Thursday, April 14, 2011

More on the Mittster

More odd certainty about the demise of Mitt Romney, from Jonathan Chait (again) and from Neil Sinhababu. Ed Kilgore collects a couple others, and concludes:
Whatever else it means, this insider attitude guarantees that Romney is going to be operating without a net once the campaign is under way. With the entire political world impatiently waiting for his inevitable demise so that the "real" campaign can get under way, every mistake the man makes is going to get exaggerated in the hope that he will see the light and stop taking up space.
Perhaps. It seems to me that similar things could have been said about John McCain in 2007, and perhaps Bob Dole in 1995. I guess I'm just not sold -- and not only because there may turn out to be few viable alternatives, since there will almost certainly be at least one other viable alternative coming into, and out of, Iowa.

At any rate, here's what I don't know. Is all this speculation about Romney's weakness simply outsiders thinking through the logical case against him, perhaps prodded a bit by spin from rival candidates and general ambivalence from serious GOP players? Or is it -- as was almost certainly the case with Palin-bashing -- part of a serious effort by anti-Romney Republicans to veto him? They're hard to tell apart...obviously, movement conservatives and other Republican insiders are hardly enthusiastic about the Mittster, so they don't mind going along with it, but are they really actively seeking to defeat him? In the case of John McCain, it turned out that a lot of Republican insiders who didn't really like him were willing to settle for him. I believe that's going to turn out to be the case with Romney, but I really don't know.

Of course, even if I'm right about that it doesn't mean he'll win. One of the others might convince more insiders to rally to his behalf, and it's certainly possible, although in my view unlikely, that GOP voters just won't take to Romney this time around even if party elites are okay with him.


  1. For my analogy, I was going to Clinton in 91/92.

  2. My gut feeling is that a lot of moderately conservative people out there regard Mitt as the only adult supervision in the GOP field - and that many Republican insiders know this.

    And who takes him down? I don't see any one social conservative coming into early focus. The space opened up by Palin's fade is being filled by ... Donald Trump. Obviously if someone beats Mitt in both Iowa and SC that person gets legs, but it is entirely hazy at this point who that might be.

  3. The thing I'm thinking is: Where was the desire for adult supervision when Sharron Angle won in NV and Christine O'Donnell won in DE?

    Okay, maybe NH got it right and NH is a big primary, so at least there's that.

  4. Mitt's best chance of becoming president is to be seen as a strong leader, so strong in fact that he can actually lead the currently bat-shit insane conservatives back from the brink. Yes he will run to the right of his MA governor record and even to the right of where he ran in 2008, but if he can cow and constrain the crazier elements of the GOP then he will be seen as responsible, tough, and ready to lead the country.

    Or his unwillingness to embrace the crazy will cause his candidacy to crash and burn.

  5. Neil: that adult supervision was pushing for Castle in DE and for, ironically, Sue Lowden in NV (she of bartering chickens for health care fame).

    The lesson is that sometimes another (adult or child) can help the children to run amok by giving the children Jolt Cola. But, perhaps I've pushed this analogy WAY too far.

    If your point is that it's not clear that the GOP base WANTS adult supervision, I concur. But the adults are TRYING to supervise; they just might have invited too many hyperactive kids to Chuck E. Cheese.

  6. Mitt and Pawlenty both seem well-suited to play the Mondale, Dole, or Kerry role. Both are willing to pander relentlessly to the base if that's what the situation seems to call for, but would at least give the appearance of relative sanity and competence in a general election context - and thus not too terribly embarrass their party even if they're leading it to somewhat embarrassing results.

  7. Neil and Matt,

    The "adult supervision" was mostly in-state, while the out-of-state crowd -- which is able to raise lots of money and attention -- had little or no incentive to back a winner. That's not quite true in presidential races...Rush and Fox News might be better off with a Dem president, but a lot of GOP pols probably really want to win the presidency.

    And then it's also true that off-year primaries are apt to have a very small normal electorate, so it takes very little to overwhelm that. Presidential primaries don't have huge turnout, but more than off-year Congressionals, at least. And of course it's not a one-off event...if Bachmann, say, wins in Iowa, she's still got a long way to go to get nominated.

  8. Yeah, Matt, that was basically my point. I guess the way I'd put it is that the grownups don't win you elections, otherwise the Tea Party wouldn't have racked up such an impressive string of Senate primary victories last year.

    But good point about the off-year congressional primaries, Jonathan.

  9. Obama has been too cute by half crapping on the left base, because what are they going to do, vote republican ?

    If Romney gets the nom, he can run as far to the left as he wants in the general, because what will the right base do, vote for Obama?

    Romney knows how to talk to liberals and only needs to peel 5% of leftward indys by "protecting medicare and social security".

    Obama has already wised up to this dimension, and thats why he will start acting like a Democrat for the next few years.

    If you ask me, deep in their respective hearts, Romney is to the left of Obama.

  10. We are definitely living in interesting times. Why is it that the Republicans, who are so strong in promulgating their message throughout the country, have been so weak in producing presidential candidates throughout the last two decades? I'd love to read some opinions about this.

  11. So Obama has forsaken his base*, and Romney will...but only Obama is going to be punished for it? That doesn't seem very likely, even before you get into the fact tat Obama still has an 80% approval rating among his "base" and that the conservative base has proven itself FAR more willing to sabotage the "safer" more moderate candidate. I'm not saying Romney would lose conservative votes for pleding to protect Medicare and Social Security, but if that's the issue the election turns on, the Dem is going to win every time; The Democratic Party is just the only one with the kind of political apparatus to take advantage of that issue.

    It doesn't really matter what politicians are "in their hearts"- they're gonna be judged by their words and actions, and as far as that goes, Romney's already staked out too much right wing thinking for it to matter.

  12. The more Romney gets dissed by the professional conservatives, the more I want to vote for him - again!


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