Political Animal


October 24, 2012 12:15 PM Are Mitt’s Congressional Shackles Slipping?

By Ed Kilgore

What is potentially the most dramatic of all electoral subplots seems to be building with virtually no public comment: even as Mitt Romney postures to swing voters as the newly re-emerged Moderate From Massachusetts, the shackles of a Republican congressional majority that once guaranteed the slippery Mitt couldn’t violate his various blood oaths to the conservative movement may not be so tight any more.

Richard Mourdock has taken another big step towards throwing away a safe Senate seat in Indiana. Todd Akin is showing no signs of recovery in Missouri. The latest polls are showing Tim Murphy beginning to overcome Linda McMahon’s money in Connecticut, and Elizabeth Warren building a consistent lead in Massachusetts. Angus King again looks safe in Maine. Sure, GOPers could run the table of close races in Montana, North Dakota, Virginia and Nevada, but overall, prospects for Senate control are looking grim.

So the conservative game-plan, articulated many months ago by Grover Norquist, whereby a newly elected GOP congressional majority would pass the Ryan Budget via reconciliation procedures and present about a decade or two worth of demolition work to a newly elected President Romney, who had promised to sign it—doesn’t look quite so healthy. And this scenario hasn’t been discussed much because pretty much everybody figured an election in which Mitt won would surely produce a Republican Senate, given the GOP’s massive advantages in the landscape of that chamber in this particular cycle.

With Election Day just 13 days off, it’s far too late for conservatives to publicly demand fresh Vows of Total Submission from Romney—vows he’s already made, for one thing, but that most conservatives didn’t really think they’d need with a Republican Congress. They’ll have to grin and pretend to admire the Moderate Mitt talk, barren as it actually is. But you have to figure that behind the scenes there’s some serious don’t-you-dare-cross-us talk going on, whether or not Romney has any intention of using a Democratic Senate as an excuse to go back on his promises to let the conservative movement run wild in 2013 in exchange for tolerating his nomination.

It’s an interesting dynamic to watch, though one that is obviously of academic interest if Mitt loses and conservatives quickly consign him to the ashbin of failed RINOs.

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.


  • c u n d gulag on October 24, 2012 12:26 PM:

    Mitt is the Conservatives BEEYOTCH!

    He's like a woman, in that he is their vessel to get their one true son of Conservatism into a position of power - Paul Ryan.

    And if Ryan's ever elected President, and he has a Republican Senate and House, they'll repeal the amendment that limits presidential terms, suppress the votes, and have their Electronic Voting Machines calibrated to have "R" as their default position.

  • Ronald on October 24, 2012 12:27 PM:

    Of course they're going to toss him in the RINO pile. It certainly isn't like they'll actually, you know, take responsibility or anything.
    They'll be 'Romney won the first debate clearly, then went wonky and RINO in the next two and threw the election away. If he had only gone even further like we wanted, it would have guaranteed a win.'

  • Gretchen on October 24, 2012 12:30 PM:

    Romney cut an ad for Mourdock Monday, saying "this is someone we need in the Senate to accomplish the change we need". Tuesday, Mourdock said a rape baby is God's will. Wednesday the Obama campaign released a mashup of the two videos. It's absolutely devastating.

  • Janastas359 on October 24, 2012 12:40 PM:

    Quick note - it's Chris Murphy, not Tim Murphy. Otherwise great post, I have been delighted with Democratic support for the senate candidates this cycle.

  • stormskies on October 24, 2012 12:41 PM:

    Romney is so bent over, with pants down, grabbing his ankles that the only word he can say, without hesitation or lying yet again, is NEXT.

  • CharlieM on October 24, 2012 12:43 PM:

    No dynamic to it. The Mittster isn't interested in policy. He just wants to be president. It's just scorekeeping to him.
    Like Michael Douglas in "Wall Street". It's not about the money. Money is just a way of keeping score.
    Mitt's just trying to throw a touchdown to impress the rest of his 1% class. He doesn't care about the policies. He just wants the score.

  • BJ smith on October 24, 2012 12:58 PM:

    We all know he would only be there to convey Grover talking points, but not interested in money? He worships money.

  • clarence swinney on October 24, 2012 1:12 PM:

    We must get away from being 4th on Inequality and 3rd Least taxed in OECD nations.
    Least taxed led to Inequality
    1. Fed fund campaigns and elections---
    hang corporate person---
    Six months—3 primary 3 general---
    Free equal tv time---use no $$$$$ personal or donations
    Debate a week=12=adequate to evaluate candidates

    2. Federal employees can accept nothing with a financial value
    3. Progressive Tax system—Burn tax book start over—tax enough to pay our way-- and pay down horrid debt—We did it 1945-1980---Since 1980, we borrowed $15,000 Billion as the rich became ultra rich partly on borrowed money. Richest on earth cannot pay its way. DUMB. In 2012, we taxed 2450B of 14,000B income for 17.5% tax rate. We needed $1100 more in taxes to pay our way. 8% more of our income. We can afford it. We are better than Chile and Mexico?? Pay our way.
    Clarence Swinney peeved in North Carolina

  • schtick on October 24, 2012 1:16 PM:

    I've never believed that one party should be in complete control and I've always thought a person voting a straight ticket was being foolish. I look at it as I was taught in school (yeah,so many years ago!) as checks and balances in our system with both parties being respresentive of our views, but this party of teapubs that has evolved from the republican party is so off the wall, I'm afraid to vote for any of them.