Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Romney Stinks, and It's Not Funny

    Here's the thing about Mitt Romney: he's a pretty terrible politician, and he always has been. His presidential campaign has verged on malpractice almost every week, and tonight's debate is not going to turn that around in a significant way.

    He might get a bump just from being on stage with the President, which automatically makes a challenger seem more plausible, but that's not going win him this election. The frantic spin coming out his campaign reveals they know this themselves. If he were really planning to turn the whole course of the election around with a few carefully crafted "zingers," then (1) that would be pathetic, and (2) he wouldn't be announcing the "zingers" in advance. (It's like saying, "Look out, Roosevelt! We're launching a surprise attack next Sunday!") At this point the Romney campaign has been reduced to spinning the media to keep them from talking about how badly Romney is losing.

    As Romney continues to fail, there's going to be a real temptation to treat Romney's political clumsiness as a big joke. I'll confess I was succumbing to that temptation before the campaign even got underway, referring to Mitt as the "Mormon Mike Dukakis." The all-too-obvious follow-up joke, of course, is that the comparison isn't fair to Dukakis. But that's not a joke. It's true. Mike Dukakis had a double-digit lead over George Bush for part of the 1988 campaign. Romney has never had a real lead.

    But Romney's ineptitude isn't funny. He's bad for the country. If he somehow slipped into office, he would actually have to deal with the pretty serious set of problems this country is facing, but lack any of the communication and persuasion skills needed to cope with those difficulties. He can't sell the American people on a difficult plan in times of trouble, and even he knows that (which is why he doesn't try to sell the American people on any plan at all). But the President of the United States needs to be able to build public support for his programs, especially when the country faces hard times, and these are most certainly hard times. The President also needs to get his own party behind him, and it's pretty obvious that Romney can't do that. Four years of our ongoing problems, plus any new ones that emerge, with a maladroit leader and mutinous, fractured majority party adds up to nothing good at all.

    But Romney's ineptitude will manage to be bad for America even when he loses, because it will serve as one more excuse for the Republican Party to keep ignoring reality. Our system does not work when one party refuses to cope with the world for an extended period of time, and the very best thing that could happen in our political life is for the Republicans to look around and take an honest accounting of why they lost. That won't happen if they have a cheap scapegoat to blame instead, and Romney is a scapegoat made to order. "We just need a better candidate," will be the Republican mantra for the next four years, allowing them to tell themselves that there's no problem with their policies or their ideas. Worse, they will spend four years telling themselves that their policies and ideas would have won, if they had only had a better salesman, that approximately 103% of the American people are natural Tea Party voters who just haven't been given a chance to pull the lever for the right guy. That means four more years of one major party not dealing with reality. And that means four more years of that party not addressing the country's problems, either. That's bleakly absurd, but it's certainly not funny.



    Amen to this, Doc, and thanks for putting it out there.  What's absurd is that half the country is unable or unwilling to recognize how dangerously close to anarchy the Republican party is allowing themselves to venture.  When the party works this hard to elect anti-government politicians--paid for with taxpayer money and given lifetime pensions, to boot--we're all in trouble if this trend doesn't end.

    We've had a do-nothing congress obstructing every effort to bring us back from the brink throughout Obama's first term; we've had the Koch Brothers and ALEC determining which states will go into receivership under Right Wing governors; we've seen the most bizarre display of presidential candidates from one of the two major parties EVER, with Romney seeming like the most sane.

    So, no, it's not funny, and Romney stinks, but really--and I can't believe I'm saying this--it could have been worse.  (And probably will be again if this doesn't stop.)

    I agree with you, Doc.  When Romney loses (well, it had better be "when") a good number of Republicans will blame his lack of conservative bona fides.  I think this is why the Republicans in Congress won't be any easier to deal with in term two.

    Heck, Republicans liked George W. Bush and he won the White House twice for them and the party faithful still doesn't stick up for the guy.  They even say that everything bad that happened on his watch happened because he was not conservative enough.

    I guess this is an intractable problem with conservative thinking -- the only thing that's ever wrong with anyone is that they're not faithfully conservative enough.  No wonder so many of them are willing to believe in creationism.

    But Romney's ineptitude will manage to be bad for America even when he loses, because it will serve as one more excuse for the Republican Party to keep ignoring reality.

    I've thought this for a while, Doc, but I'm not sure it's true. I think it depends on how successful Obama's second four years are. If they're successful, it will tee up Hillary or whomever follows.

    And the economy, of course. If it's still limping along, the Democrats will be in a bad spot in 2016.

    Also, the Republicans have one abiding cudgel they can always use: the unsustainability of the growing deficit and the liabilities posed by the entitlement programs which, I heard Bill Gross say yesterday, puts us on the hook for another 40 or so trillion dollars.

    Not arguing whether any of this right or wrong factually except to say that these numbers have wide intuitive appeal. They scare people. The Democrats have largely bought into them and not presented an alternative analysis of America's economic "balance sheet," as it were.

    IOW, they will have themes that have broad acceptance and won't have to "go right" to win the next election. But if the economy dramatically improves, if the deficit goes down, if Obamacare becomes truly popular, then that's a different story.

    Latest Comments