When the votes turn blue
Obama, Romney and what’s ahead
“Energetic in body but indolent in mind, Barack Obama in his frenetic campaigning for a second term is promising to replicate his first term, although simply apologizing would be appropriate.” — George Will
The American people — over half of whom believe we are a country headed in the wrong direction — have spent the past 18 months railing against the status quo in this country; last Tuesday, they re-elected it.
We have, in essence, empowered the problem to find the solution. The question is: who blinks first in the nod to bipartisanship?
I am not a big fan of actor Alec Baldwin, the faux intellectual sycophant of the left. But I rather liked his post-election “tweet” — one that lent levity to the absolute drubbing Democrats handed Republicans on election night. It went something the likes of:
“You know your party is in trouble when you read this: A: The rape guy lost. B: Which one?”
He was referring, of course, to crackpot GOP senate candidates Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana — both of whom snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with manifestly insane comments about women and rape. Both lost. Both deserved to.
The real story of the night, of course, was President Obama. The first round of exit polls made it clear late afternoon on Tuesday it was over for Romney. Virginia was tied. So, too, was Florida. That was ominous, as he and many others, myself included, thought those states were roundly in the red.
It went from bad to worse. Pennsylvania was not even close, nor was Michigan or Wisconsin. And in Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Colorado, exit polls showed Obama holding at least a two-point edge early. Historically, that lead holds (or grows) 95 percent of the time when the final ballots are counted.
It was becoming increasingly clear in the closing weeks of the election that one side’s internal polling model had to be very right, and one side’s internal polling model had to be very wrong. Romney’s guys — who evidently had the governor all but convinced throughout the day he would win on Tuesday — got it very, very wrong.
Hand it to team Obama. Their outreach was quietly flawless. The youth, Hispanic and black vote not only turned out big for the president; they turned out in bigger numbers than 2008. Romney’s number guys did not see that coming; few did. Moreover, single women — relentlessly pandered to by Democrats on the campaign trail with fear mongering over reproductive freedom — swung heavily to Obama by a 2-to-1 margin.
It didn’t seem to bother the aforementioned demographics that virtually all economic indicators point to them being worse off — economically — than they were four years ago.
The post-mortem on Romney’s loss will write itself in the coming months. No doubt, he was perceived as lacking empathy — a politically fatal personality flaw. Further, he let Obama define him early in the campaign before he defined himself. That is, if what Romney did at Bain was defensible, he utterly failed to defend it. Can you imagine him sitting before a kindergarten class on career day and fielding the inevitable: “So what do you do, Mr. Romney?”
The first debate marked a momentous night for Gov. Romney, but one great night does not make for a great campaign.
I am just glad the victory was decisive. Paranoia peddlers on both sides of the aisle were making the absurd accusation that the culprit, in the event of a loss for their candidate, would be voter suppression. No. Obama won fair, square, and in relative landslide fashion.
Where do Republicans go from here? The fear is that they will conclude they were not conservative enough — that they should have run more rigidly to the right. That would be perilous. We don’t need more “severe conservatives” in the party; we need more sensible conservatives.
We need folks on the right who will embrace common-sense immigration reform; folks who will stop foaming at the mouth in arguing that two women getting married and raising a family across the street will somehow imperil theirs; folks who will more stridently disavow the mindless missives of Donald Trump and his frenetic followers; folks (men) who will stop ranting as if they have a uterus.
I think the best shot at progress over the next few months will come from Obama and Boehner; with the former putting a muzzle on Nancy Pelosi and the latter putting a muzzle on Eric Cantor.
As for 2016, Chris Christie, please come forward.
Ben Clarke spent 10 years as a speech writer and political consultant in Washington, D.C. He is now based back in his hometown of Greenfield, where he works for a global political, corporate and entertainment communications firm. You can comment on a piece by sending an email to benclarkeopinion@gmail.