Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney Flip-Flops Even When He Is Not Trying

Seeing as how the rest of the Republican field outside of Jon Huntsman are a pack of wooden and unlikeable monsters, Mitt Romney is probably going to win the nomination by default. Winning New Hampshire was not a big surprise, nor a big deal, but it showed that at least he has support in his backyard. On the flip side, it seems Rick Santorum overplayed the social conservative card in a state that does not want to hear that stuff. He should have tugged at the coal miner/steel worker strings he started playing in Iowa instead. Who manages these people’s campaigns?

What is funny is that if Mitt Romney does get the nomination, it will almost be the reverse of the election of 2004. Back then, the Democrats ran a New England flip-flopper named John Kerry against the not-so-popular incumbent. The Republicans will just end up doing the same thing, with the same result.

Never in my lifetime has a New Englander won the Presidency, and boy have they tried. Michael Dukakis in 1988, Kerry in 2004 and maybe Romney in 2012. They always come off as weak and vacillating.

Remember the racist Willie Horton ad that Bush 41 ran in the 88 campaign?

The message was clear: vote for Dukakis and black men will be in the streets raping your pure (and of course, white) wives and daughters. One of the great things the Reagan Revolution brought us was this type of subtle, yet not-so-subtle racism. What was funny was that furlough program they mentioned was signed into Massachusetts law by the governor before Dukakis, who was a Republican. The Supreme Court extended the furlough to first degree murderers. All Dukakis did was veto the law that would have contradicted the court and exclude first degree murderers from furloughs again.

And then remember the swift boat ads Bush 43 ran against John Kerry?

Here Bush tried to portray John Kerry as some type of traitor to America. Kerry commanded a swift boat during the Vietnam War. He won medals for bravery and heroism. After he returned home, he became an anti-war protestor who spoke out against the massacres of innocent Vietnamese people. When running for president in 2004, Bush ran ads like the one above where a bunch of Kerry’s supposed swift boat mates explained how they felt betrayed by Kerry. The country was in the thick of the Iraq War then and these ads questioned Kerry’s resolve and even patriotism. The only problem with these supposed swift boat mates was that there is no record of any of them serving with John Kerry. In fact, the vast majority of people who served with Kerry vouched for his bravery and toughness. Besides, at least Kerry fought in Vietnam, which was more than can be said for Bush, who was flying jets over Texas.

Yup, looks like the Republicans are replicating the same losing formula that the Democrats perfected. The last New Englander to win the Presidency was JFK in 1960.

Romney might still have a chance, though. After all, he will not be running against a Bush. The last New Englander who did not run against a Bush was JFK. History might be on Romney’s side yet.

I guess the historical mantle Romney inherits is dubious and vague, much like Romney himself.

A Quick Thought on the Iowa Caucus

It wasn't Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney who tied in the Iowa Caucus, it was these two.

I’m no political junkie, and I certainly don’t support the sham that is our two-party system, but I have a history teacher’s instinct to try to fit today’s events with the past.

That being said, last night’s Iowa Caucus represents the basic tension in the Republican Party. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney finished essentially tied. Santorum, a Roman Catholic, got the votes from the social conservatives, the most mobilized part of the party. Mitt got a smattering of everyone else, from the fiscal conservatives to pragmatists who see Mitt as the best chance against Obama. It is really the Republican tension represented in the father and son Bush presidents.

This has been the choice Republican voters have been faced with since the early 90s. George Bush Senior, who seems like FDR when compared with his son, always warned against the “lunatics” getting control of the party. By “lunatics”, he was referring to the Evangelicals who were becoming a growing and more vocal presence during his time. After Bush left, the Evangelicals voted in more and more members of Congress until they had the votes to impeach Clinton by the middle of his second term.

Then George Bush Junior came along. In what seems like a total repudiation of his father, Bush pandered to the “lunatic” section. He played up his born again Christianity and Faith-Based Initiatives. He was owned by Wall Street, just like Obama, but his voting base was the Evangelicals. Santorum might be able to pull off something similar.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney represents the George Bush Senior wing, the old establishment Republicans.  It is the party of Bob Dole and John McCain, the two losing Republican candidates since the 90s (outside of Bush Senior himself, of course). Dole and McCain did not energize the Evangelicals. McCain’s big concession to the Evangelicals was Sarah Palin, and that was against his will. Mitt energizes them just as much. No surprise then that John McCain is going to endorse Mitt today.

Bush Junior represents the winning formula for any Republican candidate, if such a formula exists anymore for the Republican Party. It entails energizing the Evangelicals because they will vote in droves. Any Republican candidate would be crazy not to take advantage of the very well-organized churches of the south and southwest, who act as organizing committees for Republican candidates that pander to them.

Rick Santorum has that quality. His speech last night was filled with nuggets meant to please the Evangelicals. At the same time, he talked about the working man and bringing back manufacturing, invoking the imagery of the Pennsylvania coal mines and steel mills. This could be a Bush 2.0, combining a Southern social conservative’s twang with a northeastern factory hand’s earthiness. I guess you can call it the Antonin Scalia appeal, if he has any.

It also represents a sort of uneasy peace that has been reached between America’s religious groups, who lately have tended to come together around socially conservative candidates (like Mike Huckabee in last year’s Iowa Caucus). Santorum has the potential to galvanize a large chunk of them after Ron Paul drops out, along with a larger circle of working class whites. Combine that with the usual fiscal conservatives who vote Republican and Santorum might be have a workable strategy. The only alternative for the Republicans is another Dole or McCain, which would be choosing a candidate because they’re a good operator who could win in a general election.

So I suppose I will be watching the primaries to see if George Bush Junior’s (Rick Santorum) or George Bush Senior’s (Mitt Romney) ghost gets resurrected. Then in the general election we will see if either of these, or a combination of the two, can beat Obama.

Ok, that was not such a quick thought, but I am a history teacher.