Home > Uncategorized > The Republican Gore? Or Dukakis?

The Republican Gore? Or Dukakis?


A couple of weeks ago I posited the idea that Romney was the GOP’s Gore or Dukakis.

It appears that Michael Kinsley, writing in Bloomberg, has arrived at the same conclusion, with respect to the diminutive and utterly colorless former Massachusetts Governor:


Here’s his lead, which tells the tale:

"If, as seems possible, Mitt Romney is not elected U.S. president on Nov. 6, he will not be the first presidential candidate to run on the issue of competence and then lose because he ran an incompetent campaign. He will not even be the first governor of Massachusetts to do so.

In 1988, Michael Dukakis, who was ahead in the polls just after the Democratic convention, declared in his acceptance speech: “This election isn’t about ideology. It’s about competence.” Then he proceeded to blow a large lead and lose to George Bush the Elder, who turned out to be a tougher old bird than anyone suspected. "

Here’s the close, which is also on target:

"Now the ethic of success is supposed to sweep Romney into the White House. “What is wrong with you people?” Romney may be thinking these days. “I’ve got the Midas touch. There is no one who is more successful than I am. Why don’t you want me to use my success to do for America what I did for Staples?”

The answer is that success in business does not necessarily, or even probably, guarantee success in politics. These are different pursuits, requiring different talents. There is no such thing as “raw brain power” that can be applied like ketchup to any dish…

Even if Romney wins the election, because of some unpredicted development between now and Nov. 6, the judgment on his campaign is fixed: It has been terrible. Despite his success in business, he’s a lousy politician. And if he loses the election, that will be a comment not just on his campaign strategy, but also on his whole way of thinking.

Couldn’t have said it better myself (although, I tried to come close)…

Here’s how it put it back then:

As I was out for my walk this afternoon I couldn’t help but consider the state of the Race. For a long while I’ve thought that the President would win re-election. It increasingly appears that this is highly likely. I don’t see how the Electoral math would work for the GOP this go-round, especially Romney.

In order for any GOP candidate to win this time, he/she would to hold serve on all of the states that McCain took in 2008 (not so difficult), plus gain an additional 97 votes from some combination of the following: Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico. Those states all voted for Bush in 2004, but switched to Obama in ’08. The Republicans don’t necessarily need to run the table with these states, but switching Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia would seem to be of paramount importance. Of those, Larry Sabato currently shows only North Carolina as a Lean Republican, and Indiana a Likely Republican. If Romney can’t bring Florida (with 27 EV), Ohio (18), NC (15), and Virginia (13), it’s over.

How did the GOP, after all of the momentum from the Tea Party-fueled successes in 2010, end up here? It’s come down to the candidate. With all of the Tea Party momentum, and justifiable voter outrage over the shameful passage of Obamacare, the party selected the ONE candidate most ill-equipped to marshal that momentum into triumph this November.

I’ve certainly never hidden my disdain for Romney, the Candidate. He may well be a Hale- Fellow-Well-Met. I’m sure that he’d be a fine person to have as a neighbor (who wouldn’t want to live next to him in La Jolla) and there have been testimonies from his family as to his qualities as a Husband and Father.

Who cares? Jimmy Carter was a husband and father. Sunday School teacher, too. Didn’t prevent him from being a baneful President.

The problem with Romney is that he’s a rotten candidate for President. The GOP, in my estimation, had a fatal flaw this cycle in that they ended up with a candidate almost by process of elimination. After all, he’s hardly captured the GOP voter’s imagination. In this cycle it appeared that the voters were desperately seeking someone, anyone, but Romney. That explains the momentary fixation with the Flavor of the Month. Rick Perry? Worked until people heard him during the debate. Herman Cain? Sure, early on, until people looked more closely. Even Newt. Nobody really wanted Newt, except Newt. He was basically the last option available. He and Santorum. Of course our guy Tim Pawlenty never took off and was out before things really got started. The idea of Pawlenty is probably more impressive than the actual Pawlenty. I say that as a fan of the Governor. After disposing of TPaw, Michele Bachmann was soon a non-factor.

The lack of enthusiasm is also due to some of the Republican luminaries seeking someone else to ride in and save the day by running this time. Please, please run, Chris Christie. Mitch Daniels. There was a push for the Young Guys, like Ryan and Rubio. As impressive as Rubio is, do we really want to nominate a guy who just got there? Isn’t that how we ended up with Obama? How well did that work out?

Even some blasts from the past couldn’t be persuaded this time. Huckabee and Palin both are watching from the sidelines, content to appear on TV and make lots of money. The one thing that they both had in common is that, in different ways, both are effective communicators. Instead, the GOP selected perhaps the worst communicator of the bunch, Perry included.

The Republicans also picked the worst possible candidate to resonate with the Tea Party sentiment and anger over Obamacare. After all, like it or not, Mitt, Romneycare bears a strong resemblance to Obamacare. It’s hard for Mitt to run on this, since this was supposedly his signature accomplishment as an Elected Official.

This gets back to the Romney record, such as it is. The more you look, the more unimpressive it looks.

Yes, he “saved” the Salt Lake Olympics. I can’t begin to tell you how weary I am over this. Can we please move on? That was 10 years ago. 2002. A few things have happened since then, including several more Olympics. The Chinese ran an Olympics, too. I don’t see any clamor to pick one of those guys to run for President here.

From that he had his Single Electoral success, getting elected as Massachusetts Governor. You’re thinking, “Well, a Republican getting elected Governor of Massachusetts… that has to be pretty rare”. You’re right. He’s the first Republican elected since, er, his predecessor, Paul Celluci. And Celluci’s predecessor, Bill Weld. That’s right: Romney was the third Republican in a row to get elected Governor of Massachusetts. When Romney saw that he’d lose to Deval Patrick in 2006, he wisely baled from a re-election run.

Since 2006 he’s done nothing but run for President.

Before politics, of course, there was Bain, then Bain Capital. At Bain Capital, he was an LBO guy, a finance guy. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the idea that he’s this “proven” job creator is pushing the envelope. We’re hardly talking Horatio Alger here. We’re not talking the Steves (Wozniak and Jobs), toiling away in a garage. We’re not even talking Bill Gates, parlaying his mother’s connections (his mom and IBM’s then CEO were on the Board of the United Way at the same time, which couldn’t have hurt) into building a software behemoth with Paul Allen. Not that that’s the only way to build a business. However, being the scion of a Big Four Auto Company CEO-turned Governor-turned Presidential candidate isn’t a bad place to start in business.
Romney’s time at Bain Capital was a no-lose proposition: it was structured that if he failed there he would still be rich and could go back to Bain unsullied; if he failed he would become very, very rich. Again, nothing wrong with that. Again, however, it’s not really accurate to say that he “started” Staples. He put the Money behind Staples, which is not nothing, but the guy who started and ran Staples is NOT Mitt Romney, but a guy named Tom Stemberg. Same with Sports Authority. Romney didn’t start it, but provided some of the cash for it.
I’m not disputing whether or not Romney had success at Bain. I’m sure he did. However, if he can trumpet the success of Staples, et al, as his own, then there’s nothing wrong with calling him to account for those deals that ended in failure, with the shutdown of the acquired companies and the corresponding unemployment for those workers. It’s even more odious when Bain handsomely profited at the expense of those companies.
I’m hardly a Class Warrior, and certainly not the target market for the Occupy Wall Street characters. There’s nothing illegal about making a profit. There are ways that are more noble than others.

The Republicans have as their standard bearer someone with a dubious electoral track record; someone who can’t really run against Obamacare, since it’s partly his creation and he doesn’t really oppose it; someone who certainly can’ t claim any part of the Tea Party mantle, as he’s been in the midst of the Republican Establishment for his entire life. Indeed, Romney is pretty much the candidate the Tea Party voters love to vote against. How is Romney any different than some of the other Tea Party victims, like Dick Lugar and Mike Castle? Only that Romney wasn’t in office. Romney’s had two points of emphasis in this election season:
He “believes” in America, and he can get the economy moving. Terrific. Problem is, no one cares whether or not he believes in America, and people aren’t sure about his bona fides with regard to the economy. There’s nothing that would lead us to believe that an LBO guy has any more knowledge of fixing the economy than anyone else.

I had some hope in the GOP’s chances when he picked Ryan. I like Ryan, but I shared the disquiet that many of you felt when I heard about him lying about his Marathon times. Besides being foolish, it doesn’t speak well of the man to lie about something like that. I’m hoping for more from him.

Both George Will and Laura Ingraham have suggested that if the GOP loses this election they ought to throw in the towel and fold. If that’s the case the party should have selected a better candidate. Better be prepared for another four years of the same. I really don’t feel any better after dashing off this screed.

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