Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mitt Romney's Rare Moment of Candor

Did you miss it? To tell you the truth I almost missed it myself. In case you were curious, former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee had a rare moment of candor. He had the audacity to tweet that South Carolina should take down its confederate flag because "it is a symbol of racial hatred."

For those of you who haven't fallen over and fainted, that was not a misprint. Old Thurston Howell III actually went off the reservation and decided to try something he hasn't had to do in quite some time: speak open and honestly about a very serious topic and, even better, went rogue in doing so.

Not surprisingly, the far Right went ballistic. Seems the bubble people don't like it when you veer too far towards the center, or as it's known in the real world, the right-hand margin. They've convinced themselves that this was an attack on Christianity and that racism played no role whatsoever, so it wasn't all that surprising that Romney's remarks would set off a shit storm.

What is surprising is that Romney, of all people, would be the one to actually make them. After all, this is not the poster child for intestinal fortitude. His presidential campaign was a textbook example of how not to run a campaign. He was the political equivalent of that old joke about the weather in Florida. If you don't like it, wait five minutes and it'll change. He was so insincere, he could make Hillary Clinton sound like Mahatma Gandhi.

It does make you spin your head and wonder, where was this Mitt Romney when the GOP needed him most? I said it as early as 2011, Romney had the creds to take Barack Obama in the election. He had run and won a centrist campaign for governor in one of the bluest states in the known universe. He implemented a healthcare law that became the boiler plate for the Affordable Care Act. He was in an unique position to say to the country, "Hey, I've done this before. I can do it again."

But, instead, he allowed himself to be pulled so far to the right, he never recovered. He picked the worst possible running mate he could've in Paul Ryan. All Ryan did was further polarize an already out of touch campaign. The smart play would've been Rob Portman of Ohio, a senator who could've helped him lock up that state. There was no way in hell Ryan was going to deliver Wisconsin for him. Hell, Ryan couldn't even deliver his own district for him.

Imagine for a moment if instead of the platform Romney was forced to run on, he had come out and said the following: "I was a successful governor in a blue state working with both Republicans and Democrats. I successfully implemented a healthcare law in that state and I can fix what's wrong with Obamacare and make it work. I'll introduce real tax reform that will reward the middle class instead of punishing it. I'll work with both labor and business to get this economy moving forward. Both parties will have a seat at my table and I will be open to ideas on how to lead our country from both sides of the political spectrum. And I'll push for true immigration reform that fixes the current broken system we now have."

I hate to admit it, but that Mitt Romney might've won. Of course, the bubble people will tell you they would've revolted against such a platform and likely stayed home, thus ensuring an Obama landslide. There's only two problems with that mindset: One, I don't buy it for a minute. I think the Republican base would've voted for a coffee pot over Obama; that's how much they hated him. Two, in case you didn't read the returns, Obama won by more than 5 million votes. Last time I checked, that constitutes a landslide.

Face it, the Obama campaign really didn't have to work very hard to convince the voters to vote Democrat. For the most part they relied on the Romney campaign to open its mouth and let the cameras and mics do most of the heavy lifting. With the exception of his Denver debate performance, Romney did pretty much as he was told. He touted the conservative mantra to a tee and got his ass handed to him by the electorate.

But if the GOP is really serious about winning in 2016, they should take heed of this rare moment when one of its fallen foot soldiers summed up just enough integrity to speak the truth to a party that long ago stopped listening for it in the first place.

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