The “Virtue” of Mitt Romney

Those who are supporting Romney because Newt went negative and unfairly attacked Bain ought to be more than a little disturbed that Romney is deliberately distorting Newt’s Congressional ethics record.  

Add (see my post yesterday) that  someone on Romney’s team selectively pulled obscure quotations, deliberately out of context, and handed them to Elliot Abrams (one assumes he has not himself been pouring over age old special orders for quotations one could miscast), to smear Newt as being insufficiently conservative and Reagan-supporting, when Newt’s determined support for Reagan was one of the things we ought to all be grateful for, makes this a pattern.  It ought to give the “Romney’s more ethical” choir pause.  

Newt had many faults for which he can be criticized, but these myriad charges were slung at the wall by desperate Democrats in Congress, who were furious at their defeat, and trying to balance out the sins of Bill Clinton.  The charges DID NOT HOLD UP; indeed, it was a political mugging, and on review the IRS said there were no violations at all.  Romney knows that.

That Romney nonetheless would use these despicable, known-to-be-false arguments (and there are no shortages of others he could legitimately use) unfortunately indicate that he’s just one more ambitious guy who’ll say whatever he needs to say, and spend what he needs to spend, to get what he wants. Apparently he’s just been successful and powerful enough all his career that we haven’t seen what happens when someone gets in his way (who would want to?), and how well that virtue holds up.

It would be MUCH better for the party, and for Romney, if he doesn’t walk away with Florida despite his bottomless financial capacity to saturate the state with breathakingly negative ads. (Will he be that hard on Obama?  If so, where has he been these last years? Where was he in the ObamaCare fight when he actually could have helped the country, not just himself?)

Already we have seen that he — who didn’t have answers for his tax returns, or better defenses of Bain, and didn’t prepare any despite seeing that they were coming, has been improved by not being able to presume his own coronation.  

Moreover, Romney remains deeply vulnerable, something his supporters seem to have trouble seeing, not just to Occupy Wall Street this summer, and the entire fairness 1% meme – whose premise Romney has already accepted in his incremental tax plans – but to Axelrod & Co’s predictable distorting but vicious attacks.  

Those attacks will come, on things like Bain’s connection to the Guinness Scandal and Romney’s adult participation in a church that until 1978 singled out blacks as not having full rights and privileges.  Will the attacks be fair? No.  Will they come? Yes.  Is Romney prepared for them? Given past performance on what should have been layups, one can safely say: absolutely not.

And that leaves aside Romney’s real problem with the conservative base: his own understanding of what happened in MA.  He ignored every accurate prediction the Wall Street Journal made in imploring him not to impose Romneycare, and even now somehow thinks that a mandate which imposes increased costs and fewer choices on everyone only applies to 8% of the MA population.  

His capacity to argue powerfully and persuasively on ObamaCare is deeply compromised by this — there is a difference between a state being allowed to do something, per 10th Amendment, and whether that something is good policy — and if he doesn’t understand the larger principle the Republican base won’t trust him, because so far his redefinition of the idea of “individual responsibility” apparently is “the (state) government tells you you will be responsible, and the (state) government will decide what that entails, and what your menu of choices are” — basically, Obama’s position.  And we will not win, nor likely see full repeal and a genuinely better approach, with Obama v. Obama Lite.

So please, hope that Romney has to work at least a little longer and harder in the primary sparring room, lest like John Kerry he gets to the Main Event, and is unprepared for what hits him.

  1. mesquito

     Lord, I hope if Romney is get the nomination he’s one-quarter as nasty to Obama has he’s been to Republican rivals.  I suppose I can say that about Gingrich as well.

  2. Franco

    Romney may be winning the battle but he’s losing the war.

    Part of what happens in the general election are little arguments everywhere. On Facebook, at family gatherings cocktail parties, etc. I defended Bush until 2006. I was tired of it, sure, but once he started doing things like nominating Harriet Miers, immigration reform with McCain, combined with Bush and Rove’s utter cluelessness that they needed to defend themselves, I just stopped. I’m not even going to start defending Romney unless he can defend himself. His cause and mine diverge. I’m against Obama but I’m not FOR Romney.Not at all. And I’m not for empowering the GOP brand such as it is.

    I’m not going to be a shill for Romney. I don’t believe in him. He hasn’t inspired me, in fact he angers me. I am not alone.

    As to electability, I really don’t think Romney even knows what that is. These guys are entitled spoiled politicians and like attracts like. John McCain, Bob Dole and the elder Bush are on board the Romney train. I’m not inspired.

  3. Mothership_Greg

    The poisoned well of political discourse may be one of the reasons why we see such unsatisfactory sets of candidates for political office in both parties, not only this year but in previous election years as well.

    Many able and decent people are understandably reluctant to subject themselves and their families to a mud-slinging contest or to media “gotcha” questions. The creeping acceptance of such practices is hardly a justification, but is itself part of the degeneration of our times.

    Wisdom from Thomas Sowell (hat tip to Crow’s Nest).

  4. Crow

    There is no way, it seems to be, that Romney is going to be able to turn the corner on Romneycare. His position is compromised and there is nothing he can do about it—if he renounces it in toto, he reinforces the untrustworthy flipflopper meme; if he defends parts of it, he’s Obama lite. He’s stuck with that millstone around his neck, and it is the #1 reason he’s been a weak candidate from the start.

    With regard to ads that deliberately distort records. Touche.

    This campaign turned downright nasty, and the candidates (and surrogates) are expending more ammunition against one another in a trench war, than on going over the top against Obama. Neither of our two front-runners stack up well against the incumbent right now.

    As many of us feared, with this field, we are doomed.

    With regard to the Mormonism question—they will absolutely come after him on it. This won’t hurt with the African-American vote (Obama has that locked up) but might among some independents. His team better be ready with a JFK-esque response, but their ability to defend themselves on other issues gives me little confidence.

  5. Viator

    Allen West being redistricted out of existence in effort led by Romney Florida spokesman

    “One of Governor Mitt Romney’s spokesmen was Florida Representative Will Weatherford, and during the course of his remarks in the “Spin Room”, he shed a very dim light on the ongoing redistricting process in the Florida Legislature….

    West’s congressional district inexplicably sheds the most out support as compared to all other incumbent Republican and Democrat Congressman. A few weeks back we quoted an unnamed legislator saying that, “Allen West was screwed”, a statement which was originally made about made five months before the purposed maps were made public, leading insiders to believe that the fix was in against Allen West.  But in light of Weatherford’s comment, it is increasingly clear that this is a fait accompli.”

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2012/01/allen-west-being-redistricted-out-of-existence-in-effort-led-by-romney-florida-spokesman/

  6. Sisyphus

    The GOP establishment is engaging in the politics of false choices to protect ObomneyCare, and it is killing them in ways that the “message” people, the campaign hustlers who always find the problem in the message, never the candidate, are too profoundly corrupted to understand.

    If the GOP does not discard ObamaCare out of this election cycle, the disenfranchised majority that know ObomneyCare for what it is. and hate it, will erupt. The Parties of Washington have soothed themselves with bad polling of an electorate not yet fully engaged in the election.

    Romney will never be president. 

  7. Leslie Watkins

    I’m guessing, Heather, that you do not agree with the point of view voiced by Ann Coulter on the current Left Coast/Right Coast podcast that Massachusetts Democrats were going to force something down the throats of the state’s residents and that Romney’s plan was better than theirs. Also, I’m guessing, you disagree with the Heritage Foundation on this issue. Just wondering if you think there’s anything at all to that point of view. I personally don’t think Ann is correct when she says that Romney will repeal Obamacare. I doubt he—or Newt—will be able to do that. On the other hand, I don’t see Newt being helpful to the congressional races, which are crucial if real changes are to be had.

  8. K T Cat

    So please, hope that Romney has to work at least a little longer and harder in the primary sparring room, lest like John Kerry he gets to the Main Event, and is unprepared for what hits him.

    I think this is a noble, but pointless goal.  In every case where Romney has had to work harder to win an election, he’s become vicious and misleading.  Ed Rollins told Fox News that by the end of the 2008 campaign, every other campaign hated his guts for this very reason.  A longer campaign just means more slander from Mitt and more surrogate slander from his supporters in the Republican Party.

    The leopard isn’t going to change his spots.  All he’s going to do is splatter those spots on everyone around him from Bob Dole to Mike Huckabee.  In exchange for all of this intra-party discord, the Republican Party is getting … the progenitor of Obamacare.  Unbelievable.

    I’m hoping against hope that some big name in the party will finally stand up and dis-endorse Mitt because of this.  (Talk about being a dreamer!)

  9. Percival
    Franco: I’m not going to be a shill for Romney. I don’t believe in him. He hasn’t inspired me, in fact he angers me. I am not alone.

    I already have been, with my mom.  I got her to say she’d vote for him if he was the nominee.  This was before the “nothing to get angry about” line.  I know what kind of effect that had on her — I said something similar once and it didn’t go over well.  Somebody is going to have to talk to her again, and I don’t feel like doing it right now.

    I wouldn’t say he angers me.  He just depresses me.  If he had come out against Obamacare and had his epiphany in regards Romneycare back then, he would have been a Colossus striding through the ankle-biters to pick up the nomination.

  10. Mothership_Greg
     Ed Rollins told Fox News that by the end of the 2008 campaign, every other campaign hated his guts for this very reason.  

    FWIW, as someone who was much less aware of politics in 2008, and more like the large number of people who decide who they are voting for in the two months before the election, I did pay some attention to the Republican primary, and I was convinced that the Romney campaign was quite nasty.  Nastiness (or perceived nastiness) does not play well with independents.

  11. Viator

    Number of elections Newt Gingrich as won – 11

    10 – US House of Representitives

    1 – Speaker, US House of Representaives

    Number of elections Willard Romney has won – 1

    1 – Governor of Massachusetts

  12. Percival

    The “Heritage Foundation made me do it” defense has a little problem — they don’t think that anymore.  From The Volhokh Conspiracy

    Even so, why were so many on the Right willing to embrace an idea that conservatives attack as unconstitutional today?  How can the Heritage Foundation’s legal scholars attack an idea once championed by its health care analysts?  One possibility is that the Heritage Foundation is simply more conservative, or more free market, than it used to be.  Another is that the legal environment has changed dramatically.  In 1994 it had been over 50 years since the Supreme Court had invaildated a federal law for exceeding the scope of the Commerce Clause.  The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Lopez , striking down the Gun-Free School Zones Act, was not until 1995 — after the Clinton health care plan had been defeated and after the Republicans had retaken Congress, effectively ending the debate over health care reform.

    That’s the thing about think tanks.  They think, then they disseminate what they have thought, then they rise and think again.  If they don’t think again, they become thought tanks.

  13. Misthiocracy

    I doubt many people vote in primaries based on “dirty tricks”.

    It’s politics.  Dirty tricks are too common to think twice about. Besides, with the Internet any candidate that thinks this stuff won’t be debunked is fooling himself.

    Instead, Romney’s surge can be attributed to two things: his strong performance in the last debate, and “a permanent base on the moon.”

  14. Xennady
    Viator: Allen West being redistricted out of existence in effort led by Romney Florida spokesman

    “One of Governor Mitt Romney’s spokesmen was Florida Representative Will Weatherford, and during the course of his remarks in the “Spin Room”, he shed a very dim light on the ongoing redistricting process in the Florida Legislature….

    West’s congressional district inexplicably sheds the most out support as compared to all other incumbent Republican and Democrat Congressman. A few weeks back we quoted an unnamed legislator saying that, “Allen West was screwed”, a statement which was originally made about made five months before the purposed maps were made public, leading insiders to believe that the fix was in against Allen West.  But in light of Weatherford’s comment, it is increasingly clear that this is a fait accompli.”

    More betrayal from the Republican party establishment.

    Yet another sign that they are vastly more interested in keeping control of the party away from the Tea Party than they are in defeating the left.

    They will fail, if only because they will drive rank-and-file conservatives right out of the party, forever and all time.

    Amazing. These people are utterly clueless.

  15. Mothership_Greg
    Misthiocracy:   Dirty tricks are too common to think twice about. 

    Ah, this dovetails nicely with

    The creeping acceptance of such practices is hardly a justification, but is itself part of the degeneration of our times.

  16. jhimmi

    “Romney remains deeply vulnerable, something his supporters seem to have trouble seeing”

    Yes. Deeply vulnerable on the left and the right. If his base won’t vote for him or defend him, why should anyone else? Pollsters underestimate the effect of ‘passion’ in an election – it can be contagious (see 2008).

    Does anyone else remember how effectively McCain attacked Romney in 2008, and how hesitant he was to attack Obama in the general election? This seems like deja vu all over again.

  17. david foster

    Both men have engaged in dirty attacks, but there is a difference. Gingrich’s attack tactics tend to undercut the entire philosophical basis of Republican and Conservative belief. I’m not talking so much about the Bain thing, rather about Newt’s assertion that Mitt, through his position in Goldman, profited from foreclosures.

    Foreclosures aren’t usually about profit, of course; they’re about limiting losses. If foreclosure was not an option, there would be no mortgage lending industry and either homeownership would be reserved to the wealthy, or would be provided exclusively through some kind of government program.

    So one could conclude that either Gingrich is against homeownership for the vast majority of people, or he is a Socialist, or he is making a conceptually-incoherent argument for the sake of what he things (almost certainly incorrectly) is a minor tactical advantage.

  18. Xennady
    david foster:

    So one could conclude that either Gingrich is against homeownership for the vast majority of people, or he is a Socialist, or he is making a conceptually-incoherent argument for the sake of what he things (almost certainly incorrectly) is a minor tactical advantage. ·

    And he hates freedom too. And Ronald Reagan.

  19. K T Cat
    Misthiocracy: Instead, Romney’s surge can be attributed to two things: his strong performance in the last debate, and “a permanent base on the moon.” · 34 minutes ago

    I find the dismissal of the moon base incredibly sad.  It’s like we’ve completely forgotten that America came from conquering frontiers.  Now all we want to do is download porn on our iPads.

  20. david foster

    X…I was actually pretty pro-Gingrich prior to his comments like the one cited above.

    Do you think that implying foreclosure=profit=evil helps to move the national mindset in a direction that will be long-run beneficial to Conservatism?