“Every why hath a wherefore.” - WS, Comedy of Errors
Let’s stop kidding ourselves. The American presidential election is not a race between a liberal and a conservative; it’s a contest between a liberal and a centrist. The guy in the middle never stands for much; ironically, that demographic also represents the margin of victory in any close American election.
The latest Republican fiasco in Missouri highlights two things; the wrong kind of “conservative” on the stump and the inability of Mitt Romney to keep his crew from looking like a confederacy of dunces. Don’t tell me that Romney has nothing to do with Missouri and Todd Akin! If you’re the captain, if you’re on the bridge when the ship runs afoul the anchor; you are responsible.
A few days ago the Romney campaign was getting some traction. The trip to Israel and the Paul Ryan nomination were positive signs. Now, in a week when Romney might have harvested some momentum at the Republican convention in Florida; a Party sanctioned Luddite in Missouri sucks all the air out of the Republican balloon.
And the Missouri mess is not a “one off.” Team Romney has been on the defensive from the start with inept responses to Bain Capital, tax returns, and even charges of manslaughter. The Obama gunners seem to spray and pray, while the Romney runts can’t even manage to return fire.
How did Todd Akin ever get on the ticket in Missouri? He is an ideologue who knows little of national politics, biology, women, rape, or hot button issues like abortion. How does he get to run in a race where beating the incumbent should have been a slam dunk? How did he get to a place where he jeopardizes a Senate majority? Why was Akin not summarily excommunicated from the Republican ranks by Bishop Romney himself five minutes after he finished that ignorant soliloquy? Now Democrats get to tar Republican national chances with an idiot’s brush. Akin has breathed new life into the “war on women” cadaver.
And the response of conservative talk radio and the right-of-center blogosphere has done nothing but compound the problem. One gasbag even compared Akin’s remarks to Whoopie Goldberg’s defense of Roman Polanski. Here’s a flash for apologists in the chattering class: Goldberg and Polanski aren’t running for office. Neither is Bill Clinton. Nobody cares how they define rape.
Erstwhile Republican supporters, and this includes American Thinker, contribute to the Romney inertia in two respects. First, they serve as an echo chamber for every ludicrous charge from the Democrats. Preposterous is often best ignored. And then apologists magnify the distractions by loudly defending the indefensible when a Republican gets a case of foot-in-mouth.
What is the Akin defense? Oops? Slip of the lip? Rape is a matter of opinion? Everybody does it? Liberals are worse? If “macaca” could undo George Allen in Virginia, does someone really believe Akin will get a pass on trivializing rape in Missouri?
There’s nothing to defend here, including a wing nut who spouts junk science on the campaign trail. Like Republican professionals, the blogosphere amateurs are playing defense too. You cannot win a fight if you cannot get out of the bunker.
There may be a bizarre kind of blowback at work here. Romney was the clear choice of the Republican establishment. Conservatives and pragmatists had a host of concerns. The Romney campaign is now perilously close to validating those reservations. Turnout is always depressed in a year when an incumbent runs. The danger now is that the tepid will stay home in November; never good news for a challenger.
Republicans are not just in danger of losing the best opportunity for the White House since Teddy Roosevelt, but Senate control may already be off the table too. Withal, the Republican national team has put that perennial question about all presidential candidates up in lights: “If he can’t stay on message or manage a campaign, why should voters believe he can run the country?”
You might think that almost any challenger would be ahead of Obama now when you look at the foreign policy (pandering) and the economic (squandering) track records. The Obama lead persists because of smug presumption. “Anybody but B’OB” was never a good strategy; yet, that lame mantra may give Democrats four more years. By any metric, Obama should be unemployed next January; alas, not if the current Romney team has anything to say about it. Competence matters.
G. Murphy Donovan writes frequently about politics and national security.
Posted on 08/25/2012 11:47 AM by G. Murphy Donovan