Susannah Fleetwood made some excellent points in her post-election analysis of the 2012 campaign. Mitt Romney suffered a thousand cuts from his own side before he even accepted the nomination. The Obama campaign took the words of his primary opponents when they attacked him from the left and used those words against him in a series of blistering attacks that he was unable to respond to until after the convention. Then we had guys like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock open their mouths and tarnish the entire Republican Party.
Politics is warfare and all politics is based upon deception, as well as perception. And right now, the perception of the Republican Party is that we are a bunch of clowns. Don’t believe me? Well, Chris Cilliza and Aaron Blake of The Washington Post have the numbers, and as my old college calculus professor used to say, “The numbers don’t lie”. According to the numbers, Mitt Romney out-performed eleven out fifteen of the Republican Senatorial candidates, and the four that he didn’t out-perform were from very blue states that Republicans never win. …
In other words, if the problem was that Romney was a weak candidate (and the Republican brand was in good shape), then those numbers would be flipped the other way around. What the numbers tell us is that Mitt Romney performed well in those states in spite of the Republican brand–not because of it (people who came out to vote against Akin still voted for Romney).
Furthermore, as Robert Stacy McCain points out, Mitt Romney turned out to be a darn good candidate. Let’s face facts–he is an awesome debater, he drew very large, enthusiastic crowds, he didn’t make many big gaffes (other than the secretly taped 47% remark, which was similar to Obama’s secretly taped “bitter clingers” remark), he chose an excellent running mate in Paul Ryan and he’s extremely telegenic.
Moreover, even The New York Times concedes that Obama ran a very small and negative campaign, and that he’s a mediocre debater at best. In a nutshell, Obama’s entire campaign strategy was to paint Romney as The Devil, instead ofputting forth an agenda that was larger than a pamphlet. (I thought that Romney won the third debate when he said, “Attacking me is not an agenda”, but I digress.)
Read the whole thing. Our side has some serious soul searching to do, and it isn’t just the “establishment” that needs to look in the mirror. I’m still reading people on our side referring to Romney as “Mittens” as if that’s helpful. They did it during the primary, too, and now they’re feeling all smug about it. Romney did better than we could have expected any of the other primary candidates to do, and the primary beat him up so badly that he wasn’t able to overcome the Obama machine and its deceitful campaign tactics. These are serious times we’re living in, and when primary candidates show themselves to be clowns all support for those candidates has to be withdrawn immediately or we’ll continue to see elections like this one, and suffer the consequences. This is a two party system, and one of those parties is suffering from extreme brand damage.
The Bush-era “brand damage” problem, which conservatives hoped had been vanquished by the Tea Party uprising and the “Republican Mandate” of 2010, came back with a vengeance. The problem is not conservatism, nor is it “centrism,” but rather the success of the Democrat-Media Complex in making the Republican label a negative symbol. To the extent that various GOP candidates or spokesmen cooperated in that project – e.g., “legitimate rape” — then they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
To put it another way, the problem is political and cultural, rather thanideological, and we need to learn to distinguish these categories. Constant invocations of ideology — the claim that any Republican we disagree with is guilty of insufficient fidelity to conservative principle — tend to sow suspicion within our ranks and undermine effective cooperation. This is not to say that there are no RINO sellouts, or that the Charlie Crist/Richard Lugar types don’t do damage to the GOP, but rather to say that ideological deviation cannot be blamed for every problem in the Republican Party.
I understand that the Democrats create these memes and distractions, but our side has to learn how to respond. Mitt Romney did well in one of the debates when he acted puzzled about why anyone would even ask him about birth control. Others would be wise to do the same. The same thing goes with rape. These are made up non-issues but the Republicans continue shooting themselves in the feet over them. As for us, the grassroots, we have to stop looking for candidates who will legislate morality. Morality is our job, it’s the job of our schools and churches. Work to change those institutions from the inside. I know, we currently have an administration that’s putting the churches under attack, and now we won’t be able to stop it because Obama remains in office.
It’s a depressing reality we’re living with. We’re up against the evil Democrat machine that will employ any means necessary to win elections. We’re up against a media that will carry water for the Democrats no matter how destructive their policies. We’re up against a dumbed down electorate thanks to the media and the massive left wing entertainment complex. They make the devils look like slick celebrities while our side just looks like bumbling clowns. And we wonder why we keep losing.