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He’ll Still Be the Mitt We Know

Posted on Apr 3, 2012
Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)

By Eugene Robinson

The problem for Mitt Romney, assuming he eventually wins the GOP nomination, is that a general election campaign isn’t really like an Etch A Sketch. Alas, traces from the primaries linger.

The ghost image that remains will be of a strikingly uninspiring standard-bearer who deadened the Republican Party’s great passion into a sense of duty. Voters will discern the outlines of a candidate who spent the better part of a decade running for president without giving evidence of a core philosophy beyond his belief in Wall Street’s brand of capitalism.

It must be safe, by now, to predict that Romney wins the nomination. Right? I mean, yes, there’s a chance that Rick Santorum will stay in the race and somehow manage to keep Romney from wrapping things up before the convention. But even then, Romney would likely arrive in Tampa with such a big lead, and needing so few delegates to go over the top, that any challenge would be futile.

In an attempt to foreclose even the remote possibility of a contested convention, the Romney campaign has been trotting out a bevy of prominent Republicans to announce their support. But is it just me, or do these three endorsements have all the enthusiasm of a series of hostage tapes?

“It’s increasingly clear that Mitt Romney’s gonna be the Republican nominee,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. He expressed confidence that Romney “will govern as a conservative”—saying nothing about whether Romney actually is a conservative—and added that the front-runner would be “head and shoulders better than the guy who’s in the White House now.”


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Said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., “I think this primary has been productive—I think it’s been constructive up till now ... but I think we’re entering a phase where it could become counterproductive if this drags on much longer. ... I’m just convinced now that if we drag this thing on to the summer, it’s gonna make it that much harder to defeat Barack Obama.”

Said former President George H.W. Bush, “I do think it’s time for the party to get behind Governor Romney. ... Kenny Rogers sang, ‘It’s time when to hold ‘em and time when to fold ‘em.’ Well, I think it’s time for people to all get behind this good man.”

Santorum keeps trying to point out that the last time the party settled for a nominee who failed to set conservative hearts aflutter—four years ago, with John McCain—things didn’t work out so well, from the GOP point of view. If Santorum hadn’t lost his 2006 re-election bid by 18 points, maybe more people would listen.

It was Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom who suggested that the general election campaign would begin with a blank slate, like a shaken Etch A Sketch. But the truth is that come the fall, Romney will still be Romney.

Nothing can erase the fact that he authored a health care reform in Massachusetts, including an individual insurance mandate, that was used as the model for Obamacare. Nothing can erase the way he has pandered to the far right during the primaries—taking, for example, a hard-line position on undocumented immigrants that calls for “self-deportation”—in an attempt to disavow his erstwhile political identity as a moderate.

And I’m afraid that nothing can erase the impression Romney has made, through a host of statements and actions, of having allowed his great wealth to isolate him from the cares and woes of the rest of humanity. You know the litany: “Corporations are people, my friend.” “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” “Ann (Romney) drives a couple of Cadillacs.”

My personal favorite came at the Daytona 500, when Romney was asked if he followed NASCAR. “Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans,” Romney replied, “but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”

In the fall, Romney will also have to defend a belligerent and weirdly anachronistic set of policies, or postures, concerning America’s role in the world. His description of Russia as “without question our number-one geopolitical foe” was bizarre, but I don’t think it was accidental. Romney seems to be itching to wage a Cold War, and if one doesn’t exist, he’ll invent one—with Russia, China, somebody.

A recent Washington Post poll showed Romney’s approval ratings having slumped to a dangerous level, with just 34 percent of Americans viewing him favorably. He’s got an awful lot of shaking to do.

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)
© 2012, Washington Post Writers Group

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 3, 2012 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

I was wrong, it was called the “Upper Class Twit of the Year” it still looks like Romney unzipped!

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 3, 2012 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

I believe as not a Christian Mitt Romney has only one wife, who said something like this; “If only we could unzip and let the real Romney out”, what is it with Republicans do they really say these thing or is the pinko liberal media make this crap up?

Every time I see Romney speaking to a group of rich folks, I flash back to Monty Pythons skit about the ‘rich twits’ and the one about rich twits entering a target shooting contest, if I recall the winner was the on who shot himself in the head!

Where is Monty Python when you need him?

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By bpawk, April 3, 2012 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

Both parties are chasing the same corporate tax dollars so a right wing agenda is what’s on the horizon no matter who gets in. Obama and Romney should just run together and save everyone the time and money - rhetoric means nothing, it’s action and Obama has proven he’s every bit a conservative as Romney.

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By erinever, April 3, 2012 at 8:06 am Link to this comment

This makes Ron Paul look like the sane nominee.

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ellemarz's avatar

By ellemarz, April 3, 2012 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

As long as the Republican party insists on moving so
far to the right as to embrace insanity, no GOP
presidential candidate will ever be fully embraced. 
Conservatism need not be lunacy, yet what we’ve been
observing for the past 30 years is a steady decline
toward greater authoritarianism and, dare I say,
corporate-fascism?  It isn’t just a call for a more
“moderate” Republican.  What is needed is a paradigm
shift away from the Randian philosophies that put
our economy and society into this mess and back to
the “old-fashioned” values of caring for one
another, working toward common goals (not war), and
understanding that if the least of us are not
provided for, we all suffer.  Republicans once “got
it”—but having been co-opted by religious fanatics
and John Birchers (among others), the GOP has really
nothing left to offer the majority of the people
except the promise that the loonies will run the

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By krrrlll, April 3, 2012 at 7:30 am Link to this comment


So true!  As this site has consistently pointed out via articles by Hedges and Scheer, Obama has simply codified and maintained the same policies as his Republican predecessors with their ever increasingly steady slide towards dismantling civil liberties (The recent NDAA legsilation being the worst in a long line of “legal” remedies broadly aimed at countering terrorism).  No big surprise there, just another Democratic stooge with a powerful marketing machine behind him and a lust for the same corporate dollars the Republicans have been using since forever.

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By balkas, April 3, 2012 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

damn itI i did read ER’s peace even tho i ‘promised’ self i’ll never ever again read
anything writen by this twentypercenter with excellent healthcare, wages,
pensions, etc.
goes to show u that ALL PROMISES ARE LIES.
damn it, i never seem to learn! oh my goddevil, help!!!

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By Jeff N., April 3, 2012 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

How many of these “who is the real mitt romney?” conservative bashing type articles are we going to get on here.  Yes, we know they are a bunch of selfish lunatics.  We got 8 months until the election TD lets switch it up a bit.

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By bpawk, April 3, 2012 at 5:52 am Link to this comment

It may be that as the headline says “He’ll Still Be the Mitt We Know” but with each passing day, Obama is the fascist we didn’t know.

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