Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: 'Double Down -- Game Change 2012' (Part 2 of 2)

by Sunnyjane

I refuse to apologize for cheating to get on the NYT Bestseller list!

In 2007, Mitt Romney was told that he had to appeal to the far-right if he wanted to win the 2008 GOP nomination race against such luminaries as John McCain, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Alan Keys, Duncan Hunter (whoever heard of this guy?), and Rudy Giuliani.  So he did -- but not very well.  After putting forty-five million dollars of his own money into a primary run that cost a total of one-hundred and ten million, he withdrew in February 2008 after losing Iowa to Huckabee and New Hampshire to McCain.

Two weeks after the 2008 election of Barack Obama, Romney was told by one adviser that he lost because he didn't tell his story of being a successful businessman and governor of Massachusetts, blah, blah, blah.   This adviser told him to spend the next couple of years writing a book, lecturing, figuring out who would back him, writing editorials, etc.   The advice was good; the results were not what Romney needed to project himself as what could easily be called Mr. Fix-It of the Economy and Everything Else That is Wrong with Obama and America.  Taking a page from Sarah Palin, he pulled some not-too-ethical shenanigans to get his book on the New York Times bestseller list; most of the books were purchased in bulk.  It was so obvious that the online Paper of Record -- which always awards a dagger to books purchased in bulk -- awarded No Apology two daggers

Few Favorable Winds for USS Romney

Though it had been a foregone conclusion by the first of April, Mitt Romney safely secured the requisite number of 1,144 delegate votes to assure him of the GOP presidential nomination on May 29, 2012.  It had been a long, tiring, and very expensive primary, but Mitt and his staff were geared up and ready to make sure that Barack Obama would be a one-term president.  The campaign would make the election all about the economy, hammering Obama for his fecklessness and failures. They had every opportunity; the progressive left was unhappy that the President hadn't made more progress on his agenda, his most loyal 2008 supporters appeared to be having doubts, and the big money wasn't rolling in.  But in typical GOP style, they managed to screw it up royally because they had a bad candidate, a dysfunctional campaign, and lousy, out-of-touch messages for the broad spectrum demographics that makes up 21st Century America. 

A few of the, um, challenges that faced the Romney Campaign:

Maybe we shouldn't have outsourced our campaign literature to China.

The Ricketts Plan:   Things got off to a rather inauspicious start for the Romenyites -- or Boston -- as the campaign was sometimes referred to.   A little backstory: In February of 2012, Romney had said in a radio interview with Sean Hannity:  ...I'm not sure which is worse, [the President] listening to Reverend Wright or him saying that we must be a less Christian nation.  (Bold emphasis added.)  

This statement emboldened Joe Ricketts -- a wealthy and influential Republican supporter -- to authorize a highly secret ten million dollar, forty-page plan entitled The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama, which would play up the President's relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  On the same day it was printed up, a copy was handed to the Obama campaign by a mysterious brunette, which got it into the hands of the New York Times through a third party.  The message to the Romney campaign from the Obamans was simple:  that if [the Romney campaign] crossed the line when it came to race,  there would be a price to pay. 

When questioned by a reporter several days later if he stood by his February statement on Rev. Wright to Hannity, Romney uttered those immortal words:  I'm not familiar, precisely, with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.
That Detroit Bailout Thingy: One of the things Mitt's 2008 adviser urged him to do was write editorials (op-eds) to start getting his
message out to the American public.  He took this to heart and in mid-November -- right after the election -- he wrote his opinion of the Bush-proposed bailout of the Detroit auto industry.  (President-elect Obama also supported the bailout.)

The New York Times was eager to print it and Mitt Romney was thrilled beyond words.  Unfortunately, the Times has a policy that only their editorial staff writes the title, and this one came out as Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.  Naturally, the Obamans took that line as one of their major campaign themes against Romney, and by October 2012, that archived op-ed had become the Number One most-read, most-emailed Times editorial, and the Romney campaign was never able to put a halt to what they felt was a dramatic misrepresentation of what Romney had proposed back in 2008.

The problems that faced Mitt Romney were far-ranging and politically damaging on practically every issue: his taxes (stored away in more than two dozen bank boxes), women, college students, Latinos, African Americans, the LGBT community, his gaffes, Ann's gaffes and petulance, the 47% debacle, the Etch-a-Sketch moment, his staffer telling reporters to kiss my ass, etc.  After his jaw-dropping  An-Idiot-Abroad trip to the UK, Israel and Poland, a former Bush staffer said, It almost feels like Sarah Palin is his foreign policy adviser.  Haley Barbour said that Mitt was an inept candidate ... incapable of connecting with voters, inspiring conservatives, or restraining himself from planting his penny loafer in his mouth.  That about sums up how most GOP party leaders -- and the GOP electorate in general -- viewed their 2012 candidate.

The Search for a Not-Sarah-Palin Vice President

Code-named Project Goldfish, Mitt's hunt for a suitable vice-presidential candidate began in April, headed solely by Beth Myers.  With a screw-you to political correctness, the final short-listers were given code names based on their weight, ethnicity, or location:   Chris Christie was Pufferfish, Tim Pawlewnty was Lakefish, Rob Portman was Filet-O-Fish, Marco Rubio was Pescado, and Paul Ryan was Fishconsin.  (No, I don't understand Portman's codename, either, but I have my suspicions.)

I'll do it MY way, or it won't get done.  And piss on you all if you don't like it!

In the interest of brevity, I will concentrate only on Pufferfish -- or Big Boy, as George W. Bush called him behind his back.  Chris Christie turned the vetting process into a nightmare for Beth Myers, who sent him the vetting package in early April, and wanted to have the complete process wrapped up by May 31.  There had already been issues between Boston and Trenton: Christie had told the campaign that he would not endorse Romney early, and that until he did, he didn't want them raising money in New Jersey.  He went for months telling his adorers and those big money guys that he probably wouldn't run, but they continued to try to persuade him.  This galled Romney, who was certain that he'd be the nominee -- whether the party wanted him or not.  Christie finally said he wasn't going to run, and became a Romney surrogate -- with mixed results.

To the Romney campaign HQ, Christie and his staff were overbearing and hard to work with, demanding in ways that would have been unthinkable from any other surrogate.  Trenton insisted on private jets, lavish spreads of food, and space for a massive entourage.  Christie was chronically behind schedule and made a habit of showing up late for  Romney fund-raising events.  

Because red-flag information had turned up on Christie during Myers' research into his background -- and some of his staff -- she asked very pointed vetting questions.  Trenton refused to answer many of them, whining Why do you need to know that? leading the Romneyites to assume that If they're not answering, it's because the answer is bad.  (Wouldn't the 2016 Democratic aspirants love to see that file?)

Racing Toward the  Finish Line
Yo, Chair!  You do realize that the GOP is full of rich, white, crazy old farts, don't you?

Conventions:  The two party conventions have been well covered: The Republicans' was good, the Democrats' was great.  Where the GOP's stars seemed to have been Clint Eastwood and Chris Christie (now that is a story worth reading!), the Democrats relied on Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton to light up the stars in North Carolina.  No contest!

Please proceed, Governor.

Debates: It's old news that Mitt Romney overwhelmingly won the first debate.  What is news -- but has been recently reported -- is that President Obama's performance was so bad that the campaign had to stage an intervention before the second debate.  You can't have a second debate like the first one, they told him.  It was that bad? asked the President.  Yes, they said, it was that bad. 

It's gonna be OK, Chris.  I'm here and I can help you.  Romney can't.

The Big Blow:  Superstorm Sandy, which ravished ravaged the state of New Jersey, left Romney off the political radar for nearly a week -- a period of time that just happened to be seven days before the election.  Instead, Americans read and watched non-stop coverage of the Republican Governor of New Jersey and the Democratic President of the United States working together as an empathetic non-partisan team to do everything they could to help the citizens and businesses of that devastated state.

Stuck in the mid-west, Romney wanted desperately to be a part of the hurricane recovery action:  Just get me to New Jersey, he told to campaign staff.  Find me a shelter where I can show I care.   They told him that it was impossible, but came up with another idea:  The campaign was making a last swing through Pennsylvania and there was a planned event only ten miles from Trenton, and surely Christie could take a little time to dash right over and appear with Romney on the stage.  The Governor kept telling them No, and finally screamed into the phone, Leave me the fuck alone!

It appears (to me) that Romney believed one roaring debate win and a couple of very well-attended rallies in the three weeks before November 6 could erase all the self-inflicted negative coverage he had received throughout the campaign.

Read 'em and Weep
No, Mitt, I don't mind at all that you've kept me up until after 2:00 AM

The networks (including Fox News) called the election for President Obama shortly after 11:00 PM, after determining that he had won all the battleground states except North Carolina.  Perhaps because Bush's Brain Karl Rove was having a major meltdown on Fox, declaring that it was much too early to project Obama as having won, it took almost three hours for Mitt to make his concession call to the President.  Or, perhaps Ann was hyperventilating so badly they couldn't get her to pull herself together -- I dunno.

Whatever, here's the end of the story:

The Inauguration of President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013

End Note

In a recent interview with Ann and Mitt Romney on CBS, the interviewer asked Mitt if he was mulling another run for the presidency. 

This was Ann's response:

Election night, 2012:  That's all, folks; we're done here.  Never again!

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