The first post on this blog which got any major traffic was one written in August, 2009, entitled, “Where’s Romney?” In it, I decried Romney’s silence as the presumptive GOP nominee for 2012:
Many GOP insiders, Beltway mavens, and East Coast conservatives have held up Mitt Romney as the presumptive 2012 GOP presidential nominee and, indeed, he appears to be quietly laying the groundwork for another presidential run. However, with all of the Tea Parties, town meetings, and ObamaCare protests, he has been strangely silent. This is exceedingly odd behavior for a man who would be president …
the Obama presidency is a target-rich environment. There are many, many things that Romney could and should comment on. While it is true that he has occasionally issued a press release, and he sometimes appears on Hugh Hewitt’s show, at a time when the GOP so desperately needs leadership, he has been nearly off the radar screen. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that he is generally pleased with Obama’s policies, and is having trouble finding things in the current administration that he is really critical of.
This, while the whole nation seems on the brink of explosion.
Since it appears that the GOP establishment is going to try to ram Romney down everyone’s throat in 2012, I’ll cut to the quick: America needs a leader, not a manager. A field general, not a staff officer. However, Romney is not a leader, and will never be one.
America needs a leader with passion and conviction. Romney has neither …
there is always the possibility that the GOP establishment will try to rig things and make him the nominee no matter what rank and file Republicans want, or that Romney, with his organization and war chest, will so wound and tire the eventual nominee that she/he will not survive the actual election. In either case, Obama will be reelected.
While I am not sorry that I wrote this post, I am sorry that everything I wrote was true.
Sadly, Romney’s election defeat has not changed the situation at all. We are left exactly where we were in 2009, except that presumably Romney will not run again in 2016. There is every indication that the “leadership” in the GOP has not learned a single thing in these last three years.
Michael Walsh has now written a post with almost the exact same title as my post from 2009, harping on many of the same themes:
The more I ponder the chimerical presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, the more I’ve become convinced it was all a practical joke played on gullible suckers by the GOP’s krack kadre of kampaign konsultants, a phantom “run” designed to hoover as much money out of the fat cats’ wallets as possible and deliver almost nothing in return aside from a few swing-state ad buys. How else to explain the nomination of a man long out of office, with a proven record of failure at the ballot box, who stood far from the intellectual center of contemporary conservatism or even establishment Republicanism? Who crushed his flawed and sometimes bizarre Republican competition for the nomination with money and scorched-earth tactics, but then mysteriously refused to engage with President Obama on all but the most timid, anodyne level? And who, having lost, promptly vanished from the discussion? …
Had [Romney] been a man of some standing within the party, we could reasonably expect him to stay in the public eye …
Instead, Romney waved good-bye after he lost — which we were assured by Dick Morris and Karl Rove wouldn’t happen — and went home to La Jolla (a ritzy San Diego northern suburb, where the weather is perfect and the beach is right outside the door). Why? Surely the former Bain Capital turnaround artist has something interesting and worthwhile to say about the “fiscal cliff” and the dire economic straits in which the nation currently finds itself. Or is it that, having lost a Senate race to Ted Kennedy in 1994, the 2008 nomination to McCain, and the 2012 race to Obama, his opinion is no longer considered worth much? Or perhaps it’s that the “severe conservative” of 2012 only became a Republican in 1993, and his philosophical bona fides were always suspect to a great many on the right.
Fortune favors the bold, as the saying goes. The Romney fiasco should be the death knell of the Washington Generals approach to competing against the Democrats, and the whole lot of the Old Guard — starting with weepy John Boehner — should be tossed out and replaced with those who can distinguish between strategy and tactics and who understand that the only acceptable strategic outcome should be total victory over the modern Left and its alien, imported ideology. After all — that’s certainly the other side’s goal.
Of course, that depends on whether you see the current conflict as simply politics-as-usual, in which both sides share the same basic values and aspirations, and differ only in methods (the Boehner approach); or as a struggle between individualism and collectivism, which has been going on in Europe since Rousseau and his evil love child, Karl Marx, but is still relatively new to these shores. But extending the olive branch toward an opponent who’s not prepared to extend to you the slightest shred of moral or political legitimacy is suicidal. Unless, of course, you think it’s all a big game, a racket in which both sides have pretended to fight in order to divvy up the near-boundless swag of the federal treasury and keep the suckers back home happy come election time with a little kabuki and pantomime.
Accordingly, over the past two decades, the establishment Republicans — who knew the Rockefeller wing had such tenacity? — have nominated a string of reach-across-the-aisle types, and where has that gotten them? In the aftermath of 9/11, the author of the No Child Left Behind act was pilloried as a warmongering beast, McCain was savaged by his former “buddies” in the media as the walking dead, and Romney stood by mildly as he was accused by the Democrats of murder and Obama cried for revenge.
You can’t win a fight unless you’re prepared to credit your enemy with the will and the capacity to achieve his stated objectives, and as long as the Republicans continue to treat the Democrats as just a slightly more extreme version of themselves, they’ll continue to lose. On November 6, conservatives received a valuable object lesson in living inside their own bubble, slurping up what Fox News told them and believing that the ghost of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 electorate would once again show up at the polls, like the phantom army in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Meanwhile, in the 40 years since they seized control of the Democratic party, leftist radicals have honed their divisive message and perfected their blunt-force tactics — all in the service of a strategy, as the actions of President Obama make abundantly clear.
The reason no one speaks for the GOP is that there’s nothing to speak for — no principles other than accommodation, and thus no message. And until it gets one, something at once fundamentally American and electrifyingly appealing, it’s not going to find its voice.
Indeed. Romney was not the problem–Romney was but a symptom of the problem. The problem is a GOP that does not really understand, believe, or practice its own message.