With the 2012 election results in, there are no short- or even medium-term “silver linings” for Republicans. President Barack Obama has won a decisive victory and the GOP, expecting to gain Senate seats, actually had a net loss of three. The “morning after” will bring the expected explanations and after-game quarterbacking. Still, it is important that the GOP understand why we lost this one in hopes of future victory. Perhaps the easy explanation is that two hurricanes and two betrayals by Chris Christie killed Mitt Romney’s chances.
The first hurricane was Isaac, the one that skirted Tampa in late August during the Republican convention. That one seriously disrupted the official schedule. GOP star Marco Rubio — who gave the best speech of the convention — was bumped off prime-time TV coverage, and so was the video biography “introducing” Mitt to the nation. Aging actor Clint Eastwood was scrambled into the schedule to offer a funny but often incoherent monologue with an empty chair. He stole Mitt’s show. And prime-time keynoter Chris Christie barely mentioned the nominee or Obama in a speech that sounded like the New Jersey governor was pumping his re-election. The ground lost in Tampa wasn’t regained until the first debate in Denver, when Romney shined. It was the first, best, and last time he would really sparkle. As a result of the debates, by late October polls showed that Romney was finally beginning to see a surge.
Then the second hurricane, Sandy, struck on Oct. 29. The campaign went into “freeze” mode while Obama swung into “commander in chief” mode. Romney’s surge was suddenly frozen too. Enter Iago. It was perfectly fine for Chris Christie to join with Obama in the wake of the crisis. But to lather the president with praise, calling his response to Sandy “outstanding” in the immediate aftermath of the storm was completely unjustified. It was another act of treachery. (As the disaster unfolded, and with hundreds of thousands still without electric power as I write this, there is plenty of evidence that the leadership by Obama and federal agencies has been seriously lacking, as it has been from Christie and other state and local officials who have failed to adequately prepare and respond to the disaster.) As I said, it is easy to blame Sandy and Christie for Romney’s loss. I won’t. Sure they hurt Romney. But he lost for other reasons. Sandy and Christie’s double-dealing can be compared to bad turbulence that any experienced jet pilot should expect on a long mission. The turbulence may be rough, but it is nothing more than a passing episode for a good pilot with a smart flight plan.
On to why our pilot Mitt Romney and his plan were so flawed…