Willard Agonistes

Some more thoughts on just how awful a candidate Mitt Romney was.

Part of the problem is that the Republican establishment allows the press (who largely want the Republicans to lose) to pick the candidate. They should never again allow a Democrat operative with a byline (like George Stephanopolous) to moderate a primary debate.

19 thoughts on “Willard Agonistes

  1. MikeR

    I guess I don’t have a lot of patience for this kind of stuff. It’s a fool’s errand: You will never find a better candidate than Romney. Everyone has flaws, lots and lots of flaws. The press will magnify them enormously, if they want to. The political process in this country has devolved into a game of who can produce the best sound bites, over and over. Never ever dare to say anything real, or anything not carefully scripted.
    In a sane world, Romney should have crushed Obama, by any rational criteria. However, the tremendous majority of American voters don’t use any criteria at all but these: They either just look at the D or R, or whatever they saw on their social media.

  2. Arizona CJ

    For my particular value and belief set, Romney wasn’t a great candidate, because I disagree with him on a number of things. He was also lackluster on the campaign trail.

    That said, I think he was the best choice out of the Republican primary field.

    Yes, he wasn’t a great candidate – but considering what the other side had, in a sane world (or at least a sane electorate) he’d have won.

  3. Jim

    the Republican establishment allows the press (who largely want the Republicans to lose) to pick the candidate.

    Romney won the 2012 primaries by burying his opponents in negative ads. The primary voters flocked to each of his opponents in turn, but all of them had glaring weaknesses, and none of them could stand up to millions of dollars of negative ads. The press had nothing to do with it.

    They should never again allow a Democrat operative with a byline (like George Stephanopolous) to moderate a primary debate.

    If the Republican party can only win national elections by hiding from George Stephanopolous, it’s in a pitiful state indeed.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to having lots of primary debates, regardless of the moderator. They gave Romney lots of baggage, but they also prepared him for the general election debates. Obama definitely benefited from all the 2008 primary debates.

    1. Rand Simberg Post author

      Nobody in the Republican primaries gave a damn about contraception, yet Stephanopolous continued to waste time hammering Romney about it like a Tourette’s case. Why should Republicans let hacks like that drive the nominating process?

      1. Jim

        Surely Romney didn’t lose because Stephanopolous wasted time. If merely bringing up contraception fatally weakened Romney’s campaign, the solution is to have a better answer on contraception, not to hide from Stephanopolous.

          1. Jim

            Your point seemed to have something to do with not letting Stephanopolous moderate debates, but the only harm you’ve pointed to was Stephanopolous wasting time. Why is a Stephanopolous-moderated primary debate so harmful to Republican presidential hopes?

            Why should Republicans let hacks like that drive the nominating process?

            Do you really think that debate moderators “drive the nominating process”? You’re giving them far too much credit.

          2. Rand Simberg Post author

            Because he made a non-issue (contraception) an issue, and prevented actual issues that Republicans cared about from being discussed. Then, they went on to declare a false Republican war on women on the basis of that non-issue.

          3. Mike L

            Jim,

            Steph was the first to bring up the contraception ‘debate’. If you go back and look at the clip, Mr. Romney was stunned and asked – Who is talking about banning contraceptives?

            The point of that question was to frame the battlefield – establish the narrative that Republicans want to ban contraceptives. From then on out, the Rs were on the defense, not wanting to fund them became the same as banning, and part of the Rs ‘War on Women!’ narrative.

            The question was very much not a waste of time. It provided hours of talking points and put every R candidate on the defensive.

            Regards,

          4. wodun

            Then we got Republicans want to ban tampons and take away women’s right to vote while putting black people back in chains. Obama’s entire campaign was based on racial and gender attacks while Romney was talking about foreign relations and the economy.

            What was important to Obama and Romney supporters were totally different things. Obama did a good job deflecting talk about the economy and foreign policy but Romney didn’t do so well dealing with the racial and gender based attacks. Sad day in American politics.

            And yes both the media and the moderators played a role in the Obama campaign.

          5. Jim

            he made a non-issue (contraception) an issue

            Simply by asking a question? Stephanopolous does not have that sort of power. Contraception was already an issue.

            Contraception was and is a tough issue for Republicans because they don’t want to turn off women voters who consider it vital to their quality of life, and at the same time they want to align themselves with social/religious conservatives who consider contraception to be immoral and/or evil. I’m sure Republican candidates would prefer not to be asked questions that force them to take a clear position on that question, but isn’t that exactly what debate moderators should do?

    2. wodun

      “The press had nothing to do with it.”

      /rolls eyes

      Ok Jim.

      “There are advantages and disadvantages to having lots of primary debates, regardless of the moderator.”

      That is true but the moderators did make a difference. Democrats know this, which is why they don’t let Hannity moderate their debates and the Republicans would be wise not to let these overtly partisan journolists moderate theirs.

  4. dn-guy

    “As the originator of Romneycare, Mitt was the single worst candidate the Republicans could nominate in an election that should have turned on the now-confirmed disaster of Obamacare, the one man who could not take on Obama’s “signature legislative accomplishment.” ”

    One could truly give a good hee-haw on this alone.

  5. rickl

    It frustrates me no end why the Republicans can’t use conservative talk radio hosts as debate moderators. My favorite is Mark Levin, and he would really force them to defend their policies and proposals on Constitutional grounds.

    I’m not a fan of Michael Medved or Bill Bennett (I think they are too squishy), but both of them would make good moderators. Dennis Prager would be outstanding. Any one of them would be more fair-minded than any MSM hack.

    But the real problem with Republican primaries is how they are front-loaded with open primary states. This of course allows Democrat voters to have an enormous say in who the front-runners are right out of the gate. The Republican Party shows no interest whatsoever in fixing this. This practically ensures that moderates and RINOs have a huge advantage. The national party could certainly change the order of the primaries, and the state parties could make an effort to eliminate open primaries. They show no interest in doing so.

    1. wodun

      “My favorite is Mark Levin”

      Only if he uses his indoor voice.

      I like Republicans being asked tough questions and think that any of the people you mentioned would ask them tough questions but it would be nice if Democrat candidates had to also answer tough questions. Obama got a lot of softballs during the debates.

      1. rickl

        “My favorite is Mark Levin”

        Only if he uses his indoor voice.

        Yes, now that you mention it, he would be even better moderating Democrat debates.

        With his outdoor voice.

    2. Jim

      Primary debates moderated by Mark Levin, followed by closed primaries, would be a boon to more ideological candidates. That sort of set up might have enabled Santorum or Gingrich to beat Romney in 2012. But does anyone really think either of them would have done better in the general election?

      The Republican establishment clearly doesn’t think so, which is why I expect those primaries to stay open, and for Levin to not be invited to moderate any debates.

  6. Gregg

    “My favorite is Mark Levin, and he would really force them to defend their policies and proposals on Constitutional grounds.”

    While Levin is brilliant and tough, very few people want to listen to debate that dives into the weeds regarding Constitutional theory. Levin could properly press someone like Obama as to where they think they get the power to unilaterally change statute. But only as a top level, knock someone like Obama off kilter kind of question. You wouldn’t want Levin to press on it.

    Instead, Levin would have to then follow up with questions involving his (Levin’s) other metier: historical evidence. Levin would have to ask: Why do you think your policy would work when it was tried over the last 200 years here, here, here, and there and failed every single time?

    He’d have to ask questions like:

    The poor have lost ground during your administration…an administration which enacted your policies and no GOP policies. Why did your policies fail to help the poor and what will you do differently to help the poor?

    But that would make the Democrat incumbent responsible for his/her actions and therefore a person like Levin would not be allowed to moderate a debate.

  7. Gregg

    I watched Willard’s performance as Gubbiner here in Ma. and he sucked. As I’ve proven countless times with Willard’s own words, on video, spoken on the campaign trail, Willard is a self-identified Progressive. Willard did not invent Romneycare but he didn’t fight it much either. And he was largely unheard from during his last couple of years as Guv.

    I, too, thought that he’d be better than Obama and he would have been. I also thought that 51% of the electorate, divvied up among the electoral college would see the dangers if Obama were re-elected. So I thought people would overlook the crummy Romney campaign. I was wrong on that one.

    The GOP is as blind as Jim, Gerrib, and the rest of the Obama apologistes:

    Scott Brown, here in Ma. first ran for the Senate on a platform of voting against Obamacare. He won handily.

    Then Brown went squishy with a multitude of his votes.

    He lost his re-election bid.

    There are many examples of this kind, starting with Reagan, and yet the GOP remains squishy.

    Squishy loses.

    Clear simple direct campaigning on how Conservatism helps everyone and Progressivism helps only the rich will win.

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