Friday, February 10, 2012

Plum Line: Mitt Dole

Over at Plum Line, I listen to Mitt Romney at CPAC and hear Bob Dole, 1996. Which reminds me of my favorite (and probably not apocryphal) Bob Dole 1996 campaign story.

Two more quick things from Romney's speech today.

First, here's my favorite part. Sorry, it's long, but the kicker is at the end:

And let me be clear: Mine will be a pro-life presidency.
On day one, I will reinstate the Mexico City policy.
I will cut off funding for the United Nations Population Fund, which supports China’s barbaric One Child Policy.
I will ensure that organizations like Planned Parenthood get no federal support.
And I will reverse every single Obama regulation that attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent life.
The Presidency is more than a public office; it is a sacred trust. As President, I will honor that trust by assuring that America remains the greatest military power on the face of the earth. This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President. You have that President today.
This election is a defining moment for our generation and for the conservative movement. Make no mistake - we have an opportunity for Greatness but with that opportunity comes defining responsibility. We cannot use this election to refight past battles or reward our friends. 
Well, we're certainly not going to refight past battles or reward our friends, are we?

In business, if you’re not fiscally conservative, you’re bankrupt. I spent 25 years balancing budgets, eliminating waste, and keeping as far away from government as was humanly possible.
Balancing budgets? I really like this a lot. It's Friday afternoon, so I'll leave it at this: there's just no possible meaning of "balancing budgets" that works for both what Romney did in business and also works for what "balancing budgets" means in the context of the presidency.


  1. And here I thought we still spend more on the military than every other country on earth combined. If Obama actually cut the military so much that that is no longer true, then my enthusiasm for voting to re-elect him just skyrocketed! Thanks for the info, Mitt!

  2. Not to mention that the irony of someone who's willing to do or say just about anything to be President bragging about "keeping as far away from government as humanly possible" is pretty striking.

  3. So Bain never borrowed? Never loaded the companies it acquired up with debt? (

    The mind boggles...

    1. Eliminating waste.

      Seamus taught him that.

  4. Yep, none of Mitt's PE deals ever went bankrupt. None.

  5. Great Plum Line column with fun bits of humor throughout. Inspired by CPAC?

  6. Hah. He was constantly trying to balance Bain Capital's budget, to make sure the bankruptcies it caused and disastrous investments it made didn't hurt Bain's investors and deplete the fund -- had to balance the failures with the windfalls.

    That sentence is actually genius: it does in a way precisely describe what a PE fund works to do (including to avoid gov. oversight), but it's worded sufficiently ambiguously that one thinks he's explaining the role of a traditional manager, not an investment manager engaged in buyouts, beholden to investors and working with a leveraged-up company. It's deeply misleading, but it's not technically a lie.

  7. The line in Plum Line that jumped out at me was "Granted, Romney was speaking to conservatives and not to a general election audience, but I can’t think of a single Romney proposal so far that was crafted for a larger audience."

    It seems to me that even if the primaries ended tomorrow and Mitt went into general election mode, it will be very difficult for him to "move to the center" as they say. One reason is that moving around ideologically is Mitt's weakness, and one that conservatives, particularly tea partiers and disgruntled supporters of the other "anyone but Romney's" will be ever-alert for.

    Another reason is that the entire, explicit Repub message this year is that we are a Red America, and Blue Americans need to either capitulate or move. W didn't have this problem at all in 2000 - Obama's 2004 convention speech would have been incomprehensible then. "Rovism" may have helped W beat Kerry as an incumbent "war president", but it's possible that he could have won without it, and in any event it seems that today's Rovism is worse than the master's back in the day.

    But, I'm not a scientist, so I could be wrong. Am I? Are there examples of candidates who ran hard right or hard left in the primaries and then went on to mount a credible center-right or center-left campaign in the general? Is that even the right question to ask?

  8. Can't Obama go after Romney for saying that America is no longer the strongest nation in the world?

  9. If, however, the economy is just solid enough that it isn’t self-evident to most swing voters that Obama must be replaced, then Romney is headed for trouble. Simply saying that the economy is horrible and that a businessman is needed won’t do. Going the Bob Dole route and claiming Obama doesn’t believe in America will likely work as well for him as for Dole.

    Then what message do you suggest he run on, in those circumstances (borderline economy)?

    1. It would be nice to have public policy issues for which Romney was on the side of the majority. There's some, sort of, but not really..."Obamacare" polls below 50%, but just repeal isn't very popular even in the abstract, and certainly not when you get into details.

    2. In other words, you don't have much advice for him at all, other than "Hope the economy tanks."

      The bailouts and the stimulus are still very unpopular. That's partly tied to the economy itself, even more than Obamacare is--there was a perception that the stimulus was supposed to get us out of this economic mess, and the fact it didn't, at least for the average American, led many people to judge it a failure--but I think bailouts are the type of thing that will always be intrinsically unpopular.

      Of course, the fact that Romney is on record having expressed (qualified) support for the bailouts and even the stimulus makes it that much harder for him. He'll do it, for sure, but the Democrats will have plenty of material to at least neutralize him on this issue, just like with the individual mandate.

      Obama's civil-liberties initiatives in 2008 are generally unpopular, and it isn't surprising he didn't follow through with most of them, to the left's consternation. (He was even starting to back down during the 2008 campaign.) Romney will try to paint him as an ACLU lover who is "weak on terror," but it won't wash. Not for the man who got Bin Laden.

      Any other ideas?


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