Sunday, November 11

Buck Up. You're The Party Of Tradition. So Wait Two Months And Then Act Like Nothing Happened, The Way You Always Do.

George Eff Will, "A reformed Republican party". November 9

Jennifer Rubin, "What went wrong? Lots." November 9

Kathleen Parker, "The party that doomed its nominee". November 9

LEAVE us dispense with "Pulitzer" Parker first:  the idea that Poor Mitt was driven too far right by the crazies in the primaries is, by now, an old man with a long beard. Not ten or eleven months old; four years and eleven months old. After 2007's Most Blatant Pandering Operation Ever Seen in American Politics almost got him the prize in spite of himself, and 2010's midterms, which proved once and for all time that the country is one big seething Teabag, was there really some expectation that Mitt Romney was going to be anything else this time? If moving toward the Even Less Hinged end of the Republican spectrum was such an awful idea, then Mitt Romney was twice an awful candidate. Similarly, if pointing out something this trite, at this late a date, constitutes Republican punditasting, then your party is even awfuller. I'll be happy to agree that the Republican primaries may've cost Mitt Romney the election. Except it was the 1980 primaries that did it.

Rubin, we need not mention, is eminently disposable, sorry that the Brilliant CEO's people let him down, and eager that we all know that the Obama campaign ran "really nasty ads in Spanish" which were apparently too shocking to translate and too numerous to need citation. Plus, there was a hurricane which lasted eight or nine days, and threw the challenger off so much more than the incumbent, who might've lost instantly had he been one-quarter as incompetent as the last Republican president. Whatever his name was.

[And, by the way, how many Republicans now complaining that Obama "unfairly looked good" after Sandy complained when George W. Bush finally crawled out from under his desk on 9/15, and posed with a bullhorn and a prop fireman? Answer: zero.]

Rubin is, or was, a Romney campaign stovepipe, merely, though she has some helpful advice for Paul Ryan there at the end, and, no, it's not "find another line of work". But George Eff Will, of course, is our leading right-wing intellectual.
The election’s outcome was foreshadowed by Mitt Romney struggling as long as he did to surmount a notably weak field of Republican rivals.

[Full non-disclosure: including one advised by your wife]

You say "notably weak", I say "typical".  That field didn't get there by happenstance. It wasn't an historical aberration. That was the Republican party on display in the primaries, the one you've cultivated since 1980, if not 1964.

He struggled because he wasn't much stronger than the rest of that crowd, because he wasn't liked or trusted by the rank-and-file, and because, whether you like it or not, there are serious reasons why normal people do not care for Mitt Romney.
His salient deficiency was not of character but of chemistry, that indefinable something suggested by the term empathy.

Bosh. Empathy doesn't require personal chemistry. It actually requires character. Something which is not measured in net worth. Usually the opposite.

And fer cryin' out loud, Mitt Romney made so many 180ยบ turns between 2007 and 2012 we now say that Jim Rockford "pulled a Romney", instead of vice-versa.
Many voters who thought he lacked this did not trust him to employ on their behalf what he does not lack, economic understanding.

Somebody call me when the Republican party figures out that working people not trusting capitalists to operate in other people's interest is not a paradox.
On Feb. 11, 2011, the person who should have been the Republican nominee

Sure, the first step in reformulating a defeated political party is to demonstrate your separation from reality.
laconically warned conservatives about a prerequisite for persuading people to make painful adjustments to a rickety entitlement state. Said Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels: “A more affirmative, ‘better angels’ approach to voters is really less an aesthetic than a practical one. With apologies for the banality, I submit that, as we ask Americans to join us on such a boldly different course, it would help if they liked us, just a bit.”

I've had plenty to say here over the years about the PR bullshit, and the voodoo, behind Mitch Daniels' Indiana Miracle. You can choose to still believe in it--but act fast, it's crumbling as we speak--but no one can possibly imagine he could pull those tricks at the national level. Daniels didn't have to close any military bases or mothball six carriers. He could--with a fully compliant legislature--cut Indiana departments by whatever percentage he chose (and get away with it, in the short term, by laying off that debt on local governments). Had he stood on the national stage (I mean, had he stood on a box on the national stage) he'd have done so with the same hocus-pocus and lack of specificity that Romney tried to get away with. I'm not convinced he'd have beaten Romney, for that matter, let alone been a better nominee in the general.

But forget that; this call for "being liked" is just an attempt at conjuring Zombie Ronald Reagan as the solution to your problems. Mitt made clear what your problem with most Americans is--you don't like 'em. You don't think they're smart enough to understand this. Likeability is not merely a question of your score on a personality inventory.
And (the party needs a nominee) who tilts toward the libertarian side of the Republican Party’s fusion of social and laissez-faire conservatism.

Good luck with that one. All you need is a Republican nominee who overtly disagrees with the majority of your electorate? George, maybe what you need is a different electorate.
Most voters already favor less punitive immigration policies than the ones angrily advocated by clenched-fist Republicans...

Y'know, the unfortunate thing there is that this isn't just a cockeyed policy favored by hotheaded Republican activists. It's the Republican national platform, and it's inextricably joined to any number of racial and class-warfare stances which are the main attraction of your party for a big chunk of those voters.

By the way, wasn't this what the Teabaggers were supposed to be all about?  No more culture war, just metaphysically proven economic policies?
The speed with which civil unions and same-sex marriage have become debatable topics and even mainstream policies is astonishing. As is conservatives’ failure to recognize this: They need not endorse such policies, but neither need they despise those, such as young people, who favor them.

So hate the sin but love the sinner? Yeah, why don't you try that?

Once again, you're not talking about some accidentally unpopular policy choice; you're talking about a cherished tenet of people who believe with Divine intensity that they are right, no matter what. They're an important Republican constituency, and you're not going back to the days of St. Ronnie when you could just take them for granted. Tell us how you do this. Tell us which Republican stands up and tells the religious right to stuff it.
And it is strange for conservatives to turn a stony face toward any reconsideration of drug policies, particularly concerning marijuana, which confirm conservatism’s warnings about government persistence in the teeth of evidence.

Really? I must've hallucinated Nancy Reagan. And hippie punching.

Listen, neither party has been reasonable about drug decriminalization. And both have been wholly wrong, and utterly misguided. Neither party is going to collect any chips on marijuana.
With much work — the most painful sort: thinking — to be done, conservatives should squander no energy on recriminations.

The Republican party will be doing plenty of thinking; problem is that what it needs to do plenty of is re-thinking. Which ain't gonna happen. Money talks.

And by the way, what're all the complaints about the weak primary field and the damage culture warriors do the party if not recriminations?
Liberals have an inherent but not insuperable advantage: As enthusiasts of government, to which many of them are related as employees or clients,

Oh, snap!
they are more motivated for political activity than are conservatives, who prefer private spaces. Never mind. Conservatives have a commensurate advantage: Americans still find congenial conservatism’s vocabulary of skepticism about statism. And events — ongoing economic anemia; the regulatory state’s metabolic urge to bully — will deepen this vocabulary’s resonance.

Problem with that is that every so often you get the opportunity to expand the vocabulary, and instead you expand the state. That part of it you approve of.
As the stakes of politics increase with government’s size, so does voter engagement. And 2012 redundantly proved what 2010 demonstrated. The 2010 elections, the first after the Supreme Court’s excellent Citizens United decision liberalized the rules about funding political advocacy, were especially competitive. Social science confirms what common sense suggests: More spending on political advocacy means more voter information and interest. The approximately $2 billion spent in support of this year’s presidential candidates — only about two-thirds as much as Procter & Gamble spent on U.S. advertising last year — surely contributed to the high turnout in targeted states.

Y'know, George, I love that Proctor & Gamble routine nearly as much as you do, but unlike you I sat through in twice now in Indiana, and lemme just tell ya, if this is the sort of thing that increases interest in voter information you can fucking have it. It's pure shit-slinging and simple-minded sloganeering with no fear of analysis or consequence. On both sides. It enriches local media, and so makes it even less interested in free, fair, and open discussion. Which is the sort of thing I thought principled conservatism was in favor of.
Media and other “nonpartisan” — please, no chortling —

Oh, snap!
dismay about “too much money in politics” waned as seven of the 10 highest-spending political entities supported Democrats and outspent the three supporting Republicans, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citation? Who complained about "too much money in politics" then changed his tune because the Democrats were the ones being bought off? According to the Wall St. Journal, I mean.
The advocacy infrastructure being developed by both sides in the post-Citizens United world will, over time, favor the most plausible side, which conservatives know is theirs.

So, why were you soul-searching, again?


Cathy W said...

I find all this kind of astonishing coming from George Eff Will given that just a week ago he was predicting Romney would get 321 electoral votes.

Anonymous said...

"Liberals have an inherent but not insuperable advantage: As enthusiasts of government, to which many of them are related as employees or clients,"

He's talking about Defense contractors, right?


"excellent Citizens United decision liberalized the rules"

"liberalized", ha!

hells littlest angel said...

Romney's chemistry problem is that he isn't carbon-based.

mb said...

"George, maybe what you need is a different electorate."

I can't help but think that at least some people looked at the audience reactions/responses during the Republican debates and said to themselves, "I'm not going to let those people choose the next president." Romney lost as much because of his a base as because he was a soulless sociopath.

bob_is_boring said...

Citations are not, it seems, needed.

Punditasting is unrelated to research--which, despite its best intentions, is itself only tangentially related to truth--and is best left in the "unsourced claims" pile.

Mr Eff Will, though, seems to see some of the structural problems with His Side, but in the end writes them off since his views are "plausible."

Also, too, anyone who thinks Citizens United is "excellent" is surely a cockwallet of the highest order.

Anonymous said...

"economic understanding" is a separate category of intelligence, not unlike emotional intelligence. I've known a few people in business who understood perfectly well how to make money but were dumber than shit about anything else.

Howlin Wolfe said...

HEEHEE Geo. Effin' Will said, "turn a stony face toward any reconsideration of drug policies". Good one, Georgie!

Julia Grey said...

Empathy doesn't require personal chemistry. It actually requires character.

And imagination. The ability to visualize what it's like to walk in another guy's shoes.

Mitt was so coddled and insulated all his life that he was one of those guys that just couldn't IMAGINE what was going on inside anybody else's head. I bet he has trouble understanding his own kids, much less employees and the like, if they aren't radically rich and Mormon like him.

Maybe a touch of Asperger's there, too, like my Dad. He really was inept in conversation and "connecting."