Harold Meyerson over at Kaplan Daily actually asks the correct post-Santorum question: Can Mitt swing back to the center, and in what reality is that even possible?
Since the Tea Party takeover of the GOP in 2009 and 2010, Republican voters have often either nominated candidates so far to the right that they lost winnable seats — Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware — or driven mainstream conservative candidates into the fringes of right-wing fruit-cakery in order to hold their seats. In 2010, California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman had planned to run as a successful, recession-fighting CEO and a social moderate — much, in fact, like Mitt Romney — in order to win in a very blue state. But to fend off a primary challenger to her right and to prevail with the right-wing GOP primary electorate, she had to oppose immigration reform, an issue she had hoped to duck. Her move rightward ensured both her primary victory and her general election double-digit defeat by Democrat Jerry Brown, despite her spending roughly $150 million of her own money on her campaign. In particular, she was never able to convince Latino voters, who backed Brown overwhelmingly, that she wasn’t hostile to their cause — or, more elementally, to them.
The United States as a whole is neither as liberal nor as Latino as California, but Romney starts his general election campaign in the same box in which Whitman found herself. In order to win the nomination, he has taken positions that have caused his favorability ratings, particularly among women and Latinos, to plummet. He may hope for an Etch a Sketch redefinition, but that will be hard to achieve. If he says anything favorable about reproductive rights, the Republican right will be all over him. If he so much as suggests he’s rethinking his position on the Dream Act, the GOP base will read him the riot act. Like Whitman, he has lashed himself to the mast of an aggrieved and wacked-out right, on a voyage going no place but down. A more deft politician might be able to extricate himself from this position. Romney is nobody’s idea of deft.
The only way it does happen of course is if the Bobos and Lord Saletans and Gergens and Milbanks and MoDos say he has completed the pivot. Considering most of them have pointedly ignored any reason for him to have to pivot by tacitly accepting his Tea Party moves as Sensibly Centrist(tm), I don’t have really high hopes for them being able to resist. What I do expect is six months and change of the Marquis de Mittens as someone you’d want to have a beer and a KFC Double Down with, because his multiple Cadillacs are full of stuff Ann gets at Wal-Mart. He’s just like you, ya know.
We’re talking about people that sold a war of choice. Packaging a President, especially with unlimited SuperPAC cash, should be a cakewalk for these guys. Luckily, Mitt himself is a terribly flawed candidate among a room full of broken ones. Odds are he’ll do as much damage to himself as President Obama. It’s going to take unlimited cash to keep Mitt even moderately close in the polls, he’s so awful. The bad news is that’s exactly what he has.
There isn’t enough money in the world to make women forget that Republicans want them to be just another piece of furniture in the house.
That’s the truth!
Absolutely agree with this, with one possible caveat: Maureen Dowd doesn’t seem to be buying the bullshit this time around with regard to Romney (see, e.g.,, this). She’s also been writing surprisingly feminist columns about reproductive rights, the bishops, Santorum, etc. (This could change, of course….)
mehmney can be kicked to the dustbin if all the dems stay on the message 24×7. Unlike that cleaver fucker.
Agree that some will try, but that dog just won’t hunt. We may see more creativity this go-round in the turd-polishing attempts.
And hopefully, that’s going to become a trend in U.S. politics, with Republicans having a choice between losing the primary and losing the general.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Rubbish, California is 20% of the United States and not an abnormality. It’s the reactionary red states like Oklahoma that are the outriders.
Oh please God let Mitt pick Allen West as VP candidate:
Of course he can, but will need to tuck that frizzy orange hair up under his hat.
It’s odd, isn’t it, that if the standard is “someone you’d want to have a beer with”, two out of the last three Republican nominees — Bush and Rommey — are, respectively, an alcoholic and a Mormon, and so are both non-drinkers.
c u n d gulag
MITT/2012 will now try to move back to the center, while still keeping the rabid base engaged.
The cowardly, compliant, and complicit MSM will accommodate any steps he takes, and broadcast to the world that he is, indeed, a center-right candidate in a center-right country.
The want a horse-race.
They need a horse-race between him and Obama, to keep the “Citizens” money flowing into the bean-counters in the back office.
Watch as Chuck Todd, Wolf, and the rest of the TV clowns, try to mainstream a candidate who has no inner core, and whose outer core reflects, like a mirror, whatever someone want him to be to get their vote.
This would all be highly entertaining, watching TV and print pun-TWIT’s twist their already pretzel shape into something like the DNA molecule – except for the fact that their mainstreaming MITT/2012, can help him, and the rest of the rabid wolves, win, and bring about the final ruin of this country.
Remember what our great journalistic fore-fathers had to say in other perilous times:
‘Now is the time, for all good men and women in the MSM, to equivocate!’
‘I’m sorry that I have but one reputation to give for my media employers!
‘DAMN the lying! Full propaganda ahead!’
Truly, these are the times that try men’s (and women’s) souls…
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Also Witman really killed herself with the Latinos over the way she handled her live in maid.
It’s already happening, at least on NPR. Their moron host asked this morning if the two candidates might not have trouble distinguishing themselves from each other because of how similar some of their policies are.
Of course our political press and pundits will declare him as pivoting back to being a “centrist.” If they don’t work to keep things close, they won’t be able to think of anything else to fill column inches.
The old adage that the role of journalism is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable goes out the window when the journalists are the comfortable.
well, you could help by lobbying for kicking Firebagger Freddie (“I’m secretly a fifth columnist for the Romney campaign”) off the frontpage.
like that will happen.
It’s not going to be “he’s just like you.” It’s going to be “the nation needs a tough boss during a tough time like this.”. It’s going to be “he’s rich and kind of a dick but when you get right down to it isn’t that just what we need, not a pal, a problem-solver?”
Culture of Truth
There are no guarantees with our electoral college system, but this comports with what I’ve been saying, which is Romney, in spite of, or even because, he was Governor of Massachusetts, was always going to have move aggresively to the right in the primaries, however unconvincingly, then have a tough time moving back to the center without risking the base. However, it could be done, by a politician with the skills to do it gracefully. But Mitt Romney is not that person.
@SteveM: MoDo may or may not be much of a human being, but she’s not a conservative. And when she drops the act, which happens now and then, she’s pretty good. IMO.
@dedc79: Ralph Nader’s working again? damn.
@FlipYrWhig: I think you’re right. That’s the kind of creativity I’m talkin’ bout!
@FlipYrWhig: That sounds about right.
Luckily, Mittens reminds most people of the last guy who laid them off.
I wouldn’t vote for anyone who would voluntarily eat a Double Down.
I would say that a big stumbling block that Mitt faces is that the press just doesn’t like the guy. Their first instinct is to distrust him or at least avoid him, so I think his attempts to get on their good side and sell his “Im a new England moderate” claim is going to fail.
Glad to see a link to Harold Meyerson, a sadly underappreciated columnist and the single, solitary, actual progressive among Fred Hiatt’s stable. Meyerson regularly writes about labor issues and how government policies impact the lives of middle and working-class people.
The bitter irony of this particular column, however, is that the transformation of the Marquis de Mittens into a Republican Robespierre man-of-the-people will be undertaken nowhere more fervently and devotedly than by Meyerson’s colleagues at Kaplan Test Prep Daily. Given its fabled history and reputation, it is now the most pernicious newspaper published in this country.
We’re talking about people that sold a war of choice.
…but not in a vacuum. This was right after a major terrorist attack that freaked people out, while they were already in power, and before they had already sold people a war of choice that was later discredited and recognized by much of the public to be just that.
Not that I have tons of faith in the small fraction of the U.S. electorate that can be arsed to get up and vote, but the situation is very different. Fool me once, etc.
Whomever the press wants the public to vote for, they do. First will be the human interest pieces – “His wife nags him! He’s a pushover with the kids!” then whatever dreadful hobby they come up with him to have (He really loves classic rock music! See? He’s just like you!)and then his positions on starving everyone to death just aren’t that radical! Not like that other angry guy over there – hey he just had another gaffe (probably said rich people are killing you, but hey have you noticed – he has a bank account! He can’t keep his foot out of his mouth!) Then when anyone who registers as a D is nice and p!ssed at the press, they’ll remind us we’re all Americans underneath it and we need to stick together! With lower taxes!
If the left wanted a pre-emptive strike we should pick one of the ‘big three’ networks and boycott them at the first sign of this tried and true script. We can’t affect all three but making an example out of one is definitely possible. Remind them that not only corporations buy products.
All good and well, except that Mormons don’t drink alcohol – except for jack Mormons, which is a whole ‘nother topic. Plus the additional thought that nothing short of a complete personality transplant could turn the Marquis du Mittens into someone with whom I’d like to have a beer, much less an 18 year old Macallan with one ice cube. Or, for that matter, a root beer or cup of herbal tea, those being non-caffeinated and hence inoffensive to Mormons.
Allen West has a list!
I wonder if he’s gotten the State Department list yet?
What a total pud-whacker.
The Teabagger tendency is actively ruining the Republican party’s good name and future prospects. Teabagger politicians are inept and proposing and passing legislation, and untrustworthy in office. The Teabagger base is pulling candidates in primaries so far to the right of the wider electorate that nominees can’t win the election proper.
Mitt is just the most significant instance right now of this larger problem. How many elections will the Republican party be forced to throw away before its elders finally start a serious purge of the Teabaggers? (Not that I’m suggesting it’s just a matter of just doing it. It’s one thing to cast unworthy politicians out of favor, but it’s a much more daunting task to re-program a significant bloc of the party’s base.)
the Conster (f/k/a Cat Lady)
Joe Scar used the Etch a Sketch motion this morning when the “move to the middle” discussion came up. The pundits have their work cut out for them if they’re going to convince anyone that (1) they like him, and (2) everything that just happened didn’t happen. He’s got no reservoir of Villager good will to draw on like McCain had, Halperin notwithstanding.
I feel sorry for Mitt Romney. In another reality, he’d be a very good political candidate for President.
He’d bridge the gap between social conservatives, who don’t want “liberal activist judges” running amok in the judiciary and economic conservatives, who want a pro-business legislative agenda, while actually having a “compassionate” conservative agenda that helps the common man.
He worked hard to craft a positive image of himself. He passed the first universal healthcare law of any state in this nation, so he’d have the “compassionate” conservative part down and not just have it be rhetoric like Bush, Jr.
He’s just in the unenviable position of not wanting to be a Democrat and having a Republican party that considers his ilk traitors, who are wrongfully identifying with the GOP and need to be purged from the GOP.
It’s not his fault he’s had to take such crazy positions, in order to win the Republican Presidential nomination.
To paraphrase President Kang, it’s a two party system, what are you going to do?
I mean what choice does a political ambitious non-Democrat have these days?
Try to ride the GOP wing-nuts to victory or stay home. You don’t become ambitious enough to run for President, by thinking staying home is a viable option in a competition.
I truly feel sorry for Mitt Romney that his ambitions have been ruined by folks, who think Lindsey Graham’s a RINO that needs to have a primary challenger and Jim DeMint’s the model Senator.
@GregB: That’s just amazing. Commies!! I’ve got a list!! It’s a secret!! Where’s my medication!!
The US may not be as Latino as California, but it doesn’t need to be. We’re back to 51 elections, most of which are winner-take-all. And the campaigns will be focusing on the Swing States, which is why Mitt is still running that 2.2 million ad buy in Pennsylvania, trying to prepare the ground for his fall campaign.
New Mexico and Nevada were swing states in the last election, and an overwhelming share of the Latino vote will be a significant factor there.
The GOP is probably counting on a solid South, but Obama was able to make North Carolina a swing state last time, and Romney did very poorly in most of the southern primaries. If he doesn’t shore up his southern support by picking someone with southern appeal, there could be some other surprises there.
Someone should take Allan West aside and explain that that strategy didn’t work out so great for Joe McCarthy.
Tone In DC
Ummm… Eugene Robinson?
@Amir Khalid: See, you know that. And I know that. But I doubt Allen West knows that.
McCarthy has enjoyed something of a martyr status among the far right. Coulter wrote a whole book praising the dude and basically claiming that he was right and everyone else was just a dirty commie taking orders from Moscow. He was a patriot, you see, and excess in the defense of liberty… etc. Considering West is a lunatic who was happy to torture people that same “defense”, I wouldn’t be surprised that McCarthy is something of a role model for him.
I saw a report on West’s accusation of Commies in the House.
I am quite sure that the CPUSA would be thrilled to think that 80 or so of their members are now serving in the House of Representatives, but I doubt that is the case.
Question: Would Mr. West recognize a true Communist if he met one?
I live in California and Meg Whitman had a LOT of other problems here besides right wing Republicans. She not only had had no prior experience in office, there were many years when she had not even registered to vote. She could never explain why, given such a long term lack of interest in public affairs, she wanted to go into politics at all, let alone start in the top job in the state.
Overall she came off as a spoiled rich bitch who wanted to buy the governorship because it would be another cool toy.
@gene108: I agree, and that’s what’s most frightening to me.
In normal years, I wouldn’t be terrified of President Romney. There are far scarier republicans. However, he can’t help but be a radical, because his party is forcing him to be. That means that any R running for office is going to be on a scorched earth mission, whether or not they believe in it.
God help us, they are all Paul Ryan now.
Two words. John Bolton.
Mike in NC
By this time next week Krauthammer will be extolling Willard’s “solid conservative credentials”. Ha!
Replace all instances of “Catholic” with “NAMBLA” in the above article and it sums up my sentiment of the above article.
There’s no daylight between the two organizations, as far as I am concerned.
Heh. There was an article in the dead tree Wash Post in the past couple days on Richard Lugar, who’s getting a primary challenge. Around the edges it kind of implied he was a centrist, mainly because he’s “nice”.
I’m pretty sure, however, that if you look up his voting record, he’s pretty right-wing, even if not as right-wing as the Teahardist crazies.
@negative 1: Thanks to their collective cowardice in the face of the completely incoherent ranting of these Tea party nitwits, the Republican party has allowed itself to be redefined as the party of (barely closeted) racists, misogynists and fervent acolytes of Ayn Rand. Mixed in with 2nd Amendment fetischists . What a nasty brew.
Good luck selling all of this in a general election.
@liberal: Lugar is by no means a centrist. Never has been.
Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water
@gene108: Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos
daniel thomas macinnes
The GOP is a religious cult. Their members will fall in line and do as they’re told. That will not be an issue come November. The great unwashed masses, sadly, were barely aware that the primaries even happened. It will be easy for Romney to completely change his opinions on literally everything, because very few Americans were ever aware of his previous flip-flops.
The election was always going to come down to two things: the economy, and campaign spending. If the economy is recovering, Obama wins. If it stumbles or stagnates, Romney wins. And $500 million of advertising will have most Americans believing just about anything. Also, let us not forget the extensive GOP efforts to restrict voting. The swath of new “Voter ID” laws could shave a couple percentage points off the state vote. That may be enough to ensure a Republican victory.
Yes, yes, I am taking the more pessimistic route, and I would be very happy to be wrong. But these are serious challenges that Obama and the Dems will have to overcome if they want to win in November.
That’s basically Romney’s career since 1994.
Bored rich guy gets tired of buying car elevators and dressage horses for his wife, and wants to buy political offices for himself.
He’s been running for POTUS for 6 years “for Pete’s sake”!
You all are giving far to much credit to the Villagers ability to sway the voting public. First, no one under 40 knows any of these people are, or if they do, they could give a shit what they write. Seriously, ask any random 28 year old on the street who Tom Friedman, David Brooks and Jonah Goldberg are, and they are more likely to tell you they are outfielders for the Houston Astros than political pundits.
Second, fewer and fewer people get their news via hard print. Sure, some folks read these rags online, but more and more people of all ages get their news from blogs and cable TV. This is the age of the DVR, how many people even watch live programs anymore? So much easier to zip by those boring ads, especially the political ones, by recording the program, and then start watching them 15 minutes later.
Lastly, I don’t think the Rombot2012 can be effectively reprogrammed for the general election. You can fiddle with the software, perhaps make some cosmetic changes (who wears white dress shirts with jeans?), but a bot is a bot. I’m sure the bot had better programming when he was the Gov, but that was so long ago that no one remembers that code. The fact is that the Rombot2012 simply cannot relate to middle class people. He has never shared their experiences, never been forced to make hard economic choices, and never known what “hard times” really are.
I know some folks, who are going to vote for Romney, because of the anti-business stance Obama and the Democrats adopted in the 111th Congress. In general, Democrats are less business friendly than Republicans, in terms of regulations and such (see the Microsoft anti-trust case as an example).
I try to point out to them about the crazy stuff on social issues, which Republicans want to adopt and they don’t think the Republicans would do it. I disagree.
I think, if Republicans win you’ll have the worst of both worlds. Arbitrary regulations for industries that aren’t “friendly” with Republicans and gutting of socially progressive policies, people take for granted.
Davis X. Machina
Romney will beat McCain’s share of the two-party vote, and exceed his EV total. He’ll lose, but he’ll cover the spread.
@Tyro: yep, Mitt will get some of the same treatment that Gore got. Until their bosses tell them to be nice to Mitt.
That never happened with Gore – different interests of bosses.
@gene108: Tell them to look at the stock market from Jan 2009 until today and say with a straight face that Obama is anti-business.
I guess they will decide that if a Republican had been in — and that would have been Wars McCain and Sarah Palin dontcha know,
that it would have done eleventy times better.
He reminds me too much of the Rev. Robert Tilton. All that’s missing are attempts to speak in tongues and a soundtrack of fart noises.
Look, he’ll be able to do it with Republican voters, because they no longer care. Romney is their cipher. Their party’s ultimate avatar.
He has the right look; the right hair; the wealth they admire, covet and would sell their soul (or grandma or kid’s health care) to have. It doesn’t matter that he flips positions on a daily basis for political gain, so do they. They’ll happily support whatever new policy comes from the party’s authorities even if it contradicts what was “Conservative” yesterday.
Because it’s not about principles. It’s not about a consistent ideology, or religion or any cohesive philosophy about life, social order, and politics.
It is ultimately about winning. About beating the others. About grasping the reins of power and kicking anyone else who tries to take it from you.
This is why they can defend buying a company, leveraging large amounts of debt against it, then bankrupting it, ruining the lives of its employees, and walking away with the profits. It’s about winning.
You’re dealing with a party that has adopted an antagonistic, egocentric, sociopathic economic philosophy and applied it to all areas of their lives.
So it doesn’t matter what Mitt says now, all that matters is winning, and if he can’t get the job done, then they’ll do what they can to burn the village down so the Democrats can’t enjoy holding power, because it’s not about the nation. It’s about them. It’s about power.
To put it in geek terms, the GOP is Gollum. The last shreds of Smeagol are gone and they no longer care about helping the nation, their own freedom, or what’s best for them. They’re going to lead the nation to its death so they can have one last grasp at the ring.
This is spot-on, but so many commenters are missing the point. We’re like Charlie Brown and the damn football: we always forget just how craven the GOP will be in its ads (by October even Michelle will be having her doubts about Barack), and how craven the gate-keepers of acceptable opinion are. Come the first week of October, this will be neck-and-neck, both candidates will have been revealed to have major flaws, Romney will have come to seem almost-likable…just like last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. All that kept 2008 from being a real nail-biter was McCain’s penchant for major high-profile f-ups, like Palin and suspending his campaign to meddle in the tanking economy. I wouldn’t expect Mr. Romney to commit similar errors…
Meyerson is largely correct, I only take issue with
It was just a re-branding. Same crappy policies, same horrible people, new name and – importantly! – new, tri-corner hats.
@c u n d gulag:
I think this, more than anything, is the nub of it. The major media are conglomerates now but also impacted by the shifting sands of advertising in a digital, social media era.
So they desperately need a horse race so that their TeeVee affiliates can sell 100s of millions of dollars of political ads.
If it’s Obama with a walk on Sept 15, the ad revenue dries up a lot. Can’t have that!
@Jim Pharo: But McCain had a head start on being considered honest and likeable. He was touted by Jon Stewart and Lorne Michaels. He told stories about banging chicks and made dorky reporters on the campaign bus feel like they were hanging with The Original American Badass. Romney can’t do any of that. He’s going to have to run the Bush ’88 campaign, an unpleasant and tone-deaf patrician candidate capitalizing on every last gaffe and whipping up fears of Others.
In the same way that Dems get no credit for balancing budgets and being the actual, responsible adults in the room when it comes to fiscal matters (because repubs seem to be able to equate tax cuts with budget discipline in a way that boggles the rational evidence-based mind but goes down soooo easy in a Villager’s pov), well, Dems get no credit for saving businesses collective asses in the 2008/9 melt-down.
Who wold have given two shits about carbon regulation or workplace safety if we were in a 20’s style truly great depression? The GOP was – and remains – ready to see the whole damn system collapse. They hated the bailouts, hated the stimulus, hated and still hate doing anything to preserve a functioning economy. HOW IS THAT PRO-BUSINESS????