The reasons Mitt Romney is losing

Posted on September 29, 2012

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There are two major reasons for why Mitt Romney is trailing behind Barack Obama in virtually every poll, regardless of the political leanings of the polling entity, and regardless of the “unskewing” of polls that Fox News claims as proof-positive that Romney is actually crushing Obama in public opinion (on the Bizarro-Reverse world).

The first is the plain and simple truth that Mitt Romney is a lousy candidate, unable to connect with people, unwilling (or unable) to provide even a list of his detailed plans for “saving America” let alone any explanation of the processes and core components of those plans, and a candidate with the largest chain of on-record self-contradictions and self-opposing statements than any candidate in history.

The second is that Americans are finally beginning to see how radical the GOP has become and are repudiating it, and are recognizing that the economy – no matter what Romney’s latest attempt at a catchy sound bite an audience pandering may be – just isn’t as bad a Romney says it is. The Dow is only a couple-hundred points below its all-time high, and has remained consistently in the 13,000-plus range since the end of the Republican primary debates.

Many Republicans — including a lot of right-wingers I’ve debated — hold to the first view, for obvious reasons. If Romney fails to make a comeback this week by soundly defeating – or even tying – Obama in the first debate, you can expect multiple-fold more complaints from the right about Romney’s personal failings, as well as the inadequacies of his campaign staff; and more statements of what Romney “needs to do to turn the whole thing around.” You can also expect a lot of accusations that the debate was “fixed” in Obama’s favor, or a multitude of lame excuses for why Romney didn’t emerge victorious.

But it’s the second explanation that strikes me as more compelling. The Republican primaries, and then the Republican convention, have shown America a political party that is so far removed from the “compassionate conservatism” the GOP tried to sell in 2000 that the number of former-Republicans/now-Independents is at a record high. Instead, we have a party that’s been taken over by Tea Partiers, social Nietzscheans, racists, homophobes, right-wing evangelicals, a few rich people whose only interest is to outright buy the candidate who will do them the most favors, and a cast of state and local characters that could re-enact “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in real life.

These regressives were there in 2000, but they lurked in the shadows: I the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich took over the House; in the 1980s, too, although Ronald Reagan’s sunny disposition gave them cover. In truth, they’ve been part of the GOP for more than half a century — but never before have they wielded so much influence in the party, never before have they called the shots, never before have they been so blatant and outwardly demonstrative of their intent to simply buy the election.

The second view about Romney’s decline also explains the “negative coat-tail” effect — why so many Republicans around the country in Senate and House races are falling behind. Scott Brown, for example, is well-liked in Massachusetts. But his polls have been dropping in recent weeks because he’s had to carry the burden of the public’s increasing dislike of the Republican Party. The same is true with regard to Republican senate races in Florida, Virginia, and every other battleground state.

And then there are the campaign ads, about which I’ve been unable to find a single soul – right or left – who isn’t sick to their stomach over how many, how repetitive, and how utterly devoid of any detailed facts about the candidate, and instead offer nothing but attacks on their opponent, outright lies, and a thorough “Yeah, but look how awful *THEY* are” mentality throughout the breadth of commercial offerings.

The Fox News open general election poll has had Obama leading Romney by at least three points, in recent weeks more than five points ahead, every day since the conventions. So if the polls are “skewed to favor Obama,” you’d think Fox News would be the lone opposite to the greater trend.

The 1992 version of Mitt Romney told Massachusetts voters they should elect him governor because he’s pro-choice, pro-gay rights progressive. The 2012 version of Mitt Romney says America should elect him President because he’s anti-choice, anti-gay rights, and “severely conservative”. The 1992 version of Mitt Romney told Massachusetts voters that financial blind trusts are “an age-old ruse because you can always give a trust rules and tell a trust what to do.” That was when his opponent had substantial wealth hidden in a blind trust. The 2012 version of Mitt Romney says America should elect him because he’s not responsible for his own wealth because all his money is secured in a blind trust that he can’t manipulate.

Romney is jingoistic and insincere, and he’s proven himself unfit to represent America on the world stage. His five-country international tour drew laughs and deeply searing criticism for his gaffes and insults against foreign dignitaries and his clearly demonstrated ignorance of (or disdain for) any culture other than his own. He invokes the mantra of American exceptionalism as if simply repeating it could make it so, despite every statistic except four showing America well into the middle, if not the bottom, of most statistics that demonstrate a country’s ability to govern itself. He seems ignorant of the fact that other nations have done what we have done, and some have done things better. In his convention speech he publicly insulted Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and threatened a new war against Iran, while failing to acknowledge the thousands of American troops still fighting and dying in Afghanistan. In May, in what he perceived was the safety of a room full of like-minded attendees of a $50,000-per-plate luncheon, Romney literally said he didn’t care about 47 percent of Americans because they were lazy, victim-claiming welfare dregs who support Obama.  Two days after video of Romney saying that was released, he was on the campaign trail, desperately trying to convince anyone he could that he “cares deeply and passionately about all Americans.”

Romney is suspiciously secretive. He demanded a decade of tax returns from Paul Ryan and all those he considered as nominees for vice president. He said he wouldn’t interview any of them without reviewing a decade of their tax returns. But he expects the American people to hire him without being able to see more than (so far) his 2010 and 2011 tax returns – neither of which are complete, and both of which are conveniently missing critical forms and documents relating to his overseas-stashed wealth. Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney, released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president in 1968, and said that, “one year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.” President Obama has released a dozen years of tax returns, all of which are complete. By stubbornly refusing to release the tax returns that he himself provided to John McCain in 2008 when McCain was considering him for vice president, Mitt Romney all but screams that he has something – probably many somethings – to hide. From the two tax returns made available, we know Romney pays a lower effective tax rate on much higher personal income than any middle-class families even dreams of seeing, and he clearly has invested significant portions of his fortune outside the United States in tax-free  havens like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

Romney said, “I never pay more taxes than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.” Less than two months later, when his 2001 return revealed that he chose to ignore more than $2.7 million in deductions he was rightfully allowed and would have dropped his effective tax rate to approximately seven percent instead of the 14 percent he previously announced was his minimum, Romney said he “didn’t want it to appear to the average citizen that he was paying considerably less than they were.” So, when the opportunity arose to make it *appear* that he wasn’t gaming the tax system, Romney intentionally paid more taxes than he owed.

Mitt Romney is the first presidential candidate to withhold the names of his financial bundlers (or is that bunglers?) who fund his campaign. And if he succeeds in enacting the Paul Ryan budget plan he has endorsed, including converting Medicare to vouchers, and eliminating taxes on income from capital, Mitt Romney’s effective tax rate, and that of his fellow one-percenters, will drop to around 1.3 percent, total.

Romney’s failing isn’t that he’s a bad candidate. He is, without question. Some say he’s the worst candidate in history. Those who disagree are hard-pressed to say why. Romney’s giving this extremist version of the GOP exactly what it wants in a candidate; a tall, good-looking, well-groomed white male in expensive suits who offers nothing other than anti-Obama rhetoric. And that’s exactly the problem for Romney — as it is for every other Republican candidate — because what the GOP wants is not at all what the rest of America wants. The majority of Americans don’t want a religion-based government. The majority of Americans don’t want government controlling a woman’s uterus. The majority of Americans don’t want a voucher-based health insurance program that won’t cover even a third of their costs. The majority of Americans don’t want a president whose entire career has been based on strip-mining American companies and shipping the company’s jobs to China, Malaysia and Thailand, telling them that he alone knows how to “get the economy going again.”

The majority of Americans don’t want Mitt Romney, and increasingly, neither do Republicans.

 

 

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