What did Presidential Election 2012 all mean, in the end, anyway?
Saturday, November 10, 2012
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
I have to confess that, when an incumbent President of the United States is re-elected (and regardless of whether I might have voted for him or not), there is- if only for a short time after Election Day- no little feeling of "well-- why did we have to go through all of this, then?" ("all of this" here meaning-- well-- 'all of this': the build-up to the Primary/Caucus "season" even before the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have themselves voted [in the case of Election 2012: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain- even Rick Perry- actually being "vetted" as serious potential Presidents!], the Primaries and Caucuses themselves [those in the audience shouting 'Newt! Newt! Newt!' during an intraParty debate in South Carolina], all the faldoral surrounding the Major Party National Conventions, the Presidential [and one Vice-Presidential] Debates, General Election Day itself-- all those cups of coffee and mugs of tea I have consumed over the past several months!)... because, of course, come this past Wednesday, the political landscape here in these United States of America has not all that much changed: President Obama and his family will continue to live in the White House; the Democrats will still control the United States Senate; the Republicans will still have a strong hold on the U.S. House of Representatives (John Boehner will remain Speaker of that House and Nancy Pelosi- a former Speaker of the House- will remain his chief antagonist therein); and most Governors of the States of the American Union will be Republicans.
Yes, there have been significant changes: more women than ever will be United States Senators come the newly-elected 113th Congress of the United States; an entire State's (New Hampshire's) Congressional delegation- both Senators, both of its Representatives in Congress- as well as its Governor will be women (this in a State which also, only a few years back, had the first State legislative body- its State Senate- with more women as its members than men); the good people of the State of Maine have decided to send a true Independent to the Federal Senate (which will, almost certainly, make things rather interesting in Washington, DC over the next six years); the Senate seat of John and Ted Kennedy is, once again, to be held by a Democrat; incumbent Democrats, however, lost seats in what is clearly more 'Tea Party'-friendly territory while, elsewhere, 'Tea Party' Congressmen were ousted (or, at least, had to well fight to remain in the Federal House of Representatives)... etc. etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam ;-)
yet there is still something of a "post-Election hangover" this time round that evokes strongest memories of 2004 (when 'Dub-ya' Bush was re-elected) or 1996 (when 'Wild Bill' Clinton was returned to the White House) or even 1984 (the Reagan Landslide)... back in 1972 (Richard Nixon's drubbing of the now-recently deceased George McGovern), I was still (as a high school student not yet eligible to vote) coming to grips with much of that which I now write about here on The Green Papers, so I don't really remember such feelings as this going back that far (perhaps President Nixon's subsequent downfall as a result of the so-called 'Watergate' affair- occurring as it did just as I myself was "coming of age" [that is: first becoming eligible to vote-- when I cast my very first vote (in a Primary), Nixon was still President; by the time of the ensuing General Election, Nixon had already resigned]- well blurred, forever, any such memories of "election hangover" from only a couple years before!).
However (and "election hangover" or no), just as has been the case three times before for this website, I must now look back and, somehow, come to terms- but a few days after we Americans have gone to the polls (or, in the case of those who went to the polls under terms of Early Voting, can know just how said votes all came out!)- with what this most recent Presidential Election all really means and then impart it to you, gentle reader.
Still Red, Still Blue
Much as I might despise the oversimplistic use of "Red State" and "Blue State" in political/electoral analysis, the fact remains that the same 'Northeast Confederacy' I wrote about the last time a President of the United States had been re-elected (eight years ago) yet exists- as "solid Democrat" as the old "Solid South" had itself once been, during generations now long gone, for the Democracy. Indeed, no State in either New England or the Mid-Atlantic region of the country went for the Mitt Romney who, less than a decade ago, once actually governed one of these!...
likewise, the Pacific Coast and Upper Midwest also both held for the Democratic presidential candidate.
Yet, however much of the immediate post-Election 2012 punditry has been about just how divided the United States of America itself still seems to be (as it has seemingly been since that most fractious Election of 2000)- politically, that is- the main division of moment is actually that within the Republican Party US itself!
Whose the Division, Theirs the Whirlwind
For some two decades now, the Grand Old Party has been regularly, and repeatedly, merely placing Band-Aids and Elmer's Glue-All over a serious crack that has evinced itself since the end of the Reagan Era and, simply, ever-hoping that it just- somehow- goes away. It all goes back to when the first President Bush- George H.W.- successfully ran for President and was elected, in 1988, as "Ronald Reagan's Third Term": but- from his call for "a kinder, gentler Nation" at the GOP Convention that had nominated him to his (during the ensuing Midterm Election cycle) reneging on his "Read my lips: No new taxes!" pledge first made at that same Convention- there were many within the elder Bush's own Party who questioned Reagan's Vice-President's truest devotion to those "values we honor, the principles we hold dear" no less than those who, a generation later, would still question Mitt Romney's own such devotion...
that political animal known as the R I N O (the 'Republican In Name Only') was, back then, born and- evidently feeling the potential sting of this designation (although the elder Bush's political career was, truly, made in Texas-- he was, nonetheless, born a New England "moneyed Yankee")- Bush41 and those around him allowed former GOP speechwriter and fire-breathing conservative commentator Pat Buchanan (who had challenged the now-incumbent President in the early Presidential Primaries in 1992) to have a key speaking slot at the Republican Convention that renominated George H.W., one in which Buchanan referenced a 'culture war' in terms not much less militaristic in tone than that of a Prussian Junker a century earlier citing Kulturkampf (and the observer, upon hearing this, has little doubt that Buchanan's "culture" meant what it means in German, where Kultur translates into "Civilization")...
the seeds of what would become the 'Tea Party' were thus, a decade and a half earlier than that more recent designation, thereby sown and the Republican Party US has been reaping the whirlwind ever since!
For twenty years since the failure of the elder Bush to win a second term in the White House, the Republicans have been walking something of a tightrope (even moreso than the Democrats during that same period-- if only because, ever since FDR's 'New Deal', the Democrats have always walked a similar tightrope!).
Prior to Ronald Reagan's Presidency, the Republicans were split- too- but split between a long-standing alignment between the so-called "Establishment"/Eastern wing that tended to win the Presidency for the GOP and a more traditionally conservative "Congressional"/Midwestern wing that tended to make up the bulk of the Republicans in both houses of Congress: this latter wing produced both 'Mr. Republican' (and perennial presidential contender during, and immediately after, FDR's time in the White House) Senator Robert A. Taft, Sr. and, later, future (albeit accidental) President Gerald Ford-- it is this tradition that can actually still be seen within the political frame of reference of current U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (although Boehner's own lineal descent from it is somewhat muted by the political realities posed by what I will describe below)...
this division of the GOP well worked for such a long time (even as it mandated- every four years- a Republican National Ticket of, say, a William McKinley or a Warren Harding from the Midwest and a Garret Hobart [or Teddy Roosevelt!] or Calvin Coolidge from the Eastern Seaboard [or, in reverse, a Thomas Dewey from the East and a John Bricker from the Midwest]) and, indeed, so worked- in large part- because what, today, would be called 'Tea Party' types (the most rabid, often angry conservative [though ever more culturally than politically] Populists) of the entire pre-Reagan, post-Reconstruction century were constantly throwing the Democratic Party into a political tizzy (mostly because the Republican Party itself was virtually shut out from the "solid South" of the Democrats [generations of Republicans in the South paid the political price of their Party having "waved the bloody shirt" (that is, the blame for the fractious American Civil War) at those who still saw much merit in the South's "Lost Cause" (no, not Slavery or even 'Jim Crow' [although the institutionalized racism of the latter was as poisonous as it was infectious for too many a decade] but, rather, the very notion of southern Nationhood [which is why the Confederate Battle Flag still flies- albeit, in at least the vast majority of cases, alongside the American 'Stars and Stripes'- in many a front yard in 'Dixie' to this very day [unlike many previous generations of Southerners, the loyalty of Southerners of the early 21st Century to the United States of America itself is no longer so easily questioned... and you're, right now, getting this from a born-and-raised Yankee here! ;-)]-- but also because, until 1936, the Democrats [in an attempt to so placate their Populist, Southern wing] required 2/3 of the Convention vote to nominate their National Ticket [hence, for example, the 103-ballot Democratic Convention (complete with a knock-down/drag-out fight over whether to specifically "call out" the Ku Klux Klan in the Party Platform) in 1924])...
by the end of World War II, the more conservative "Congressional" wing of the Grand Old Party had reached as far west as California (albeit a California still rather different from that of today) which explains why Earl Warren was on the 1948 GOP National Ticket (and also why so many conservatives- traditional Republican and populist Democrat- were so disappointed in Chief Justice Earl Warren and the Supreme Court he lead) and also how a Richard Nixon, just four years later, came to national prominence (and, ultimately, the Presidency itself)... as well as the emergence of one Ronald Reagan!
Much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt had done for the Democrats a generation before, Ronald Reagan fused the ultimate Republican (and conservative) coalition of the 20th Century: one that could be supported by the yet to be so denominated R I N O (which- don't forget- had been, up to [and even into] Reagan's time as a national figure, the aforementioned GOP "Establishment"!) and conservative "traditionalist" alike while, at the same time, attracting those Populists (mostly from the South) who were becoming more and more disaffected by a Democratic Party they saw as being all too pulled to the Left...
but Reagan's coalition was one that was principally held together by the strong force of the very personality and charisma of the "Great Communicator" himself (plus, at base, President Reagan was a realist who well knew when to declaim "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" and when to sit down at the table with that same Mr. Gorbachev; when to boldly expound upon conservative values and principles and when to 'cut a deal' with then-Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill [Reagan also- and no less than O'Neill himself- well understood that, at least in the vast majority of cases, "Politics is Local"]); unlike FDR's coalition (one which could still be cobbled together by, say, FDR's successor Harry Truman or even an LBJ a full generation later- this all before what would emerge as Reagan's own coalition would put an end to such possibilities for the Democrats), Reagan's coalition could not long survive its namesake's sad descent into Dementia (which pretty much silenced the "Great Communicator" as a public figure) and, finally, the arrival of Death itself (and, indeed, even Reagan's own appearance before those assembled at Bush41's last Convention in 1992 would do rather little to save the elder Bush's presidential candidacy against the coming of Bill Clinton).
After 1992, Republican presidential contenders (and, above all, the Grand Old Party's presidential nominee) would- every four years seek to cloak themselves in Ronald Reagan's mantle-- fighting over it at the same time they each sought alliances amongst the various and sundry wings and factions within that Party, each of which was claiming to be the home of "real Reagan Republicans"... fingers have been pointed and tongues have been clicked (and the RINO has come to be the more clearly seen, as well as more derided [it was during a break in the 1996 Republican Convention in San Diego, after all, when- while Maine Senator Olympia Snowe and then-California Governor Pete Wilson were being interviewed 'live' by a network TV floor reporter- that a number of Convention attendees behind them (whether they were delegates or not, I could not discern: but they certainly had floor privileges!) began shouting "You're all libertines- a bunch of libertarians: get the hell out of the Republican Party!"])... but, excepting George W. Bush (who was as much seeking to claim his own father's mantle as much as he might have been claiming Reagan's), none of these other GOP nominees from 1996 till now- not Bob Dole, not John McCain and not Mitt Romney- would win the Presidency (and the supporters of other GOP wings/factions would- as they already have been as regards Romney- declare 'Well, if our guy had been the nominee, we would've won!')
Iced 'Tea', anyone? Well-- not quite yet!
And the emergence of the 'Tea Party' as- at least in part- a direct response to the election of Barack Obama as President four years ago has only served to complicate such matters for the Republican Party.
Obama supporters have already been well chortling in their joy at the re-election of the President, declaring the 'Tea Party' in particular all but dead. True, the 'Tea Party' had a pretty rough night this past Tuesday (among others: Michele Bachmann barely held onto her House seat in Minnesota; Allen West may yet still lose his [as of this typing]; Joe Walsh in Illinois was bested by a female veteran who had been seriously disabled as a result of her service in Iraq-- but these three are merely the most visible of the so-called 'Tea Party'ers in the outgoing 112th Congress [and have been so largely due to the sounding of their own horns: Bachmann, for one, became a de facto leader of 'Tea Party' Congressmen only because she herself said she was])-- yes, Richard Mourdock (in Indiana) and Todd Akin (in Missouri) each went down as candidates for the U.S. Senate because they couldn't well separate Female Physiology (assuming, in Akin's case, he even understood the subject in the first place!) from personal Theology and Ideology or, for that matter, Politics itself... but Texas still elected Ted Cruz to the Senate (where it will be most interesting to watch and see if- just like current freshman Senator Marco Rubio of Florida- Cruz, once in office, pretty much engages any 'Tea Party' support at something approaching "arm's length").
Moreover, those who so angrily "want[ed] [their] Country back" over the past nearly four years did not- as it turned out, given the outcome of this Election- actually get "their" Country back (whatever that meant!) and they're just as- if not even more angry- than before...
which, in turn, means that the Republican Party now has a major question to answer: does it want to- for the nearer duration- be a Party with truest national ambition or does it more prefer to be a Party promoting merely regional and narrow ideological gripes, thereby running the risk of- over more than a few election cycles- conceding the field to the Democrats? (This, by the way, is- as of this typing- not yet a serious risk [that is (and for the moment): not all that probable, however possible], but it is a risk nonetheless!)
The Republican nominating process for the most national (in terms of how it is perceived "out there") elective office- that of United States Senator- is, in the main, singularly instructive in this regard:
for how did Mourdock even become the GOP candidate for the Senate in the first place?-- by defeating moderate "work-across-the-aisle" Senator Richard Lugar in a Primary: indeed, this very website has been online since going into the 2000 Election and I can, right now, look at the list on our site from that era of more moderate Republicans in the United States Senate at that time-- besides Lugar, we have so listed:
the aforementioned Olympia Snowe of Maine (just retired from the Senate); Jim Jeffords of Vermont (became an Independent not all that long after re-election in 2000 and then retired as well); Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (currently an Independent and Governor of that State); Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (recently deceased at this typing, he became a Democrat after the 2008 Election).
With, perhaps, but a few exceptions here and there, more moderate Republicans (the very ones decried as RINOs) such as these have, long since, been summarily drummed out of the Republican Party...
for the very process that produced the Statewide candidacy of a Richard Mourdock so incapable of winning a U.S. Senate election (and this in a State that 1. voted for his Party's presidential candidate in that same election and 2. in which he himself currently holds Statewide elective office [as Indiana's Treasurer]) is not merely a by-product of this most recently concluded election cycle! Rather, it is a continuation of what went on even in those more heady days for the 'Tea Party' movement two years ago now: during which a Christine O'Donnell defeated- in a Primary- an otherwise popular Statewide elective official (Michael Castle, who had served as both Delaware's Governor and its sole Congressman) who, almost certainly, would have taken what had been Vice-President Biden's seat for the Republicans; during which a Carl Paladino bested Rick Lazio in a Primary: Lazio may, or may not, have been elected Governor of New York two years ago now but he, without doubt, would have, at the very least, given Andrew Cuomo the proverbial "run for his money" (meanwhile, having so often watched Governor Cuomo give his daily [sometimes twice-daily] press briefings in the recent aftermath of Superstorm 'Sandy' on local TV as seen here in the Metro New York/Tri-State region in which I live, I have to admit I can't really imagine a "Governor Paladino" in just such a setting without bursting out laughing-- if only from sheerest incredulity!)
Having here noted this recent trend of the Republicans tending to nominate- with the "help" (as it were) of the 'Tea Party'- many a candidate for Statewide elective office utterly unelectable in their own right, it cannot be at all denied that this same 'Tea Party' is still a significant political force within the GOP: Senators Marco Rubio of Florida (as already noted in passing above), Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and (again, as already noted) now Ted Cruz in Texas were all elected to that august body with 'Tea Party' support...
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stated that one of his Party's principal goals was to make sure that President Obama was a one-term President (how'd that work out for you guys?)-- instead, he finds himself in something of a political "squeeze": he faces re-election to the Senate come 2014, yet he- almost certainly- will face a challenge (likely from the 'Tea Party', unless he himself can co-opt its support) in a Primary... things such as this do not bode all that well for a Republican Party, as an institution, coming to terms with the 'Tea Party' movement (or, for that matter, that very movement with the GOP!)
Yet, simply put, so long as the 'Tea Party' and its allies continue to so outright ignore (where not even also denigrate, through their actions) the late Herbert Agar's admonition (one oft-quoted by myself on this website) that they not "allow themselves to feel, and preach, that the opposition is not only mistaken but wicked", the Republican Party as a whole (along with those who will seek its presidential nomination next time round) is going to so continue being pulled in their direction, a direction that (again) risks conceding the field- if mostly, where not only, in Presidential Politics- to President Obama and his Party.
Then again, 2016 is- on the calendar itself, let alone the standards of American Politics- a long way off yet... yet does the above also not bode all that well right now for, say, any presidential ambitions that might be harbored by my own State's Governor- Chris Christie: for, as conservative as Christie might be by New Jersey standards, he is- nonetheless- as RINO to much of the Right in this country as was Mitt Romney while he was still Governor of Massachusetts (or, for that matter, during Romney's first run at the nomination back in 2008)!
The Obama Coalition
The Democrats, meanwhile, are not (at least, not yet!) so divided as are the Republicans:
first of all, their guy won the Presidency (again!); secondly, he did so without having to face a serious Primary challenge in the course of his having sought re-nomination.
In retrospect, what President Obama just about always had going for him was something we can now call 'the Obama coalition'-- the vast majority of African-American voters; a supermajority of Latino voters; likewise among young, unmarried women; and enough of the hard-working 'blue collar' voter to keep Governor Romney from gaining ground among this group, despite relatively high unemployment come Election Day. Generally speaking, enough voters across the country preferred Barack Obama to Mitt Romney as the "steady hand" steering the Ship of State (and, in this regard alone, the heated rhetoric and the angry invective from at least some quarters of the 'Tea Party' throughout the President's first term only served to hurt, rather than help, the Republicans nationally [fair or not, the GOP was painted in at least the paler colors of, say, 'Birther White' in the minds of much of the electorate!])...
add in more than a dash of Rhode Island Governor Linc Chafee's "broad Center in which most Americans live" for whom- despite the constant din of 'RINO! RINO!' (where such "broad Centrists" might well be registered Republicans)- "there is nothing moderate about our Love of Country or our passion for America's future" and it proved to be, in the end, an unbeatable combination.
President Obama only lost 2 of the States he had won four years ago... everywhere else, his coalition held the lines... 'nuf said!
But what is this 'Obama coalition'?: is it simply a personal coalition attached to Barack Obama himself in the same way that Ronald Reagan's was? Will it- like the Reagan coalition (despite the now-two decades of mythos with which the Republican Party tries to associate itself to this very day)- not all that long outlast its namesake's Presidency? All of this remains to be seen, of course... we cannot, right now, know the answers to such questions any more than could those who woke up the morning after Election Day 1936 and, either joyfully or disappointedly, apprehended the re-election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to a second term...
for, in the wake of 1936, no one could yet know that the so-called 'New Deal Coalition' would well carry the Democrats for some time to come (not only in 5 out of 7 ensuing Presidential Elections, but also in all but 2 Congressional Elections throughout the same period)- that is, until Kevin Phillips' 'Emerging Republican Majority' (first evidenced in the 1966 Midterm Elections [and, it should be noted, despite the "beat-down" of Barry Goldwater by the last, fullest flowering of FDR's own coalition only two years before]) could only just begin to be discerned... likewise, no one could- in the immediate aftermath of 1984- know that that same Republican Party so heady with victory in the wake of Reagan's own Electoral Vote Landslide would, soon enough, simply try to thereafter paper over significant differences within it that- more than two decades later, mind you!- are, only now, being most seriously considered by the GOP.
Again, it is- for the (political) moment, at least- far more in the hands of the Republicans, than in those of the Democrats, to determine just which analogy (FDR or Reagan) will prove most illustrative of Presidential (and even Congressional) Elections yet to come!
Just who was this Romney guy, anyway?
Even before the General Election, Republicans and other Romney-supporters were already complaining about "unfairness" in the manner in which the Obama/Biden campaign was ever defining Governor Romney on its own terms... but whose fault was that? Mitt Romney's own, of course!
As I myself wrote back on 22 October: [M]any a political observer has seen Romney as- even more- something of a political palimpsest... I, meanwhile, would point out that a palimpsest, at least, actually has something written on it before erasure!
I wrote these words in anticipation of the Final Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy that very evening (as part of an argument that this Debate would- despite the overriding issue of the American Economy in this year's Presidential Campaign- loom rather large, nonetheless, come the Election itself): indeed, quite a few Romney-supporters (some of whom, or so it appears, actually changed their votes to Obama!) I know personally were downright livid with rage- where not also almost apoplectic- in the immediate aftermath of Romney's performance in that Debate, given how Romney pretty much gutted, not only much of what his own running mate- Congressman Ryan- had said on Foreign Policy in a debate less than a fortnight before, but also his own performance- during the Second 'Town Hall'-style Debate even more recently- on the one question, during that gathering, involving Foreign Policy (I mean: if one is going to be so forceful in going after the incumbent, then don't suddenly begin praising his work less than a week later!)...
far more than New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's embrace of President Obama in the wake of Hurricane- become Superstorm- 'Sandy' shortly thereafter, Mitt Romney's own "rhetorical embrace" of Obama's supposedly "unraveling" (Paul Ryan's words) Foreign Policy may well have done him in.
Simply put: Obama/Biden was so very able to define the head of the Romney/Ryan ticket because Romney was either unwilling, or even unable, to define himself (outside of whiney complaints of "That's not my plan" while, at the same time, trying most earnestly to be seen as John Sununu, Sr.'s man who "can fix the unfixable" [well-- 'Fix yer own campaign, Governor!'])
But this also- and very much so- goes back to what I wrote above as regards the now-politically disadvantageous relationship between the 'Tea Party' and its "wannabe"s and the Republican Party US as a potential governing institution: for, during the 2012 Primary/Caucus "season", Romney was- in the main- forced into playing 'Richard Lugar' to Rick Santorum's 'Richard Mourdock' or 'Rick Lazio' to Newt Gingrich's 'Carl Paladino' (even 'Michael Castle' to Michele Bachmann's all-too-evident 'Christine O'Donnell')...
the very reason that a Herman Cain- or a rather bumbling/stumbling Rick Perry- could even be "talked up" as serious 'presidential timber' the way they were early on (or, for that matter, Ron Paul's most 'hard core' supporters could- even later in the course of the Primary/Caucus "season" [as Ron Paul began scoring delegates at Conventions in States, the Primaries or Caucuses of which Romney had already bested Congressman Paul]- so believe [beyond even their own self-delusion of four years earlier] that their champion might yet be able to wrest the GOP nomination from the front-runner) was because Mitt Romney could not win the Grand Old Party's presidential nomination without at least showing enough (however much was necessary) homage (no matter how painful Romney's "bend at the waist") to the 'Tea Party' and its allies... that Romney was able to, nonetheless, carry a "mistaken, but not wicked" approach to President Obama's bid for re-election into his own Party's National Convention was at least something of a testament to Romney's having at least some political skills!
Yet not nearly enough of same, as Romney could not turn towards the Center too quickly (especially considering just who he himself had picked as his own running mate just weeks before his Party's Convention) and, indeed, the GOP Convention would well prove to be virtually devoid of any all that much visible participation by those Republicans who were otherwise part of Linc Chafee's "broad Center in which most Americans live" which, in turn, would give former Republican Florida Governor (albehe an unsuccessful Independent U.S. Senate candidate against Marco Rubio) Charlie Crist's charge- before the Democratic Convention- that Romney was "beholden to 'my way or the highway' bullies, indebted to billionaires who bankroll ads and allergic to the very idea of compromise" the very ring of truth (certainly Romney's infamous '47 percent' comment- amongst all else- did nothing to at all bely such a charge: instead, it gave the strong impression that Romney himself felt he didn't have to even bother to address just such a thing!).
Other than his own daughter singing the National Anthem at the start of one of its sessions, we never even heard from Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts at the Republican Convention (a most glaring omission, to be sure: considering just which Commonwealth Romney himself had once governed!-- also: wouldn't a Republican having taken a seat once held by one member or the other of the, arguably, First Family of Democrats for more than half a century been otherwise touted as a great achievement by the Grand Old Party?)...
and just where was Joe Kyrillos, my own State's Republican candidate for the United States Senate during that fete, anyway?
In the main, this 'R I N O s need not apply' Convention in Tampa (despite my State's Chris Christie's Keynote Address) did as much- if not more- damage to Mitt Romney's credibility as a potential President than anything else, for it made Romney's own claims to true Bipartisanship a flat-out lie (how can one even be seen as one who will be working so well interParty when one hasn't even done the least when it comes to intraParty matters?)...
Turns out the echoes of 'get the hell out of the Republican Party!' in San Diego had not, in fact, died out come Tampa even more than a decade and a half later...
and the essential political problem for the Grand Old Party coming out of Election 2012 is that, as of this typing, such echoes still have yet to die!
The last few words about Superstorm 'Sandy' and Election 2012
Already many Republicans- seemingly not at all paying much attention to the cautions outlined above- are blaming Romney's loss on 'Sandy' coming through the Mid-Atlantic region and into southern New England just a week before the Presidential Election. Truth be told, 'Sandy' had little- if anything- to really do with the outcome of this election:
first of all, 'Sandy' was not a national story above that of Election 2012 for the very opposite of the reason 'Katrina' back in 2005 was a long-term, even lingering, national story: simply put, 'Sandy' and its immediate aftermath was handled (at least in its earliest phases: the "long term" remains to be seen, even as I type this) reasonably well by public officials from both Major Parties. It is fairest analysis, on the other hand, to suggest that- had 'Katrina' hit the Gulf Coast in general (and, of course, New Orleans in particular) in late August 2004 instead of August of the following year (given the gross mishandling of much of the recovery from same)- we might well have, instead, been talking- now in November 2012- about the outgoing Administration of a term-limited "President John Kerry"!
Also, keep in mind that- while the most recent Republican National Convention was itself convening in Tampa- Hurricane 'Isaac' was affecting much of the same area as had been affected by 'Katrina' (and here, again, the political label and/or affiliation of those public officials called to deal with 'Isaac' made no difference) and, further, did not at all adversely impact upon the average voter's perception of a Democratic National Convention re-nominating the sitting President only a week later!
In the end, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan's constant refrain of "Obama lacks leadership" largely fell flat on the ears of much of the American electorate simply because- throughout the entire Fall Campaign- President Obama went ahead and led, despite all of this heated rhetoric against his own ability to even do so, anyway!
But, regardless, rather few in, say, Colorado- or Nevada- were voting for Barack Obama because of 'Sandy' and, in addition, the areas most directly affected- for the long haul- by 'Sandy' (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) were safely 'Obama-friendly territory'... only West Virginia (which, yes, had to dig itself out- in many cases- from a heavy snowfall thanks to 'Sandy') went for Governor Romney come Election Day (and, besides, digging out from heavy snow- as even those in many 'Obama-friendly' areas still recovering from 'Sandy' itself found out the day after the General Election- is, in many ways, a whole other proposition from now having to [in many cases] completely rebuild an entire string of shore communities!).
No, 'Sandy' did not re-elect President Obama!