Mitt Romney, peering deep into the abyss

How bad has the past week been for Romney, between the Libya remarks and the “47 percent” video? Bad enough that this bit from The Onion is just barely funny:

DALLAS—With his campaign still reeling from a series of miscues, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney asked a group of top advisers Wednesday whether it would be worth going after Obama by questioning the nation of his birth. “What about that whole deal with his birth certificate, or him being born in Kenya or wherever—you think that might stick?” said Romney, adding he was “just spitballing here.” “Also, wasn’t he connected to that terrorist guy, what’s-his-name? Ayers? Bill Ayers? That might have legs, right? Let’s look into that.” After agreeing that the situations should be investigated, Romney and his aides then reportedly sat in silence for 10 whole minutes.

And somewhere out there, some second-guessing Republicans are thinking, “The Donald is tanned, rested and ready…”

Meanwhile, over in a quarter where none of this is funny, one WSJ columnist is lecturing the nominee that his loyalty should be to the country, not his hapless campaign staff, and Karl Rove is saying yes, the situation is bad, but it’s not over — after all, Jimmy Carter was leading Ronald Reagan at this point in 1980.

Speaking of Reagan, Peggy Noonan is writing that it’s “Time for an Intervention:”

What should Mitt Romney do now? He should peer deep into the abyss. He should look straight into the heart of darkness where lies a Republican defeat in a year the Republican presidential candidate almost couldn’t lose. He should imagine what it will mean for the country, for a great political philosophy, conservatism, for his party and, last, for himself. He must look down unblinkingly.

And then he needs to snap out of it, and move…

The central problem revealed by the tape is Romney’s theory of the 2012 election. It is that a high percentage of the electorate receives government checks and therefore won’t vote for him, another high percentage is supplying the tax revenues and will vote for him, and almost half the people don’t pay taxes and presumably won’t vote for him.

My goodness, that’s a lot of people who won’t vote for you. You wonder how he gets up in the morning.

This is not how big leaders talk, it’s how shallow campaign operatives talk: They slice and dice the electorate like that, they see everything as determined by this interest or that. They’re usually young enough and dumb enough that nobody holds it against them, but they don’t know anything. They don’t know much about America.

We are a big, complicated nation. And we are human beings. We are people. We have souls. We are complex. We are not data points. Many things go into our decisions and our political affiliations.

You have to be sophisticated to know that. And if you’re operating at the top of national politics, you’re supposed to be sophisticated…

And this is what Mitt Romney is hearing from what should be his cheering section.

58 thoughts on “Mitt Romney, peering deep into the abyss

  1. bud

    After a couple of days of feeling positively giddy about the impending political demise of Willard Mitt Romney I have now come down to earth. Why? The poll numbers, while good, are certainly not definitive. On this occassion Karl Rove has a point. Still, this is not 1980 and Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter and thanks to Jimmy Carter’s grandson we know for certain that Mitt Romney is Ronald Reagen. Intrade and Nate Silver are pretty much in alignment right now each giving Obama about a 70% chance of winning. 70% is a looong way away from certainty.

    What would have to happen for Romney to turn it around? Let’s dip into the sports analogy world. In this case the NFL. Right now Obama has a 14 point lead midway through the fourth quarter and the ball. But Mitt still has 3 time outs (the debates) and the 2 minute warning (the last 2 jobs reports). Obama can fumble the ball or Mitt can throw a hail Mary. Or Mitt can merely grind it out on the ground and hope to catch Obama off guard then kick an onside kick. In other words there are still some avenues for Mitt to pursue. All of this is predicated on the notion that Mitt cannot make any more mistakes. The next fumble, missed tackle or big penalty and the ball game is over and we’ll see Obama in the victory formation.

  2. Brad

    I’m glad you corrected that. Indeed, that he is no Reagan is one of the points that Ms. Noonan made with such effectiveness:

    “That’s too small and pinched and narrow. That’s not how Republicans emerge victorious—’I can’t win these guys.’ You have to have more respect than that, and more affection, you don’t write anyone off, you invite everyone in. Reagan in 1984 used to put out his hand: ‘Come too, come walk with me.’ Come join, come help, whatever is happening in your life.

    “You know what Romney sounded like? Like a kid new to politics who thinks he got the inside lowdown on how it works from some operative. But those old operatives, they never know how it works. They knew how it worked for one cycle back in the day.

    “They’re jockeys who rode Seabiscuit and thought they won a race.”

  3. Steven Davis II

    “Intrade and Nate Silver are pretty much in alignment right now each giving Obama about a 70% chance of winning.”

    I hear BET is giving Obama a 100% chance of winning.

  4. David Carlton

    It should be pointed out that Rove is wrong about 1980–although he makes a claim common on the Right. Actually, careful analysis of all the polls shows that Reagan was consistently in the lead from late spring of 1980 onward; the gap closed after the conventions and the race appeared competitive until Reagan’s late breakout, but Carter was never in the lead.

    Moral: Obama could still lose, but not because he’s Carter; he isn’t, and the country isn’t where it was in 1980 either.

  5. Mark Stewart

    Steven may need his link functionality disabled for the duration. Where does he find such dreck, and why does anyone spend time thinking (or emoting) about it?

    All President’s have to make contingency plans for the end of their first term; and those have to be made months in advance as there is that little factor of Secret Service protection to consider. And also their revised lifestyle…

    Mitt’s got the same problem, by the way. He’s got to figure out where he wants to live come the end of the year, too.

  6. Steven Davis II

    @Mark – Well to give you a clue, it isn’t on any MSM or Democratic websites.

    So no one else found it interesting that our “for the little people” president is looking at a $35 million dollar home?

  7. Mark Stewart

    Steven, there are $35 million homes in every state of the nation – well, maybe not out on the Great Planes west of Chicago and Minneapolis.

    Would it be okay then if an ex-President limited himself to a $10 million home? Where is your personal red line for this – and for this President?

    As I said, Mitt should share your level of concern for where Obama is going to live come January. Let’s focus on that small issue, shall we?

  8. Brad

    I don’t know how I got on the DCCC and DSCC lists, but their emails are some of the most irritating I receive. I’m not going to ask them to stop sending, though, because occasionally they provide me with fodder.

    I don’t get anything from the GOP equivalent, although I get plenty from the SC GOP. Oh, and Michele Bachmann just won’t leave me alone

  9. Brad

    Mark, how would you define the “Great Planes”? Do you prefer Boeing or Airbus?

    Me, I’m partial to fighter planes from WWII, the ones I built models of as a kid: the Mustang, the Spitfire…

  10. Steven Davis II

    @Mark – You don’t get it do you? It’s not so much what he’s buying, it’s that the people bitching about Romney tend to use the house he lives in as a reason to view him as unattached to “regular people”. How many “regular people” do you know who live in $35 million dollar homes such as the one the Obama’s (who apparently is who the “regular people” should vote for) are looking at?

  11. Brad

    Another sidelight: While Republicans are bemoaning the state of their nominee’s campaign, Democrats are trying to terrify donors into giving more by saying the news for them is BAD:

    “USA Today lead story: ‘Obama’s bounce from the Democratic National Convention is dissipating.’

    “Brad — With just 46 days left, a new Gallup poll shows that President Obama’s convention bounce is gone, and the race is now a statistical tie—Obama 47%-Romney 46%.

    “Republicans are looking at the same deadlocked polls we are. And Rove’s Super PAC just launched a $10 million air assault aimed at stealing the lead this week…”

    They keep sending me these fund-raising appeals, several times a day, as if I’d ever give them a ha’penny.

  12. Mark Stewart


    Apparently I do not. I heard people complain about Romney’s SF garage elevator, but never any of Romney’s many homes. That’s at least something Romney owns. You are complaining about a home rumored to be under consideration by an Obama supporter. On that I would emphasize rumored and point you back to your original source.

  13. tired old man

    @SD II

    it’s that the people bitching about Romney tend to use the house he lives in as a reason to view him as unattached to “regular people”.

    Actually, I react more to the image of him strapping his family dog on the top of the family car to drive half a day to a family vacation.

  14. Steven Davis II

    @tired – Do you associate Obama with the image of a little black boy with a dog collar at the bottom of his bowl of soup?

  15. bud

    If my to do list included “determine if Mitt Romney is a man of character” I could cross it off now. Between the hazing, draft dodging, dog-on-roof, tin-ear comments on the stump and now this 47%/kick the ball down the field tape it is pretty clear my earlier C- grade for character was nothing but a social promotion.

  16. Jesse S.

    Steven, I think you have it a bit backwards.

    The problem isn’t that he is a big man in this world, the problem is his tendency to remind the rest of us that we are small and easily replaceable.

  17. Kathryn Fenner

    Bud, I think Mitt Romney has good character, on the whole. He’s just blind to his privilege, and trying to get elected by a bunch of rabid partisans who think he’s a RINO.

  18. Steven Davis II

    @Kathryn – Whether you want to believe it or not, Obama didn’t exactly grow up living on food stamps.

  19. Mark Stewart

    The DC9 was a sweet 30’s design. Nice call.

    This impugning the candidates’ character thing is a bit tiring. May need to top 5 the decades of flight through 1970. Lots of old, cool things with wings out there.

  20. tired old man

    @SD II

    You asked if the world regarded Mitt Romney in terms of his housing wealth, and I replied that my image of him was shaped by his strapping his dog to the top of the family car to drive hundreds of miles to a family vacation.

    I do not understand, let alone appreciate, your response of the President of the United States and a soup bowl — but let me applify my initial image of Mitt and the dog.

    It has to do with the larger story, which dealt with Mitt pulling off to a convenience store and then hosing down the top of his vehicle — that had apparently been smeared with the feces of a frightened family pet exposed to interstate speeds.

    So, whenever I think of Mitt — whether as a capatalist entrepreneur, or a befuddled presidential candidate — I think first, last and foremost of a perplexed guy who just cannot understand why and how his path is intersected with do much fecal material.

    Or, in a different viewpoint, as the Beatles said, the love you get is equal to the love you make.

    End of my participation in this discussion.

  21. Pat

    Jesse S says “The problem isn’t that he is a big man in this world, the problem is his tendency to remind the rest of us that we are small and easily replaceable.”
    And THAT is the heart of the matter!

  22. Steve Gordy

    Small details can be revealing. The dog story has been run into the ground. I got a better insight into the Mittster’s character when I read that he launders his own shirts on the road. For a man who could afford to own a laundromat in every city he visits, such penny-pinching (which means fewer jobs for service personnel) is miserliness, not frugality.

  23. David

    “I got a better insight into the Mittster’s character when I read that he launders his own shirts on the road. For a man who could afford to own a laundromat in every city he visits, such penny-pinching (which means fewer jobs for service personnel) is miserliness, not frugality.”

    Not bad satire.

  24. Phillip

    This talk about the supposed incompetence of Romney’s campaign is just another example of our general tendency to focus on the “horse-race” rather than the actual substance of the issues and positions of the candidates.

    So many people seem to say that because the economy is still sputtering or recovering very slowly at best, Romney would be a shoo-in were he running a moderately competent campaign, but the widening gap with Obama is purely indicative of strategic miscues by the GOP candidate.

    Could it not simply be that, misgivings or mixed feelings about the POTUS notwithstanding, the extremism of the GOP agenda and philosophy (as expressed so frankly by Romney in the video, but also quite openly by Paul Ryan at every campaign stop) is just a few steps too far out of the mainstream to win a majority in a national election? In other words, Romney/Ryan are not incompetent campaigners: they may just be too far out on the right side of the spectrum for America’s taste.

  25. bud

    Phillip, as the horse race goes this really is mostly about the economy and whether people feel better about the direction of the country. Though extremists Romney and Ryan could easily get elected if the public perceived the economy to be tanking. Early in the election cycle that was very well the case. But as the right track/wrong track numbers improve (from 30% to 40% right track), Obama benefits. That’s my very un-nuanced accessment of the horse race.

  26. Steven Davis II

    ” if the public perceived the economy to be tanking”

    if… IF??? Why do you think people aren’t spending money now? They’re scared of what’s around the corner that they might not be financially prepared for. I compare my American Express statements to what they were 2-3 years ago and I’m very proud of myself because they’re about 1/3 of what they used to be.

  27. bud

    Why do you think people aren’t spending money now?
    -SD II

    Uh, could it maybe, possibly have something to do with the fact that they don’t have any money too spend? But that seems to be changing as I mentioned with the right track polling showing a significant improvement over the last couple of weeks. Only question is whether that will hold for the next 6 weeks.

  28. Steven Davis II

    If you want to watch a video, the complete 2016: Obama’s America movie is now available on YouTube.

  29. Steven Davis II

    @bud – Another comment deleted by Brad. I’m starting to get the hint. As long as I don’t tow the Democratic line, I’ll be censored.

  30. Burl Burlingame

    Ha! I’m in the midst of restoring a C-47 (DC-3) right now. She served in New Guinea and the Philippines during the war. The DC-3 is indeed one of those “perfect” designs. So is the B-52.

    “2016,” however, is novocaine for the brain.

  31. Brad

    Review your comments. Focus on the parts where you take slaps at others here on the blog… Then you’ll be on your way to an explanation.

  32. Mark Stewart

    I noticed that when thinking of a really cool plane, the DC 3 / C 47, I instead referenced the bane of my early flying experiences, the DC 9 family of jets. Those are not in any way the same.

    Nice project, Burl.

  33. bud

    My favorite plane, by far, the German built ME-262. It was so far ahead of it’s time. Capable of flying 540 mph at a time when most fighters could barely muster 450 the ME-262 could obliterate a B-17 with a short burst of fire from it’s deadly 30mm cannon. The allies were helpless to defend against it. Only the limited availability of fuel and skilled pilots prevented this extraordinary aircraft from completely decimating the American and British bomber offensive in late 1944/early 45. Anyone who is interested in reading about a program to built authentic reproductions of the fabled ME-262 check out this website:

  34. Brad

    As great a leap as the 262 was, we weren’t entirely “helpless” against it. If I recall, Chuck Yeager shot down at least one of them.

    I’ve never been much of a fan of jets. Don’t know why. Maybe I just found models of prop planes more interesting to build as a kid….

  35. bud

    The vast majority of Me 262s shot down by the allies were either in the process of landing or taking off where they were vulnerable.

  36. Brad

    I read a statistic recently — and I hope I have this right (Burl, help me out here) — that indicated most air-to-air kills occur when a fighter pilot completely surprises his adversary, such as coming out of the sun on his “six” when the enemy doesn’t even know he’s there. I would think that would be especially true with the 262s.

  37. Brad

    Actually, I said I “don’t know why” I prefer the older planes, but I know why. It’s this affinity I have for the early 1940s. I have little interest in biplanes for instance. It’s that one stretch of history, the one that gave us Mustangs and Spitfires and ME-109s and Mitsubishi Zeroes and Corsairs and so forth. I like the bombers and I have a fondness for the C-47 (the first plane I ever rode in, hopping around the Andes when I lived in Ecuador), but it’s the fighters of that era I like best.

    There’s just something about them that clicks with me. But jets — jets are lacking in charm, entirely. They’re all speed and aerodynamic minimalism. And they’re just… too fast. There’s a lack of human scale to them. I had a very primitive flight simulator game in the 90s that allowed me to “fly” planes from the WWII through Vietnam. But I just couldn’t get the hang of flying jets. Things happened too fast and the controls were TOO responsive, or something. Kept crashing them. The prop planes fit better with my reflexes. Of course, it might have been that it was a bad, unrealistic flight simulator. But it left a bad taste.

    I had a better flight simulator later — the Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator — that allowed me to “fly” pretty much any plane during the Battle of Britain. I’d love to try something today using up-to-date graphics, but that was the last simulator I saw like that. I have zero interest in flying Piper Cubs and 747s, which seems to be what latter-day sims are about. I want to save Britain from the Jerrys…

  38. Mark Stewart

    Those original flying wing bombers were pretty cool, too. Very Area 51 meets GM tail fins (though I suppose the planes predated the cars).

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