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The Mitt Might Not Fit

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Posted on Nov 3, 2011
Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)

By Eugene Robinson

The Republican Party’s inevitable decision to nominate Mitt Romney for president is starting to look evitable after all.

That’s certainly not a consensus view among the Washington cognoscenti, who tend to see the yet-to-come primaries and caucuses as mere formalities. Romney, they say, is the GOP’s obvious choice—a poised and experienced candidate with presidential bearing, world-class hair and the ability to speak in complete sentences, even about the economy. Sooner or later, the party will come to its senses and see that he has the best chance of beating President Obama.

The White House certainly seems to buy into this scenario. For months now, virtually every conversation I’ve had with one of those increasingly chatty “senior administration officials,” on any subject, has included at least a swipe or two at Romney. It’s clear that he’s the opponent the Obama machine is gearing up to face.

But I’m less and less convinced. It’s hard for me to see how any of the other candidates can win the nomination—but it’s hard for me to see how Romney wins it, either.

Polls have told a consistent story: Between 20 percent and 30 percent of Republican voters support Romney and the rest support somebody else. Actually, not somebody, anybody.


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It was bad enough when Romney’s main challenger was Michele Bachmann, whose views are so extreme that she favored allowing the nation to go into default—thus triggering the possible collapse of the global financial system—rather than raise the debt ceiling. It was bad enough when Rick Perry entered the race and vaulted into the lead, sight unseen. It was bad enough when Republicans, having actually made Perry’s acquaintance, practically offered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie the nomination, along with a dog and pony, if he’d just say yes.

But the whole Herman Cain infatuation is much worse, from Romney’s point of view. Here’s a man with no experience in public office, no knowledge of international affairs and, from the evidence of his “9-9-9” tax plan, bizarre ideas about how arithmetic works. Yet before allegations of sexual harassment threatened to derail the Cain Train, he was actually leading in many polls.

It is safe to conclude that most Republicans are looking for an alternative. Clearly, they don’t see Romney as the inevitable nominee—and they’re the deciders.

Mostly, they don’t trust his bona fides as a party-line conservative. And indeed, his record gives them reason to doubt.

The latest evidence came Thursday in a Washington Post story quoting advocates for several liberal causes about their interactions with Romney when he was running for and serving as governor of Massachusetts. According to the individuals quoted, Romney portrayed himself as someone liberals could work with on causes such as abortion rights, gay rights and protecting the environment—and as a “good voice” to help soften the Republican Party’s hard-line stances on these issues.

Today, Romney espouses orthodox GOP positions. He describes himself as unambiguously anti-abortion. He is firmly against gay marriage. And while as recently as June he said he believed humans contribute to global warming, he now says “we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.”

He certainly doesn’t sound like a moderate anymore. But some Republican ears hear the whoosh of wind whistling past a weathervane. 

You can’t beat somebody with nobody, however, and thus far the contenders who played the role of “Not Mitt Romney” have all had brief runs. It’s reasonable to assume that if the pattern holds, all Romney has to do is carry on—he has plenty of money and determination—and eventually the party will fall in line, if not in love.

Sounds reasonable, but not inevitable.

The most obvious alternate is a Perry comeback. His poll numbers have nowhere to go but up, and his fundraising prowess—$17 million last quarter—can allow him to be the last “Not Mitt” standing after others go broke and drop out. His hair is every bit as presidential as Romney’s, although he’s still working on the part about speaking in complete sentences. 

The other possibility is a leap of faith.

It’s hard to imagine that any of the other candidates can seriously challenge Romney, or that some new contender could enter the race. But did anyone think the words “Herman Cain” and “front-runner” would ever appear in the same sentence? So far, the conventional wisdom hasn’t been very wise at all.

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)
© 2011, Washington Post Writers Group

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By omop, November 7, 2011 at 11:03 am Link to this comment

Mr. Robinson: You talking about the man with a 3 sss government of
the people by the people for the people. First S = small; Second S =
smart and who cares really about the Third S.

With military bases in over 180 countries; two on going wars and his
neocon/zionist advisors urging an invasion of Iran; over 43 million
Americans receiving food stamps and a Republican congress wanting to
cut FEMA; the Fonzi scheme for older Americans and trillions in debt.

And your suggesting de Man dont Fit but Perry does. guess you did not
watch SNL last Saturday.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, November 6, 2011 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment

Et tu, Marian Griffith.  You write:

“ certainly is possible that Bradly Manning felt he served his country by making public some of the illegal programs it was involved in abroad.”
“Not so clear cut who betrayed his country and his oaths now, is it?”

Yep, pretty clear. 
When you’re a private like Manning, you don’t GET TO decide what programs might be illegal or whether the public needs to know.
Don’t know exactly what motivated Manning, but he surely knew declassification of intel wasn’t a part of his duties.
Like you, I don’t know why there hasn’t yet been a trial.  I’d call for Manning’s speedy court martial, but “Free Bradley Manning?”
No sale.

What Manning’s accused of is mighty dire compared to Tim DeChristopher’s non-violent crimes (even remembering that TDC HAS been convicted). 
Lumping them together puts berniem way off the mark, hence my sarcasm. 

His eloquent rebuttal speaks for itself.

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By berniem, November 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

Hey oddsux, bite it!

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By Bill, November 6, 2011 at 10:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pieces like this increasingly seem irrelevant in that they focus on the two establishment parties both of whom rule for the elite moneyed class.

These kind of articles continue to give attention to corrupted dead horses thinking one of them will take us somewhere good to be.  These type of articles are a wast of time.

They poked at candidates from the insane and stupid party while almost always ignoring that the democrats also are owned by and pay obeisance to the same corporate, big bank, big oil, big Ag, & MIC they fall on their knees to please.

As long as big corporate money is the deciding factor in determining who holds major executive, judicial, and legislative position, we are electing morally bankrupt corporate
rule.  Nothing will change.  Covering the democrats as a true alternative is almost never honest or rigorous journalism.

Nothing will change as long as the flood of money from the plutocrats poisons our dying democracy

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By Marian Griffith, November 6, 2011 at 4:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

—-The other was a US serviceman who violated his oath to protect and serve his country—-

A couple of things. Bradly Manning was one of tens of thousands who had access to that information and the opportunity to send it to wikileaks. He has been accused, but so far there has been no judge or jury to decide if he is indeed guilty. According to american law we must still presume him innocent.
Further, he has been locked up for over a year now, under circumstances that are worse than they would be if he were tried and convicted. You would think that if the government was so certain that he is guilty they could have proceeded with charges and perhaps even a trial. After a year? While it is impossible to say for certain what is taking so long, this suggests that he was simply be made a scapegoat to scare others into keeping their mouth shut and their heads down lest they too be tortured (politely) to death slowly by abuse.
Thirdly, even if he did what he has been arrested for, that does not mean he was not acting in the best interest of his country, and that keeping quiet would have been betraying that oath he took. (Mind I do not know enough of the details, which are conveniently classified a state secret too to make it impossible to have an open discussion about this case, so I can not say but it certainly is possible that Bradly Manning felt he served his country by making public some of the illegal programs it was involved in abroad. For all the talk about ‘illegal wars’ it certainly helps to have information that identifies how the USA was muddled into those wars, and who at senior government levels should be held accountable for the death of thousands of american soldiers and tens (or hundreds) of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Not so clear cut who betrayed his country and his oaths now, is it?

And at the very least, Bradly Manning should be treated like anybody else awaiting trial, instead of receiving the kind of treatment we all poo poo about when we see it in the political prisons of the worst of dictators.

If nothing else, Bradly Manning is an example of how cynical both the government and the country has become, and an exclamation point behind the long list of what is wrong these days with the USA.
American exceptionalism my cute round behind. The only exceptional thing about the USA is how easily it deludes itself and how it looks away from the things it does not wish to acknowledge about itself.

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By radson, November 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment

Mr.Romney you got to be the stupidist Mormon in politics at the moment ,have you considered participating in Family Home evenings, and your the one that is supposed to pay 10 per cent tithings ,not sucking corporate blackmail ,where is YOUR morality

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By radson, November 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment

Mr.Romney you got to be the stupidist Mormon in politics at the moment ,have you considered participating in Family Home evenings, and your the one that is supposed to pay 10 per cent tithings ,not sucking corporate blackmail ,where is YOUR morality

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, November 5, 2011 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

@bernium, you write:

One is a civilian activist who placed bogus bids at an auction to buy $1.8M of public land.  Sort of a high-end prank, albeit upon a Federal operation.

The other was a US serviceman who violated his oath to protect and serve his country, compromised our national defense and endangered the lives of untold numbers of his fellow soldiers and others.
A treasonous act & capital offense.

Scary and creepy that you would lump them together.

Who else you wanna free, Charlie Manson?  Sirhan Sirhan?  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

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By berniem, November 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment

The irony of it all is that Romney claims he is most qualified to be POTUS due to his sterling business credentials when all know that it’s all of those with Big Biz cred that got us where we are today. Now if we could just get over the delusion that elected officials should only be lawyers or members of the more “elite” professions, then perhaps we may begin to see government based on compassion and equality. When’s the last time a teacher or social worker got the nod from either faction of the corporatist duopoly? FREE BRADLEY MANNING AND TIM DECHRISTOPHER!!!!

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By Ted, November 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m still hoping for a balanced ticket.  Donald Trump/Rosie O’Donnell, for instance.

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By dorndiego, November 5, 2011 at 10:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The GOP can nominate a lot of people who could bring its gunslinger yahoos
together with the suits—think Paul Ryan (good hair) or Jim DeMint, and some
wild cards like GS’ former CEO Paulson, or, once again, Huckabee—and still have
enough money to elect them even after pouring its millions into Mitt and Cain and
Perry Coma. 
At worst, their Crusader might still lose to Obama and the GOP would still have…
The point Obama has made quite clearly is, that it doesn’t matter who “wins the
presidency, he or she will do what our militiary/financial community—the
Corporate State—wants.

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By Marian Griffith, November 5, 2011 at 5:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

—-What’s your weird trip w/the hair-envy?—-

A hairdo that costs as much as an average family needs to survive for a year seems to be one of the requirements these days for a republican nomination.

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By SteveL, November 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm Link to this comment

The Republicans have managed to shoot themselves in the foot with primaries
that have to appeal the wacky right of their party

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By pineyprince, November 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm Link to this comment

Rush Limbaugh is the topic of choice as the Titans in the
Republican party clash in an epic debate .... with

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, November 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

For the right at least, it’s clear that the default settings on their ideololgy are indicating
fundamentalist Christianity in one form or another…

America is a post modern world littered with broken ideologues, and in search of new
slogans, to substitue for the hard task of actually thinking about what to do next.

The old Reagan slogans are a moot point among the faithful, and in the revival tent cities
of this new America, there seems to be a searching for something to believe in again,
and for a new apostle to lead the right into their new vision of what America will

Still the vision sounds the same, and feels the same, because it is….Unfortunately for
Romney, is that he looks, acts and thinks like a good boy, who may not be willing to use
his faith, to cover the larcenies of Wall Street…which is most unfortunate for him..

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By Jackie, November 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Usually Robinson is a bit milquetoast for me but this article made me laugh and
laugh and I’m always grateful for that, so thanks guy, really good job.

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BrooklynDame's avatar

By BrooklynDame, November 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

Can anyone see ANY of those clowns becoming POTUS?  Seriously?  The GOP will
do what the rest of us have had to do for ages: tolerate any Republican who gets
the nomination.

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By Nancy Adams, November 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jon Huntsman is the best candidate the Republicans could nominate.  Which is exactly why they won’t.  He represents experience, logic, stability, and fluency with the English and Chinese languages—all reasons for the Republicans to hate him!

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Blueokie's avatar

By Blueokie, November 4, 2011 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

Making entertainment out of the three Republican intramural teams of the Rovian
Oligarchs (Romney), The Koch Brothers Tea Baggers (Cain), the Know Nothing Tea
Baggers (Perry, for now), and everybody’s favorite crazy uncle, Protean Paul, is
almost as spellbinding as watching a tallest leprechaun contest to see who will be
the new center for the basketball team.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, November 4, 2011 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

Romney’s brain or Robinson’s?

What’s your weird trip w/the hair-envy?
Not passing judgement.
Like, whatever.
But maybe that should be your private thing, what say?

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, November 4, 2011 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

@ oddsox

I think the debates may have rotted his brain.

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By James M. de Laurier, November 4, 2011 at 7:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Eugene Robinson,    11/04/2011
    “Mitt Romney for president…after
all.“Sounding as an afterthought.However,he is the
GOP’s choice or is he? “It was bad enough…”?It is
still bad enough with all the others - period.Being
infatuated with someone with no experience or
knowledge of international affairs - given today’s
political/economic climate.This does suggest a
popularity contest or that shills are involved.Where politicians stand on various issues like,abortion,gay
marriage,climate change,the wars,no longer
matters.What matters is,is who is financially behind
and supporting the popular contestant to absolutely
guarantee,the winner takes all.The real vote!
Thanking you for this opportunity to comment -
James M. de Laurier

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, November 4, 2011 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

Just because the far-right doesn’t love Romney, that doesn’t make his nomination unlikely.
Or even less likely.
ER, methinks you listen to Rush Limbaugh too much.

The election is a year from Sunday.
Such a long way to go.

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, November 4, 2011 at 12:04 am Link to this comment

Seriously Mr. Robinson…

Who gives a flying fuck???

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