October 24, 2012
by Ronald Radosh
As it becomes clear that Mitt Romney might actually win the election, desperate Democrats are beginning to develop a new spin about why Obama might lose. That they are doing this two weeks before the election gives us a glimpse of just how scared they are.
First, the New York Times' top political reporter, Matt Bai, suggests that if Obama loses, blame could be put on none other than his most important campaign asset, Bill Clinton. Bai writes:
But there is one crucial way in which the 42nd president may not have served the 44th quite as well. In these final weeks before the election, Mr. Clinton's expert advice about how to beat Mitt Romney is starting to look suspect.
At first, Bai says, the Obama campaign tried to depict Romney as "inauthentic and inconstant, a soulless climber who would say anything to get the job." But after the public got to see what Romney was really like in the debates, that effort ground to a halt. Instead, Clinton argued they had to portray Romney as an extremist conservative. That, after all, is what Clinton did when he ran, portraying himself as a centrist in between far left elements in his own party and right-wing Republicans opposed to him.
Barack Obama, of course, is no Bill Clinton, and yet the campaign adopted Clinton's advice, working hard to paint Romney as Bush-Cheney redux. Clinton, as Bai writes, was a "centrist deal maker," while Obama is correctly not seen in this light by the American public. Bai adds that since the debates, Romney "has made a brazen and frantic dash to the center, and Mr. Obama has often seemed off-balance, as if stunned that Mr. Romney thinks he can get away with such an obvious change of course so late in the race. Which, apparently, he can."
Romney thus cannot be painted as "a far-right ideologue," no matter how many times Obama ads try to do just that. To put it bluntly, the tactic is not working, as the increasing numbers shifting to Romney in the polls continue to prove. Obama and his team will continue to make efforts to try to convince swing voters and independents of just that, and so far, it isn't working.
So, Bai says, if Romney wins, Democrats will put the blame on Bill Clinton for having the campaign change its tactics as Clinton told them to do. Obama, he concludes, "now has only a couple weeks to convince a lot of independents in states like Ohio and Virginia that Mr. Romney really is some raging conservative, rather than the more malleable, somewhat awkward fellow he is impersonating on TV."
What is significant is that Bai is writing this now — rather than after the election. When can you remember a pro-Democratic analyst writing an explanation for what they fear is a Romney victory when the campaign is still going on?
The second such attempt to explain Romney's possible win comes in a paradoxical and confused column by the dean of liberal journalists, E.J. Dionne Jr. Writing in theWashington Post, its top political analyst explains that even if Romney wins, Democrats should not despair, because the Tea Party and conservatism have lost! In other words, if the candidate they hate and fear so much wins, Dionne now says in effect liberalism has still won — after denouncing Romney and the Republicans in prior columns over and over.
The right wing has lost the election of 2012.
The evidence for this is overwhelming, yet it is the year's best-kept secret. Mitt Romney would not be throwing virtually all of his past positions overboard if he thought the nation were ready to endorse the full-throated conservatism he embraced to win the Republican nomination.
If conservatism were winning, does anyone doubt that Romney would be running as a conservative? Yet unlike Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, Romney is offering an echo, not a choice. His strategy at the end is to try to sneak into the White House on a chorus of me-too's.
So Dionne, ignoring all that Romney has said on economic and fiscal issues and on ObamaCare, proclaims Romney to be a secret liberal — because otherwise, in Dionne's eyes, there is no way anyone could vote for him. In Dionne's eyes, Republicans and conservatives are supporting Romney because:
It turns out that there was no profound ideological conversion of the country two years ago. We remain the same moderate and practical country we have long been. In 2010, voters were upset about the economy, Democrats were demobilized, and President Obama wasn't yet ready to fight. All the conservatives have left now is economic unease. So they don't care what Romney says. They are happy to march under a false flag if that is the price of capturing power.
According to Dionne, Romney has me-too'ed Obama on foreign policy, deserted the hated neocons (although other liberals continue to blast Romney for heeding the advice of Dan Senor and John Bolton) and, on domestic policy, given up the "selfishness" that he says is the mainstay of Paul Ryan's Ayn Rand economic policies. To put it another way, he thinks the public sees Romney as someone willing to work across the aisle to solve our problems, which is actually true. He showed as governor of Massachusetts that he did just that. Dionne also forgets that, in fact, it was Paul Ryan who modified his original proposal on health care to work with liberal Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Ryan, also a major fiscal conservative, has shown he knows how to work with Democrats to address our nation's problems. Yet Dionne still can argue that no matter who wins, "the right-wing has lost the election."
So, let's get that straight. If Mitt Romney and the Republican Party win — the party supposedly run by Tea Party extremists — it still means that left-liberalism has won. That is, definitely, one way of pretending that you've won when everyone else thinks you've lost.
Dionne and others are hence preparing themselves for a possible outcome they never thought possible. Let's get out there on Election Day and make their fearful dreams come true.
Ronald Radosh is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute; Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York, and the author of many books, including "The Rosenberg File;" "Divided They Fell: The Demise of the Democratic Party, 1964-1996," and most recently, "Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left."
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