Political Animal


March 21, 2012 10:36 AM Inevitable Blahs

By Ed Kilgore

Now that Mitt Romney is finally wrapping up the GOP nomination, you can expect some serious buyer’s remorse, or at least disenchantment, to ensue in elite Republican circles. I mean, yes, they think, it’s great the party didn’t go down the rabbit hole of nominating any of those hopeless losers that he eventually dispatched, but in the end, he’s still Mitt Romney, and it’s hard to get excited about that.

Even before last night, you could hear it, as in this report from Illinois by Craig Robinson, editor of The Iowa Republican, who has been studiously neutral in the GOP contest:

Mitt Romney provided the 200 or so people who showed up to see him at an American Legion hall in Moline on Sunday a little sustenance. Event attendees were treated to pancakes and their choice of coffee or orange juice at Romney’s Sunday morning event in Illinois in advance of Tuesday’s primary. Those who were looking for a little red meat found none on the menu or in Romney’s speech….
Besides the handful of very broad issues and some patriotic words about America and its founding, Romney offered only one sentence on the issues of healthcare. Romney said, “President Obama believes that bureaucrats in Washington should make your health care decision, I’ll repeal Obamacare on my first day in office.”
Romney also lumped his Republican opponent, Rick Santorum, in with the President. He said that both share a common characteristic, both have never worked in the public sector, and thus only know about the economy by reading about it books. He went on to say that there is nothing wrong with that, but now is the time to have someone in the White House with real world experience.
Despite his aggressiveness towards Santorum and Obama on the economy, Romney never even alluded to his own tax proposal. For a candidate who is running to fix the economy and get America working again, he didn’t feel compelled to share his plans with the people who turned out to see him on Sunday morning. Once again, Romney is good at identifying problems, this time with his opponents’ backgrounds, but to capitalize on the issue, he needs to show his economic prowess. In many respects, Romney is about as deep in terms of issues on the stump as Herman Cain was. Actually, that might be an insult to Cain.

That comment is particularly acidic given Robinson’s history of scathing hostility to Cain.

Then there’s this post-primary assessment from William Kristol:

Watching Mitt Romney’s victory speech in Illinois didn’t reassure me about his chances against President Obama. (Watch it yourself to see if I’m being unfair.) Romney’s remarks consisted basically of the claim that the business of America is business, that he’s a businessman who understands business, and that we need “economic freedom” not for the sake of freedom but to allow business to fuel the economy. It’s true that Romney will have plenty of time to improve for the general election, if, as seems likely (but still not inevitable!), he wins the nomination. But if he sticks with this core message, we’d better hope Republicans and independents are really determined to get rid of Barack Obama.

I’ve always felt “enthusiasm” is overrated as a factor in politics. But you do need to inspire people enough to make them want to get up in the morning and help you, and at this point, outside LDS members and maybe management consultants, the only reason anyone would lift a finger for Mitt would be out of hatred of Obama. As Kristol fears, that may not be enough.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Grumpy on March 21, 2012 10:48 AM:

    "Romney offered only one sentence on the issues of healthcare."

    And it was a lie. Actually, two lies. What are the odds?

  • boatboy_srq on March 21, 2012 10:49 AM:

    With all the GOP posturing about purpose and vision, it's startling that the candidate doing the least badly is running for president for no better (consistent) reason than that's a job he wants, and that all the others who had a consistent vision for what their presidency would look like are failing miserably despite those visions echoing what the Teabags demanded.

  • dht on March 21, 2012 10:53 AM:

    "I’ve always felt “enthusiasm” is overrated as a factor in politics. "

    Maybe so, but it is always easier to get people enthused against something than for something. Thus the Republicans job of getting people fired up against Obama is easier than the Democrats job of getting people fired up for Obama.

  • liam foote on March 21, 2012 10:56 AM:

    No, simple hatred won't be enough among anti-Obama GOP and independent votersloaph. While some will make a trip to the polls due to their visceral dislike for the President, many are likely to heed the mantra about his having saved the auto industry and killed bin Laden and simply stay home, looking ahead to 2016.

  • stormskies on March 21, 2012 11:08 AM:

    Just what Grumpy said: Yet another fucking lie about repealing the Affordable Care Act on day one. As we know this is legally not possible. All's this soulless buffoon can do, as well as the rest of the utterly corrupt Repiglican part that is as soulless as buffoon Romey, is lie, and lie some more.

    This is of course they desire to keep as many Americans as possible stupid. Only the stupid can 'believe' in these lies. And they do need as many Americans as possible to believe in their deliberate lies in order to be elected.

  • bmoodie on March 21, 2012 11:14 AM:

    Wow! Have you seen the Etch-a-Sketch comment made by Romney's adviser and noted at ThinkProgress, Greg Sargent, and Steve Benen's blogs? You've gotta believe the campaign is already walking that puppy back. I'm guessing that won't be helping in the "buyer's remorse" department for conservatives. Libs should absolutely flay the campaign alive on that one...

  • JS on March 21, 2012 11:43 AM:

    Romney said, “President Obama believes that bureaucrats in Washington should make your health care decision, I’ll repeal Obamacare on my first day in office.”

    Obama believes that bureaucrats in Washington with a duty to provide the best, cost-effective healthcare possible for Americans should make health care decisions.

    Romney believes that bureaucrats at insurance corporations with a duty to provide the shareholders with as much profit as possible should make health care decisions.

  • This Guy on March 21, 2012 11:57 AM:

    Are you serious? Romney is still not polling 50% of his own base. It is time to send two home and see if Romney can go one on one with another candidate. The media is scared to let real sunshine, shine on Romney for fear his real weakness (That no one likes him) will be shown in the light of day. There has been a lot of funny delegate counting in this primary and bloggers like yourself should be more focused on that, then hauling the water for the MSM.

  • Peter C on March 21, 2012 12:14 PM:

    To be a balanced ticket, Romney MUST choose Santorum as his running mate. Anything else would be the slap across the face heard around the world to the Evangelicals in the party.

    Romney must emerge from this process with the world's largest zealot/loony anchor strapped to his back. I think Santorum fits the bill, yes?

    Oh, and Ron Paul needs to be promised the Treasury Secretary position. Gingrich can be put in charge of the Consumer Product Safety Commission or perhaps the Federal Trade Commission.

  • jjm on March 21, 2012 12:22 PM:

    What was turnout like in the Illinois primary? I can't find any allusions to that anywhere.

    The high school level 'victory' speech Romney gave was so full of unsupported generalities, along with snide remarks about Obama, that it gave me real pause. Romney, it seems, has got nothing.

    Nothing except his Mormon directive to try for the top leadership position in the country, and nothing except for his silly belief that any corporation could have the interests of all the people, and all other corporations at heart: corporations are formed to battle each other. So what would one giant government corp. look like?

    I recall when I was young people laughing at the Soviet Union's GUM -- government universal department store -- which was the only place to shop. How would a corporate run government be any different?

  • N.Wells on March 21, 2012 12:24 PM:

    It is inevitable that Romney will reset to a more moderate position the moment he gets the nomination nailed down. It won't hurt him as much as it should, because 1) most people suspect that he is lying now, 2) he's so formless that people will no doubt project whatever they want on to him (whether Bush-style hopes that "he won't be that bad" or conservative expectations that he'll be unable or unwilling to oppose whatever a conservative house pushes forward), and 3) the media will endlessly reassure us that this is all part of the game, that all candidates run to the edges in the primary and come back to the center in the general election. However, it won't help him as much as he'd like, because lots of people will be unenthusiastic about a demonstrable liar without core principles. However, with massive vote suppression, trickery, and an unimaginable onslaught of mud-slinging, it could be enough.

    In Ohio, we've been getting extensive repetition of an ad that blasts Obama for being too cozy with Wall Street and getting too much money from them. Given that Wall Street is not being supportive of Obama, that this ad is paid for by people who want to hand the whole country over to Wall Street, and that it is Obama's opponents who are amassing insane amounts of dubious funding, the ad should be laughed out of town, and yet its ugly imagery and ominous tones are undoubtedly wearing down Obama's support among the general TV-watching public.

  • Peter C on March 21, 2012 12:26 PM:

    Sorry, I omitted my usual "snark off" suffix. Of course, I'm convinced having those people hold those offices would be DISASTEROUS for our country.

    But, can anyone promise that appointments like these *wouldn't* take place if Romney wins the white house??? This is the doubt we must sow in every voter's mind.

  • N.Wells on March 21, 2012 12:34 PM:

    So, $3.7 million of negative advertising bought Romney an 11 point gain in the polls in Illinois. Does anyone want to guess at what he could with, say, $400 million of negative advertising nation-wide in the autumn?

  • Colin Day on March 21, 2012 1:07 PM:

    He said that both share a common characteristic, both have never worked in the public sector,

    Shouldn't that be private sector?

  • emjayay on March 21, 2012 2:37 PM:

    Coffee OR orange juice? Jeeeze.

  • Ken on March 21, 2012 8:10 PM:

    "Romney also lumped his Republican opponent, Rick Santorum, in with the President. He said that both share a common characteristic, both have never worked in the public sector,.."

    jesusfckingchrist, it's PRIVATE sector! Can't the Bain front man even get that right?!