This week we were reminded that Republicans are masters of blaming everything—but their own beliefs.
Why did Mitt Romney lose? It couldn’t be because the GOP is wrong on taxes, health care, women’s rights, immigration, education, marriage, regulation, diplomacy, climate change, evolution, science, polling, jobs numbers, fashion, sex, Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Meat Loaf…
The truth is two Republicans and two Democrats—besides President Obama and his indomitable team, who came up with the ninja idea of taking Mitt Romney’s health care plan—deserve credit for defeating Mitt.
But before I reveal who the heroes and goats are, let me clearly state that none of this would have been possible if the GOP wasn’t just flat-out-100-percent-Dick Morris-wrong about everything.
Now I can tell you that the two Democrats most responsible for Romney’s defeat are Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
In 2008, Kennedy gave Paul Begala a roadmap for defeating Mitt Romney. Kennedy said, “Don’t underestimate Romney. He’s smart and resourceful and will say anything, take any position.”
Kennedy explained how his staff tracked down ex-Bain employees and let their stories of Romney’s disregard for labor undo his ambitions. Begala had Kennedy’s advice ready when he went to work with the Priorities USA Super PAC:
The Priorities USA team set out to find people who lost their jobs as the result of a Bain deal, culling news reports and public records to find subjects. They eventually filmed interviews with 18 former employees of Bain-owned companies, some of which were too scathing to air.
Bill Clinton, of course, is the second Democrat who most helped defeat Romney in two distinct ways.
According to reports, the former president advised the Obama campaign not to focus on Mitt Romney’s tendency to flop on any issue as if he’s a goldfish in a two-year-old’s hand — that might actually appeal to moderate voters. Clinton was proven right at the first debate when Romney’s knack for reinvention shook the course of the whole race. Instead, Clinton supported exposing Romney’s Bain record and painting Romney as “Bush on steroids.”
What was even more important was Bill Clinton’s role as the Secretary of Explaining Sh*t.
As a witness for the defense, he was incomparable. With his 65 percent approval rating, he testified to President Obama’s successes and the virtue of his plan going forward. He also inoculated the president against criticism by repeatedly reminding voters that the same people attacking the president said terrible things about him—though they were now praising him as if he’d suddenly become Diet Reagan.
Now, you can guess the first Republican to blame for Mitt Romney’s loss—Mitt Romney.
He was so bad at seeing what was as plain as the nose on his face that he didn’t have a concession speech prepared—though he likely did have an amended tax return ready to get back the deductions he overpaid so he could pretend his tax rate is 14 percent.
As Daily Kos‘ David Waldman points out, Mitt Romney proved the problems of the Bain Capital consultancy model by being ripped off by consultants left and right.
But Romney’s worst choice of the campaign—besides being honest about his belief that Detroit should go bankrupt to really punish the unions—was the man he picked as his running mate: Paul Ryan.
People wondered what Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney had in common besides being born into rich families and a profound belief that poor people are lazy. Now we know: they both lost their home states. Heck, they both lost their hometowns.
The main reason Ryan still has his seat in the House is the only reason the GOP still has control of the House—gerrymandering.
Few Republicans blame Paul Ryan for Romney’s loss because they’re so in love with what Ryan believes—the government should ask less from the rich and more from the poor.
The right still doesn’t realize that President Obama and his team picked Ryan as a foil after the 2010 election, when he was dumb enough to use a mandate not to cut Medicare as a mandate to privatize Medicare.
Desperate to win over a base that didn’t trust him, Romney fell for the trap. He picked Paul Ryan. Then after a convention speech where he lied about a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville and a debate where he seemed stiff, yet blithe and thirsty, Ryan went into hiding.
World Net Daily’s Christopher Ruddy is one voice on the right who gets how bad of a choice Paul Ryan really was.
Not only did Ryan fail to offer any leadership, foreign policy experience or demographic appeal to the ticket, he was wedded to the GOP’s dumbest idea ever: “I am not sure what the GOP was smoking when they decided to propose demolishing or radically altering the cherished health care program for seniors.”
Republicans had an unbeatable advantage in 2010—President Bush’s economy. They took that win as a belief that what people wanted was Paul Ryan’s view that a safety net makes veterans, seniors and single moms too comfortable.
With Ryan, Romney married his disregard for the fate of the middle class with a plan that would basically get rid of the middle class.
Instead of playing against the framing that would cost him the election, Mitt Romney wrapped himself in it. He picked a running mate so consistently right (read: wrong) that his move to the center rang false. And he committed the cardinal sin in politics: He believed his own BS.
Two of the greatest names in Democratic politics united to give America President Obama for another term. But they certainly couldn’t have done it if the GOP hadn’t bought into the unconscionable beliefs that have become personified by one blue-eyed, Ayn Rand-loving man: Paul Ryan.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Al Behrman