It’s been nearly open season to say whatever vile, critical or false thing you want about Mitt Romney and get away with it said Jay Nordlinger in his “The Superb Mitt Romney” published in The National Review
He writes, “What I have heard since Election Day is astonishing. Romney has been turned into something he has never been.”
During the campaign, we watched Romney be maligned, denigrated and caricaturized by those who opposed him. His statements, however reasonable or sensible were called gaffes. He was played as an out-of-touch stumblebum.
In the innumerable lists summarizing 2012, I happened upon one on the Internet that spoke of the biggest Mitt Romney gaffes of 2012. Among them were his references to Big Bird and binders, neither of which were anything but rational answers to questions. He said that as a governor he had sought to bring more women into his administration and had asked for recommendations of excellent candidates. Binders full of suggestions had been given. This was a gaffe?
Those desperate to defeat him could construe any statement any way they wanted-and they did. If you have a machine working against you looking for gaffes, then shading your statements any way they choose, nobody would dare open their mouths.
What Nordlinger beefs about in his column, however, is not the Left, but how conservatives have crabbed about Romney since the election. Beware those who run for office. Today’s darling may be tomorrow’s whipping boy.
A few weeks ago, I settled down to read a column by Iain Martin, the excellent British journalist. I did not get past the second paragraph. Because in that paragraph he wrote that the likely explanation for the American election result was that “the Republicans had blundered by choosing as their candidate a plutocratic chap called Mitt Romney who, having been born into great privilege and luxury, seemed to be out of touch with the concerns of most voters.”
Romney is not plutocratic, he is democratic – a democratic thinker and politician through and through. A democratic spirit. His proposals were designed to help millions of others enjoy some of the success that he and his family have enjoyed.
Romney is classically, almost stereotypically, American – at least as we used to conceive Americanness. The reference to him as “plutocratic” is not just lazy but moronic. I would expect it from my fellow Americans – the rot, the idiocy, set in here long ago. I have higher standards for the Brits.
As for Romney’s being “out of touch with the concerns of most voters,” I can tell you that he was in touch with my concerns. And those of many others, I gather: He got between 47 and 48 percent on Election Day.
Nordlinger mentions that conservatives have especially gone nuts since election day saying that Romney offered nothing to the middle class. Nordlinger said:
Do you remember this moment during the primaries? Romney said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. There’s a safety net there, and if it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich – they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the heart of America, the 95 percent of Americans who are right now struggling.”
I guess he meant the “middle class.” In this instance, he called them “the heart of America,” or “the 95 percent.” Anyway, conservatives went absolutely nuts. They wet their pants. “Romney said he doesn’t care about the poor! Eek, eek!” He had committed a terrible gaffe, according to the media at large. Romney was always being accused of committing “gaffes” when he said perfectly sensible things – such as the above.
So, what did Romney offer the “middle class”? I’ll tell you what: He offered to avert financial collapse. To do something about the debt and the deficit. To reform entitlements. To reform the tax code. To foster the conditions in which economic growth occurs. To help put people back to work. To save the…country.
That’s not program enough for the “middle class”? What does he have to do, enter each of their homes and bake them muffins? Swab their floors? (Actually, knowing him and his neighborliness, he would do that.)
Nordlinger also noted that in December at a dinner, Paul Ryan said something that excited conservative hearts:
As it stands, our party excels at representing the aspirations of our nation’s risk-takers. We celebrate that part of the American Dream that involves finding your passion and making a living from it.
But there is another part of the American creed: When our neighbors are struggling, we look out for one another. We do that best through our families and communities – and our party must stand for making them stronger.
This was supposed to have been deeply wise – also novel. Me, I was thinking, “Does anyone know anyone who does more for his neighbor than Mitt Romney? Does anyone know anyone who gives more time or money?”
Has there ever been a more charitable and philanthropic candidate in the history of candidates? Goodness gracious. What’s more, has there ever been anyone more modest about his charity and philanthropy?
On December 4 Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank groused because Romney was rejoining the board of Marriott International Inc. Milbank wrote, “In his first public comments since election night, the defeated Republican presidential nominee issued a statement Monday announcing his next step. An appeal to national unity? A charitable initiative? No, he announced that he was rejoining the hotel chain’s board of directors. “It is an honor to once again be able to serve in the company of leaders like Bill Marriott,” said Romney’s statement, distributed by Marriott.”
How about Milbank’s little snark about a “charitable initiative”? Does he want to lecture Romney about charity? Really? Does he have the standing?
Milbank further wrote, “The country is in a crisis, political leaders in a standoff, and Romney is joining his buddy’s corporate board.” Well, Romney ran for president. He did so for many years. He ran as hard and as well as he could. He offered a very, very sharp contrast with Barack Obama.
… More Milbank: “Romney’s post-election behavior has been, in a word, small.” In my view, it has been gracious, dignified, and appropriate – utterly like him. A guy like Bill Clinton will never get off the stage. He is always in our face. Romney was on the stage for a long time – and now he has gotten off the stage, leaving it to our elected leaders.
Clinton will always be “the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral.” He can’t help it. And the mainstream media abet him, of course. Romney is a much different cat. And if he had tried to stay on the stage, people would surely be denouncing him for that: “Can’t you take no for an answer? Didn’t you listen to the people on Election Day? Go away.”
One more thing: Dana Milbank wants Romney to be part of public affairs now. During the campaign, when it mattered, did Milbank say that Romney had something vital to offer the country economically and otherwise?
All in all, I found Nordlinger’s column refreshing. I’d like to see all these keyboard clickers who write columns denigrating the competent and intelligent Romney, try something as strenuous, taxing and head-knocking as running for office.
Watch and see. Those currently in the conservative limelight like Marco Rubio will fall from grace, too, should they run for office and then lose. It is a sorry thing that we have set up such a vicious political climate.
Know this. If you run for office, you need more than a thick skin.