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Michael Tomasky: Donít Blame Mitt For The GOPís Problems - DailyBeast
Michael Tomasky: Donít Blame Mitt for the GOPís Problems
Conservative columnists are lining up to dump on Romney. But the real problem isnít the candidate or his campaign. Itís the Republican Party and its pathologies.
Michael Tomasky - TheDailyBeast
by Michael Tomasky Sep 23, 2012 4:45 AM EDT
Yes, Mitt Romney had a week I wouldnít wish on ... well, Mitt Romney. Yes, his campaign is incompetent, as Peggy Noonan wrote Friday. Yes, there is something really off about the guy personally. But as conservatives like Noonan start in on Romney vilification, I feel the need to stand up and reiterate: Romneyís problems arenít all Romneyís fault. Theyíre not even half his fault. Theyíre chiefly the fault of a movement and political party that has gone off the deep end. Almost every idiotic thing Romney has done, after all, can be traced to the need he feels to placate groups of people who are way out there in their own ideological solar system, with no purchase at all on how normal Americans feel and think about things. This is much the harder question for Noonan and others to confront, and they really ought to ponder it.
Since he started running, Romney has had to cater to four factions in the GOP, each of which contributes in its way to the partyís self-destructiveness: the rich and their apologists, who think Barack Obama has made life in America well-nigh impossible for those earning $1 million a year; the Tea Party populists, the middle-aged and older white people who feel intense resentment against Obama and his America; the foreign-policy neocons, who invented this fable about Obama apologizing for America and so on; and the rabble-rousersóRush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, etc., whose megaphones announce all these anxieties and others.
These four groups have each been holding guns to Romneyís temple. Heís a weak man, yes. But in a wayóin only this one particular wayóI feel a little sorry for him. These groups permit no room to maneuver whatsoever. None. Not an inch. So when something happens that is in their wheelhouse, the expectation immediately arises that Romney will utter every syllable precisely as they want to hear it.
So it was with the neocons after the Cairo and Benghazi riots. Now, Iím sure itís partly true that Romney and his team are one big overeager floppy-eared dog, galumphing across the lawn anxious to please their masters. But the master sets the dynamic in place. Thereís no doubt whatsoever that if the Romney people didnít feel they had to rush to please that crowd, he wouldnít have issued that statement at an utterly inappropriate time and then tried absurdly to defend it the next morning.
The same can be said with regard to Romneyís selection of Paul Ryan. We donít really know that this was forced on him per se by the right, but we have reason to believe that the logic, shall we say, of his naming Ryan was made clear to him. And what good has Ryan done him? Did you notice the poll last week, which deserves more attention than itís received, showing that Ryan was a less popular vice-presidential choice than Sarah Palin? This is the man the gun-holding factions said was a brilliant, game-changing choice. Heís game changing all right, though not as they intended.
And itís the same story on the 47 percent. The man who asked that question was speaking very clearly for Faction A above. There can be little doubt that the vast majority of the people in that room, maybe every person, felt his pain, and Romney knew exactly what he had to say. Again, itís certainly a two-way street; Romney obviously believed every word he said. But he knew the catechism.
And by the way, does anyone think a Republican presidential candidate would have said this, even behind closed doors, in 1992 or 1996 or 2000 or even in 2008...
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