I am, of course, drawing an analogy with that moment from the 2012 Presidential election when Mitt Romney thought he was going to score some serious points in the second debate. Obama's response?
OBAMA: Please proceed. Please proceed governor.That about says it all, doesn't it?
At that moment, Romney must've realized something awful had happened, but without any recourse, he went for it anyways. He was already caught in the trap he could not get out of. And we know what happened when the General election finally rolled around. Of course, we can't credit this one gaffe alone for Obama's victory, but it was a very telling moment nonetheless.
In a lot of ways, I feel like the Republican Party is headed into a similar trap of their own.
Specifically, I'm talking about the Democratic Party's base turnout problem in midterm elections. Especially in the groups that comprise the Democratic base, and in particular, women and minorities. The midterm turnout problem is the singular greatest obstacle to Democrat gains in November, and because of this, no amount of victory so far is certain.
And yet, the Republican Party seems to be doing everything in their power to help us drive these exact voters to the polls in November. In their minds, their recent public victories - for instance in the recent Supreme Court rulings - must seem like good news. They can't seem to get enough of it.
And yet, as good as it seems for them, very soon, they will start to realize that they are actually digging their own graves.
And what else can we say? other than: Please proceed.
Let's look at immigration, for example.
A lot has been said of the Republican Party dropping the ball on immigration reform.
There's a tension in the Republican Party's portrayal of Obama in which he's thought, on one hand, to be a naif who's in way over his head and, on the other, a grand chessmaster executing an intricate strategy to annihilate his political opposition.Of course, the fact that getting immigration reform done would be good for the Republican Party apparently isn't a good enough reason for the Republican Party to get it done.
The answer, of course, is that Obama is neither. He's a center-left technocrat who wants to get immigration done. And getting immigration done, most everyone agrees, would be good for the Republican Party. It's possibly necessary for its very survival. What's standing in the way isn't Obama's determination to destroy the GOP. It's the GOP's determination to destroy itself.
On the other hand, that alone shouldn't be considered enough to count the GOP out. After all, it is not much far gone from the Republican Party's overall indifference to minorities in recent years. But with the recent developments in Murrieta, California, they are practically sealing their own fate.
Covered immigration issue in #Murrieta. 1 protestor said "go back to China." 1 supporter told me to "go eat sushi." Long way to go folks.— Greg Lee (@gregolee) July 2, 2014
Then, of course, we can turn to the GOP's "efforts" to court the female vote. The only way the GOP seems to have found to prove that they don't really hate women is to point to the few women they do have amongst their ranks, and even that isn't saving them.
With the Supreme Court rulings striking blows to women's access to abortion, and access to contraception, they are forcing the Republican Party to choose sides, but their response has been, shall we say, not very nuanced.
My religion trumps your “right” to employer subsidized consequence free sex.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) June 30, 2014
Wendy Davis has done even more to damage modern feminism than Monica Lewinsky playing Human Humidor with Bill Clinton in the Oval Office.— Todd Kincannon (@Todd__Kincannon) January 23, 2014
It's really just a matter of time before we hear from this year's Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, isn't it? If we haven't, already.
So looking at the GOP's disdain for minorities and for women, one might ask, so what? If anything, it's nothing we haven't heard before.
I would argue that by picking these fights so close to the November elections, Republicans are only playing with fire. Just ask Todd Akin.
With the GOP-orchestrated government shutdown in October, we knew that the political risks for the GOP were never as high as one would think. Sure, the polls in the aftermath of the shutdown were brutal, but nobody expected that animosity to last for a full 12 months until the actual elections. The GOP played it pretty smart, gaining their political points by shutting down the government, while mitigating any negative effects because of the amount of time that would pass until the next elections.
But with their attacks on women and on minorities and, well, all their attacks in general, the Republican Party is choosing to put their largest political weaknesses front and center in the run up to the General elections. And it just so happens that the issues they stand against energize and stand in stark contrast to the very same base voters the Democrats need to win.
And one need only look at how Republican efforts to impose voter ID laws may have actually driven a voter turnout backlash in those states, to recognize the risks the GOP is taking.
By making November about immigration reform, and about women's rights, Republicans are doing exactly what they wanted to avoid. But honestly, what other option do they have? Benghazi? That was what led to the first please proceed moment. The economy? The safest bet, but a hard sell in the light of actual evidence. Foreign policy? They can't even figure out how to feel about soccer. Maybe they want to fight the gay marriage some more? Good luck there.
At this point, it feels like Republicans pretty much have to make the fight about immigration reform, and about women's rights. And yet, even the Republican Party should realize that this is a losing effort. But do they really have any choice?
We could rightly deride many of the Republican Party's strategic blunders during the 2012 campaigns, but when it came time to diagnosing what ailed them, they were pretty spot on when it came to why they lost 2012. So going forward, they should be able to show that, at the very least, they have learned from the mistakes they made just two years ago.
On the contrary, they seem to have doubled down on the stances on which they lost 2012.
With the recent Supreme Court rulings, with the recent battles over immigration reform, the Republican Party is choosing to mirror many of the same themes from 2012. They are mirroring their strategy of appealing to their own base voters over a more diverse demographic that better represents the American melting pot. They are mirroring their reliance on sensationalist headline grabbers like Benghazi over debating actual policy and how to help the average Americans who have yet to see their own post-recession economic recovery. And, they are mirroring Romney's public gaffe, of turning these supposed political victories into a pained, watershed moment.
Let's make sure they also mirror one other thing from 2012: their November defeat.