Is Mitt Romney the luckiest guy in the country?

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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67 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    We were just joking at the office that Mitt Romney campaign staffers must be wondering about the massive conspiracy amongst Republicans to make Mitt Romney look good.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Burt Likko says:

      This is real.  It’s not a conspiracy, but it’s just identifying your best shot and circling the wagons.  It’s been happening for about two months, if not longer.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Like hell it’s not a conspiracy. it took ALL of the GOP might to keep Palin from running. (even she’s not dumb enough to think she’d win the presidency, but she’d have been a lock for the nom.)Report

  2. Michelle says:

    Aside from Huntsman ( who’s going exactly nowhere) and Romney (who, despite his shape-shifter tendencies, nonetheless has a functioning brain) I don’t see how anyone could look at the Republican field and not be afraid of what would happen if one of these clowns actually became president. I remember during the last electoral cycle thinking that the Republican field was a joke and that either Clinton or Obama would make a much better president than anybody the Republicans were running. The latest crop is even worse. So bad that it’s downright scary. The incumbent is in serious trouble and these goofs are the best the Republican Party can offer? Or do the smart ones know that Bush and his cronies so screwed the pooch during their eight-year reign the next president, whoever that poor soul may be, can do nothing to fix it and that all their party has to offer is Reagan era bromides and stale social conservatism? Whatever the answer, if I were a Republican I’d be ashamed.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    A dozen Deans. Screaming.

    I hope that this means that Dr. Paul does surprisingly well in the coming months.

    I hope for world peace and brotherhood.Report

  4. I chuckled for five minutes at the clown car line.  Well played!Report

  5. Michael Drew says:

    And how.  Except for the last line.  None of this helps Obama a smidge.  Independents are just looking for an acceptable alternative to Obama.  If they can find one, he’ll be president.  The Republican field is making Romney look more and more acceptable by the day.  This is all bad for Obama.  Obama needed Rick Perry to be a viable candidate.  Anyone who could provide a contrast to Romney’s from a place of legitimacy.  Hell, if Christie had gotten in, it’d have been nothing but good for Obama.Report

    • Aaron W in reply to Michael Drew says:

      This only shows Gallup, so I’d take it with a grain of salt. (Especially Andrew’s commentary)  It does look like the circus show is taking its toll on independents, though.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Depending on how badly Obama beats Romney come next year, and depending on whether the Republican establishment (and/or Republican base) is willing to sit and honestly discuss what happened and why (HA!), I could easily see Christie being the nominee in ’16.

      In a walk.Report

      • Mike in reply to Jaybird says:

        You won’t see any sanity out of the Retardican base for some time to come.

        They blindsided the electorate, rabble-rousing  a coalition of racists, religious bigots, homophobes, and just plain morons to take a surprising number of elections in 2010 when the normal electorate, generally content following 2008, took a bit of a nap on election day.

        That won’t happen again any time soon.

        Likewise, the GOP’s current favorite sport of RINO-hunting is killing off their own party members far more surely than any campaign by the Dems could ever do.

        The main sad point in all this, alas, is that it’s going to take another 8 years to get enough of the Retardicans out of office in order to redraw some of the ridiculously racist gerrymandered districts they’ve come up with this time around. Though in some of the Southern states, the courts are already stepping in yet again (that seems to be a beginning-of-decade sport of some kind, seeing how much the Racist Right can slip past the courts in pushing the brownskins into ghettos with as little voting power as possible). Oh, and don’t forget the “OMG we have to stop vote fraud” nonsense laws they tried to pass as well. A poll tax is a poll tax no matter how you slice it.

        Bigotry, thy name is GOP.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Jaybird says:


        The Republican establishment is already talking about this.  It’s the base that won’t take the right message from it.

        Imagine if Romney’s the candidate and loses to Obama–the base’s conviction that only a hard-right candidate can win will be reinforced.  Imagine he wins–the base will be convinced it was because of the economy and Obama’s (alleged) Marxism, and that a hard-right candidate would have done even better.Report

  6. Robert Cheeks says:

    Any of those Republicans seeking the nomination, except Romney, is much superior to that  Kenyan-Marxist resideing in the White House.Report

  7. Koz says:

    Actually, like I responded to Bob on a different thread, we’re the lucky ones to have him.Report

    • Robert Cheeks in reply to Koz says:

      Thanks Koz, I do what I can do. I think I just got trolled above, and my, my it was a thrill.Report

      • Koz in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

        Bob, what can I say? The Romney stuff is just not real bright.

        Romney created Romneycare in Massachusetts which is more or less like Obamacare in America, and you don’t like that? Too bad. The Republicans have had a whole year to find Plan B, and haven’t done it. And now, we just look like idiots. Every minute we talk about the epistemology of Herman Cain grabbing some woman’s thigh is a minute not spent engaging the American people and convincing them we can create growth and lower unemployment.

        One thing I’ve come to realize over the last week or so is the extent to which the GOP base has refused to understand or engage the “nonideological” structure of our governance. The substance of my prior response to Bob has gotten very little traction among the GOP base and if it stays that way we’re in real trouble.Report

  8. Marc Richter says:

    It is sad that the nomination process in the Republican Party seems to be reduced to the guy who’s been in line the longest, regardless of his credentials or ability to beat his/her democratic opponent that year.

    There are a host of things I like about Romney, but he is flip-flopped so often that it;s nearly impossible to defend his record with a straight face.  On the bright side he is running against an even bigger flip flopper.Report

  9. Mopey Duns says:

    As a non-American, I am legitimately baffled that these candidates are the best ones that the Republican Party is capable of drubbing up given 3 years to prepare since their last loss.  It is puzzling.  How many millions of Americans are registered Republicans?  Is it really this bad, that the party can field only one serious candidate?

    I do not even like Obama, but if I were American, I would honestly hesitate to replace him with any of these particular alternatives.

    I hope for the sake of the world that the Republicans are merely at a low ebb, and that a rising tide will sweep the current flotsam back where they belong.Report

    • Mopey Duns,

      Long form answer:

      Political scientists distinguish between umbrella parties, that invite in a variety of people that don’t always agree with each other so as to have a large mass, because their primary purpose is to win elections and control the machinery of government (once in they’ll bicker about what they want to do with that machinery) and programmatic parties, that have a clear ideological program that they are loathe to compromise, even if it drives away a lot of potential votes.

      In a multi-party parliamentary system programmatic parties can thrive because they only need a strongly committed slice of the electorate.  They may not be able to gain a majority, but they can be a crucial component in a coalition government.

      In a two-party system like the U.S., programmatic parties are sure losers, except occasionally in local elections.  And so the Republican and Democratic parties have, for ever and ever, been umbrella parties, with only the mildest commitment to ideology.  In fact the Republicans used to call themselves “the big tent” and the Democratic party used to be comprised of northern liberals and southern conservatives (who were more conservative than most Republicans back then).

      But lately the Republican Party has become more programmatic, and has been engaged in a sort of purge–often a voluntary leaving–if its more liberal and moderate elements.  I personally know close to a dozen moderate-conservatives who have either left the party or are still in it but moan constantly about where it’s going.  Exactly how this programmatic shift came about is not entirely clear, but in my reasonably-well-educated-but-not-exactly-expert opinion it has to do with the rise of social conservatism as a political force, the shift of the former southern  Democrats to the Republican party, and the effects of excessive gerrymandering of congressional districts.

      That’s a long way around to answering you, but what it means is that there truly aren’t as many “good” Republicans as there used to be, and the ones that are recognize how difficult it will be to run in a primary dominated by programmatic ideologues.

      A big part of what’s keeping Romney alive is that there is a large group of party elites, less programmatic and more pragmatic than the rank-and-file (and explicitly and vocally distrusted by that rank-and-file) who have rallied behind Romney because they are more concerned with winning than with ideological purity.

      I don’t think the U.S. has ever witnessed a major umbrella party becoming a programmatic party before, and it’s fascinating (if disturbing).  What it means for the near term is that while Republicans will be able to keep sizable numbers in Congress due to gerrymandering, they may be destroying their chances at winning the presidency for years to come except when they reluctantly accept a Romney-type moderate.  (And for those who don’t know, Mitt’s dad was a notable Republican in the late ’60s, early ’70s, a still-beloved governor of Michigan, and a classic moderate upper-Midwest Republican, of a type that is vanishing.)Report

      • Mike in reply to James Hanley says:

        To paraphrase for a TL:DR version:

        The Tea Tards have destroyed any reason for anyone else to join the Republican (now ReTardican in honor of the Tea Tards) Party. Therefore, it is doomed within the next 5 years to become much as the Whigs once did – first a permanent minority, followed by ceasing to exist.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to Mike says:

          You are the Bob of the Left. Tea Tards? At least call them Tea Tardiers.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Mike says:


          I’m  not ideological enough to stoop to names like Tea Tards (or Libtards, or Dimmycrats, or Rethuglicans, or any of the other juvenile attempts at humor that ideologues get their giggles from).

          And I’ll take your bet on the Republicans ceasing to exist.  The institutional structures of the current party system are too strongly emplaced, and there’s no serious challenger to rise up and displace them.  The early-mid 1800s are not an accurate model of the early 2000s.  I remember my dad after the 1994 midterm elections saying “I’m worried that the Democratic Party might collapse entirely and cease to exist” (he was being a bit disingenuous with the word “worry,” of course, “eagerly anticipating” would have been a more honest term).  Of course that never happened.


          • Kimmi in reply to James Hanley says:

            James, I’ll take a limited set of your bets. I see the current republican party crashing on the shoals of Obamacare. If in twenty years, the republicans are no longer chanting tax cuts, no longer the “God and Guns” party, and no longer anti-open-gays, then I’ll claim that this faction has gone the way Republican factions always do — by having their head chopped off (it’s an authoritarian thing. sometimes we wish the democrats would try it)Report

          • Koz in reply to James Hanley says:

            IMO, it’s much more likely that one party or the other will cease to exist as we know it in the next decade or so. I think the “structural” arguments for a two party system have carried the day for the last 100 years or so, but recent developments in our political culture have made it less likely that we’ll carry on that way.

            In particular, we have nominally decentralized power structures (multiple houses of the legislature, states, independent judiciary, etc.). At the same time also have powerful centralizing tends in governance. As a result, there is a very powerful tendency toward inertia, in the sense that the main political actors will tend to skirmish against each other on the margins of policy, whereas the main thrust of policy is essentially the continuation of previous policies.

            Therefore we’re likely to see the continuation of the two-party system as long as the electorate wants marginal changes to policy. But, if the electorate wants dramatic changes to policy, they will be forced to eliminate one major party or the other from the means to obstruct it, and implicitly will mean the end of the two party system.

            For a short time (I’d say Feb and Mar 2009), the continued existence of the Republican Party was in doubt. As things stand now, I think the shoe is on the other foot, especially if Mitt Romney wins the Presidency which seems likely to me.

            In particular, because of equal representation by state in the US Senate, we might see an unmovable Republican majority there. Once the current generation of Testers and Dascheles and Mark Pryors are gone one way or another, I think it will be very hard for Demos to be elected in those states. Therefore you’re going to have a lot of voters in light blue states who will be confronted with the situation of 1. Let’s do it the Republicans’ way, or 2. We’ll have debt ceiling-type animosity every month. If that happens, I think they’ll pick #1, especially because it’s not really clear if they’ll get anything for picking #2.Report

            • Kimmi in reply to Koz says:

              I’d go for guns and cigarettes over bonus army. Thanks anyhow.

              Then again, if it really goes to Palin’s crowd, I’ll be “leaving on a jetplane”Report

      • Mopey Duns in reply to James Hanley says:

        Two things (plus one little thing).

        Little thing first: your history of the Republican party is fascinating, and thank you for sharing it.  Now, onto the main points.

        1) First, whether a party is programmatic or umbrella in its structure should not effect the competence of its members.  If there is a change, it has to do with the nature of the program.

        2)If it is due some program on the part of the Republicans, what is the program, and why is it selecting against basic competence in its representatives?

        I don’t think, as you seem to imply, that it is a matter of liberals and moderates being competent, and conservatives being dumb.  So honestly; what is going on here?Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to James Hanley says:

        James, I like the distinction! It’s very helpful for understanding why the GOP sounds more like the Bloc Quebecois than they used to.Report

  10. There’s not much we know about anything until the first couple of caucuses and primaries.  I remember when Howard Dean in 2004 pretty much had the Democratic nomination pretty much locked up….before the primaries.  It’s possible, for example, that Huntsman might do exceptionally well in Iowa or New Hampshire–even 2nd place would do–and he’d be suddenly one of the major players.



    • Ditto this.  Who actually turns out matters, and most of the polls right now are surveying Republican voters, not likely Iowa caucus-goers and likely New Hampshire voters.  That’s a pretty select group of people, and the relatively non-committal people don’t tend to turn out as heavily as the strong ideologues.

      A lot of it also has to do with the effectiveness of local campaign organizations turning out the vote–if the Romney campaign isn’t organized enough to actually get people to the polls (although I’d bet it is), it will hurt them badly.

      Dean is the case in point here.  My Iowa Democrat friend went to the polls that year and called me on his way home to tell me that the Dean people hadn’t showed up at his precinct.  We were both shocked, then we figured it out.  It was a damn cold evening, and Dean’s support was mostly young people–they were more than willing to push a PayPal button on the internet, but weren’t willing to turn out on a bitter cold night to spend hours arguing politics with old people.  Also, a lot of his supporters were college students, most of them registered (if they were even registered) in their home precincts, not in the precincts where they were at school.

      Had Iowa had an on-line primary, Dean would have won hands-down.Report

  11. MFarmer says:

    If my political forecaster is working, and it’s usually accurate, Romney will handily defeat Obama, but, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t excited about it. There’s one possibility, and it’s an outside possibility — limited government Republicans could increase in influence and put enough pressure on Romney so that he refrains from jumping Center-Left after winning.

    I go for the glory, but, when the dust settles, I accept what I can get.Report

    • b-psycho in reply to MFarmer says:

      So you’re predicting that Romney wins both the nomination and the election, and hoping that he then listens to the type of people whose clout would be crushed by his nomination…

      If Republicans want so badly to have a limited-government Republican, wouldn’t they just pick one?  Last time I checked, Ron Paul & Gary Johnson were both still running — in the basement, but still.


      • MFarmer in reply to b-psycho says:

        “and hoping that he then listens to the type of people whose clout would be crushed by his nomination…”

        He needs those people to win. Republican of all stripes will make a practical decision to vote for the most electable, but if Romney betrays the limited government crowd, it’s over. I don’t think most observers realize how big the anti-statist movement has become. This election is going to surprise a lot of people.Report

    • Koz in reply to MFarmer says:

      I am a rare bird in that I not only support Mitt Romney but I’m actually an enthusiast for him as well.

      Look, Mike. Let’s suppose Mitt Romney or Newt or Herman Cain is elected President. Then what?

      There’s somebody who goes to work every day as a foreign policy analyst for the Brookings Institution specializing in BRIC. What do we expect that person is going to do when a Republican is elected? Is he going to move to Missouri to be a shift manager at Sonic Drive-Thru? Of course not. He’s gonna go to work and do the same things he was doing before.

      Because of what’s happened in government over the last say, 25 years, those kinds of people, individually and collectively, are going to have a lot of influence. Mitt Romney has a proven track record of supervising and engaging with such people to accomplish important things. Nobody else comes close. Next place is actually Jon Huntsman, which is why he’s actually my second choice.

      Mitt Romney could easily spend the rest of his life riding the golf course and collecting pictures of grandkids. It’s a really lucky break for us that he actually wants to be President and frankly a little surprising even.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to MFarmer says:


      It’s certainly possible, but a Quinnipiac poll released yesterday shows Romney with very narrow leads over Obama in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Nothing “handy” about that at the moment.  That is to say, I wouldn’t offer to wage against you right now, but I wouldn’t take a bet on your side, either.Report

      • I feel that the whole damn election hinges on what happens in the eurozone. Unfortunately, with the stuff going on as of late in Italy, things look likely to turn against the President in the next year. If conditions hold constant, I’d take Obama in a close but clear victory.Report

      • MFarmer in reply to James Hanley says:

        Polls don’t mean much now. When it’s Obama and Romney, the difference will become striking as voters begin to seriously consider what each represent. If Romney sticks to busines and private sector empowerment, government solutions will appear weak and backward. The populace is losing faith in institutions and top-down power and management — they’re sick of the corruption, the spending and the political games. The majority has now become more aware of their responsibility to create economic growth and they’re ready for government to move aside regarding economic direction (it probably won’t happen, but it’s what most people want). Plus, media image-making might have had their last hoorah in 2008 — this will be the first big election since the Information Age has impacted the American psyche with great force. The media games are now transparent and counter-productive.Report

        • Michelle in reply to MFarmer says:

          While I think Romney is the candidate most likely to beat Obama, the election will be close. I certainly don’t agree that he’ll be able to outwork and out-debate Obama. The man didn’t take down Hillary Clinton and become President by being stupid, lazy, and unaccomplished.

          Plus, I don’t agree that Americans have any more faith in large corporations than they do government. After all, large corporations, namely the banks and investment companies, are the ones largely responsible for bringing the economy to the brink of complete ruin. Big corporations are also sitting on record profits right now yet refusing to hire. I don’t think there’s a lot of love out there for them.

          Finally, Romney has a sincerity problem in that the guy has changed sides so often that he’s earned his reputation as a shape-shifter. He gives off the impression that he’s a little too anxious to be president–that winning the presidency would be the final notch on his resume. There’s just something weaselly about him that puts people off.Report

          • MFarmer in reply to Michelle says:

            “Plus, I don’t agree that Americans have any more faith in large corporations than they do government.”

            No, people are realizing that large corporations and interventionist government are both muscular arms of a too-powerful State. Thus, Romney will attempt to convince voters he’s for limiting government power and empowering small and medium sized businesses — ending the rigged game which empowers the State presently. Obama will present government as the solution, but government is the problem, and a lot of people are realizing this once again.Report

            • Michelle in reply to MFarmer says:

              “No, people are realizing that large corporations and interventionist government are both muscular arms of a too-powerful State.”

              Which is pretty much Ron Paul’s message, is it not?

              I find it hard to believe that Romney will be less pro-big corporation than Obama has been (despite his undeserved reputation for being anti-corporation). Romney’s pretty much Mr. Corporate as opposed to a small to medium sized business guy. What kind of policies has he suggested that would empower small to medium size business at the possible expense of large corporations.




              • MFarmer in reply to Michelle says:

                I support Ron Paul — I’m just discussing the topic and giving my observations.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to Michelle says:

                I’m sure you haven’t read what I’ve written on this topic. I think Romney is bad for the Republican Party, unless he realizes he must refrain from finding safety in the status quo. I’m in line, mostly, with Ron Paul, but Paul is marginalized. The pressure from the Republican establishment now is to nominate Romney, and Romney will likely be the candidate. If it’s a choice between Romney and Obama, I choose Romney, but I will continue to fight for Paul and his ideas. I believe the American people will be more influential going foward than Presidents, and I believe that the people are ready for a less powerful State and a government which sticks to certain responsibilities and gets its hands out of the economy. I think the Information Age is changing politics, so the old pundit viewpoints don’t really have much validity going into 2012.Report

              • Michelle in reply to MFarmer says:

                Sorry MFarmer, I’m new around here so am not familiar with your views. Also, I confused some of your statements with those made by Koz and replied to the wrong person. Oops.Report