Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Compendium Of Major Commentators Post 2012 Outlook For GOP;Frum/Brooks/Klein Etc.

This series shows how the media elite i.e. leftist, and some on the "right" view the 2012 election & its ultimate effect on the GOP, subsequent to what they see as a Romney loss. It also, via a consideration of a David Brooks look at the current state of the GOP, considers how the party can be renewed and go forward to a Reaganite future.

To give some due credit, the earlier articles, which included predictions of the Romney primary win and nomination, were written months ago. January in Packer's & Waldman's case and February in Klein's.Most prescient is David Frum writing to that effect in October 2011.

Their prescience might be diminished somewhat if Romney wins of course. I've put the salient points from the Frum/Packer/Waldman/Klein/Domenech/ articles in date published order AT THIS LINK. Only Domenech's which is from September has the advantage, of seeing how things are turning out (pretty much as the other three expected).

In brief all four earlier writers envisage the possibility of a Romney defeat. They bemoan the inevitable selection of a true conservative in 2016. One is saddened that the GOP did not nominate Gingrich so it could be "cured of its madness by his huge subsequent defeat". Their prescription (who asked them by the way?) is for the GOP to nominate yet another "moderate" on a moderate platform.

But since the rank and file is apparently "mad" this is unlikely to happen they say. Of course, the fact that if the Beltway grandees tried to foist another RINO on the rank and file after two losses in a row would cause the probable breakup of the GOP doesn't enter into their thinking. But they are hardly friends of the conservative rank and file.

Some of the media “heavy hitters” are looking beyond the current election, in fact have, presciently, been look beyond it since January, and considering the question: “what sort of candidate will the GOP run in 2016?”
First up is David Frum in this series of media heavy hitters looking towards 2016 and the GOP. Frankly I can't stand the man and what I see as a condescending tone. He epitomises, to me, the very worst of the Beltway elite, the ones who know what's best for the rank and file and who look down on the likes of Sarah Palin with an utter disdain. Hopefully they, along with Coulter/Rubin et al, will be swept away like chaff in the wind on November 6th.

To give Frum his due, his article "How tea party could drive GOP to disaster" is the earliest in this series (October 31st 2011) to acknowledge that Romney would find it difficult to be elected president. President Romney being the bringer of good government- "As for possibility one -- that's just good government. And nobody seems to get much excited about that these days."

The others, Packer/Waldman/Klein/Domenech (link to articles is below this post), all either predicted a Romney nomination and/or presage a Romney loss to Obama.

In his article Frum gives a series of possibilities for the election year.Options 3 and 4 need not bother us (tea party candidate is nominated and wins/loses) as they are not relevant anymore. Possibility number 1 is of little value for our purposes ( a primary challenge to a President Romney is a subject for far in the future if Romney wins). Possibility number two is key to this series.

Possibility 1: Romney is nominated, Romney is elected.

From the point of view of non-tea party Republicans, this is the ideal outcome of the 2012 election. Yet it is also an outcome that looks worryingly out of reach. As we enter the final 12 months of the election countdown, Romney still cannot rise above 30% support in his own party. Worse, while it's easy to imagine (say) Herman Cain's voters shifting to Rick Perry or vice versa, it is very hard to imagine where Mitt Romney will find the additional Republican votes he needs.

Possibility 2: Romney is nominated, Romney loses.

For non-tea party Republicans, this second outcome opens all kinds of ugly, ominous possibilities. If candidate Romney loses, tea party Republicans will claim that the GOP lost because it failed to nominate a "true conservative." That claim may fly in the face of political math (how would a more extreme candidate win more votes?), but it will pack a lot of emotional punch. Intense partisans are always ready to believe that the way to win is to be more intense and more partisan. Back-to-back losses under John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 will open the way to an ultra-conservative nominee in 2016 -- and a true party debacle.

We see for Frum, about whom we can say this with confidence, that he is not in the tea party grouping, a Romney loss and a true conservative candidate would be "ugly and ominous". Well it's good to know where one stands in the packing order-clearly in some Republican version of Romney's 47%. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with his next comment, that if Romney loses tea party Republicans will claim that the GOP lost because a true conservative wasn't nominated. They will so claim, and justifiably so.

His political math comment, whereas he pooh poohs such a tea party claim, shows that in his view anyone to the right of Romney is "extreme" and his math fails. The answer to how a conservative could win more votes than Romney (or his ilk) is that the conservatives who stayed home or voted down-ticket would provide the extra votes. How many millions of potential conservative Republicans chose not to vote for McCain-the answer is in the loss of Indiana which was unthinkable.

Here is an analysis from the poll commentator "technopeasant". There is room for growth amongst GOP voters as he shows (I suspect the 10%+ are conservatives).
The real interest is the negation of the supposed attraction a centrist like Romney has for Independents. That is why running yet another 'moderate" in 2016 equates to the definition of madness i.e. doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

"I have to give Mitt Romney credit for one thing: His GOTV efforts to rope in Republican members to vote for him is working big time (especially after he chose Paul Ryan).
I would not be surprised if Romney got even more than 90% of the GOP vote in November. (My prediction is 92%.)
But that is not Romney's problem. As good as Romney's GOTV campaign is "preaching to the converted", it appears to be terrible in reaching independent voters or convincing them to vote for him
Wasn't Romney's calling card during the primaries was that he could attract those squishy moderates or squeamish indies to his tent who would normally shy away from the GOP because it was considered too extreme for their tastes?
Where's the beef, Mr. Romney?
The GOP beat the Dems by 19 points among independent voters on November 2, 2010 and you are now shown in many polls to be to only have a margin of between 3-7 points over the Messiah.
And your margin with white voters over Obama is comparable to McCain and remember the latter had the financial meltdown hanging over his head.
Underperforming doesn't even scratch the surface."

His logic flies out the window with his end-times apocalyptic summary.I'll put it in a mirror image of his comment as to how conservatives think a more partisan Republican could win
after two loses in a row under Beltway approved centrists. How then does Frum think that after two losses in a row, with centrists running another one for a third in a row insult to conservatives, will be a winning formula? He see an ultra- conservative (or in other peoples opinion true conservative) running in 2016 as opening the door to a "true party debacle".

Running another RINO in 2016 may instead lead to the biggest of debacles, the break up of the GOP as the rank and file will have had enough of Beltway/elitist/Frum-ite candidates being forced down their throats and will look to another, possibly new, vehicle.

To take Frum's logic to its true end, if the choice in 2016 for the GOP is a recycled Romney or a Palin would he really expect the great mass of folks who make up the rank and file to swallow Romney again?

Next, George Packer at the New Yorker see’s in his “The Republicans 1972" article a sort of “reverse 1972 Democrat’s experience”.
This is a bit tortuous in its conception. Basically Packer, writing before Romney sealed the deal, considered an e.g. Gingrich nomination as similar to McGovern’s disaster for the Dem’s in 1972. This would be, in Packer’s mind, a good thing, as the ensuing McGovern type electoral disaster would apparently banish the right wing demons currently infesting the GOP.

But if Romney wins-what then he then asks with clear foreboding:

But what if Romney wins the nomination and loses the election? This scenario is still the odds-on favorite. To deduce the consequences among Republican activists, let’s imagine a counter-factual from 1972: pit Nixon against Humphrey or Muskie or Jackson, a candidate imposed on the liberal Democratic base much as conservative Republicans feel Romney is being imposed on them.
A Nixon win would have convinced the liberal base that the party had not been true to its core. The theology would have hardened a little more. Next time, they’d nominate a real liberal, a candidate of the grassroots.

It’s easy to picture hard-core Republicans coming to the same conclusion: Romney and the party élite betrayed the party’s principles (again, after McCain) and gave the country four more years of the hated Obama. Never again! Next time, a real conservative!”

And the consequences of that for Packer would be (from the benefit of the distance from January I think we can safely remove Gingrich/Bachman/Cain from the equation) unleash the Palin!

But if Romney wins the nomination and loses the election, the party will continue down into the same dark hole where Palin, Bachman, Perry, Cain, Santorum, and now Gingrich all lurk.

Sadly we are spared the predictions of the dire consequences Packer sees as ensuing from such a dark scenario which he blames on the GOP being taken over, as were the 1972 Dem’s to get back to his analogy, by an apparently extremist minority.
The fact that e.g. a Palin nomination would ensue from a majority of Republicans choosing her under the 2012 primary rules which gave much more allowance for the rank and file voting results, as compared to McGovern winning winner take all states escapes Packer.
Neither do we learn why the GOP should, after losing twice in a row with centrists, stick with the same losing formula-which is the definition of madness. Neither do we have any inkling of what the apparently terrible polices a true conservative like Palin would put in to practice if elected are and why the republic would crumble under them.

At the end of the day we get from Packer the typical leftist elitism whereby the party bosses and guru’s and pundits know what is best for the hoi polloi even if a majority of them wish an alternative from the tried and failed establishment prescription.Palin 2016-let the people decide.

Read more

*********************************************************************Paul Waldman at "The American Prospect" carries on the "what will the GOP do after Romney loses" (i.e. what sort of candidate will they run) commenced by George Packer at the "New Yorker" way back in January 2012. To give them credit both men decided well in advance that Romney would emerge as the nominee easily besting Newt Gingrich along the way.

To summarize Packer. [If] Romney wins (nomination)-what then? He asks with clear foreboding:

"But what if Romney wins the nomination and loses the election? This scenario is still the odds-on favorite.

It’s easy to picture hard-core Republicans coming to the same conclusion: Romney and the party élite betrayed the party’s principles (again, after McCain) and gave the country four more years of the hated Obama. Never again! Next time, a real conservative!”
And the consequences of that for Packer would be-unleash the Palin!

But if Romney wins the nomination and loses the election, the party will continue down into the same dark hole where Palin, Bachman, Perry, Cain, Santorum, and now Gingrich all lurk."

Packer offers the typical leftist elitism whereby the party bosses and guru’s and pundits know what is best for the hoi polloi even if a majority of them wish an alternative from the tried and failed establishment prescription.I say Palin 2016-let the people decide.

Following on from and drawing from Packer's article Paul Waldman at the American Prospect in February wrote (possiby presciently to give him his due-who would credit such a winnable campaign could be so stuffed up):

"If Romney Loses in November, Will the GOP Move to the Center? Possible? Yes. Likely? No."

Here's what I think are, edited (the whole post is at the link), Waldman's central points;

"It's not too early to start speculating about what a Mitt Romney loss in November will do to the Republican party. Will they move to the center or to the right? The simple answer is, of course they'll move to the right. As Ezra Klein says: "You can write the post-mortem now: 'Of course America wasn't going to vote for a liberal Republican from Massachusetts Next time, we''ll give Americans a real choice."

No, the real example to look at is 1992 -- in other words, whether in 2016, the GOP can make the same move to the center that the Democrats did that year.

The point is that we can talk all we want about where the GOP might or might not move, but there has to be an individual presidential candidate who will be the standard-bearer for the ideology that prevails. And who, pray tell, is the moderate Republican who is such a blazing talent that s/he will pull the party to the center?. So unless some extraordinary candidate emerges between now and then, I wouldn't bet on it happening.

Dear oh dear.The same tortuous logic as Mr. Packer exhibited. Why would the conservative rank and file, whose views apparently don't enter into the thinking of the left who are used to dictates from the top as all collective minded people do at heart, wish this 'move to the center"?.

After a McCain/Romney sequence surely even the most blinkered of elitist leftists could imagine that the rank and file would wish, and deserve, a candidate of their liking.If that person lost, well so be it, and they would have done no worse in losing than McCain/Romney did.

But apparently not. Waldman envisages some sort of elitist think tank to provide intellectual ballast to a centrist person of charisma, who, through their mystical powers, would single handed drag the unwilling rightists back to the center.

One thing Waldman is spot on about is that no such person exists. He laughably enters Mitch Daniels name into brief and discarded conjecture. The reason that no such person exists, is that there is no call for such a person now, and if Romney loses there there will be absolutely no call for such a saviour.

If Waldman and Packer are correct, as I expect they are, the call from November 7th will be for a charismatic proven leader from the right, who has been tested in the white heat of the liberal medias fire and is still standing. A leader who can go head to head with the best debaters on the left, and who is loved by the Tea Party.

That person will be , to quote Waldman," [an] individual presidential candidate who will be the standard-bearer for the ideology that prevails."

I believe the prevailing ideology will be a total rejection of the "move to the center" Beltway/Establishment type ideology and towards a true conservatism. That prevailing ideology, and the charisma required, is ideally found in Sarah Palin.


Next up, Benjamin Domenech at Real Clear Politics gave an overview based on current events. He sees the rank and file as having swallowed the bitter Romney pill, defeating Obama trumps all else (they can deal with President Romney later) whilst the grandees have spat the dummy.

Since the article was written Tim Pawlenty has jumped ship too which shows which way the wind is blowing. The grandees expected a foreign policy hawk (Bush 3) and kowtowing to them for their assistance in Romney getting the nomination. They see Romney as not showing any interest in hawkishness, their advice or them (having his own coterie apparently). But this is by the by.

Domenech like the other seers sees the inevitability of a rejection of the Beltway establishment in 2016 if Romney loses.They will own the loss because they bought it. They won't be able to blame the VP selection (even the radical left has stopped discussing Ryan after a brief burst of hate) nor Palin (much as they'd like to). Domenech see Romney's loss as caused by Romney simply being Romney-which is correct as I argued earlier.

What will be the consequence of the inevitable rightward shift in 2016 and who will be a likely candidate is not discussed by him. Others bring forward the scary figure of Sarah Palin and well should they be scared as the centrists and their enablers will be swept away like chaff.

Here are some of Domenech's salient points. You can read the entire article "After Foisting Romney on Base, GOP Elites Now Start to Gripe"

"One of the most interesting aspects of the 2012 election is how the tea party movement has proven more politically mature than the center-right’s self-styled elites, and those who spent much of the Republican primary season chiding swathes of people for being insufficiently pragmatic have turned out to be far more childish than the conservative base.

For the past several weeks, Mitt Romney has been surrounded by critics from the DC-Manhattan elite who’ve denounced him for a lackluster, unfocused campaign, teeing off on Team Romney in the wake of the 47 percent comments for a number of issues—but mostly, in my read, from failing to take their advice. For months the elites bashed the base for failing to line up for Romney and come on in for the big win. But they got their wish!
In November, the insider spin after a Romney loss will likely be: “The country wasn't ready for Paul Ryan's big ideas, they should've played it safe and gone with Portman.”
There will be very negative consequences for a Romney loss for the power of center-right elites who are largely viewed as foisting him on the base despite the latter’s objections. A Romney loss almost certainly pushes the 2016 nominee rightward, and I doubt the megaphones will be powerful enough to frame the 2012 contest, as they did in 2008, as one where the conservative Veep choice dragged down the ticket.

Like it or not, the money and opinion elites on the center-right own Romney’s failure from the perspective of the base—they need him to win. And the reality is that if Romney loses, it will have little if anything to do with Paul Ryan’s big ideas, tactical choices, or elite misgivings—and far more to do with the simple fact that Romney is still disliked by most voters."

Ezra Klein is next up at The Washington Post; "What if the Republican's lose with Romney" in this series which shows how the media elite i.e. leftist, view the 2012 election & its ultimate effect on the GOP, subsequent to what they see as a Romney loss.

Klein first, and then in reverse sequence below, there is Waldman giving his insights and commenting on Packer (as does Klein) and of course Packer's New Yorker piece follows on from that. These posts are descriptive, biased to the point of being ridiculously snobbishly horrific ( the GOP returning to"mental health") but when predictive are illogical and elitist.

Klein's salient points are in italics below. Basically he like Packer and Waldman envisage a Romney loss and a move to the right candidate-wise in 2016 to match the already shift to the right policy wise. Without stating agreement, he presents Packer's argument that it would be in the GOP's best interest if a right wing candidate (Gingrich) had won the nomination, and had been soundly defeated.

Presuming he is in agreement with Packer, it is the third in the series of pundits seeing a real conservative being nominated in 2016. Well heaven forbid the ordinary fly-over country folks can actually get to choose someone who, 'in their heart of hearts" believe actually speaks for them, instead of the Beltway/Journolist conspirators/leftists who know what's good for rightists.

One can only imagine the action of the nostrils of this elite if e.g. a true conservative like Palin is nominated. That might actually be a good thing, as they might find it below them to even condescend to attack her so her ideas might escape the media filter

[and,] barring a truly extraordinary turn of events, he (Romney)is going to win the primary. That will make 2012 the second presidential primary in a row in which Republicans rallied around someone they didn't totally trust, and perhaps didn't even totally like, in order to win the general election. For all the upsets in individual primaries in 2010, Republican voters are, on net, vastly more pragmatic, at least when it comes to candidate choice, than they are typically given credit for.

But perhaps that's not such a good thing. So argues the New Yorker's George Packer, anyway. Substantively, the Republican Party has moved far to the right over the last decade. Compare Romney's platform to that of George W. Bush, for instance. The question, for many, has been whether electoral losses will force them back to the center.

So far, no.

And if Romney wins, the answer is probably still no. The Republican Party keeps choosing politicians who they don't, in their heart of hearts, truly believe to be conservative. [and] it will be the story they tell if Romney loses in 2012. You can write the post-mortem now: 'Of course America wasn't going to vote for a liberal Republican from Massachusetts who had passed the country's first individual mandate, been on both sides of Roe, and was a leveraged buyout specialist in an age of job insecurity. Next time, we absolutely have to nominate a real conservative! Next time, we''ll give Americans a real choice.'"


Next in this series of David Brooks, resident conservative at The New York Times. Brooks examines the state of the GOP
in an article entitled "The Conservative Mind". This is followed by my comments on the comments by Eamon Fingleton, guest contributor at Forbes who wrote an article "Has David Brooks Defined a Turning Point for the Republican Party?' in response to Brooks column.

Brook article is indeed masterful. It begs the unaddressed question which is, if the GOP is fractured then who would be the "new Reagan" to put it back together again. For Brooks it doesn't appear to be Romney.

Here are the salient points from David Brooks;

On the one side, there were the economic conservatives. They upheld freedom as their highest political value. They admired risk-takers. They worried that excessive government would create a sclerotic nation with a dependent populace.

But there was another sort of conservative. This was the traditional conservative. [the] traditionalist wanted to preserve a society that functioned as a harmonious ecosystem,...

So they were intensely interested in creating the sort of social, economic and political order that would encourage people to work hard, finish school and postpone childbearing until marriage.

The economic conservatives were in charge of the daring ventures that produced economic growth. The traditionalists were in charge of establishing the secure base.
Ronald Reagan embodied both sides of this fusion....
In the polarized political conflict with liberalism, shrinking government has become the organizing conservative principle. Economic conservatives have the money and the institutions. They have taken control.
Republicans like Romney often rely on an economic language that seems corporate and alien to people who do not define themselves in economic terms. No wonder Romney has trouble relating. Conservatism has lost the balance between economic and traditional conservatism."
The key comment from Fingleton again begs the same question that arises from Brooks .If the current GOP leadership is non-Reaganite then who would be the "new Reagan" to rejoin both aspects of the Republican party once again. The healer, visionary and renewer? To suggest it is a Romney now (as Frum does and Brooks clearly does not, or in 2016 Christie, Bush or Ryan is foolish. Only Sarah Palin, as a person of and from the people, with a record of economic prudence in government, brings these qualities.
"Has David Brooks Defined a Turning Point for the Republican Party?"

"In condemning the party’s obsession with simplistic economic ideology, [His] basic point is surely right: the human condition cannot be reduced to mere accounting pluses and minuses. The Republican party of the Eisenhower understood this and 1950s America was visibly the better for it (at least the white majority was and for minorities the trend on civil rights was already then moving in the right direction). It is past time the party rediscovered commonsense."

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