Sunday, November 18, 2012
The Ultimate Post-Mortem
Booman is so often my blogging alter-ego (albeit on a blog that is widely read), that I feel like I need to meet this guy.
Anyway, he and I both settled on the "Romney is a dick" theme, at least in part because you could tell that the Obama campaign telegraphed that they would pursue this line of attack back in 2011. I think it was Jim Messina who said that Romney was a "little odd". The hyper-sensitive made this a slur on his Mormonism, but it was clear they were going to go after the Romney-bot who constantly made awkward jokes, strapped dogs to the roof of his car and seemed tone deaf to human concerns and political realities.
Inevitably, these articles about why Romney got shellacked turn to "what should the GOP do next" and here there are some problems.
Because the modern GOP grew up in Newt Gingrich's world and the world of conservative, quasi-libertarian think tanks, it has essentially become an anti-government party. Their entire raison d'etre is to cut taxes on the wealthy. That - in turn - will shrink government. And the functions that they LIKE about government - rewarding military contractors with fat contracts - will simply be funded on the national credit card. That has been the consistent theme of the last 30 years.
Romney's "gifts" comment exposes this problem. Romney sees the government providing services to people as "gifts". They aren't. They are public goods. Health care should no longer be a privilege, but a public good that we can all expect to receive. Republicans have been in mortal terror of a Democrat actually making health care a public good, because people tend to LIKE public goods. The fact that they went and called it "Obamacare" is just a plus. For the next 20 years what is likely to be an increasingly popular program will have Obama's name on it.
Because the GOP does not want to actually DO anything for people, they have a tough electoral message to sell. Effectively they are left with: Don't you hate it when brown people get stuff?
And you know who believes that? Dicks.
Romney is a dick. But so were Santorum and Gingrich and Cain. So it Scott Walker. Chris Christie is a dick, too, if a more entertaining one. Bob McDonnell is a vaginal wand, which is just an artificial dick.
Bob Huntsman is not a dick and Bobby Jindal is trying not to be a dick, but does anyone honestly think that the party of angry white men is going to embrace someone who isn't a dick in 2016?
The Republican party used to understand that the American people do expect things from their government. That's why Reagan agreed to save Social Security and granted amnesty to illegal immigrants. That's why Dubya did Medicare Plan D, even if it was an incredibly poorly designed program. Romney's positive movement in the polls coincided with his Etch-A-Sketching his way into more moderate territory. Territory that included promising to do all the things Obama did but "better".
The problem is: what will they offer the people? Aside from tax breaks for the rich, what exactly is their positive agenda for America?