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Long knives are out for Romney, GOP

by Joe Bodell on November 15, 2012 · 5 comments

Mitt Romney held a conference call for several hundred of his closest friends and supporters yesterday. He basically made the same (wrong) case that his running mate, Paul Ryan, made: that Obama won reelection thanks to urban minority voters — you know, not real Americans.

Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups – “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”

Straight out of the same bubble in which Romney’s campaign believed that even its own polls showing President Obama leading in the swing states were just plain wrong or something.

The NYT article goes on to detail exactly how wrong Romney’s statements are — Obama actually got a smaller share of young voters nationally than in 2008, etc…and Romney hits all the old conservative canards about Democratic voters just wanting free stuff like health care (despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act does not provide “free” health care to virtually anyone other than the poverty-stricken, and ends up benefitting all of us, but you know, whatever).

Despite Romney’s having found religion on all those red-herring issues, however, the long knives are out. Ramesh Ponnuru, for example, says Romney wasn’t the GOP’s problem, but rather it was the other way around:

The first thing conservatives should understand about the electoral catastrophe that just befell us — and it was a catastrophe — is that any explanation of it that centers on Mitt Romney is mistaken… Romney was not a drag on the Republican party. The Republican party was a drag on him.

The great thing about all these explainers is that they’re all wrong in different ways — but as long as they’re fighting each other, that’s fine by me.

Oh, and as for one-time GOP golden boy Bobby Jindal, he says Romney’s flat-out wrong about why Obama won:

No, I think that’s absolutely wrong. Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.”

“And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American Dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education. … So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong.

In an academic sense, Jindal is correct — their party should be trying to appeal to every voter instead of just the white southern middle aged male vote. The problem with Jindal’s prescription, however, is not that the GOP just didn’t explain its policies well enough. The problem is that it did, and American voters from across the spectrum — young, old, black, white, asian, straight, gay, educated, not-as-well-educated — largely rejected those policies.

To appeal to a broader electorate, the GOP would have to reject large pieces of what makes it appeal to its base. With the huge amount and rapid distribution of information in the modern political age, that is a serious existential challenge to the Republican Party.

But, as it’s been said, four years in politics is a lifetime. All the more reason for those of us out here in the reality-based world where facts and arithmetic matter need to keep up the pressure and keep moving forward.

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