Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

The most important lesson we should all learn from the 2012 election

“You idiot! Get back in there at once and sell, sell!”

As we set about the process of compiling and canonizing the 2012 election post-mortem, one thing we keep hearing over and over is how utterly stunned the Romney camp was at their loss. Republicans across the board apparently expected victory – the conservative punditry seemed certain of it – and now we’re hearing that Romney himself was “shellshocked” by the result.

Mitt Romney went into Election Night expecting a victory and was “shellshocked” when he finally realized he had lost, CBS News reported.

Despite early signs of a stronger-than-expected turnout for President Obama, it wasn’t until the crucial state of Ohio was called for the president that Romney began to face the likelihood of defeat.

Even then, he and his team had trouble processing the news, senior advisers told CBS News.

“We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory,” one adviser said. “I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming.”

Well, Nate Silver saw it coming. His projections called the final outcome almost down to the precinct, and it’s not like he doesn’t have a track record.

Silver’s final 2008 presidential election forecast accurately predicted the winner of 49 of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia (missing only the prediction for Indiana). As his model predicted, the races in Missouri and North Carolina were particularly close. He also correctly predicted the winners of every U.S. Senate race.

It wasn’t just Silver. Almost all the polls showed Obama with at least a slight lead in the battleground states, and if we can believe CNN’s election night insiders, Mitt’s own tracking showed him five points adrift in Ohio as late as Sunday (which explains why he set up camp there when many expected him to focus his energies elsewhere).

In other words, all the data, all the nonpartisan analysis, all the evidence, made clear that Romney’s chances were slim. It’s understandable that he and his people would be disappointed, and mightily so. But surprised? How does that happen?

In a nutshell, the GOP blindsided themselves. The reason should be obvious to anyone who has paid any attention at all to American politics in recent years: an overabundance of blind faith. I don’t mean this in a religious sense (although the political and socio-scientific manifestations of the phenomenon issue from strong religious antecedents). Instead, I’m referring to the broad, swelling inability (or unwillingness) to distinguish between belief and knowledge.

As noted, nearly all the polls showed Romney in trouble. Most broke out their results in ways that clearly suggested why he was in trouble. The rational response to such information is to take it onboard, adapt and adjust. But that’s not what the GOP did. Instead, they dismissed the data that didn’t align with their beliefs. They went so far as to “unskew” the polls because they were clearly biased in favor of Mr. Obama. How do we know they were biased? Because they favored Mr. Obama. UnskewedPolls.com performed some ideological/mathematical hijinks and produced “corrected” polls that demonstrated how Mr. Romney was actually leading. By a lot.

The resulting projected electoral map was positively Reaganesque.

You might argue that the rational response isn’t to adapt and adjust if there is actually reason to believe that all the polls are, in fact, skewed. This objection is fair, so long as your reasons for doing so are driven by factual concerns instead of ideological ones. I think it’s more than clear, by now, that GOP faith in a Romney win was driven by belief instead of knowledge isn’t it?

The upshot is what we saw Tuesday night and in the days following: shock, dismay, confusion. Romney and his people (here I’ll include the GOP’s media relations arm, FOX News) didn’t see the obvious coming and some were melting down as reality began to assert its ugly presence in ways that even Megyn Kelly couldn’t ignore. Sure, Karl Rove had an excuse for going all Randolph Duke on the set. He’d just spent $600M of rich folks’ money and had a pack of nabs to show for it, an outcome with dire implications for his future career prospects. Of course he was losing it – he was seeing his political life pass before his eyes as the Ohio totals ticked in. Again, though, this was a live, nationally televised case study in self-delusion: it isn’t true because sweet Jesus it just can’t be.

I keep using these terms “knowledge” and “belief.” I suspect that many people across the country might initially grapple with the difference (in fact, I know this to be the case). So let me define these terms, at least operationally, for the benefit of those who don’t understand the distinction.

  • Knowledge is a process whereby conclusions derive from information and reasoning.
  • Belief is a process whereby preconceptions govern the pursuit of information.

In other words, with knowledge, you learn all you can in as rigorous and intellectually honest a fashion as possible, then you figure out what it means. With belief, the conclusions are given from the outset and data is selected and discarded according to whether or not it supports the point you’re trying to make.

Accepting facts that run counter to what we believe, and what we want to believe, and even what we desperately need to believe, can be hard. I understand the difficulty as well as anyone. I personally now believe pretty much the opposite of nearly every important thing I believed as a young man, and I have frequently noted how many times my beliefs changed because I was proven wrong by the very smart people with whom I insisted on surrounding myself. I’ve always been a fan of the famous John Maynard Keynes quote: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

As hard as it is to investigate contrary information and opinions, though, it’s imperative that we do so. With gusto. The Republican Party had all the evidence there before them throughout the entire campaign. There is precious little that we know now that we didn’t know a month ago. Their decision to pretend it was all skewed led to what? They lost the White House (in a race that was surely theirs for the taking). They lost ground in the Senate. Thanks to gerrymandering they still control the House, but their candidates nationwide received fewer votes than their Democratic opponents. Gay marriage initiatives passed in a couple of states. Gays and lesbians were elected to Congress.

All because the Republican Party privileged belief over knowledge.

Plenty of debate is already under way within the Republican Party as to what the results means and what might be done about it. Some conservative analysts are paying heed to the knowledge they have gained. Others, not so much.

And over at UnskewedPolls, well, see for yourself:

*sigh*

The GOP 2012 experience holds important lessons for us all as we move forward. The world in which we live, the nation in which we live, the neighborhoods and communities and cities in which we live are what they are, not what we wish them to be. For instance:

  • Some among us might wish that we lived in a uniformly white, Christian, heterosexual, nuclear family culture. We don’t. Whatever policies we seek to implement are doomed to failure unless we acknowledge our new multicultural reality.
  • Some of us believe that there is no such thing as climate disruption. There are Nate Silvers and Karl Roves in the natural science world, too. Our future and the future of generations not yet born depend on whether we’re smart enough to know to which of them we need to listen.
  • Many of us believe that cutting taxes on our wealthiest citizens creates opportunity and shared prosperity for everyone. All data on the subject shows this to be pure ideology – the precise opposite is true and the refusal to pay attention to the basic facts of economic history have grave implications for us all.
  • Dollar for dollar, the US pays three times more for health care than any other industrialized nation and by any measure we generate significantly worse outcomes. You might believe that only those who can pay outrageous prices deserve to be healthy, but the actual number of people who agree with you is diminishing rapidly.
  • The president was born in Hawai’i. If you insist that all proof is forged (it has to be, because it doesn’t conform with your beliefs), you will find that you’re damaging the credibility of other positions you hold. Also, people won’t sit next to you on the bus.
  • We are not a theocracy. A growing majority of voters are rejecting candidates whose views on how America should be governed more resemble the 1st century than the 21st. The coalition includes every facet of the electorate, but is especially pronounced among segments that are increasing in numbers.

The things are not beliefs, they are facts supported by every scrap of credible evidence that we have. The existence of facts doesn’t automatically suggest what the best policies might look like, but the refusal to acknowledge them assures disaster.

All of us – Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Green and none of the above – would do well to learn from the GOP’s hard 2012 lesson.

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Latest stunt provides further evidence: “Donald Trump” is really Andy Kaufman pretending to support Mitt Romney

I broke the story back in June that “Donald Trump” is a hoax. In actuality, the real Donald Trump sold his identity, back in the 1980s, to none other than Andy Kaufman. Kaufman then staged his own death and assumed the Tony Clifton-esque Trump persona in pursuit of the greatest mass pranking since War of the Worlds.

Today, millions of people are considering Kaufman’s latest antics – the “October bombshell” that would alter the course of the election – and saying that not only has The Donald jumped the shark, he has perhaps wandered into full-blown insanity. Those conclusions would make sense if Trump were who he says and if he were doing what he claims to be doing. As the actions of a wealthy, intelligent businessman campaigning for Mit Romney, today’s non-events are at best a pathetic cry for help.

However, as performance art on the part of one of our culture’s true creative geniuses, it’s nothing short of brilliant. It’s not clear whether Kaufman is using the Trump character in direct support of the Obama campaign or whether the political element is merely a by-product. Is he making a political statement or using the elevated profile afforded by the election to draw greater attention to his own ultimately non-political project?

No way to know at this point, but I anticipate that one of these days Kaufman will unmask and this is one of many questions I know I’ll be eager to ask him.

For the time being, I say kick back and enjoy this show.

“Binders full of women”: Mitt finally lands a zinger for the ages

Remember back before the first debate when Mitt let us know he was working on his zingers? Yep. Clearly he wanted to land a punch that would push him over the top in the public consciousness, score the iconic rhetorical knockout blow that people would still be pointing to decades later. He wanted to be like Ronnie:

There you go again.

He wanted to be like Lloyd:

Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

Finally, after so many months on the campaign trail, Mitt landed his zinger.

Frankly, I was staggered at how quickly Mitt’s iconic “binders full of women” remark caught fire. Within an hour or two we had #BindersFullofWomen on Twitter, BindersFullofWomen.com, the hysterical Binders Full of Women Tumblr pageMittsBindersFullofWomen.com and several Facebook groups, one of which had 70,000 likes by the end of the debate. It happened so fast I found myself wondering how these people had known it was coming, because clearly they had the sites locked and loaded and were just waiting for Romney to utter his instant classic.

The problem, of course, is that when Mitt finally pulled the trigger, he had the gun pointed at his own balls. Which is fitting, I suppose, given how much time he had dedicated in recent months to debating with his own positions.

This is all funny, and yeah, check back in 50 years. If you’re still around, do a Google search (or whatever the equivalent is at that point in our future) for “memorable presidential debate moments.” You’ll certainly find Ronnie’s dismissal of Jimmy Carter and Lloyd Bentsen’s famous VP debate bitch-slap of Dan Quayle. But you’ll also find Admiral Stockdale:

Who am I? Why am I here?

You’ll find Dick Nixon sweating like a hog in the afternoon sun on an especially warm August day in Tucson. You’ll find Jerry Ford explaining that Poland is completely independent of Soviet influence.

And you’ll find binders full of women, the awkward moment where a candidate who has lived his entire life out of touch with regular men and women tries desperately to show that he really does get it. And only proves, ever more conclusively, that he doesn’t. Turns out Hofstra was merely the latest stop in the long and comical Mitt Romney, Man of the People® Tour.

This is what happens when an election process is driven by style instead of substance. Meticulous attention is devoted to appearances, to how the candidate looks, to how he or she appears to be in command (or not) of the stage. Abraham Lincoln might be carved into Mt. Rushmore, but his ugly ass couldn’t get elected dog catcher in 2012.

What is actually said matters, but not because of its relationship to facts. No, every potential word is tested for how it might be perceived, for its emotional charge, for its effectiveness with key demographics. Words are uttered not because they’re true, but because they persuade. And we have fully abandoned any notion that persuasion is a function of truth. If we cared about facts and the truth, we’d subject candidates for Leader of the Free World® to considerably more pointed questioning, wouldn’t we? We wouldn’t let their handlers dictate the process top to bottom.

But we don’t. Campaign 2012 isn’t about policy, it’s about pwning.

Meanwhile, outside the debate hall, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, a woman who actually does have some substantive ideas to discuss, was arrested. Because she didn’t have the proper credentials. One ought to wonder why somebody who will be on 85% of the ballots in the election couldn’t score the proper credentials.

So congrats to the Romney camp for finally getting of a zinger that’s destined for immortality. And good for us, the dumbass culture picking our leaders using process that looks like it was designed by Kardashians.

Or not. This is how Cartel Democracy works, I guess…

A quick, nonpartisan democracy lesson for our anonymous faux-patriot thugs

Let’s start with this.

DENVER – A Mexican restaurant in the Highlands neighborhood declined a Mitt Romney campaign stop.

Now the owners of Rosa Linda’s Mexican Café are getting death threats, nasty threatening phone calls, and insulting e-mails criticizing their choice.

“I don’t want people to be angry at me,” Rosa Linda Aguirre, the owner of the neighborhood staple, said. Continue reading A quick, nonpartisan democracy lesson for our anonymous faux-patriot thugs

The 7th Sign: David Brooks in the Times, telling the truth about Romney

This is just remarkable. And it may be the 7th Sign.

I try not to read David Brooks any more than I have to because every time I do I wind up wanting to throw things. Through the years he has established himself as one of the most reliably disingenuous, dishonest propagandists on the GOP payroll, a fork-tongued weasel who can’t say hello without lying. And BAM! Here, without warning or precedent, he smacks us in the lips us with the truest thing I’ve read in days.

The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor. Continue reading The 7th Sign: David Brooks in the Times, telling the truth about Romney

BREAKING: Donald Trump is a hoax

Recently I was pondering Donald Trump’s inexplicable behavior on the campaign trail, allegedly on behalf of GOP nominee Mitt Romney. I was only able to conceive of two possible explanations that would account for his ludicrous Orly Taitz act: either he is secretly working for Obama or he’s actually a covert performance artist working on a long, episodic political satire of some sort.

Then it hit me.

I’m still in the process of nailing down all the details, a process made difficult because the trail is so well-covered, but the inescapable conclusion is this: the man we think is Donald Trump isn’t. The real Trump, the man born in 1946 to Fred and Mary Anne Trump in Scotland, the man who attended Wharton and established a lucrative career as a real estate developer, is lying on a beach somewhere soaking up the sunshine and living the good life.

Available evidence suggests that in the early 1980s Trump was approached by a wealthy, famous man who wanted to buy his identity. Continue reading BREAKING: Donald Trump is a hoax

Mitt Romney, Man of the People® Tour mysteriously blows an opportunity to score points with the womenfolk

We know that the Romney campaign is ramping up its attempts to lure female voters, and we were optimistic about the entertainment prospects of these efforts when, a few days, Mitt garnered the much sought-after Gene Simmons endorsement (which, now that Wilt Chamberlain is dead, is pretty much the gold standard of playa cred).

So we weren’t surprised to see Mitt on the stump wailing away at Team Obama.

Romney rebuts claims that he, GOP are anti-women
By Charles Babington
Associated Press / April 11, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn.—Presidential candidate Mitt Romney intensified his efforts Wednesday to rebut claims that he and fellow Republicans are insufficiently supportive of women, or even hostile to them. Continue reading Mitt Romney, Man of the People® Tour mysteriously blows an opportunity to score points with the womenfolk

Ann Romney discusses Mitt’s erectile dysfunction

I don’t know if this is some kind of bizarre ploy to lure the female vote or what, but personally I find would-be First Lady Ann Romney’s outing of her husband’s impotency to be wildly inappropriate, no matter what I think of his politics.

Continue reading Ann Romney discusses Mitt’s erectile dysfunction

Why won’t Gingrich quit when it’s obvious he can’t win? (I have a conspiracy … I mean, theory…)

You know that guy who comes over for the dinner party and then just will not leave? Everybody else goes home and he’s still there, talking about this hot girlfriend he had at camp one summer in high school. You drop hint after hint and he wonders if you have any more beer. You change into your pajamas and yawn in his face and he takes off his shoes and socks. There is no hint that he can be persuaded to take. You know that guy, and so do Republican voters.

Even in the Deep South, Newt Gingrich keeps gimping home in last place. It’s more than clear to anyone paying even a little attention that he is not regarded as viable by Republican voters, but even after 27 losses in his last 28 tries, he refuses to bow out.  Continue reading Why won’t Gingrich quit when it’s obvious he can’t win? (I have a conspiracy … I mean, theory…)

Who should replace Hank Williams, Jr. on the Monday Night Football Intro? How about Mitt Romney, Man of the People®?

If you recall, Bocephus is out at MNF, thanks to a joke that ESPN deemed over the line. But somebody has to sing an annoying, poorly customized intro before each game, right? Who, though?

I have an idea.

Lately Mitt Romney, Man of the People® has been touring the country, connecting with the Common Man. He’s connected with Northern auto workers, with the black folk, with NASCAR fans, with hillbillies, and just yesterday, he made important inroads with America’s football fans. Continue reading Who should replace Hank Williams, Jr. on the Monday Night Football Intro? How about Mitt Romney, Man of the People®?