalists believe.

      There is, however, a larger swath of the Republican Party who just thinks he’s wrong on economics and government’s role in a modern society, even if Barack Obama is the moderate Republican in the race.

      • angels81 September 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

        So are you implying I’m a Obama loyalist? The so called base of the republican party has such a hatred for Obama that can’t be explained by policy. The polls we have seen where a majority of republicans polled think Obama is a secret Muslim and not born in America speaks strongly to race being at the root of these beliefs. I have lived in Blaine Minnesota for the last year and a half, which is Bachmann land, and that’s all you here up here.

        I’m sure there are voters who vote republican where race is not the issue, but they aren’t the people who are running the party. The republican party has become mainly a party of white men, with very few people of color welcome. From everything I’ve seen, this has more to do about race then it does policy difference’s. Hell, like you said, Obama is just a moderate republican when it comes to policy.

        • Cujo359 September 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

          start quote:

          The so called base of the republican party has such a hatred for Obama that can’t be explained by policy.

          end quote

          There was similar hatred for Bill Clinton when he was President, with as little justification.

          • spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

            But I do the amplification of the hatred we have seen in Obama vs Clinton does have a racial component. How else do explain birtherism?

            The bile against Clinton was very bad, but the viciousness of the assault against Obama has no precedent. It is a quantum leap in calumny.

          • Taylor Marsh September 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

            Now, there is no precedence for thinking a president wasn’t born in this country, that’s for sure, and it’s racist. It also is a virulently false belief of some of the Paulites, too.

            But… WJC was IMPEACHED after Ken Starr illegally held Lewinski, while hiding he was involved in providing briefs all along; before that William Rehnquist packed the OIC, BEFORE Clinton came into office, making sure the stage was set for whatever might occur, which exploded when the NY Times published a scurrilously false Whitewater “report” before he was even elected.

            Sean Hannity paraded women who alleged rape by Clinton, with the only thing missing being banjos. Oh, and he killed someone, too. This came from Jerry Falwell!

            Let’s not compare, but simply note that Republicans sure know how to launch a take down campaign on Democratic presidents.

          • Cujo359 September 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

            Taylor writes:

            ” Oh, and he [Bill Clinton] killed someone, too.”

            Wait, I’m probably getting my conspiracy theories mixed up again, but wasn’t it Hillary who [allegedly] had him killed [if one takes these things seriously]?

          • spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm #



            Meh, we have not seen Obama’s second term yet. So if he does get reelected we will have to see what gets teed-up. There are parts of the right that are yammering that Obama is a secret Red, a died-in-the-wool Bolshevik. We might see an Impeachment of Obama yet, in 2014 if not sooner. Just wait for the claims of “massive voter fraud” if Obama wins in a squeaker.

            There is plenty of time for the right to cook up a narrative of Obama being a secret Red traiter that wants to sell us all into slavery to the Muslims as way to honor his anti-colonialist father. God knows what fever-dreams the Republican will conjure up in the next four years if Obama get reelected. One thing about conspiracy theorists, they are never short of hare-brained narratives.

      • spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

        “There is, however, a larger swath of the Republican Party who just thinks he’s wrong on economics and government’s role in a modern society, even if Barack Obama is the moderate Republican in the race.” TM

        Which only goes to show how far to the right the Republicans have gone. There was a time when Moderate Republicans were the rule, the larger swath of the party. Now they are rarer than Unicorns farting glitter.

      • September 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

        Thank you, Taylor.

  4. casualobserver September 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    You never get argument from me that Romney is running a ineffective campaign.

    Nonetheless, to have read the articles and comments posted here over the past two weeks, we had a competition between Romney obituaries vs. reports of the second resurrection of the Son.

    However, there are now a couple of major polls posted that were conducted fully after both conventions ended.

    Obama has indeed bettered himself 2-3 points, which, no doubt would win the election as of today.

    As luck would have it though, due solely to the pervasive racist attitudes of half the country’s voters, Obama hasn’t been able to actually close the door. It is a good thing we have such blatant racism to overcome all the wonderful statistics Obama has otherwise posted.

    • spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      Sigh CO,

      Have you payed any attention to political developments for the last forty odd years? Dixie went from being a stronghold of the Donkeys to an Elephant playground for a reason — the Southern Strategy. That strategy is underpinned by rampant misogyny, homophobia and yes Racism. It is targeted in large part on the resentments of white, rural, males of all description but focused on the resentments of white, rural, evangelical males in the South.

      Much of the anger against “Government” is the feeling that it is handing out too much money to “the wrong people.” Why the hell do you think that Ronny Ray-Gun’s bogus “Welfare Queen” story was such a big hit? There is a reason Don Reynaldo started his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, but not even his son Ron wants to go there.

      Playing to racial enmity has been the stock and trade of the GOP ever since Nixon. Nixon saw the opening that Goldwater made in the South and played it for all it was worth. He captured the Wallace vote in 1972 for a reason CO-HELLO! There is a reason that so few black folks vote for Republicans that they fall below the margin of error CO -HELLO AGAIN! Black people vote their interests, and their interest do not line up with the Republican Party at all. Statistically speaking, black Republicans don’t even exist!

      There is a reason for this CO, and no matter how much and how often, and how loud you deny it, racial animosity is a core message of the modern Republican Party.

      • casualobserver September 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

        “Have you payed any attention to political developments for the last forty odd years? …racial animosity is a core message of the modern Republican Party”.

        Someone who shows no comprehension of 2008 voting results does not have an opinion worth considering.

        Republican turnout was down in 2008 compared to 2004 in all regions BUT the southern states. Therefore, in 2008, any racial play on Southern Strategy was brought to its maximum result. Obama did not turn black six months ago.

        A core message of the Republican Party necessarily has to be social conservatism because 32% of national respondents consider themselves to be socially conservative……..see the Barna Poll. Conversely, Obama need only be half as dedicated to a socially liberal message because the same poll only found 17% of people willing to label themselves as such.

        So, regardless of what you think the problem is, the actual problem is Romney is not effectively messaging to the Republicans who sat out 2008 and/or those who simply swung from R to D in 2008. Neither of those groups exhibit any prima facie evidence of having racial attitudes influencing their voting choice.

        Come back when you have something of substance to offer.

        • spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

          “Republican turnout was down in 2008 compared to 2004 in all regions BUT the southern states. Therefore, in 2008, any racial play on Southern Strategy was brought to its maximum result.”

          Kinda proves my point, not yours. A black candidate helps turn out the Republican Vote in the Southern States? And somehow that disproves that the Modern Republican Party absolutely depends on the racial animosity of people in the South??

          Without the Solid South, there is no Republican Party. Zero. Nada. Zip-pity-do-dah. There is no Electoral College Map for the Republicans without Dixie–period. And it is the politics of resentment, of which racial animosity is a piece, that secures the Solid South–ever since Nixon. Sorry this harshes your groove CO; but them’s the facts.

          Outside of Dixie the rest of the nation punished the Republicans for the eight years of malfeasance under Bush. The voters brutally punished John McNasty because he ran a truly rotten campaign that went off the rails right after Simple Sara saw Russia from her house, and then crashed and burned right after Wall Street did.

          But for Dixie, fear of a black president overode all other concerns to the point that Republicans turn out peaked.

          Sidebar: I put no value in a poll that ask people if they are socially conservative, or socially moderate, or socially liberal. Those are meaningless terms and the polling agency that did that poll should be closed down. The poll is worse than useless, it is misleading to a fault. Both liberals and conservatives support Gay Marriage, if for different reasons. It’s like the polls that show people opposed Obama-Care but support almost every item that makes up Obama-Care. Most polls are useless, which is why you need a smart poll aggregator like Nate Silver to tease out the real gouge.

    • Taylor Marsh September 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

      casualobserver September 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Number one: Mitt sucks, but he’s still got time because a lot of people want someone other than Obama, which I’ve stressed on multiple occasions, though since reading comprehension is low with some, I guess I’ll have to virtually staple it to every column.

      Number two: The Democratic National Convention was the greatest political show on earth & political junkies enjoyed it. Full. Stop.

      Nobody around here is going to resurrect any politician to Son status any time soon, but people aren’t going to let Romney waltz into the White House to spite themselves. Why should they?

      Oh, and then there’s that other thing. People are starting to look at Obama up against Romney and in the super bowl of politics, the latter isn’t even in the same league.

      See number one above.

    • secularhumanizinevoluter September 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

      ” It is a good thing we have such blatant racism to overcome all the wonderful statistics Obama has otherwise posted.”

      Said as snark no doubt but Freudian unintentional truth all the way…at least as far as your side of the pig pen is concerned.

  5. spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    The back-stabbing going on at Team Magic Underwear reminds me of a previous campaign in 2008; Hillary Clintons. I know-”ouch!”

    Still the resemblances are eery, a detached leader, a bickering staff, a clash of personalities, and an oddball running a crucial part of the show. With Hillary is was Mark Penn making a mess of things. With Romney it is Stewart Stevens getting pilloried. The only difference seems to me to be the candidate.

    While I was no fan of Our Most Sacred Lady Of The Tastefully Appointed Pant-Suite, she was still heads, shoulders and high-heals above Mitt. The woman had, and still has gravitas.

    Multiple Choice Mitt on the other hand is a hot mess as a politician; snide, smarmy, and supercilious. That his campaign could loose an election to a man running a economy officially at 8.2% unemployment (and with a true unemployment at twice that amount) speaks volumes about how epically awful the man is. But even if he looses, the TEA Party base will still demand a further march to the right; pure insanity.

    • Taylor Marsh September 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      Big difference: Clinton’s soap opera was during the primaries (fully laid out in my book), Mitt’s is during the general election.

      Ed Kilgore called it a “fragging” today and I think that’s what it was. He also laid the blame squarely on Politico’s doorstep for the type of site Jim VandeHei runs over there, which I’ve gone after before, too. Politico strummed the waters & got a story, which revolved around hits & they got ‘em.

      • spincitysd September 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

        Someone was feeding Jim VandeHei; and they had an ulterior motive. You have played this game for keeps Taylor, and you know that big bad Jim was hand fed this story for a reason. A little more that forty days out and the long knives are already out? The operatives got what they wanted as did Jim VandeHei. The operatives knew who they were dealing with, they were not babes in the woods.

        And yes HRC tale of woe was in the primaries, while Mitt is getting shived in the general. That makes the discontent in Team Magic Underwear even worse than the backstabbing HRC had to endure. This chaos is something a fundamentally weak candidate like Mitt Romney can not afford. It is yet another gift to the Chicago Gang from Multiple Choice Mitt.

        Sidebar: honest question Taylor, how long can this type of political malfeasance by Mitt go on before the money pipeline dries out? Bundlers for Mitt can not be happy about this Politico article, no matter what the problems are with the author.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong