Political Animal


November 01, 2012 10:31 AM Heard It All Before

By Ed Kilgore

This report from Michael Barbaro of the New York Times speaks for itself:

Lately, Mr. Romney cannot stop talking about how much he wants to work with Democrats.
“I will meet regularly with Democrats in Washington, with their leaders, and my party’s leaders, and battle together to find ways to help the American people,” he said a few days ago.
Rewind to the primaries: Mr. Romney sounded much less centrist. He said then that Tea Party members, known for their uncompromising rigidity, would find him “the ideal candidate.” He also questioned his rival Rick Santorum’s conservative credentials, citing a vote to fund Planned Parenthood.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference in early 2012, Mr. Romney emphasized, “I fought against long odds in a deep blue state, but I was a severely conservative Republican governor. I have been on the front lines and I expect to be on the front lines again.”
These days, when Mr. Romney talks about his record in Massachusetts, it is not as a deeply conservative governor, but as a leader who welcomed communication and compromise.
“I knew from the very beginning, to get anything done I had to reach across the aisle,” Mr. Romney said on Monday.
Sitting in the audience, Carla Dickard, 61, said she was drawn to Mr. Romney’s put-down-the-pitchforks message. “It wasn’t always like this, everyone so divided like they are,” she said. Ms. Dickard views Mr. Obama as overly partisan, setting off the birth of the Tea Party. Mr. Romney, by contrast, she said, “seems to understand that we won’t get anything done unless we work together.”

Now Carla Dickard, who apparently lives in Tampa, where Romney was campaigning, is easy to mock. How could anyone live through the last four years and reach the conclusion that the Tea Party was a collection of frustrated moderates who put on funny hats because Obama would never, ever talk to Republicans and backed a health care overhaul that no Republican could ever accept? And how could anyone living in a competitive Republican primary state where Romney and his rivals just a few months ago breathed fire at the very idea of even thinking about compromise with Democrats so confidently decide he was lying then instead of lying now?

Beats me, but we’ve certainly heard it all before: most notably in 2000, when George W. Bush, who was then the candidate of the entire conservative movement, spent months talking about his love of working with Democrats down in Texas (mostly a matter of accepting the surrender of conservative Democrats who were in the process of leaving their party during the latter stages of the Great Realignment), of his desire to be a “uniter, not a divider.” Didn’t work out that way, did it?

I do keep wondering if conservatives, who must understand by now that they are probably going to be denied the hammer of a majority in the Senate (which would largely turn Romney into a figurehead on domestic policy), are getting nervous about all this bipartisan happy-talk, which they generally regard as satanic. But I guess they’ve heard it all before, too, and unlike Carla, don’t take it seriously. As with Bush, “working with Democrats” most likely means “accepting their surrender,” aside from whatever face-saving gestures can be arranged. W.’s idea of a token of his bipartisanship after ascending to the presidency via intervention by the Supreme Court was to offer to make John Breaux, a friend of the oil and gas industry if ever there was one, Secretary of Energy. I’m guessing Mitt would be happy to offer a position to a nominal Democrat with jurisdiction over issues where his or her perspective happens to entirely coincide with that of the GOP. Why not? Talk is cheap, and so are empty gestures.

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.


  • mb on November 01, 2012 10:45 AM:

    Shortly before the 04 election, I saw my favorite headline of the Bush Administration. IIRC, it was from CNN announcing a poll result that "50% say Bush is Divider, 50% say Uniter." I mean, who could say? Was he a uniter? Or was he a divider? It was a mystery CNN just could not solve.

  • Fess on November 01, 2012 10:45 AM:

    Sad to say, but Ms. Carla is probably more drawn to the purity of Romney's epidermis than the purity of his intentions towards "the other side."

  • jim filyaw on November 01, 2012 10:48 AM:

    what a bizzaro world! a guy who spent 30 months in france dodging the draft and sired five sons who sat out three wars talking about "being on the front lines"???

  • lou on November 01, 2012 10:52 AM:

    Bush had the dems perceived weakness on defense to work with in getting many of them to go along on invading Iraq. Plus, 9/11 put the entire legislature in more of a mood to compromise on many national security issues.

  • c u n d gulag on November 01, 2012 10:55 AM:

    Carla Dickard is one of tens of millions of feckin' idjits in this country, who know nothing of our history, let alone political history, and believe what they see on FOX, and hear on Radio Rushwanda, or are sorrounded by people who do - and who are also too lazy, stupid, and/or ignorant, to form opinions by themselves - so, they repeat propaganda.

    I wish I was an unscrupulous grifter, because these feckin' idjits deserve to be parted from their dollars.

    Maybe I'll start a suicide cult, to cull these feckin' idjit's from people who actually have brains and can think.

    I'll call it "The Church of the Golden Egress!"

    I'll take your gold before the next comet comes, and these people drink their poison, and egress.

    Come, pray with me, Carla...

  • George Washington American on November 01, 2012 10:58 AM:

    Reminds me of my all-time favorite political headline -- "Nation split on whether Bush uniter, divider". It was an article about how 50% of the nation viewed Bush as a uniter, and 50% viewed him as a divider.

  • Mudge on November 01, 2012 11:03 AM:

    Keep in mind Charles Pierce's description of Romney-- "There is Romney and his family, then there is the help."

    The phrase "help the American people" translates as "deal with the help".

  • stormskies on November 01, 2012 11:03 AM:

    Dickard is such a perfect example of the underlying abject stupidity of about half of our population. These types are so stupid that they could figure out how to get out of a room that had one door.

    As for being on the 'front lines': if in fact he ever were, for example Viet-nam, he would never have made it home. and his death would not be because of those that we fought.

  • dweb on November 01, 2012 11:10 AM:

    Richard Mourdoch: My idea of compromise is Democrats agree with my position.

    Pretty much sums up the modern GOP ethos.

  • Joe Friday on November 01, 2012 11:13 AM:

    Willard keeps saying he worked with Dems when he was governor, except he issued the largest number of vetoes of any governor in the history of the state.

  • berttheclock on November 01, 2012 11:25 AM:

    Yes, indeed, Carla, why he worked so well with those Democrats in Masschusetts, he vetoed over 800 bills which many were over ridden by said Democrats. He, even, vetoed a bill which would have had the state match Federal funds to build flood controls for a small town. Those funds have been put in place by his successor. However, his staff has attempted to pass this off by saying Mitt had not been given plans for how said money would have been used. He, possibly, was channeling King from Iowa and was worried that a slew of massage parlors would spring up in that unfortunate Massachusetts town.

  • T2 on November 01, 2012 11:27 AM:

    it wasn't mentioned, but I'd guess Ms. Dickard is white. As in Old Southern White Lady...probably a big church-goer. FOX listener.
    But Ms. Dickard is only 61. So when she elects the friendly nice white man as her president, in about four years she's going to find out that her nice retirement must wait until she's 70......we've got to get a handle on that deficit, don't you know.
    And she'll wonder what would have happened to her grandson....the one that died on his third tour of duty fighting in Iran.

  • Peter C on November 01, 2012 11:28 AM:

    As Governor, Romney issued 844 vetos in only 4 years. That's NOT a model of bi-partisanship and working together.

    Sadly, Ms. Dickard is a victim of the Republican propaganda machine. She grew up in a time when people didn't lie so blatantly on radio and TV and you could trust Cronkite be accurate and truthful. The Republicans changed the paradigm and it has paid dividends with people like Ms. Dickard. Frustratingly, we have not adapted and we continue to suffer a strategic disadvantage.

    We need to make the Republicans pay a price for lying.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on November 01, 2012 11:57 AM:

    Not trying to personally attack the lady, but in quickly skimming the article I definitely kept reading her name as "Dickwad"...

    Yeah, I can be an asshole sometimes. I'm just a nut in the peanut gallery.

  • lizabet on November 01, 2012 11:58 AM:

    how many vetoes did he use as gov?700?

  • T2 on November 01, 2012 11:58 AM:

    @Peter C....the only price they understand is losing. And even then they'll blame it on everything else but their tactics and their bad policies and candidates. And they will simply lie harder next time. It's all they got.

  • Renai on November 01, 2012 12:00 PM:

    We stand today on a well-documented mountain of Mitt lies, and then he tops it all off by saying, I want to work with Democrats. And some little old lady from Tampa validates him in the Red State Rag, thus becoming queen for a day in Generic Retirement Village, USA.

    I wonder who finally solidified their voting decision by this last minute profundity. All I know is I can't roll my eyes any more, it's becoming painful.

  • Mimikatz on November 01, 2012 12:03 PM:

    The proof of Mitt's bogus bipartisanship is that he couldn't run for re-election as Governor and is behind by about 20 points in Massachusetts.

  • SKA on November 01, 2012 12:11 PM:

    Romney likes to talk about his ability to work across the aisle with members of the "Democrat" Party. Romney and other Republican leaders rudely refuse to use the historic name of the "Democratic" Party. How can Romney work in a bipartisan fashion, when he doesn't even have the decency to call the opposition party by its preferred name?

  • SYSPROG on November 01, 2012 12:12 PM:

    I love the Republicans who blame even the EXCESS in their party on Obama. 'We wouldn't be such complete jerks if Obama didn't DRIVE us to it!. But REALLY...elect all Republicans and we promise to play fair!!!'

  • Crusty the Ex-Clown on November 01, 2012 1:03 PM:

    Wealthy Willard's Well-oiled Weathervane harvests yet another undecided!!

  • BB on November 01, 2012 1:16 PM:

    Breaux's elevation to the Cabinet also would have given a Republican governor the chance to fill his seat in the then-evenly-divided Senate.

    By the way, I thought Dubya offered Breaux Treasury. Not that it affects the point you're making.

  • mrgavel on November 01, 2012 1:23 PM:

    Here's the problem with the NYT article quoting Ms. Dickard: We have no idea who she voted for in 2008. Did she vote for McCain, did she vote for Obama, or did she vote at all? If she voted for McCain, then she was never going to vote for Obama, no matter what he did or didn't do. In such case the whole "he's too partisan" narrative is just an excuse for doing what she was always going to do.

  • Old Doesn't Mean Brainless on November 01, 2012 2:21 PM:

    Isn't it nice that Mitt has such draw with old folks...that he'll send her to Voucherland after he's elected shouldn't impact her good opinion of him now.

  • Hmmmmm on November 01, 2012 3:08 PM:


    Corrected version:
    Ms. Dickard views Mr. Obama as BLACK, setting off the birth of the Tea Party.

  • Hmmmmm on November 01, 2012 3:39 PM:

    Let me try that again:

    "Ms. Dickard views Mr. Obama as overly partisan, setting off the birth of the Tea Party."

    Corrected version:
    Ms. Dickard views Mr. Obama as BLACK, setting off the birth of the Tea Party.

  • boatboy_srq on November 01, 2012 4:22 PM:

    @T2: Unfortunately, Tampa (and most of the Gulf Coast) is more New South than Old South. Ms. Dickard's family is probably recent transplants from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois or some other Midwestern state, where the local politics probably got too liberal for them.

  • ottercliff on November 01, 2012 4:22 PM:

    My guess is that the extent of a President Willard's reaching across the aisle would be to give Joe Lieberman some visible but powerless job.