The Day After Tomorrow Thread (Will Be Updated Throughout the Day)
November 7th, 2012

(1) Jennifer Rubin, 8/30/12:

Mitt Romney accepted the nomination of his party for president with a speech that showed he can rise to an occasion, and let us see a side of him that was compelling and heartbreaking. . . .

When Romney arrived, dramatically walking through the hall, it was a reminder how determined some in the party had been not to like him. No more. . . .

The speech was succinct and clear, providing a contrast to the president, about whom Romney said had no real plan to revive the economy. It was a mirror image of the speaker: well organized, sentimental, reasoned and optimistic. The irony is the Mitt Romney we’ve seen on the trail is not complicated or “weird” or lacking warmth or even out of touch. He is, like many men of his generation, somewhat reserved and in a cultural time warp. Tonight, he also showed some mettle and spine.

After nearly four years of high-flying rhetoric, “coolness” and a failure by the chief executive to execute, Romney is hoping that the convention, followed by the debates, will be sufficient to reassure voters who have had it with Obama. Tonight he took a step in the right direction.

Jennifer Rubin, 11/7/12:

Until October it was the Perils of Pauline campaign. It moved in fits and starts on foreign policy. The message was rarely consistent from day to day. Gobs of ads were aired to no apparent effect. The convention speech was a huge missed opportunity.

(2) Some people think I’m exaggerating when I say that Romney was the worst candidate to win his party’s nomination since WWII. Can everyone agree that John McCain was a terrible candidate, or at least that he ran a terrible campaign? (I love McCain myself, but that doesn’t mean he was a great candidate.) Can we agree that McCain ran in one of the most challenging environments possible–two wars, financial crisis, opposing the historic first black nominee? And Romney’s environment has been quite favorable–can we agree on that?

If Romney had merely been able to hold onto all of the McCain ’08 vote–he would have won the popular vote . Other candidates that we think of as being weak–Dukakis, Gore, Dole, Stevenson–what they all have in common is that before losing the presidency they won a bunch of elections.

On the other hand the 48 percent of the vote Romney won last night was one of his better electoral showings.

The first duty of a politician is to win elections. Mitt Romney spent the last 18 years losing contests, to a variety of opponents ranging, in terms of ability, ideology, and resources, from Ted Kennedy to Rick Santorum.

(3) Santino makes a good point:

One final note, to Republicans: Just remember, whichever pet issue you have that the base disagrees with, that’s the one we need to change in order to ensure success going forward. So, you know, argue extremely loudly, preferably on Twitter, about it for the next few weeks.

Oh yes. Remember: Always be suspicious of paths to salvation which track personal preference.

(4) On this same line of thinking, please understand that when I say Mitt Romney was a historically bad candidate, it’s not because I thought he wasn’t conservative enough, or moderate enough, or because I had someone else in mind. (Okay, that last one’s a lie. Mitch Daniels, obvs.) But I do think it’s important to knock down the canard that Romney was the best candidate available. For one thing, Romney himself heavily influenced the pool of candidates by sucking up money and firing warning shots across the bows of potential rivals. But for another, let me just pose you this hypothetical:

It’s December 2011 and I come back to you in a time machine from the future. I won’t tell you whether or not he wins, but I will tell you that if Mitt Romney is the nominee in 2012, he will get more than 2 million fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008. Then I leave it up to you: You can go with Romney and hope that’s good enough, or you can pick whoever’s behind Door #2–Perry, Santorum, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Huntsman, whoever. We can’t prove counterfactual history, but I suspect most people would have rolled the dice with Door #2 on the theory of how much worse could it get?

Finally, I hesitate to say this, because it’s basically an argument to authority, but I’d suggest that if you spent a lot of time following presidential candidates around it significantly reinforced the sense that Romney was not, qua candidate, the best available player. I suspect that most people who say he wasn’t so bad as a politician haven’t spent a lot of time watching these guys up close. In person, the glare off his shortcomings was blinding.

(5) Over the last few weeks I’ve missed my friend Dean Barnett even more than usual. Dean, who began writing as Soxblogger and came to work with me at the magazine, was Romney’s single best advocate. Totally, completely in the tank for Romney–but cheerful and transparent and funny; good-humored and straight-shooting. He didn’t insult your intelligence with idiotic spin. And he genuinely believed in Romney’s abilities as a governing executive.

For the most part, the media boosters who glommed on to Romney this time around were . . . less attractive. And persuasive. But the single most striking thing is that the arguments mounted on behalf of Romney were almost always about process: He’s the most electable. He’s the only one able to raise enough money. He’s the only one with a national infrastructure. It was rare to hear one of Romney’s boosters explain how Romney’s vision for the country or capabilities uniquely qualified him for the job of president.

There was, to my mind, only one qualitative argument generally made in favor of Romney: that his management experience made him uniquely qualified to be president. He was a “turn-around artist.” A “genius CEO.” Now even the claim that his private-sector ability to master organizations and rescue them was a variation on process. And it always struck me as a little dubious. For one thing, it’s not immediately clear how the skill set of the private-sector executive transfers to the job of managing the executive branch of the U.S. government. CEOs say jump and everyone around them says how high. The president says jump and half of Congress tries to countermand the order while getting him fired and the other branch of government gets to decide whether jumping is even theoretically allowed.

But at least this was a falsifiable claim. And the fact that Romney could not master even his own campaign organization in order to win an incredibly winnable election demonstrates–incontrovertiably–that it wasn’t true. If he was a turn-around artist, he would be president-elect right now.

Most political campaigns aren’t invalidated by a loss. A candidate puts forward an idea or a worldview and it can stand whether or not it’s embraced by voters. It has its own truth. But in the wake of his loss Romney’s campaign now looks ludicrous. He simply can’t be a “genius” of managing and salvaging and not win. (Orca.)

(6) Romney now exits public life, stage right, leaving the smallest footprint of any man to win his party’s nomination in, at least, a century. He was not a war hero like John McCain or a Senate bull like Bob Dole. He does not leave behind a guiding core ideology that others might nurture and grow, like Barry Goldwater. Even Michael Dukakis and John Kerry spent years in harness to public service. George McGovern served his country with distinction and issued warnings about the nature of government that look prescient today. Hubert Humphrey held nearly every office there was and Adlai Stevenson was a genuine intellectual.

Mitt Romney was a governor for two years before deciding to run for president. He passed a healthcare law that became the forerunner of Obamacare. He made a lot of money. Seen in this light, it’s still a little shocking that he was entrusted with the Republican party’s standard.

(7) Ann Coulter is very smart but I don’t even know how to respond to this:

Romney was the perfect candidate, and he was the president this country needed right now. It’s less disheartening that a president who wrecked American health care, quadrupled gas prices, added $6 trillion to the national debt and gave us an 8 percent unemployment rate can squeak out re-election than that America will never have Romney as our president.

Indeed, Romney is one of the best presidential candidates the Republicans have ever fielded. Blaming the candidate may be fun, but it’s delusional and won’t help us avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

  1. Galley Reader JH November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Jennifer Rubin should be forced to share an office with Maureen Dowd.

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  3. Galley Wife November 8, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Let’s make it a trifecta: Add Peggy Noonan.

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  5. devilsprinciple November 8, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Might as well add Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Mata Hari.

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  7. mrmandias November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I wish I could believe this was all or even mostly on Romney.

    He ran as a generic Republican, which was not his optimum choice, but which means that the election wasn’t a rejection of him more than a rejection of conservative republicanism.

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  9. Maguro November 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm


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  11. Joe Sixpack November 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Duh. The GOP hasn’t run a genuine conservative for President since I’ve been voting since 1988. Now go back under the bridge troll.

    GHW Bush. “Vision Thing”
    Bob Dole “The Great Compromiser”
    GW Bush “Compassionate Conservative” <- Could have been a Democrat and Liberals would love him.
    John McCain "Worst Candidate Evar"
    Mitt Romney "Proved Worse than John McCain."

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  13. Denan Markes November 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Joe: “Duh.” Your answer misses the point.

    The salient fact of this election is that the electorate voted to keep a president in office whose biggest failures were in the area voters deemed “most important” to them: The economy.

    With due respect, I believe you are beating a dead horse. The time is past when a “genuine conservative” can beat a Democrat like Obama for the presidency – because to a growing number of voters Obama is more than a president, he is Santa Claus.

    The Occam’s Razor of this election: Obama and the Democrats deliver free stuff to voters and/or to their favored PC identity group or cause – Romney (or even a “genuine conservative”) would have taken all that away.

    Ben Franklin said, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” Well, guess what, many people in America have found that they can vote themselves money, and it is not by accident. They have been encouraged and empowered by the new American liberalism to feel fully justified and self-righteous in doing so…

    Obama and the Democrats have been far, far more successful at ‘creating and saving’ moral hazard than many realize. And as Obamacare and Dodd-Frank fully kick in over the coming years, moral hazard will become a terminal plague on the nation.

    I believe Obama’s presidency and this election were key tipping points in the process Franklin (and others) warned us against. The Democrats focus on Obamacare and Dodd-Frank was a two-fer: It drove more people into dependency on government for this election; while simultaneously creating the massive govt infrastructure of the future (laws, regulations, control over individuals and markets) needed to radically increase the number of govt-dependent citizens – and so too the number of Democrat voters.

    That is the nature of the beast that is beating Republican/conservative candidates and killing our nation and killing our nation. No Republican, no conservative, could have beaten Obama in this election.

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  15. GailH November 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    As long as you and the rest of the republicans keep believing that, we’ll keep winning. Thank you!

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  17. JohnK860 November 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Change to “republican conservatism” and I’ll agree wholeheartedly. But the concept of Conservative is totally out of whack with what the Republicans currently proclaim. They are not conservatives, they are the Radical Right whose standard bearers carried the same initials. Ironically, the new and current president Barack Obama shows almost all of the characteristics of the Conservatives in the Goldwater, Reagan, Bush – the first Bush, not “Shrub” (as Molly Ivins dubbed him). And that’s what America seems to want.

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  19. bustermcd November 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Given Rubin’s boosterism of Romney’s campaign through the primaries and into the general election, her analysis today takes some serious chutzpah. Good on you for spotlighting the inconsistency.

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  21. Nedward November 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Rubin reminds me of that John Goodman line to Affleck in Argo, the one he follows up with, “You’ll fit right in.” Except the results are like Desert One

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  23. Icosahedron November 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Likewise, if I’d known on Monday that O would receive fewer votes than McCain ’08, I’d have thought Romney a cinch. This election was winnable.

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  25. lkt November 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

    The President didn’t receive less votes than McCain. Romney did.

    2008-O=66,882,230 M=58,343,671
    2012-O=60,743,182 R=57,853,713 (although, they’re still counting votes).

    The main clue that the race wasn’t winnable with Romney should’ve been that he’s the guy the O camp wanted to run against. Newt, Santorum, and Perry all warned this and told how the attacks against him would play out. The 2nd clue was that none of the top choices for conservatives wanted to jump in, like Daniels or, formerly (?), Christie.

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  27. Maguro November 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Do you really believe any of the other Republican primary contenders would’ve done better? Who out of Newt, Santorum, Ron Paul, Huntsman, Perry and whoever the hell else entered the primaries 18 months ago would’ve beaten Obama?

    Maybe the problem is the product – the Republican brand – and not the guy who tried to sell it.

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  29. Kevin November 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    For better or worse, had Huntsman actually tried to run, I think he would’ve done better. Enough to win? Dunno, but better. Yes, he was a “moderate”, but he actually had real ideas.

    But then again, Huntsman was offering something different. He was actually on issues offering some real reform. his problem came entirely from believing that the way to win a primary was to spend the entire time giving the finger to anyone who tried to give him a second or third or fifth look.

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  31. Joe Sixpack November 7, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Newt Gingrich would have won. Easy. The fireworks from the debates alone would have been a national sensation.

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  33. phillyjohn November 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    You, sir, are delusional. Newt would have gotten stomped.

    Face it, all of your candidates and your platform were an anathama to the bulk of the electorate. Keep kidding yourself about “the Obama voters all want stuff” nonsense and you’ll continue to get beat. For as long as the Republican Party remains joined at the hip with the so-called “religious right,” you’ll never win a presidential election (which of course is fine by me).

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  35. Joe Sixpack November 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    The problem with the Republican brand is a result of the Karl Roves and the Establishment.

    Republicans run as “fiscal conservatives,” until they get in office. They had their chance when they controlled Congress and had the Presidency. They had the chance to undo years of leftist progressive legislation in a couple of years.

    They didn’t.

    Voters noticed.

    How did conservatism do in 2010?

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  37. mrmandias November 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Amen. I wasn’t a Romney supporter in the primary, but I wasn’t against him either because none of the other candidates had anything to offer.

    Huntsman is an empty suit.

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  39. SkinsFanPG November 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    You know whose name is conspicuously absent from all post-election talk? – Sarah Palin

    You know who sure as hell notices that Romney underperformed McCain? – Sarah Palin

    Just sayin…

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  41. Phil November 7, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    This is along the lines of what I’ve been thinking too. Romney underperforming McCain…who expected that? Anyone?

    Is the difference that “values voters” stayed home because Romney didn’t give them anything to vote for?

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  43. mrmandias November 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Interesting conjecture. It looks like Evangelicals actually came out in massive strength to vote for Romney.

    But the supposition can still work. There is probably a decent sized white, working class population that is susceptible to patriotic, regular guy appeals–the sort of people truck ads aim at–and who are somewhat religious but not evangelical per se.

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  45. Denan Markes November 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    While I hoped it was going to go the other way, I wasn’t all that surprised at the outcome. My working theory what would motivate people to vote was based on the economy, but not in the usual sense. A key fact that is being overlooked is that there are far more voters dependent on government today than in 2008. And to many of them, “the economy” equates to “the government”.

    To them, the election was between President Santa Claus who promised them everything, and Romney the Grinch who would take it all away.

    I think that we just witnessed the effects of government created moral hazard on a very important election. And I think it was by design not circumstance. Do you really think Obama and the Democrats ignored the economy for 17 months not knowing that come 2012 there would not be many millions more Americans dependent on the government? They aren’t that stupid. Evil yes, not stupid.

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  47. Trumwill November 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    The argument that it was Romney’s fault would carry more weight if there hadn’t been other races. Senatorial candidates in Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Montana should not have needed coat-tails to win their respective seats (and Romney *killed* in Montana, vis-a-vis McCain). The primary issue here is the party itself. Romney navigated his party terribly, and didn’t lead it, but all of the general fundamentals in the world couldn’t compensate for the fact that the GOP has done everything it can to actively alienate people outside the tent. I don’t just mean failing to win Independents, but giving the Democrats ammunition to get enough people out to the polls in order to win a lot of races.

    I don’t entirely disagree about whether it’s a question of too-conservative or insufficiently so. But he was carrying the torn banner of a troubled party. Give the banner to someone else, it isn’t suddenly mended.

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  49. Galley Friend L.B. November 8, 2012 at 9:02 am


    JVL, there’s no doubting Romney was a less-than-ideal candidate, both in his long-demonstrated lack of general political appeal, and how his bio and persona (Bain Capital, etc.) were particularly ill-suited to the present moment. (Huckabee’s putdown four years ago that Romney “looks like the guy who fired you” is as damning now as ever.) But Trumwill’s right — Republicans of all flavors lost very winnable races on Tuesday. The effort to pin all the blame on Romney’s shortcomings will short-circuit our efforts to answer a pressing question: How can Republicans and conservatives win future elections and advance their principles, given a body politic that leans much farther left than we had hoped?

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  51. Crank November 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Outstanding. One question:

    “Romney now exits public life, stage right, leaving the smallest footprint of any man to ever win his party’s nomination.”

    Including Wendell Willkie, who is really best known for his decisions on what *not* to make an issue of, and who was dead by the end of the war? I’d put him and Romney much in the same class, especially since he was a former New Dealer.

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  53. matt p November 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    The core of this piece is the assumption that mitt and bo did worse than McCain. You are comparing the initial 2012 vote to the final 2008 vote. Many votes will come in over the next month. Big error in piece.

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  55. Jon November 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    “I won’t tell you whether or not he wins, but I will tell you that if Mitt Romney is the nominee in 2012, he will get more than 2 million fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008.”

    When the millions of remaining votes are counted, this will probably not be true.

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  57. matt p November 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm

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  59. Judith November 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    1) Yes, Rubin does shift around – but I think you’re doing a bit of cherry-picking on her views. She was one of the ones, including your boss, who were throwing up their hands in despair and complaining in print in mid-to-late September about the poor job the Romney campaign was doing.

    2) Yes, we can agree that McCain ran in a highly unfavorable environment & Romney in a more favorable one. But, hold on with the vote totals. I call John Podhoretz to the stand:
    “As I write, Mitt Romney has 57.4 million votes. John McCain ended up with 59.9 million. It’s a little noticed fact that in two weeks following every presidential election, votes continue to be reported…by the millions. As I recall, Barack Obama got something like four million more votes in the weeks after election day, while John McCain got two or three million. It’s likely that by Thanksgiving, the final vote tally will show Romney very close to or even slightly exceeding McCain’s total.”

    I’m not an expert on these things, just putting in this one possible data point for the record.

    I’ll grant you the “Mitt Romney sure hasn’t won many elections” point. It’s a point you made early in the primary cycle that I never forgot.

    However, Romney debated effectively – it was nice not to have to hold your breath as to whether our candidate would be able to string subject and verb together.

    3) Fine. Agree. I don’t have a pet cause. Too busy trying not to fall into despair.

    4) “But I do think it’s important to knock down the canard that Romney was the best candidate available.”

    He was the best candidate available in the sense that all the other best candidates sat this one out. INCLUDING MITCH DANIELS. Who I’d have preferred over Romney, too, but he didn’t run, which is like, the first thing a politician has to do. Jeez.

    “For one thing, Romney himself heavily influenced the pool of candidates by sucking up money and firing warning shots across the bows of potential rivals.”

    Um, that’s an argument IN FAVOR of Romney’s ambition, planning and organizational skills. That’s how he won the nomination (well, that and an incredibly weak field) WHICH YOU HAVE TO DO TO WIN THE PRESIDENCY.

    Are you expecting him to observe some sort of gentleman’s agreement – no, please, you go first – en route to running against a $1billion opponent with advantages of incumbency and a partisan media? Should he have stopped fundraising for 6 months to let someone else catch up?

    “but I will tell you that if Mitt Romney is the nominee in 2012, he will get more than 2 million fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008. Then I leave it up to you: You can go with Romney and hope that’s good enough, or you can pick whoever’s behind Door #2–Perry, Santorum, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Huntsman, whoever. We can’t prove counterfactual history, but I suspect most people would have rolled the dice with Door #2 on the theory of how much worse could it get?”

    Again with the iffy #s on vote totals between Romney & McCain. Maybe Romney will have gotten less, but I don’t think that’s established yet.

    Dude – did you see Perry “debate”? He made W. look eloquent. And I was an anybody but Romney voter, ready to give him a chance, but he never brought it. NEVER. He seemed to think he was going to waltz in and be instantly acclaimed. You actually have to earn the nomination.

    Pawlenty – couldn’t even attack Romney effectively.

    Gingrich – the amount of baggage he had? Yes, Gingrich as the nominee in 2012 would have done worse than Romney – (you can’t prove he wouldn’t have and I can’t prove he would.)

    Santorum – talk about not winning elections – the only reason he was running for President is to stay in politics after he couldn’t get re-elected in Pennsylvania. No, don’t think he would have done better than Romney and probably worse. Poorly organized, underfunded.

    Huntsman – not going there – me and 99% of the Republican primary voters.

    What all these folks have in common is that Romney beat them in the primaries. Are you arguing that if they could magically been spared going up against Romney, they could then have beaten the guy that beat Romney? Makes no sense to me.

    Yes, I would rather Paul Ryan at the top of the ticket – had my fingers crossed – I would rather have had Chris Christie (now, getting a bit queasy about him) – I would rather have had Jindal, Mitch Daniels — and it’s too bad your colleague and my favorite writer, Andrew Ferguson, had to torpedo (albeit not on purpose) Haley Barbour before he really even had his hat in the ring.

    Romney was the last man standing. I don’t think he was that many people’s first choice – but he was the only plausible choice of those in the race.

    I am willing to take your word for it that he’s not a good politician. Actually, I think I could sort of tell that from watching him in 2008.

    Was he the best candidate of all the potential candidates in the world? No, one of the worst. Was he the best candidate in a weak field. Yes. Sad for us, but, yes.

    5) “But the single most striking thing is that the arguments mounted on behalf of Romney were almost always about process.”

    Yep, agree totally. He’s a technocrat in his soul – I think he really believes that everything is an “empirical” question to be resolved by data – no political philosophy required.

    “And the fact that Romney could not master even his own campaign organization in order to win an incredibly winnable election demonstrates–incontrovertiably–that it wasn’t true.”

    Well, I don’t know enough about the inner workings of the campaign. Maybe he wasn’t managing it well. But, maybe it was that real lack of political philosophy, lack of vision that kept him from having a compelling message. Or, the fact that the guy has a preternaturally high “play it safe” default mode. Either of which would be a factor preventing him from winning, but not because of a lack of organization.

    6) Yep, not much of a political legacy. Good guy, honorable man, fine family.

    7) Yeah, I don’t know what’s with Ann Coulter and Romney, an inexplicable pairing of a bomb thrower and an establishment guy.

    8) Don’t forget Romney (his speechwriters) was funny at the Alf Landon dinner. (Ah, mid-October, between debates. What a happy time that was!) Maybe someone can book him for the Weekly Standard Cruise?

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  61. Nedward November 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    “whoever’s behind Door #2–Perry, Santorum, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Huntsman, whoever”

    Oh my God…

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  63. Nedward November 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I realize you were badmouthing Romney since way back when–even entertaining GINGRICH’S genius point of the year (“Bain Capital Is The Root of All Evil”) when everyone else was horrified at the turgid clown dishing out free oppo. This I remember, via certain web site comments concurring with your doubts, including such from an individual of my particular close longstanding acquaintance (back to the GS blogspot days, my man). So you established credibility well, WELL beyond the local Powerlines, Barones, Aces of Spadeses, and Krauthammers. You were totally right. However, piling on won’t affect America lounging about where Sweden was in 1960, only with more interracial/class strife and that public debt thing.

    Romney knew to whom to appeal: the Karl Roves, Reince Preibi, Lindsey Grahams, News Corp. Street Journals of the realm. To get the movement mags on-board he acquired that topical new telegenic D.C. lifer for veepmate. It was a stupid strategy, yes. But if you’re gonna re-thrash Romney, put in a word for it “seeming like a good idea at the time.” Other than Mark Steyn who was blaring the under-story, that we’ve settled into Post-Competence USA? As demonstrated in lower Manhattan last week.

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  65. SteveN November 7, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    1) Stevenson was a dolt pretending to be an intellectual. He is remembered as an intellectual because of the never-ending theme of liberals=smart, Republicans=stupid. Eisenhower was objectively more intelligent – not just more competent, but more intelligent – than Stevenson.

    2) Don’t blame just Romney for Romneycare. It had the conservative blessing from Heritage Foundation. This should never be forgotten.

    3) Early in the candidate recruiting cycle didn’t Ann Coulter say something to the effect of “If Chris Christie doesn’t run we will end up with Mitt Romney as the nominee and we will lose”? She was right about that, I guess, but will Chris Christie ever win elective office again…as a Republican?

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  67. Nedward November 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    You flashed me back to jr. high drama/rhetoric class when we had to analyze the wit & wisdom of “beautiful loser” Adlai at length. I could never figure out what people saw in it–a guy whose intellectual reputation rests on his reputation for being an intellectual. Does anyone remember his speeches today outside of a schoolroom context? I wonder what’s the other Democrat orator that reminds me of… Hmm

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  69. Pepe November 19, 2012 at 1:17 am

    The only reason Adlai Stevenson is regarded as an “intellectual” is that Republicans “smeared” him with that label. Republicans have had a long held anti-intellectual streak (see the reverence for Sarah Palin), as has American populism, so “intellectual” when used to label Stevenson, was actually a smear, not a compliment.

    By the way, Nedward and SteveN confuse “intellectualism” with “intelligence”. Obviously Ike was extremely intelligent; he won the western front, for goodness sake. And I would speculate that Ike was more intellegent than Stevenson (though I don’t know for certain that that’s the case.) But I don’t know if Ike was an “intellectual” or not, and it *appers* that he was less of an intellectual than Stevenson was.

    One can have an IQ of 300 yet have zero intellectual curiosity about anything, so that person would be brilliant in pure IQ sense, but not an intellectual of any kind. By the same/reverse token, one can have intellectual curiosity about history, philosphy, logic, metaphysics, etc, and spend lots of time pondering and reasoning about such things, yet be an utter moron (see Oswald Bates). Such a person might be an “intellectual” but would come off as a blithering idiot.

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  71. Icosahedron November 8, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Why is GOP able to do well in local e.g. H of R elections, but poorly in statewide and national? Bigger races are seen mostly through press filter. What else?

    Perhaps instead of asking what went wrong, we ought to ask what works.

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  73. Galley Friend L.B. November 8, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Re: your first question, the ability of GOP-controlled state legislatures to draw favorable district boundaries has a lot to do with it.

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  75. brobro November 8, 2012 at 8:57 am

    hey jonny boy, you think yourself a journalist then study up on the subjunctive case you illiterate moron.

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  77. Galley Wife November 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    These are my favorite kinds of posts. : )

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  79. MF November 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    The subjunctive is a mood, smarty pants.

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  81. Galley Wife November 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Thank you for being the one to say that. I came so close, but resisted. : )

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  83. Merle November 8, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Mitt Romney is a virtuous man, a rarity in today’s world. He ran against a devil and the complicit media. The devil’s party was well run by evil men. It was too much to overcome.

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  85. KLSmith November 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Yep. After all this, the Republicans still don’t see how extreme the Democrats are and the depths they will descend to.

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  87. Pepe November 19, 2012 at 1:24 am

    Romney is a virtuous man.

    Is that why Romney outright lied to Ohioans and scared them with his “Chrysler is moving all Jeep production to China” lie? Thousands of Ohioans were so scared about that lie that they phoned Chrysler headquarters to ask them if their jobs were in jeopardy. Maybe when you say “Romney is a virtuous man” you’re being sarcastic ala Mark Atony’s “Brutus is an honorable man.”

    Romney ran the most dishonest campaign in my lifetime, and that’s a long time. Another example off the top of my head, Romney’s “Obama gutted welfar work requirement and now just hands out welfar checks; as a gift to his ‘base'”. Not only was it a lie (Republican governors asked for flexibility wrt their state welfare programs, and the Obama administration granted those states a waiver if those states could show that their plans INCREASED the work requirement by 20%), it also engaged in race baiting.

    I mean, my God, Romney made Trump, the head of “birthirism” an integral part of his campaign! Yet Romney is a virtuous man. Yeah, right.

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  89. PelosiSchmelosi November 8, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Romney – or any other Republican seeking NATIONAL election – is hampered by an outdated Party that hasn’t kept up with a changing electorate.

    Latinos should be a natural fit to the Republican Party. But they’ve never been able to attract them mostly because they don’t have ANY immigration policy. Deportation IS NOT policy, nor is it feasible. You’ve had years to fix this, but are either too ignorant or powerless to change. This is a LOSER!

    Obama lost TEN MILLION VOTES. He was ripe for the picking. Frankly, it’s not gonna get better than this. But when you’re unable to convince voters because your Party hasn’t kept up with the times and you can’t bring new voters on-board, YOU LOSE!

    When you have to provide sensitivity training to your Senate candidates and can’t articulate an intelligent, moderate position on abortion, YOU LOSE!

    Romney wasn’t a perfect candidiate, but he didn’t have to be. The guy on the other side wasn’t either. But he gave away just enough FREE STUFF, and dragged them across the finish line for a narrow victory.

    The Republican Party needs to wake up and realize they CANNOT compete nationally without making some major changes to their platforms and who their message is going to if they expect to win ANY future National elections. I for one am DONE with the GOP when it comes to National elections. WAKE UP!

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  92. mrmandias November 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    You can’t spell Latino without the L for Liberal.

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  94. Nedward November 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    The funny part is we’re steadily learning that “Hispanics” of to-day (and “Asians!”) have even further-left views on social issues than do blacks

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  96. MissButterfly November 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Ann Coulter is right. The fact that Romney didn’t put together a good enough campaign to win doesn’t mean that he’s not a good turn around artist, it just means he didn’t find out he’d be the nominee until recently – Obama and his group have known this for four years. And he didn’t have the huge, main stream media in his corner. And his campaign was too decent for the extreme hatred spewed by the oily Axelrod group.
    Liberals made their nasty bed, now they can lay in it.

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  98. Ben2 November 8, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I think JVL was right about Romney’s weaknesses all along, but is wrong about the alternatives. Perry was great on paper, but clearly unprepared to discuss national issues. The rest — although I agreed with many of their positions — were the dregs running to boost their profiles for future cable news hosting gigs. (Or at least it felt like this). The great unknown is what would have happened if Pawlenty had had the resolve to weather the brief Michele Bachmann boomlet (did that really happen?) and give himself time to improve as a candidate. It is an interesting counterfactual to imagine what would have happened in the early-mid primaries if he’d been the plausible alternative to Romney rather than Santorum or Gingrich.

    (But then again, not having the desire to weather the inevitable storms of a now two-year campaign is probably in itself an indicator of unfitness for running a four-year administration).

    Moving forward, the Republicans have a theoretically “deep” bench looking towards 2016, comprised of Ryan, Rubio, Jindal, Rand Paul, Portman, McDonnell, and Chris Christie (if he’s forgiven for the necessity of sucking up to the Feds during Sandy). But didn’t we supposedly have a deep bench of candidates not ready to challenge McCain in 2007/2008 but who would save the party in 2012? Pawlenty, Jindal, Daniels, and (pre-VP-implosion) Palin? But despite the unpopularity of Obamacare and unemployment over 9% none of them chose to run (or the one who did, Pawlenty, bailed early). This, I think, was the Republican’s biggest problem.

    2012 shows a deep bench only matters if everybody shows up for the game.

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  100. moron November 8, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Good vs Evil. America voted for Evil.

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  102. KLSmith November 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I’d say they voted for smart v. stupid and stupid won.

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  104. youcancallmecrazybut November 8, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I can agree on Mitch Daniels but I think this election was bought and paid for by obamaphones, welfare checks, recycled promises, IOUs to unions, future sharia favors including the muslim brotherhood, past, current and future crony capitalism and last but not least racists and by that I mean the 90% plus that put race before America’s future. Zero did absolutely nothing to make anyone with a clear head think America is better off now or will be better off in the future. Now he can try out his flexibility with Putin as Putin bends him over the table.

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  106. dharc November 8, 2012 at 11:07 am

    …the only thing this election proved,is that there are millions of stupid , brainwashed people who want free obamaphones,while Obama is erecting prison fences around them…they made their beds but the rest of us have to sleep in this communist h3ll they’re making.

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  108. HG November 8, 2012 at 11:13 am

    People Continue underestimating the influence of the media as obama’s extended campaign. Once again they were O’s greatest asset. Didn’t matter who the R’s ran, the distorted and ridiculous take hold in the minds of the avg low-info voter – “…back to the same policies that got us into this mess”.
    Media will continue winning elections for the left if they’re not confronted consistently. They must be feeling drunk w/power after getting O re-elected w/that abysmal record.
    Most satisfying moments from the entire campaign cycle – Gingrich calling out the lib moderators on how their questions were premised in the R debates.
    A legit mainstream press and Romney would have won easily.

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  110. Four More Years « Huck Online November 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    […] Jonathan Last does a good take re: Romney’s electability. I agree with him; I like Romney, and the more I knew about him, […]

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  112. KLSmith November 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Mr Last, no matter how insightful you may be and no matter how many excellent points you made…
    if you think Mitch Daniels ( and many people do ) had a prayer, then you are still living in the past century. Does Obama not prove that you must look good on TV?
    And of all the problems the Republican party has, all of you are ignoring the loser stamp you just acquired. The problems between the different camps are probably irreconcilable and now we’ve added to it.
    Our country as we knew it is gone. We are now living in the pre- “Idiocracy” stage. It’s kind of cute but sad you think we’ll get it back with just the right candidate and just the right ideas.

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  114. The Voice Of Age-Old Wisdom — Hillary Is 44 November 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    […] article today that discusses how difficult it is to oust an incumbent and praises Mitt. Jonathan Last blames Romney and calls him the worst candidate since World War […]

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  116. Kevin November 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    So sent this in an email to Mr. Last, but readers might see this as well as important.

    When people say Romney was a good candidate who ran a great campaign….. how the hell do you answer this?

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  118. How Romney got out-organized by Obama « Hot Air November 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    […] elections away. Can’t anyone here play this game? I’ll leave you with this, from Jonathan Last: There was, to my mind, only one qualitative argument generally made in favor of Romney: that his […]

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  120. Evan November 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Romney suffered because he was defined early as an out-of-touch rich kid who didn’t know what working-class Americans dealt with. It’s partially true, he hasn’t experienced what most working-class Americans dealt with… and a lot of that has to do with the fact that a lot of working-class Americans (looking at you Rust Belt) aren’t as driven, smart, and hard-working as Romney is/was.

    Regarding point #6, his lasting legacy should (and won’t) be that he was likely one of the most upstanding and charitable men to ever run for office, surely in our era at least. You may hate how he acquired his money, JVL, but I’m amazed at how his vast amount of good works were underreported.

    The media played the biggest role in the campaign, not just covering up Benghazi, Katrina II (Sandy), Fast & Furious, etc., but also by nationalizing Mourdock and Akin’s idiocy and making it a GOP problem, and also by letting an extraordinarily decent, kind, and charitable man be tarred as ruthless and uncaring because he was rich.

    He may have sucked on the campaign trail in dealing with people, but having heard many of the stories of his charitable works (not just giving away money, but going and doing actual work with actual people in crisis) I think you’re missing the aspect of Romney that is the easiest to appreciate. I remain baffled that so many folks on the Right are ignoring it during their recrimination phase.

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  122. Kevin November 9, 2012 at 11:18 am

    In the end, we are expected to be charitable. Not only as a matter of religious precept, but (for the more secular inclined) because local charities and communities are essential to the conservative ethos. You don’t get accolades and rewards for doing what you are supposed to do.

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  124. Evan November 13, 2012 at 8:13 am

    That’s alternate universe stuff right there. If the “reward” is elective office, then we shouldn’t reward someone if they balanced the budget, secured borders, executed the law, provided leadership, etc.? (Those qualities are not meant to describe Romney, but rather what an Executive is supposed to do in our government)

    What, pray tell, are we supposed to use to judge a candidate if not how he measures up to what he is supposed to do?

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  126. David November 9, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    >> And the fact that Romney could not master even his own campaign organization in order to win an incredibly winnable election demonstrates–incontrovertiably–that it wasn’t true.

    Incontrovertibly, not “incontrovertiably.”

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  128. Romney the Great Manager? Not Nearly as Good as Obama, the Election Proved - Forbes November 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    […] Here’s how Jonathan Last, who writes often for The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard, puts it: […]

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  130. Romney the Great Manager? Not Nearly as Good as Obama, the Election Proved | News from around the world November 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    […] Here’s how Jonathan Last, who writes often for The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard, puts it: […]

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  132. Romney the Great Manager? Not Nearly as Good as Obama, the Election Proved – Forbes | CouponFlow November 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    […] Here’s how Jonathan Last, who writes often for The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard, puts it: […]

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  134. Romney the Great Manager? Not Nearly as Good as Obama, the Election Proved November 10, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    […] Here’s how Jonathan Last, who writes often for The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard, puts it: […]

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  136. Nedward November 11, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Another analogy to 2004 (just having read your new WS analysis): the opportunistic professional opinionators like Frum and Kathleen Parker have been pumping out their No Labelist diagnoses–but that isn’t the part that’s eerily similar; that’s not even new. What is different this week is that the left-wing message boards are filled with smug liberals now quoting from Frum/Parker with sentiments like, “It’s so true; the Republicans need to listen to Kathleen Parker; enough with the name-calling and accusing ‘RINOs’; you need to learn from their sage prescriptions, and then we’ll have a respectable competitive 2-party system that serves the nation’s interests once again.”

    It’s that last clause of concern-trolling I found so uncannily reminiscent of 2004.

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  138. ACROSS THE FADER – BIZ - November 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    […] how Jonathan Last, who writes often for The Wall Street Journal andThe Weekly Standard, puts it: There was, to my mind, only one qualitative argument generally made in favor of Romney: that his […]

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  140. The Romney Candidacy in Retrospect - November 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    […] is all grist for the longtime Romney skeptic Jonathan Last’s obituary, which includes the following questions for anyone who argued that Romney was the most electable […]

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  142. The Romney Candidacy in Retrospect | News from around the world November 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    […] is all grist for the longtime Romney skeptic Jonathan Last’s obituary, which includes the following question for anyone who argued that Romney was the most electable […]

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  144. The Romney Candidacy in Retrospect | The Alief Post November 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    […] is all grist for the longtime Romney skeptic Jonathan Last’s obituary, which includes the following question for anyone who argued that Romney was the most electable […]

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  146. The Romney Candidacy in Retrospect | News Top Today November 12, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    […] is all grist for a longtime Romney doubter Jonathan Last’s obituary, that includes a following doubt for anyone who argued that Romney was a many electable claimant […]

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  148. cmackg November 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    You need to look at the totality of the election to realize it was actually a social-values election (Gay rights, marijuana, etc), and not a referendum on economics. Voters realized that Romney had a contradictory plan for the economy, and the rest of his party stood for social values that voters decided to reject. There’s been a turn of the tide, and the majority of the electorate are ready to ask government to leave their social lives alone. The GOP needs to leave America’s bedroom alone, and work on the boardroom if they hope to have any future success. Demonizing the electorate as “takers” will do you no good in the next round of elections.

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  150. Door #2 — Jonathan Last Online November 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    […] post is an exercise in grappling with the question I posited last week in my Romney post mortem: It’s December 2011 and I come back to you in a time machine from the future. I won’t tell you […]

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  152. The Romney Candidacy in Retrospect - Rise of the Right November 13, 2012 at 3:52 am

    […] is all grist for the longtime Romney skeptic Jonathan Last’s obituary, which includes the following question for anyone who argued that Romney was the most electable […]

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  154. Jim Fitzmorris November 13, 2012 at 4:00 am

    The Republicans did it to themselves. Given their primary system, the rigidity of their base, and the demographic tides of the general electorate, The Grand Old Party only had one viable path to The White House. They constructed a world where the their best hope of achieving The Presidency was through a man named Willard Mitt Romney. Far from being a bad candidate, Romney made the best out of a terrible situation and managed to prevent a landslide of 1964 proportions.

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  156. The Romney Candidacy in Retrospect | POTUS NEWS November 13, 2012 at 6:50 am

    […] is all grist for the longtime Romney skeptic Jonathan Last’s obituary, which includes the following question for anyone who argued that Romney was the most electable […]

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  158. No Mr. Romney, Barack Obama is still not a nice guy « Blog de KingShamus November 13, 2012 at 7:52 am

    […] me the most about Team Romney’s campaign against Obama wasn’t the crappy voter turnout machinery or the listless September campaign or the anything […]

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  160. No Mr. Romney, Barack Obama is still not a nice guy | Conservative Commune November 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

    […] the most about Team Romney's campaign against Obama wasn't the crappy voter turnout machinery or the listless September campaign or the anything […]

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  162. Ted November 13, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I think I have a new favorite columnist!

    Mr. Last nailed it (and has been nailing it) as to how weak a candidate Romney was. As I believe it was Mr. Last who wrote back during the summer, the reason the GOP establishment wanted Romney as the nominee was because they thought he could be competitive (ala John Kerry) but never really thought he would win. Being a great fundraiser and having his own wealth to draw from meant more available cash for congressman to have to run their own campaigns. In that sense, we could have done worse. But if the plan was to win the White House, it wasn’t going to happen with Romney as the nominee.

    Romney ran a to narrowly focused campaign that let issues that were advantageous to the GOP (supreme court nominees, 2nd amendment rights, the high cost of illegal immigration to unemployed Americans, Obama’s extreme social views, etc.) Go unmentioned and/or unchallanged. The amount of low hanging fruit that Romney left hanging on the tree was beyond frustrating to watch. And contrary to what many Romney backers want to believe (Ed Morrissy for starters, Hugh Hewiit always), Romney did not and never did have his base solidified, which is evidenced in his receieving over a million less votes than even McCain got.

    And it might be a good reminder for those already determined to coronate who the nominee in 2016 will be: if you want the supporters of other candidates to vote for you if you happen to get the nomination, don’t spend tens of millions of dollars in attack adds smearing your primary opponents like Team Romney did in 2008 and again in 2012. If only Team Romney took to heart some of the criticisms that his primary challangers had of him, Romney may have been a better candidate.

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  164. Mwalimu Daidi November 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    It’s true that this loss was not all Romney’s fault. But nominating the father of RomneyCare was just the latest act of foolishness from the Stupid Party. Romney is a failed one-term liberal governor from a deep-blue state, and it took a willful suspension of disbelief to argue otherwise.

    Judging from some of the comments on this thread a number of otherwise sensible people are still in denial about Romney’s crash-and-burn candidacy. Especially disturbing are the suggestions that he was the best candidate to come out of a weak field, and the rest would undoubtedly have fared worse. Perhaps so, but such claims still sound hollow, since they sound like wishful thinking more than anything else.

    In 1980 there were numerous prominent lefty Republicans who hated Reagan more than the Democrats did. They were convinced that he was a complete idiot who would gleefully slaughter the human race in a nuclear war after poisoning them with toxic waste and denying them abortions and birth control (sound familiar?). But to the best of my knowledge they never claimed that Reagan was a weaker candidate than Ford because he lost to him in 1976, and therefore did not have a prayer of beating Carter.