Proving that sober self-reflection after losing an election is like Kryptonite to the Republican Party, our old friend Mitt Romney's senior campaign adviser Stuart Stevens penned an interesting op-ed in the Washington Post. Apparently, the Republicans won the election, sort of. Keeping true to the spirit of the Romney campaign, there is so much wrong in this editorial that I don't even know where to begin -- so I'll just follow the trajectory of this Bizzarro World piece and see where it takes us.
Mr. Stevens starts out by introducing our plucky protagonist:
I appreciate that Mitt Romney was never a favorite of D.C.’s green-room crowd or, frankly, of many politicians. That’s why, a year ago, so few of those people thought that he would win the Republican nomination. But that was indicative not of any failing of Romney’s but of how out of touch so many were in Washington and in the professional political class.Actually Stu, there were only really three candidates that ever had a chance to win the Republican nomination. They were Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney. Huntsman had the misfortune of not only being a moderate but also believing in science (which is an unforgivable sin in Republican primaries). Additionally, he was also President Obama's Ambassador to China. That made him radioactive as a candidate, so he was disqualified pretty early on. People were fairly excited about Rick Perry until they noticed he couldn't string two sentences together. Then he apparently fell in love with a bottle of syrup. So with the first two candidates ushered off the stage, the natural choice for the nomination was the Romneybot. Unless of course you think Michelle Bachmann (crazy), Herman Cain (crazy + sex scandal), Newt Gingrich (BWAHAHA), or Ron Paul (seriously?) were real candidates. Here's a hint...they weren't. But back to the hero's quest, courtesy of Mr. Stevens:
What began in a small field in New Hampshire grew into a national movement. It wasn't our campaign, it was Romney. He bested the competition in debates, and though he was behind almost every candidate in the GOP primary at one time or the other, he won the nomination and came very close to winning the presidency.Mr. Stevens: Why are you talking about Romney like he's some unlikely candidate who found himself thrust onto the national stage by the winds of fate alone? This was the well-funded scion of a rich and well-connected family. His father was the governor of a state who then later ran for President. Lo and behold, the son was also the governor of a state who then ran for President...TWICE!! Mitt Romney has been on the national political stage in one capacity or another for almost two decades. And even still, once again, I must inform you that this was not a close election.
But Stevens really wants to show all of the great things that Romney did. He continued.
In doing so, he raised more money for the Republican Party than the party did. He trounced Barack Obama in debate. He defended the free-enterprise system and, more than any figure in recent history, drew attention to the moral case for free enterprise and conservative economics.Wow, where do I even begin? Raising more money than the party did might say something more about the Republican Party than it does about Romney. But wasn't the point of all of that money to, I don't know, win? And yes Romney did in fact beat Obama in a debate. Mr. Stevens seems to have forgotten that three debates were scheduled between the presidential candidates. The world didn't stop after the first one. And in debates numbers two and three, it was Romney that was trounced.
Finally, while Romney did make a case for conservative economics that sure would seem compelling to a small and privileged part of the American populace, there is no moral case for free enterprise. Free enterprise is neither moral nor immoral. It's amoral. Supposedly that's part of its whole appeal. But let's assume that he made such a case for free enterprise and conservative economics. Even if that were true, he would have just made a losing case for them. Incidentally, we already have a free enterprise system. As I've argued before, the difference between that system and the horrible dystopian nightmare that Romney predicted would befall America under a second Obama term cannot be just going back to the Clinton-era tax rates. But Mr. Stevens is undeterred by such flagrant use of fact-based reality.
In the debates and in sweeping rallies across the country, Romney captured the imagination of millions of Americans. He spoke for those who felt disconnected from the Obama vision of America. He handled the unequaled pressures of a campaign with a natural grace and good humor that contrasted sharply with the angry bitterness of his critics.Yes, Romney did capture the imagination of millions of Americans. Unfortunately, it was just about three million fewer than the imaginations of those who voted for the actual President. I'm not really sure where this "natural grace" Romney supposedly had was on display. Was it the constant lying, or the now-legendary fundraiser where he revealed his true feelings about 47% of America? Maybe it was all the race-baiting and birtherism he displayed throughout the campaign. He sure did charm the pants off of our international allies when he visited London over the summer, if by "charm" we mean "completely irritate." Perhaps after he lost and proclaimed the sole reason was that President Obama simply bought off the electorate. He was definitely full of something on those occasions. I'm pretty sure it wasn't "natural grace."
Nor are we idiots because we came a little more than 320,000 votes short of winning the electoral college in 2012. Losing is just losing. It’s not a mandate to throw out every idea that the candidate championed, and I would hope it’s not seen as an excuse to show disrespect for a good man who fought hard for values we admire.For the last fucking time, this was not a close election. And you'd need WAY more than 320,000 votes to turn the tide of this election. 320,000 votes would only get you a couple more states. Unless you're living in Karl Rove's Electoral Fantasy Funland, you're either horrible at math or have forgotten that your guy lost every swing state except for North Carolina.
There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?I'm not really sure what time he's referring to when the Democrats were too dependent on minorities -- we may be on the road to becoming a majority-minority nation, but we ain't there yet. But even assuming it was a problem before, it's a growing Democratic advantage with every passing year -- and it's for reasons related to very obvious policy differences between parties, not for this thoroughly condescending "minorities vote for minorities just 'cause" reason that Stevens and a whole slew of his fool Republican buddies keep putting out there. As for the President being a "charismatic African American," since when did that become a plus in national politics? Yeah, there have been so many other African American Presidents before him they're practically getting boring, the trend is so obvi--oh, that's right, this has never happened before. Fun fact: there have only been four African American Senators since the Reconstruction era. Seriously. Apart from being an embarrassing reminder of Romney's own "it would help to be Latino" gaffe, this statement is a testament to how entirely divorced from reality this campaign remains, even after it's over.
But above all the rest of this fantastical nonsense, Republicans complaining about money is hilarious. Oh, Obama raised a billion dollars for this campaign? Wow! How could Romney and the Republicans compete, only raising around 900 million dollars themselves? As an aside, Romney's net worth is conservatively estimated at around 250 million dollars -- none of which he spent on the campaign. So cry me a river.
As to the media and its supposed "moral conflict" over being critical -- bitch, please. Last anybody checked, Fox News is still the most powerful news station in the America. You show me a convincing montage of that crew cowtowing to this administration and I'll nominate your video editing department for a goddamn Emmy.
But don't stop there Stu. Bring it on home.
Yes, the Republican Party has problems, but as we go forward, let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right. When Mitt Romney stood on stage with President Obama, it wasn't about television ads or whiz-bang turnout technologies, it was about fundamental Republican ideas vs. fundamental Democratic ideas. It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom. And Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day.With Romney's very large window for what constitutes the "middle class" (up to $250K / year), I guess he might have carried that group. The median household income in the US is around $50,000, and according to Washington Post exit polls, Romney solidly lost voters below that mark (38%). He just barely squeaked by with voters between $50K - $99K (52%). So the only way that Romney "carried the middle class" is to essentially exclude households making less than the median income -- whose members incidentally made up over 40% of voters -- from the middle class label. That's mathematically creative, but politically daft.
On Nov. 6, that wasn't enough to win. But it was enough to make us proud and to build on for the future.
This whole piece was so intricately woven with falsehoods, fantasies and Escher-art logic that it's hard to land on a solid, wrap-around point. But the wording of his conclusion really works to put this whole piece in perspective. I'm not really sure where Mr. Stevens grew up, but in my neck of the woods, carrying the day means actually winning. If Romney was such a great messenger and he had such a great message, why did he lose so convincingly? There are no moral victories in politics. There are simply winners and losers. In this case winners and whiners. Only the architect of a horrible campaign with a bad candidate, espousing a toxic platform full of retrograde ideas could possibly believe that the electoral shellacking that occurred on November 6th of this year is anything to be proud of.
7:37 AM PT: Edit The popular vote tally is actually over 4.1 million and rising at present. And there are still more votes to count.