I guess I have to ask what happened to the vaunted Republican campaign machine. From 1968 to 2004, they were almost always in the game. I don’t think the losses in 1976 and 1996 were due to campaign errors—in the aftermath of Watergate, and opposing the greatest campaigner in modern Democratic history, Bill Clinton.

But some of the things that John McCain did in 2008—the unforced errors of picking Sarah Palin and suspending his campaign due to the financial crisis—in an election that was within his grasp were amateur hour. The Bush people never would have made so many mistakes.

So, 2008 could have been dismissed as an anomaly, right? But now they’ve ceded ground to Mitt Romney, apparently someone who won’t even let himself be vetted in the classical sense, who just keeps messing up. Sure, it’s possible he’ll still win. But, the unforced errors are making that harder and harder. The slip-up of responding to an Obama attack ad with a reference to RomneyCare was a kick in the nuts to the Tea Party base, and only stokes their deep suspicions of Romney.

First picking Paul Ryan, someone who only political insiders have heard of, who has no statute of his own, who is only known by his plan to privatize Medicare, was a mistake looking at the electoral map. This probably cedes Florida to Obama, may put Arizona in play, and does not guarantee the Republicans Wisconsin.

But then on the first day to back away from Ryan’s plan—in a sense to not completely back the only “achievement” of the guy you’ve picked, and whom you’ve picked apparently under orders from the braindead-trust of Bill Kristol and the WSJ editorial page—itself a sign of weakness—is cowardly and self-destructive.

Paul Ryan is an acolyte of Ayn Rand, according to a New Yorker profile of him recently. He is an adherent to the anti-social religion of survival of the fittest, yet has lived most of his adult life on a government salary. Somehow, to him, his plan of privatizing medicare is less socialist because the government subsidizes private insurance companies instead of he elderly.

You can criticize or love Ryan, but from a purely political level this is folly.


An ongoing series of posts at TPM with this theme:

I was volunteering for Kerry when he made the comment about how he would have authorized the use of force in Iraq even knowing what we knew then. I still vividly remember the anguished conversations I had with fellow Kerry volunteers on the bus ride from RI to NH about the comments.

What I felt at the time, and what I still think today, is that Bush had Kerry boxed in on the issue. He had no good answer. From my perspective (and most others on that bus) he made a mistake in giving Bush the authority to use force. Simple as that. Any distinction between authorization to use force and voting to go to war was irrelevant, because we all knew what Bush was going to do once he got authorization. So Kerry could either admit he made a mistake on a life and death issue, in which case Bush would have pounced on him further for flip-flopping and bad judgement, or he could say he didn’t make a mistake, in which case it would dispirit his base and blur any distinction between his and Bush’s policy on Iraq

And this is why Kerry was a fatally flawed nominee for the Democratic Party. Getting rid of Bush was what animated Democrats, but the number one reason was because of Iraq. Similarly, Republicans have a visceral hatred of Obama, and their lead issue is health care. How can you nominate the guy who more or less invented ObamaCare?

It’s a fatal flaw. As with Kerry, Romney is either going to have to admit he made a terrible mistake or he’s going to lose his base in a rather radical way. Was that what happened to Kerry? Wasn’t Bush motivation enough?

The answer lies in the 2006 and 2008 elections, wave victories for Democrats. In 2006, opposing Bush on Iraq was what put the Democrats in Congress, and Obama’s opposition to it was the only difference of any consequence between Obama and Clinton. It cost Clinton a lot of early support especially, and the result was so close it was probably more than enough to be the difference.

Compare that with 2002 and 2004. In 2002, the Democrats were destroyed because they thought that they would just bend over on Iraq and then run on domestic issues. This was so incredibly stupid it’s hard to fathom now. In 2004, the mainstream of the party did all the Republicans work for them in opposing Howard Dean–because he was against the Iraq war they had enabled. On most policy issues, Dean was rather moderate and even had a favorable rating from the NRA.

Dean might not have won, but he wasn’t fatally flawed in the way Kerry was. Just like it’s doubtful any of the other GOP candidates–Pawlenty maybe, but how much do we really know about him?–would have had a chance, they weren’t fatally flawed on the number one issue motivating their own base. Bachman even voted no on the bill.

Oh, also they’re both rich and from Massachusetts.

Here’s what we wrote after Kerry’s speech on Iraq:

Time to worry.

Posted on August 12, 2004 by 

I think Kerry’s strategy of sitting back and let Bush screw up is going to start costing him in the coming weeks. I’ve seen encouraging polls from Florida and Michigan today, but I can’t help but freak out a little bit. It’s looking too good and there’s still

Three Months Out Forecast

Back in March, I wrote that if I was a Republican congressman I would be scared of a Romney nomination. The premise of my argument was that the composition of the electorate in an Obama/Romney election is not likely to be anything like the 2010 electorate. Even those who show up to vote out Obama aren’t going to be movement conservatives and they will either leave the downticket races blank or perhaps split tickets.  You know, throwing the bums out means throwing the bums out.

And what Romney said today about someone still being alive if they had been in Massachusetts where Romneycare was in place probably just boosted the poll numbers for the Libertarian and Constitution party candidates, but in fact will probably just depress conservative turnout even more.

And if those folks don’t show up, senate seats won’t be picked up and House seats will be lost.

As of this writing, the election will be over when the polls close in Ohio and Obama will be reelected comfortably. The Democrats will hold the Senate and they will gain in the House, even if Boehner’s gavel isn’t in jeopardy quite yet—though if Romney stumbles much more, it is.

But Boehner hasn’t even been able to hold his caucus together now. If he needs less than 5 votes to do things, he’s screwed. A deadlocked House after 2 years of gridlock won’t impress people. We’re to the point now where the Senate is acting faster on certain bills.

If Obama is reelected, certain Republicans that were willing to go along with the McConnell strategy of blocking everything are going to wonder if they will ever achieve anything in their short time on Capitol Hill. And when they start wanting to, compromises will work there way back into the system.

For that reason, I think Obama’s 2nd term will look like Clinton’s second term, minus the impeachment, but, unfortunately, minus the economic boom. If the Republicans can’t deal with this president, chances are they will be thrown out in 2014 and Obama will get another chance to pass some legacy-making legislation. But I think the former scenario is more likely.

Just how bad a disaster Romney was should surprise no one. The guy won’t even release his tax returns?

He’ll get a brief bump from the convention and naming his VP, but he’s going to get assraped at the debates. And he’s going to take the party down with him.

Is America Ready for its First Douche Bag President?

Mitt Romney is a Douche Bag.

Usually, I refrain from uncut ad hominem attacks, but fealty to high-minded discourse should not get in the way of calling a demonstrated douche a douche. And Mitt Romney is a douche bag. Terrorizing some poor classmate with long hair in your prep school is a douche move. Needlessly dissing the UK’s ability to pull off the summer Olympics and harshing Londoners desire to get into the Olympic spirit is douchey — especially when you refuse to see your wife’s hobby horse “Rafalca” (Rafalca sounds sort like a failed Renaissance figure. The Billy Preston or Syd Barret to Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo — not quite Ninja Turtle worthy) do it’s weird tax deductible dressage waltzes. Insulting the Palestinians by saying they have an inferior economic culture comparable to the Israelis — while simultaneously tossing a “Shylock” libel towards the Jews for being *so* clever with finances — is a douche move (albeit with the possible merit of improving Middle East peace prospects by giving the Israelis and Palestinians a common enemy). Finally, being a multi-millionaire that refuses to disclose multiple years of tax returns, unlike every other modern Presidential candidate, even as you perform weird James Bond villain multi-national tax write off schemes is pure douchification.

Romney’s gaffes are different than the gaffes of chuckleheads like Generalissimo Bush. Bush’s gaffes were dumbass gaffes. Romney’s gaffes are mean gaffes. Hateful gaffes. They are the hectoring, curt putdowns of a bully too dense to realize the stench of his own obnoxiousness. Also known as, a Douche Bag.

So, why is Romney such a douche bag? Why was he such a mammoth douche on a foreign trip when all he had to do was mumble dull platitudes? Why is he an epic douche when elections are still popularity contests, he wants to be president, and tout les mondes destestes les douches?

The usually worthless Maureen Dowd has hypothesized that Romney inhabits a bubble wherein he is considered a kind, good man by his flunkies no many how many dogs he straps to the roof of the car and no matter how many jobs he eviscerates. That is part of the equation, but most prominent politicians are millionaires (although not as rich as Mittens and likely not born into such privilege) and most of them are not douches. JFK was fabulously rich, but he was not a douche. Just to be bipartisan®, I disagree with most of George Bush the First’s Presidency, but Herbert Walker the WWII paratrooper is not a douche.

No, the primary reason for Mitt Romeny’s douche baggery is obvious. It has been staring us in the face from the first: Mitt Romney does not drink alcohol and he never has.

Everyone is always trying to drink less and regrets the consequences of drinking too much. If drinking less is good then drinking none, ever, is better, right? Yet for something that is “bad” there are still packed bars and refrigerators swollen with fermented grain throughout the world. There are at least three breweries within a quarter mile radius of my home. People have been voting with their feet in favor of alcohol consumption since the dawn, and likely pre-dawn, of civilization. Booze is both Hogarth’s “Beer Street” and “Gin Lane,” but most people manage to stick to Beer Street.

There are many positive aspects of Beer Street drinking, but one of the primary ones is communication. Remember that dude you thought was a hopeless twerp your freshman year of high school that you chilled with at the kegger senior year? How about the random person at the bar you exchanged life stories with over several cans of Old German? Or the office adversary who is at least a “good guy to have beers with”? The person from a completely different culture that became your friend over Jager shots in College? Even the worthy political conversation that you had with an opposite-minded true believer at the corner tavern? Alcohol-lubed social interactions are the means which Americans, and most everyone else, lets down their guard to learn about dissimilar folks. In so doing, one also learns basic social graces of discovering more about someone without offending them — to probe without jabbing your finger on their bruises. This is the fundamental lesson in tact that the sheltered, cruel and dry Mittens has never undertaken. And it shows in each awkward “common guy” interaction he squanders and in each unnecessary douche bag utterance.

A teetotaler need not be a douche. Jimmy Carter was not a douche. But the mix of being born into power, possessing overwhelming wealth and having his taint ever-licked in his crony bubble along with the inability to perform bar stool chit-chat with others has rendered Mittens a major douche bag.

America is ready for its first Mormon President. Is America ready for its first Douche Bag President?

I hope not.