Mitt’s Dog Days of Summer

For all the money spent attacking Obama, Romneyworld has left their candidate undefined and vulnerable

Newt was right.   Back during the primary campaign Newt Gingrich started to attack Romney about his time at Bain Capital, the methods the company used, his out sourcing and off shore holdings.   It was working too — until Rush Limbaugh and the Republican establishment told Newt to back off.   Making hundreds of millions of dollars is a good capitalist thing to do!

Newt protested that the Democrats would use these attacks in the fall and it was good for Mitt to have to face them early.   Primaries test candidates and see if they can handle the harshest attacks; pulling punches in primary season actually does more harm than good.   But the criticism hurt Newt and he dropped the Bain attacks.   Most people figured that Romney could easily deflect such criticism by wrapping himself in the free market veneer of “being a good capitalist and making money.”

Gingrich might have helped the Romney camp develop a better reaction to questions about Bain and taxes, but instead the GOP pressured Gingrich to shut up

Yet as the campaign trudges on, Romney’s woes grow.    To be sure, he still polls even with the President and if the economy stays in the doldrums even Alfred E. Newman could have a shot to defeat Obama.  Economic factors more than anything else shape elections, justly or unjustly.   But elections are never just referendums on a President, but a choice between two candidates.   So far, Romney is proving to be a weak candidate.

Consider Romney’s taxes.   Despite numerous demands from within the GOP for Mitt to release his taxes f or the last ten or fifteen years, he refuses.   Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tells the Huffington Post that a Bain capital investor confided with him that Romney paid no taxes for ten years.   Reid admits he has no way of knowing if this is true, but absent his returns it remains possible.    The Democrats can continue to make such suggestions, and if Romney remains secretive most people will assume he has something to hide.

He doesn’t embrace his Massachusetts record and wants to be mum on Bain Capital, leaving only the Olympics as evidence of his competence — that won’t do in a tough race!

The Bain issue remains as well.  Despite vehement protests against an Obama advisor saying Romney may have committed a felony, it increasingly looks like the advisor was correct — Romney did not end his tenure at Bain capital in 1999.   He’s not going to be arrested but that just adds to a narrative that Romney is secretive, dishonest, and part of a greedy wealthy elite who want to institutionalize advantage for themselves.

The Romney campaign hoped to change the story line with a trip abroad to countries considered most friendly to a Romney Presidency: a conservative led Great Britain, Israel and socially conservative Poland.  Romney hoped to appear Presidential and a natural for the job.

Instead it was an almost comical farce, with even conservative pundits like Charles Krauthammer expressing exasperation over his miscues.   He looked decidedly un-Presidential, gaffe prone and small.   Mocked in Great Britain, seen as pandering in Israel and repudiated by Solidarity in Poland for his anti-union stances, Romney’s trip has been called a disaster by Republicans and Democrats alike.    The good news for Romney is that foibles abroad are one of the last things voters take into account.

President Obama had a July 2008 trip abroad that went off far more impressively than Romney’s.   Unlike Romney he visited a large variety of countries in the Mideast and Europe.  It didn’t do much for Obama at home – his numbers were dropping even as he was sailing high overseas.   Still, Obama’s was an audacious sweeping trip meeting numerous world leaders and going to places he might not be popular.   Romney’s was tepid and short – and nonetheless disastrous.    The trip itself may not hurt him, but feeds into an image of the candidate that may be impossible to overcome.

Romney’s summer troubles mean that he’ll emerge from the pre-convention phase more defined by Obama and the media than by himself.   Efforts to define Obama as a failed desperate President, not up to the job and a tad strange at that, haven’t caught on.   People know Obama much more than they know Romney, and generally people like him despite the attacks from the far right.   That doesn’t mean they support his re-election, but they’re not buying the “failed Presidency” line from the GOP.   People realize the economic crisis is global and arrived before Obama was elected.

The core of the problem for Romney is captured by the Newsweek cover – Romney appears insecure and secretive.  A confident candidate would embrace the tradition started by George Romney (Mitt’s dad) who did the unprecedented and released years of taxes when he ran for the Presidency while saying every candidate should do so.   Instead the campaign growls that bringing up Mitt’s dad in a “personal attack” should be condemned.    Except it’s not a personal attack, it’s a call for Mitt to do as his father did!

A secure candidate would explain and defend his record, rather than feign ignorance of what he did for Bain after he supposedly left in 1999.   A secure candidate wouldn’t whine that the media isn’t paying attention to issues he thinks important in the campaign but recognize that in choosing a President we’re choosing a person, not just a set of political positions.   A secure candidate would realize that he has to convince the American people he is worthy of leading the country, not only that he’s a competent businessman who understands economics.    This election is not just a referendum on Obama, it’s a choice.

Many Republicans want 2012 to be like 1980 when Jimmy Carter was whooshed out of office after one term.   They recall how easily Ronald Reagan defeated the President.   But it almost wasn’t that way.   Carter was close or even led in polls until near the end.   The people sized up Ronald Reagan before they choose him, they didn’t just vote out Carter.   Romney’s challenge is to make a convincing argument that he should be chosen to lead.

Does Romney want the job enough to open up and show the real Mitt Romney, warts, finances and all?

So far he’s off to a poor start.   He can’t just rely on money and attacks like he did in the primaries.   He has to step up and convince the American people he’s honest, understands their plight, and can be trusted with the office of the Presidency.    He has less than 100 days to do it.   To start he has to release his taxes, explain what happened at Bain, be up front about off shore accounts and his finances, and show the country that he’s not a secretive, manipulative empty suit with an edge-a-sketch approach to winning votes.   If he can’t do that, he doesn’t deserve the Presidency.

  1. #1 by lbwoodgate on August 1, 2012 - 17:44

    I wonder if Muslim Americans will find Romney’s comment offensive when he hold reporters while in Israel that “As president,my first foreign trip will not be to Cairo, Riyadh or Ankara. It will be to Jerusalem.” Will this also be seen as code for the Islamic haters in this country to see a friend in Romney and up the negative rhetoric against Muslims that has been subdued for some time now?

    Will Romney gain a few extras Jewish votes here with his suck up comments but loose an equal or greater number of Muslim votes?

  2. #2 by Jeff Fordham on August 1, 2012 - 21:07

    I was telling friends as early as last Spring that Romney can make one feel as if hes a carny barker trying to get you to go into the tent so you’ll part with 25 cents. I could picture him in the straw hat and cheesy vest with a small bamboo cane.
    Back in 2007 he came to my state during the primary season. I attended a small townhall meeting he gave in Montgomery county PA to see what he was all about. He was poorly prepared and could not answer some of the basic questions on healthcare……………even after he’d passed his own signature legislation in the state of Mass. He told the entire audience that this was the greatest country in the world because you could get healthcare anywhere in the USA at any hospital emergency room. An elderly lady plainly said outloud …….”thats not healthcare” “that emergency crisis care that could bankrupt you” …………he got the deer in the headlights look, and then ranted onward about the united states is a nation of people that can accomplish anything. Instead of addressing the woman’s solid question in an appropriate way, he just settled for some quick political doublespeak to get out of the question. His handlers looked nervous too the whole time off on the sidelines. I was not impressed…….I was actually stunned…… because at that time I had read all that I could about the healthcare legislation in his state, and I was hoping he would explain why he passed it and why he felt it worked.
    I got NOTHING from him that day, and I can see now that he was already starting ( in 2007?) to position himself away from his landmark healthcare plan, and lean against what he had passed just a year before. ( what the hell does that tell you?)
    Now, 5 years later, and a dozen flip flops, secret offshore accounts, lower tax rates and only 2 tax returns made available to the public after spending years as a vulture capitalist, I can see hes the worst candidate the Republicans could have ever put forward . An empty suit with zero skills at connecting with people.

    At the time I actually felt bad for him because he performed so awfully at the town hall meeting I attended……… of today I have no mercy for him. He did not improve himself in my book……… who the hell would run for office KNOWING he will be asked for prior tax returns? Does he think I am stupid?………………yes he obviously does. I hope he goes down in flames the bastard.

    • #3 by Scott Erb on August 1, 2012 - 22:03

      A former student and conservative activist went to CPAC in 2008 and came back with nothing good to say about Romney — her opinion wasn’t much better than yours. (Caveat – this year she supports him). I am on record saying that he represents a quality Republican candidate. Not knowing him, but knowing his work on health care and his reputation as a moderate in Massachusetts, I figured he was the kind of candidate the Republicans needed. I felt like the choice for once was not the lesser of two evils but between two quality candidates. However, the more I see of him the more I agree with your assessment. Which means I no longer see the election as a choice between two quality candidates!

      • #4 by Norbrook on August 2, 2012 - 13:49

        I’ve been working on a draft blog myself, but the gist is that I see Mitt as a “savant.” He may have been very good as a venture capitalist, but everything he’s been doing as a candidate is demonstrating that Wall Street was his only area of competence.

  3. #5 by Jeff Fordham on August 2, 2012 - 15:53

    I guess I was a little harsh yesterday in my critique of Mitt, but my angst of late is due to the total disfunction in our political arena. The lack of compromise for the sake of the nation is what really irks me the most. Its not about your nation and the welfare of its citizens anymore …..its about the gaming of the system by special interests who purchase our politicians and use the media to sow the seeds of misinformation.

    Both my wife and I have been self employed small business owners for the last 25 years who have had to purchase private insurance on the open market since 1987. Healthcare, and the rising costs of insurance have been the number one issue with us since the late 1990s. We have seen our premiums rise at 4-5 times the rate of inflation and the coverage diminish in its capacity in that same period. We had been hoping for some reform of the system and even after the attack on the Clinton attempt, I still had faith that many of the Republican ideas on H/C reform along with some of the original Democratic ideas would come to fruition. Now its seems even the original Republican idea of the mandate to get everyone insured is poison.
    Mitt Romney is a walking example of political expediency when it comes to healthcare. My god……I think about how anyone could take such a public stand on such a serious issues as healthcare…..( it means so much to so many people)….and then cast it aside, and do basically a 180 degree turn with it for all to see? How the hell do you look at yourself in the mirror every day?

    All I know is that I voted for Barak Obama because he wanted to try to start to reform healthcare in this country. Yes its not perfect, and there are plenty of hands in the cookie jar with this bill, but some of the major issues that concern me have been addressed such as recisions, pre existing conditions, the 80/20 rule, lifetime limits, and a host of other items. I recently recieved a rebate of $1,544.00 from my insurance company because they miserably failed the 80/20 rule . They have been forced by my elected government to play with a fair hand with me………no more charging an exta 12% so they could invest my money in derivatives or other risky overnight paper, or for even larger compensation rates for their top managers…….all which had nothing to do with my medical expenses and their operating costs. 14 large medical insurers had significant derivative exposure in the meltdown…….a fact which remains rather unreported.

    You should have seen the faces of my anti obama friends and associates when I told them my insurance company had to play nice……………..the anger……the rage. ……Obamacare works???.A few even got rebates themselves……..yet they are brainwwashed into going against their own interests which I find truly amazing.

    As I said…..its not perfect……but its a start …..and I will be the first one to take issue if the changes make things worse for people, and I will certainly fight against the empty suit who wants to repeal what I have gained

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