That conversation reminded me that the 2012 election outcome is still a matter of some interest to many people and it also brought to mind an email exchange I had right after the election with a friend of mine who is also a Political Junkie. Since the stated purpose of this blog is to foster the concept that everyone has a right to my opinions, I am compelled to share the substance of that exchange as it relates to my views on the outcome of the election.
But first, let me say that I concur with Speaker Gingrich's analysis of the two remarks cited above and, in addition, assure you that I believe Mr. Romney and the Republicans deserved to lose. This is not because they are bad guys or that the President is such a good guy, but because the Republicans ran a stupid campaign, characterized by gaffs like the immigration and 47% remarks, did not take advantage of opportunities handed them, and were bedeviled by ill timed and stupid remarks on issues like rape and abortion given voice by second tier players on their own team who have religious agendas. And, by the way, they also lost because the President and his guys ran a strategically brilliant race.
That is also not to say that if the Republicans hadn't made all the mistakes I think they made, they would have won----but, in my view, they could have made it alot closer than the rout that it was.
In 1895, Mark Twain famously wrote a critique of James Fenimore Cooper's characters and the feats of derring-do accomplished by them as told in the series called the "Leather Stocking Tales". Twain titled this work: "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses". In the political realm, I have similar effort which I call "The Romney Campaign's Political Offenses". And, as they say on "Dancing With the Stars",----these are in no particular order.
FIRST--The GOP Campaign allowed the President to vilify Governor Romney for being successful financially, and to characterize him as a rich white guy who, because of his very wealth, could certainly not identify with, nor truely care about, "the little guy". No one in the Romney camp ever challenged this assertion, let alone pointed out, as they should have, that Democratic icons like FDR and JFK along with his brothers Bobby and Teddy were obscenely rich and yet never were accused of being out of touch with the regular folks. In this same vein, the Romney Campaign allowed the President to set the terms of the debate and, indeed, to run away from his own record of rising unemployment which they (the Republicans) should have brought up at every opportunity. This arguement should also have included the fact that when the jobless numbers did, periodically, dip it was often a function of people leaving the workforce rather than wholesale job creation.
SECOND--Romney, after having scored well in the first debate went, it seemed to me, into what is called in the NFL a "Prevent Defense" mode. And just as often proves to be the case in football, the prevent defense helped prevent a victory. The Governor did very poorly in the Town Meeting ( albeit with the help of Candy Crowly) and in the last debate he got creamed because of this continued lack of an offensive spirit.
THIRD--Governor Romney never countered the President's claim of having "Saved the Auto Industry" which could have been easily done or, at least, called into question by pointing out that the President DID NOT "save" the industry, he "saved" GM!! On the other hand, Ford saved itself, thereby showing that the auto bailout was not needed at least in that case.
FOURTH--Mr. Romney kept talking about his economic plan of 5 points, but NEVER explained those points other than in broad-brush "one-over-the-world" generalities. In addition, he had one of the world's best known economic policy wonks as his running mate for crying out loud, and, again, they never laid out their economic vision nor contrasted it with what the Obama Campaign was saying. In my view, it should have been Paul Ryan's job to develop and promulgate, in press releases and speeches, the "Little Golden Book of Economics" in clear, easy to understand terms (ie. no economist-type jargon) that regular people could grasp. They should have formulated this message and then pounded it over and over in words of no more than two syllables---a lesson they should have learned from the Democrats. To wit: Remember that years ago, they (the Democrats) repeated over and over and over their endless mantra that the Bush tax cuts were a break specifically for "The richest 2%..." when, in fact, they were given to EVERYONE. But that didn't matter because, after it was repeated often enough, "The Herd" bought into this fiction. No one in the Republican opposition ever challenged it----so it became a political "fact". Come to think of it, the Democrats probably learned the technique from Goebbels.
FIFTH--The Republicans were idiots for taking non-negotiable stances like NO cuts in military spending and NO tax increases of any kind. My favorite political science professor used to say that politics is "the art of the possible". That name implies the need and willingness to compromise, and these are attributes seemingly absent on both sides of the economic debate, where compromise has become a dirty word. The GOP should have taken the high ground on this one and explained, as simply as possible, (Ryan again) how they intended to get deficit reduction and a balanced budget done without tax increases, while still leaving the door open for a modification of that position so that they did not appear so intransigent and unwilling to work with the other side. That attitude played right into the hands of the people running the Obama Campaign and their "obstructionist" rhetoric. By the way, this unwillingness to work together was not limited to Republicans, but was found on both sides as fully explained in Bob Woodward's recent book "The Price of Politics". If you get the chance to read it, you will find it worth you time.
SIXTH--The Romney Campaign also let the President get away with saying that he couldn't get all of his programs through an "obstructionist Congress", when they should have pointed out that the Democrats controlled both houses for the first two years of the Obama administration. Nor did they call him on continuing to blame George Bush for everything bad in the economy (some of which was, of course, true and should have been forthrightly dealt with) and not taking responsibility for anything except killing Bin Laden. On that subject, I think if I were Governor Romney, I would have given the President his due in the third debate and said, "Good job on Bin Laden, Mr. President. Now tell us about Benghazi."
My bottom line here is that, given the lessons to be learned from the 2012 election and the way both sides handled it, unless the Republicans start getting smarter about campaigning, taking advantage of opportunities, reading the electorate more accurately and distancing themselves from the religious wingnuts, they are not going to win any elections in the near future.
Indeed, I think they are in real, danger of losing the house in 2014.