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Why Romney?

I’ve been asked more than once how it was that I could continue to support the Republican Party given that I disagree with them on so many policy issues and have condemned their tactics of brinksmanship and voter suppression. Similarly, people wonder how I could have supported Mitt Romney despite his constant flip-flopping, fibbing, and fecklessness.

While I’ve been given enormous freedom to publish my own opinions, one specific limitation imposed on me by my employer was that I’m not allowed to endorse candidates for partisan office. While this post barely constitutes an endorsement, publishing it after the voting is over places it firmly in the analysis column.

In my early morning posting “America Not a Center-Right Nation Anymore,” I alluded to a “complex web of personal loyalties that are unlikely to exist in 2016.”  The following fleshes that out significantly, although little of it will be of news to regular readers.

Inertia: I came of political age during the Carter Administration and, specifically, the Iran Hostage Crisis. I’ve voted for every Republican nominee since 1984, the first time I was eligible to vote. I’ve never been less enthusiastic about a Republican nominee or found a Democratic nominee less objectionable than this cycle.

Loyalty: Two elections in a row, I wound up supporting, from very early in the primaries, a candidate who I had enormous misgivings about in the cycle before: John McCain and Mitt Romney. In both cases, they were the eventual winner of the Republican nomination after beating back challenges from contenders I wouldn’t have been able to vote for. McCain came very close to losing my vote after selecting the ignoramus Sarah Palin as his running mate but Barack Obama was sufficiently green and quixotic to make changing sides hard to justify.

In the early days of this primary season, I noted privately that I would be forced to endorse Obama* if any non-Mormon got the Republican nomination. (By that time, Tim Pawlenty was out of the race, several solid Republicans made it clear they would not be running this cycle, and Gary Johnson was clearly a non-entity.) Jon Huntsman was my favorite candidate but it was obvious he had no shot at the nomination. So, Romney became my default preference from the beginning. Despite a cynical and disappointing campaign since then, it’s hard to switch parties when it nominates the guy you backed.

Complicating things further is the fact that, as I’ve noted many times, my late wife’s company were Romney’s pollsters. Some really good family friends who were extraordinarily kind and helpful in the days and weeks after her passing have  put their heart and soul into getting Romney elected for more than a year. Endorsing Obama—and I couldn’t well vote for Obama and not endorse him, given what I do here—would have seemed like an act of betrayal. Nothing in Obama’s four years as president warranted that.

The Real Romney: In light of the above, it was pretty easy to convince myself that the “Moderate Mitt” that governed Massachusetts and showed up at the first presidential debate to the amusement of Bill Clinton, not the poor sap bobbing and weaving through two years of perhaps the most mendacious major party presidential run in memory, was the Real Mitt Romney. His foreign policy, and even much of his domestic policy, was something of a cipher. But I figured his practical managerial style and the need to get things through a Democratic Senate would lead to solid, reasonable governance.

The Fiscal Cliff: Relatedly, a President Romney would have been far better positioned than a lame duck Obama in dealing with the tremendous array of challenges that lie ahead, including the fiscal cliff, sequestration, and entitlement reform.  He would have had the House majority and Senate minority in his corner and been able to force deals amenable to the Senate majority through the system. Obama, on the other hand, faces a Republican House, enough Senate Republicans to filibuster anything, and a dozen** Senate Democrats who are thinking hard about running for his job.  It’s going to be harder than ever for Obama to get things done.

Fixing the GOP: Four years of Moderate Mitt governing the country while making sane compromises with Democrats had the very real promise of fixing the problems of the Republican Party I outlined this morning.  We would be on a course to a full economic recovery by 2012 and Romney would have been a virtual shoe-in for re-election. By 2016, the damage to the Republican brand done during the Bush administration would be behind us. So would the worst elements of the Tea Party movement: the part motivated by animus towards Barack Obama.

Now, of course, the party will have to do it the hard way: in the wilderness. Will the party decide that it needs to broaden its appeal if it wants to win the White House again? Will it forever concede the Hispanic vote and thus California, Florida, New Mexico and eventually Texas and Arizona?   It’s hard to say. Overnight, many of the conservatives I follow on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook are recriminating about the evils of nominating a moderate. But that’s the natural reaction while the loss is still fresh. We’ll see what the longer term fallout is within a few months, as candidates start lining up for the 2014 midterms.

______________
*I told my employer this at the time when the “no endorsements” policy was issued. I accepted with the caveat that there was a real chance that I’d be forced to break it. Not “endorsing” the Republican nominee is easy enough when readers can presume it. Not endorsing the Democratic nominee when readers presume you’re endorsing the Republican nominee is intellectually dishonest.

**I made this number up out of thin air, so don’t have a source to link to. If anything, it’s a conservative estimate.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Moosebreath says:

    James,

    This post does you a credit, as it is far easier to understand your thought processes.

    That said, “Now, of course, the party will have to do it the hard way: in the wilderness.” is clearly off. A party in power has no reason to moderate itself. Fixing a party only happens when it is out of power. To the contrary, if Romney won, the Republicans would have had no reason to change; they would feel with some justification that the public agreed with their view and would instead continue on the same course, expecting that what won them the 2012 election would work in the future until proven wrong.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  2. C. Clavin says:

    The entire logic of the “Fixing the GOP” eludes me…but whatever…thanks for sharing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath: I think they would have changed because they’d have been forced to govern and compromise rather than simply obstruct Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. john personna says:

    Why wouldn’t a lame duck be better equipped to make a deal for the fiscal cliff? Republicans motivation was to deny him reelection. That’s over. Their rational self-interest should not be to prepare for their next candidate. They won’t do that as continued spoilers.

    Someone at The American Conservative branded the GOP as “unfit to govern” overnight.

    This is their chance to show otherwise.

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  5. Rob in CT says:

    And this is why, though I disagreed, I don’t think I ever ragged on you for it. I figured this was basically the answer. Many people “came of age” in the 70s, slapped the loony tag on the Dems (I suspect deservedly so, though I was but a babe at the time) and it can be hard to switch. Especially if you have personal connections. And yet, we could all see it was giving your indigestion.

    I “came of age” politically in the 2000s. For me, the loony tag is firmly stapled to the GOP. There will likely come a time in the future when it belongs on the Donkey, and I may struggle with that (though my party loyalty is… well, I’m a Democrat, ya know? Without the fear of an unhinged GOP, my loyalty is very, very suspect).

    I feel the pain of those who are upset today. I remember 2004 well. That was a really dreary morning after. So my sympathies to those who are perhaps more upset than you are, James (I don’t get the impression you’re crying in your cereal today).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  6. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    Why wouldn’t the hostage takers, having been paid, not become saints?

    Not buying it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  7. c.red says:

    While I do not believe it is courteous to expect an explanation for anyone’s political views, other than purely voluntarily and in broad outlines, I have marvelled at the perceived disconnect between some of your stated views and your preferred candidate’s views. Thank you for this post and being willing to detail your position.

    I do see Mitt Romney as a candidate and politician in a much more negative light however.

    Chris

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  8. john personna says:

    @john personna:

    Some typos cloud meaning:

    Republican motivation was to deny him reelection. That’s over. Their rational self-interest should now be to prepare for their next candidate. They won’t do that as continued spoilers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. MattT says:

    Thanks for clarifying your position!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. mantis says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think they would have changed because they’d have been forced to govern and compromise rather than simply obstruct Obama.

    Government is the source of all evil, and therefore so is governing. Compromise is for gay communists. They would be forced to do neither and you know it. There are no sane Republicans left in national office who recognize the realities you are under the illusion the party would recognize if Romney had won. Dick Lugar was the last of them.

    Take away the unrealistic notions you have about the party’s ability to govern, and your explanation is nothing but tribalism. Call it loyalty and inertia all you want, but it is tribalism.

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  11. john personna says:

    It was Daniel Larison:

    The GOP is failing to win adherents outside of its core constituencies, but a key reason for this is that it has proven itself manifestly unfit for government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    I guess I am not seeing it. The Republicans in Congress would have seen no reason to moderate themselves. To the contrary, they would say they had a mandate to enact exactly what they have pledged to do, which is a continuation of what they did the last time Republicans controlled Congress and the White House from 2003-2006. We would have seen a replay of the 2003 Tax Cut, entitlements added without thought of paying for them (Medicare Part D), bellicose foreign policy, and inaction on immigration.

    And picking off the few Democratic senators they would have needed to pass whatever they wanted would not have been hard (indeed, I expect Joe Manchin would be changing parties today if Romney had won and he were the 50th vote in the Senate, with Ryan breaking ties).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  13. Joy says:

    OK, I have to ask, why the thought of endorsing Obama specifically if any non-Mormon received the GOP nomination?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. James Joyner says:

    @mantis: Congressional minority parties can obstruct when the other party holds the White House. Presidents have to govern.

    I’m not denying a certain degree of tribalism; inertia and loyalty are parts of tribalism. It’s more and less than that, though. I’m both a Southerner, and thus see even the part of the Republican Party as “my people,” and an anti-theist, so decidedly not part of the core tribe.

    @john personna: That’s possible, too. Obama does have the whip hand on the fiscal cliff, in particular.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Moosebreath says:

    James,

    You should read carefully Jon Chait’s comments — I think they are far more realistic on what a Romney administration would have been like.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Davebo says:

    While I’ve been given enormous freedom to publish my own opinions, one specific limitation imposed on me by my employer was that I’m not allowed to endorse candidates for partisan office.

    In other words, reason number 16 why James endorses a party he claims does not represent his views.

    And obviously reason number 17 why “his employer” either ignores or fails utterly at enforcing their rules.

    But I’m curious James. Does Doug fall under those same obviously unenforced restrictions? And who exactly is this employer you speak of?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. Just Me says:

    I preferred Huntsman too, and did cast my primary vote for him and then he promptly withdrew from the election after failing to get much support.

    I supported Romney because there was absolutely no way Obama was going to convince me to vote for him. I have never been a party to the “Blame Bush for everything bad in the last 4 years” line, and I find Obama to be too narcissistic and not very willing to actually roll his sleeves up and work and I suspect that he isn’t going to be much more willing as a lame duck.

    Over the fiscal cliff we go, and I think perhaps the GOP spending some wilderness time while the country goes over that cliff may be the best thing for the party.

    One issue I have-the democrats have effectively painted the GOP as the party or mean racists who hate all brown people, all women and want all poor people to starve to death while the rich fat cats on wall street party.

    I don’t think the GOP can really do anything to appeal to hispanic or African American voters. I think they could pass the dream act and declare open boarders, but because the GOP now automatically means “hates brown people” I am convinced that any pro hispanic outreach would be viewed with suspicion and that will be the case for at least 4 or 5 more election cycles.

    So, what does the GOP do to appeal to minorities? The odd thing at least when it comes to minorities is the one common ground between the GOP and those minority groups is the one area you suggest the GOP immediately shed from its platform-the socially conservative aspects.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  18. steve says:

    James- Good points. I also assumed that Romney would really govern as a moderate, but I was never quite sure. I am still not sure exactly what he would have done or what he believes. I think I would have been more reassured of his ability to function as a pragmatic leader if he had been able to give us details on his proposed spending cuts and tax expenditure eliminations.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. mantis says:

    @James Joyner:

    Congressional minority parties can obstruct when the other party holds the White House. Presidents have to govern.

    Yes, and the Republican Party would have hamstrung a President Romney because they are goddamned lunatics who hate governance and would never compromise with Senate Democrats. What makes you believe they would be forced to govern? Sounds like a bunch of wishful thinking. Your party has lost any desire to govern they once had. Now they just want to destroy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  20. mantis says:

    @Davebo:

    But I’m curious James. Does Doug fall under those same obviously unenforced restrictions? And who exactly is this employer you speak of?

    He’s Managing Editor of the Atlantic Council, which is non-partisan.

    And obviously reason number 17 why “his employer” either ignores or fails utterly at enforcing their rules.

    How so? He didn’t explicitly endorse a candidate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. Fiona says:

    James,

    Thanks for this piece. I too came of political age during the Carter years, and cast my first vote in a presidential election for John Anderson. I never bought into the Reagan revolution although, in retrospect, I can understand his appeal and the notion of loyalty to party.

    The Republican Party needs rational voices if they are to make it out of the wilderness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  22. MBunge says:

    You can’t begrudge people loyalty, especially when they’re honest about it as a motivation, but the Moderate Mitt stuff is and always was nothing but a rationalization. It’s as bad as anything from the most rabid Tea Partier and that so many supposedly intelligent people bought into it is a lesson to us all that magical thinking is something even the best of us must constantly guard against.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  23. James Joyner says:

    @Davebo: As @mantis notes, I have a day job. I was already running OTB before taking the position and, indeed, what I was doing here was a key reason I got the job there managing their web operation, public policy blogs, and other things. Given the overlapping nature of the work, we spelled out the lines pretty clearly from the outset.

    OTB is completely independent, as are each of the authors. Aside from occasionally coordinating special occasion posts, such as our election prediction series, everyone here just writes about what they feel like writing about whenever the time and mood strikes.

    We’re not affiliated with anyone. The various ads that appear on the site are pushed through various ad networks; I don’t control which ads run or have any contact with the advertisers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  24. mattb says:

    @Just Me:

    the democrats have effectively painted the GOP as the party or mean racists who hate all brown people, all women and want all poor people to starve to death while the rich fat cats on wall street party.

    It’s not the democrats who have done this, it’s been the republican’s own words and actions that have done this.

    Note that George W. Bush had started to make inroads with the Hispanic community (and was rewarded with higher support in elections) only to have his efforts completely undercut by a revolt within his own party over immigration reform.

    Further, look at the recent anti-immigrant legislation that has rolled out in various states. Or the rhetoric in the Republican Primary debates. The only one who even attempted to reach out on this issue was Perry (not surprisingly another border state governor) and he was immediately attacked by his own side for being weak on immigration.

    Further, go and spend any time at WND, WizBang, other conservative blogs, Conservative TV, and Radio — I can tell you that the message there is anything but immigrant friendly. And while one might say “it’s only the illegals we don’t like”, the fact is the language that is used (not to mention the ways the laws are constructed) suggests that anyone with brown skin needs to prove that they’re not an illegal.

    If you can’t understand how that isn’t a problem or how that alienates people, then you fundamentally don’t understand the issue at hand.

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  25. Console says:

    This at least makes a little sense (i disagree with the political prediction but that’s subjective). I thought I was going to come in here and hear a bunch of nonsense about how Romney is going to solve the deficit and how America is only one Harvard MBA away from greatness.

    I still think that Romney is a craven political coward, and thus wonder how anyone could take him seriously but at least you picked which Romney you wanted to believe in and stuck with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  26. Rob in CT says:

    One issue I have-the democrats have effectively painted the GOP as the party or mean racists who hate all brown people, all women and want all poor people to starve to death while the rich fat cats on wall street party.

    There are reasons why the Dems have been fairly successful applying those tags to the GOP. And it isn’t because Dems are so super awesome at messaging.

    There are plausible routes forward for the GOP, and I think you’re correct that those routes include a certain amount of social conservatism. The idea that the GOP can jettison the SoCons is a pipe dream.

    As for appealing to non-white voters, look: the GOP, broadly speaking, seeks to be the party of the haves, fending off the have-nots. Makers/takers, right? The country is turning browner. This should lead, over time, to more non-white “haves.” Middle class folks with relatively social conservative views. The GOP can appeal to them. That starts with not treating them with contempt/suspicion/outright hatred.

    I’m not saying it’ll be easy. The well is badly poisoned. But time heals, and the American voter has often been accused of a short memory. This can be done. The question is can it be done without losing a big chunk of the current GOP coalition? I think the answer is yes. Oh, don’t get me wrong: they’ll scream and cry about it. But in the end, faced with a choice between a RINO they don’t like and a commie Democrat? You know how that will go. They will turn out in lower numbers, but the idea here is to replace that with even more previously Dem/Indie votes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  27. mattb says:

    @Console:
    More importantly, James did not allow his (tepid) support for Romney to cloud his judgement about the polls and overall state of the race. He gave the man his endorsement and vote, but never spoon-fed the readers of OTB the lie that “everything points to a Romney Victory.”

    Of course, this is why so many movement conservatives seem to comment that “OTB has gone liberal.” Sadly, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that those individuals WANT and EXPECT to be lied to. And all too many conservative sites are happy to do that.

    Here’s my contribution to that cause: Don’t worry disappointed conservatives. There’s nothing wrong with you. The problem, as always, is with the rest of us. If you kick out all the RINO’s and nominate a “true conservative” next time, your side will win in a landslide of Dick Morris sized proportions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  28. Maxwell James says:

    Dr. Joyner – While I’m mostly a lurker in these parts, just want to say I’m very impressed by your thoughtfulness & honesty. It’s not easy to acknowledge the “complex web of loyalties” that we all have – let alone break them down. Great piece, and inspiring.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. Davebo says:

    @mantis: I’m well aware of The Atlantic Council Mantis including it’s leadership and it’s Board of Directors.

    From Frederick Kempe to Chuck Hagel who serves on more boards than could possibly be named here.

    My question to James however, still stands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Scott says:

    I’ve been a life long Republican (of the Rockefeller kind) from a long line of Midwestern Republicans. I am still a Republican due to inertia and tradition. However, I am repulsed by the radical right that took over the party. Essentially, the current party is the heir to the same impulses that drove George Wallace even though he was a Democrat. Romney does not fit that crowd; however, I did not see him as asserting control but rather buffeted by those forces.

    I am driven more by foreign policy concerns than this election was about. I am retired AF who works in the defense industry who cannot see the rationale behind our foreign and military policies of the last 10-15 years. We’ve been on the wrong side of asymetrical warfare for a long time and it has damaged us. Looking at who Romney surrounded himself by did not give me comfort.

    I can appreciate your views, James and under different circumstance could’ve voted for Romney but I prefer the current one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  31. mantis says:

    @Davebo:

    I’m well aware of The Atlantic Council Mantis including it’s leadership and it’s Board of Directors.

    But not that James works there, which was the answer to one of your questions.

    My question to James however, still stands.

    Which question? Whether Doug is bound by rules of an employer he doesn’t work for? I think that is highly doubtful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. gVOR08 says:

    Dr. Joyner–You’ve obviously given this a lot of thought and I very much appreciate your sharing it, and your openness in sharing it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. swbarnes2 says:

    Ah. So anything remotely touching policy is third on your list of reasons. Your nostalgia tops the list.

    His foreign policy, and even much of his domestic policy, was something of a cipher.

    You honestly don’t care about policies, do you? You had warm fuzzy feelings about another rich straight white guy, and so you wanted him to be in power over millions of vulnerable Americans, and who cares how horribly they would suffer because of it. If millions of Americans were to lose medical insurance because Romney repealed ObamaCare, well, your feelings of nostalgia are obviously more important than that.

    In light of the above, it was pretty easy to convince myself that the “Moderate Mitt” that governed Massachusetts and showed up at the first presidential debate to the amusement of Bill Clinton, not the poor sap bobbing and weaving through two years of perhaps the most mendacious major party presidential run in memory, was the Real Mitt Romney.

    Similarly, it was pretty easy for many conservatives to convince themselves that Romney was going to win in a landslide. Is this really how you think intelligent people should draw conclusions?

    I’m sorry, but you need to face facts, and get your head out of your Platonic ass. There is no “Real Mitt Romney”. There is just Mitt, and the things he really does. Mitt Romney chooses to be the head of the Republican party, which as a matter of their policies, is deeply racist, sexist, warmongering, and science demonizing. Mitt Romney, stated that he wanted to get rid of FEMA and Planned Parenthood. Mitt Romney openly supported birtherism, which is nothing less than overt racism. Imagining that he is just a richer version of you, and therefore would do everything that you would so if in power is being willfully blind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  34. DRE says:

    I only hope that all the moderate Reps who decried the tea-party types but supported Romney and argued that he would be better positioned to deal with the country’s problems given a Republican house majority, will be willing to push for a Democratic majority in congress in 2014 using the same logic.

    At the same time I really don’t see where the logic comes from. After all, both GWB and Clinton had (highly partisan) Republican House majorities for most of their Presidencies. Is there any doubt which was more effective and beneficial to the long term interest of the US?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  35. michael reynolds says:

    I’ll join enthusiastically with everyone above. Fascinating, honest piece, difficult to write. Kudos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  36. bookdragon says:

    I’m just a year younger than you and also came of age during the Carter era. My first vote was for Reagan and my family had been Republican since Lincoln. My grandmother took a serious dislike to Nixon, but that’s the only negative I can recall hearing about the GOP as a kid, so in many ways I still feel some loyalty too.

    However, I’m female. The Young Republicans on my campus were a foreshadowing of the crazy that is losing the party elections now. Moral Majority nuts who thought women shouldn’t work outside the home. The president of the YR wrote editorials to the student paper complaining about how letting women into engineering was ‘taking spots from men’ (he didn’t make the cut due to GPA, but of course the problem was women, blacks, etc. getting in on ‘preferences’).

    Anyway, I didn’t hang around. However, I didn’t exactly leave either. The campus Democrats were kind of nuts too, just in other, albeit less offensive, ways and most of the Republicans I know among family and friends from back home were still pretty sane.

    Then my mom was diagnosed with cancer and although she had insurance we found out just how bad and broken the system was. That was in ’92 – which lead to an unhealthy habit of throwing things at the TV every time Newt or one of the other GOP leaders got on and started talking about how we had the best system in the world and the free market worked (which it doesn’t if you are sick and stuck with a lousy HMO b/c pre-existing condition).

    That year the entire family voted Dem for the first time. Only a few of us have officially changed our affiliation, but that trend has largely continued.

    I firmly believe that most of us would come back if the GOP would go back to being more concerned with governance than far right ideology. However, I think they’re going to have lose more before they finally wake up and head back toward being the party of Lincoln.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  37. bk says:

    @Joy:

    OK, I have to ask, why the thought of endorsing Obama specifically if any non-Mormon received the GOP nomination

    That is a question that I am curious about as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. Rob in CT says:

    I think he just means that the only acceptable candidates were Romney and Huntsman. The others happened to be non-mormons. The others were also batshit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    @Just Me:

    One issue I have-the democrats have effectively painted the GOP as the party or mean racists who hate all brown people, all women and want all poor people to starve to death while the rich fat cats on wall street party.

    That’s right — it’s the Democrats that have done all that. It’s not at all due to anything that GOP candidates and politicians did or said, or the policies they supported. Nope, it was all due to the meanie Democrats and the weak Republicans’ inability to protect themselves against this vicious slander….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  40. Davebo says:

    @mantis:

    Whether Doug is bound by rules of an employer he doesn’t work for? I think that is highly doubtful.

    As Doug would tell you, that assumes facts not remotely in evidence. Doug may indeed post 5 to 8 stories a day all for free, but that’s unusual for lawyers.

    Either James or Doug could easily resolve the issue. Just hold your breath.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. reid says:

    I disagree with most of Romney’s policy positions, but ignoring them, I can’t see how anyone could vote for (even grudgingly) a man who will lie and shift positions so easily. He’s characterized himself as everything from slightly left of center to far right in the space of a year, depending on who he was trying to get a vote from. It’s the very worst of cynical politics, and voting for him would just validate it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. danimal says:

    I appreciate the honesty, even as I disagree with some of the conclusions reached. I don’t believe Romney would govern as a moderate; I suspect he would have tried to engineer a radical makeover of the welfare state than anyone was publicly contemplating. But we won’t know how a Romney election would have played out, except for the tidbits that come out from self-interested aides in their books and memoirs.

    I am truly hoping that moderate Republicans assert themselves and push back on the tea party strain of conservatism. Obama will work with them, but they are going to need to separate from the pack a bit. I suspect there is quite a bit of electoral gold available to the politicians who are able to fill the sensible centrist gap. A cohort of 15 house members or so and 5 senators could moderate Democratic over-reach and bargain on behalf of GOP members who will not ever be able to directly support any Obama initiatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  43. James Joyner says:

    @Davebo: I’m not sure what you’re asking here? I’ve already answered the question: OTB is supported by advertising and the authors operate as free agents.

    I don’t know what rules others’ employers might impose. Doug is an attorney in private practice, so I presume he sets his own work rules in compliance with whatever ethical obligations he has to his clients and the legal profession.

    Otherwise, the bloggers are free to express their own opinions. I seem to recall Alex Knapp endorsing Obama in 2008. He still has posting privileges here and would have been free to endorse him again in 2012 but he does most of his writing these days at his Forbes blog.

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  44. James Joyner says:

    @Joy: @bk: Ultimately, I believe there are two choices in our system: The Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee. Had I paid a lot of attention to Gary Johnson this cycle, I may well have preferred him to either Romney or Obama. But voting for him would have been a cop-out, especially in a swing state like Virginia. So, if the alternative were Obama or Gingrich/Santorum/Perry/Bachmann/Cain, I’d have written a post explaining why I thought the latter was dangerous for the country and why voting for Obama, despite my disagreement with him on a number of key issues, was the right course.

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  45. mantis says:

    @Davebo:

    As Doug would tell you, that assumes facts not remotely in evidence.

    No, it uses logic to deduce the most likely answer.

    Doug may indeed post 5 to 8 stories a day all for free, but that’s unusual for lawyers.

    Are you implying that maybe Doug is secretly paid to blog here?

    Either James or Doug could easily resolve the issue. Just hold your breath.

    I don’t think I will, because it is a silly question with an obvious answer.

    Also, I think Doug has said he was going to vote for Johnson. Don’t know if that counts as an endorsement per se, but there it is.

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  46. Katharsis says:

    I can appreciate the honesty about your tribalism, and I second what @mattb said:

    More importantly, James did not allow his (tepid) support for Romney to cloud his judgement about the polls and overall state of the race. He gave the man his endorsement and vote, but never spoon-fed the readers of OTB the lie that “everything points to a Romney Victory.”

    However, I also disagree with your prognostication. Romney would have been another version of the Figurehead Presidency that the republicans like so much, like Reagan and Bush Jr. Reagan had more control than Bush did; Reagan raised taxes and really cared about drawing down nukes. But Romney would have had even less pull within his party and would’ve made Bush look like a leader by comparison.

    Republicans want a likable/reaffirming wizard to draw the attention of the public away from their operatives behind the curtain doing the real work (the work that the public doesn’t have the stomach for) to restore this nation to its rightful glory.

    You may be a numerate among your fellow innumerates, but that does not mean you have your finger on the will of your party.

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  47. george says:

    The loyalty section is interesting. I completely understand the part about feeling you’d be betraying the memory of your late wife in endorsing Obama – that’s just part of being human, and its actually honorable.

    But party loyalty is I think a major problem in the US (and Canada) – I wonder how far back (or maybe it was that way from the first elections a couple of centuries ago) loyalty switched from the country (ie trying to pick a winner for the country) to the party (which is what drives so many people today). I don’t mean you in particular on this, its just something that struck me when I read your article.

    Good article, BTW.

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  48. Rick DeMent says:

    As for how Romney might have governed I’m more then willing to believe that he was a moderate Republican at heart, but the fact was that in the primaries, in the election and as president he would have had to contend with the Tea party types who have no use for compromise of any kind. The problem i have is that he would be beholden to that segment of the electorate and to their caucus in the house. And while he could follow other “Conservative” presidents and just ignore them but the bones they do throw them (SCOTUS) are just unacceptable to someone like me.

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  49. Just Me says:

    It’s not the democrats who have done this, it’s been the republican’s own words and actions that have done this.

    Except that I am a republican and I am a woman and I do not hate women, I do not hate african americans or brown people. I think the social utopianism of the left is simply unsustainable and that the left promises they will pay for far more than taxing rich people will ever pay for.

    The amount government can tax reasonably without crippling the economy and the amount it can spend is finite-at some point the bills come due and Obama seems determined to spend like there is a magic money tree growing in the White House back yard.

    I think the left has essentially caricatured the vast majority of republicans-who aren’t the evil people the left paints them. When the other side and those who have been sucked in by them automatically presumes you are tat caricature there isn’t really much one can do to prove they aren’t those things.

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  50. Just Me says:

    Obama will work with them, but they are going to need to separate from the pack a bit.

    I don’t particularly believe Obama is going to be willing to work with any republican.

    He hasn’t done so to date.

    When Obama singed his own dream act into being, he totally threw Rubio and McCain under the bus (two men who have said they would have worked with him on the issue and Rubio was trying to get a coalition together to work on immigration reform).

    I think basically we are going to have 4 more years of Obama doing very little, the house passing bills the senate won’t bring to the floor and perhaps the first senate in history to go almost an entire 8 years without passing a budget.

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  51. swbarnes2 says:

    @Just Me:

    Except that I am a republican and I am a woman and I do not hate women, I do not hate african americans or brown people.

    It’s not about your feelings. Just because you are conservative doesn’t mean that your feelings are the most important things ever. Do the people you vote for pass policies which are terrible for women and racial minorities and poor people? That’s the question. What policies did your friends Walsh and Akin, model Republicans, have in store for women, for example?

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  52. mantis says:

    @Just Me:

    I don’t particularly believe Obama is going to be willing to work with any republican.

    He hasn’t done so to date.

    Bullshit. He’s tried on a great many occasions (and succeeded in a small few), but Republicans always pull the rug out at the last minute because they live in fear of their base that refuses to allow any cooperation with the Kenyan usurper.

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  53. An Interested Party says:

    Except that I am a republican and I am a woman and I do not hate women, I do not hate african americans or brown people.

    You may not hate those groups, but many of your fellow travelers seem to hate those groups, judging by the policies they favor and enact…

    …at some point the bills come due and Obama seems determined to spend like there is a magic money tree growing in the White House back yard.

    That’s rather rich considering it has been recent Republican presidents, enabled by Republicans in Congress, who have spent money like drunken sailors…

    I think the left has essentially caricatured the vast majority of republicans-who aren’t the evil people the left paints them.

    Well, it would certainly help you if Republicans in power didn’t do so much to make it so easy to caricature Republicans as a whole…

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  54. al-Ameda says:

    @Just Me:

    I think the left has essentially caricatured the vast majority of republicans-who aren’t the evil people the left paints them. When the other side and those who have been sucked in by them automatically presumes you are tat caricature there isn’t really much one can do to prove they aren’t those things.

    Wow, such symmetry! Well, I think the Right has essentially caricatured the vast majority of Democrats who aren’t the evil people the Right paints them to be. In fact, the Right has turned “Liberal” into a pejorative term. Speaking of hard to undo ….

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  55. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    You favored Romney? Really?

    You did a brilliant job of concealing it.

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  56. george says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Wow, such symmetry! Well, I think the Right has essentially caricatured the vast majority of Democrats who aren’t the evil people the Right paints them to be. In fact, the Right has turned “Liberal” into a pejorative term. Speaking of hard to undo

    I think this is one case in which almost everyone can agree the equivalency is true. Most people (and by most I mean probably nine in ten), Democrat or Republican, are decent folks. Painting the majority of either as evil says more about the painter than the people.

    If nothing else, it suggests the person making the claim of “evilness” doesn’t actually know many people in person. Nothing like having friends to expose someone to the complexities – and often touching kindheartedness – of most people. Sad that having strong political views can put a blinder on that. For both sides.

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  57. bill says:

    good point james, romney was probably the most qualified person to run in the last 40 yrs. put his resume up against any of them and it destroys them. poor mitt, now he’s out of the spotlight with just his mountain of hard earned money and nice family to console him….

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  58. mattb says:

    @bill:

    romney was probably the most qualified person to run in the last 40 yrs.

    More qualified than Reagan?! Isn’t that heresy?

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  59. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mattb: There’s a hefty difference between “qualified” and “capable” — ask anyone who’s ever had to hire someone.

    If we’re just talking qualifications and past experiences, though, I’d put the first President Bush at least equal to Romney — two ambassadorships, CIA director, vice-president, House of Representatives, war hero, and started his own very successful oil company.

    Reagan’s resume was also impressive, but nowhere near as accomplished as Bush and Romney. But he was more capable than Bush.

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  60. Moosebreath says:

    James,

    Ed Kilgore does a good job setting forth why the GOP won’t be turning moderate in the near future.

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  61. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    I agree with you that Bush was far ahead of Romney and most other Presidential Candidates of the last few decades in terms of Government experience. However, I would also rank Reagan and Clinton far ahead of Romney (or Obama when he ran for his first term).

    You are making the mistake of assuming Business Management Experience = Government Executive experience and that campaigning isn’t part of a President’s job. Both Reagan and Clinton came to the position with multiple terms of Governorship under their belt. More importantly, both won reelection in states that were heavily populated by members of the opposition party.

    So both seem to me far more qualified for the office of the Presidency than Mr. Romney (who lost far more elections than he ever won) and never had to run for reelection (which hints at many of the weaknesses that helped do him in).

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  62. Janis Gore says:

    @Fiona: I voted for Anderson, too, Fiona.

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