Inside the circular loop that passes for thinking on the American right
Well, it’s been quite a day in the world of serious-thinking reactionaries in this country. Just before noon, we were treated to a speech by the Republican’s last national party leader, Mitt Romney, warning us of the danger of nominating Donald Trump. (Although potential destruction of the economy and a dangerous foreign policy were mentioned, the thrust of his speech seemed to worry most about allowing Hillary Clinton to become president. In other words, Trump is the worst thing that could ever happen to this country, but the real problem is he might not win.) Never mind that most of the charges leveled against Trump (his association with a scandalous and failed for-profit university, his vulture capitalism, his lack of personal economic patriotism, his phoniness and thinly veiled appeals to racism) applied identically to Romney and were some of the reasons that voters turned down his bid for the office four years ago. It was still bracing to see something that has no historic precedent. A major party’s former failing nominee calling out the party’s frontrunner as a political disaster. It would be as though Herbert Hoover warned against the Republicans nominating Alf Landon or Jimmy Carter warning us about Walter Mondale. But you say, Mondale was a political associate of Carter’s, so that would have been a different order of astonishment. But, my friend, Mitt Romney courted the endorsement of this same Donald Trump, whose only involvement in Republican politics at the time was claiming to lead the investigation of Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
And what did Romney suggest we do to prevent this disaster for which there was no mitigation? Vote for whoever you think might deprive him of delegates in your state. I guess we are beyond planning for a long game now. It’s guerilla warfare now; everyone for himself!
This certainly set up a mood for restless excitement to watch the latest in the endless debates among the (remaining) Republican candidates. It had a real Hunger Games feel to it. And it did not disappoint. Trump’s opponents went at him with all they had. Well, two of them did. John Kasich relied on his proven strategy of beginning every answer with “I am the only one on this stage who …” (One thing I will give him. He has lasted long enough for me to remember his first name and how to spell his last.) And, frankly, the other two held back too. But they were constrained by the fact that they were fellow reactionaries and couldn’t really unload on him for professing repellant policies. In the end I was all primed to believe that the GOP finally stood for something that I agreed with: that Donald Trump was not fit to be President. And then Bret Baier asked the three non-Trumps if they would support him if her were the nominee. Each said yes.
Hypocrisy, thy name is Republican.
Update 3/9/16: CNN and other sources have reported that Mitt Romney recorded get-out-the vote robocalls for Marco Rubio in all four of the contests yesterday: GOP primaries in Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho and caucus in Hawaii. As evidence of the respect in which the party holds the former Massachusetts governor (and son of Michigan Governor George Romney), Rubio came in fourth (out of four) in all four of those primaries and netted just 1 delegate (out of the 150 up for grabs). “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
The most important of yesterday’s contests, in terms of delegate totals, was Michigan which had 59 at stake. Some thought that Romney had especial pull in Michigan because his father was a popular governor there, although Mitt lost to President Obama in Michigan 44.7% to 54.2%. (He lost Massachusetts, where he himself was governor, 37.5% to 60.7% so maybe his father’s coattails did help him in Michigan.) Now remember, Romney told us that how to vote strategically: vote for the candidate with the best possible chance to beat Donald Trump. So how did he help? In Michigan, Trump recorded robocalls not only for Marco Rubio but also John Kasich. Did Romney not listen to himself? In the end Romney probably sank both candidates.
So how did Romney’s help work out? Of the four candidates, the two he “helped” came in third and fourth. Even worse news: If the Michigan primary were between only Cruz and Trump, exit poll ing data says that Trump would have lost 39% to 44%. In other words it was the two candidates who Romney supported who caused Trump to win Michigan. To paraphrase another GOP leader: “Hecka of a job, Mittie!” (But to be fair, however badly he handled the presidency, George W. Bush won two national elections and many more primaries than Mitt Romney.) Or maybe Romney’s “help” was simply the kiss of death in Michigan. After all, it probably will take Michigan a long time to recover from Romney’s editorial “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”