Political predictions are often hazardous, but I’m siding with Matthew Dowd. As chief campaign strategist and pollster for President Bush in 2004, he’s familiar with the challenge of nudging an embattled incumbent across the finish line – and he sees echoes of 2004 in 2012. He said yesterday that the current embattled incumbent will prevail narrowly in the popular vote (as did Bush), and win re-election with 303 electoral votes. Give or take a few EVs, that sounds about right.
And it appears that many Republicans are indeed anticipating defeat – because they’re already starting to cue up their excuses. If Mitt Romney loses tomorrow (or in the days ahead, once the lawyers are done skirmishing), GOPers will never admit that President Obama’s defense of the role of government might have been persuasive, or that their own rightward ideological lurch had alienated too many voters. Instead, they’ll just hunt for scapegoats. For instance:
Minorities seeking handouts
Chrysler and GM, which got handouts
Duh librul mediuh in general
Massive voter fraud
Duh librul mediuh, for not saying Benghazi is worse than Watergate
The New Black Panthers
But seriously, folks, it was fascinating yesterday to see Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace put the squeeze on Romney political director Rich Beeson. Let’s go to the transcript.
Wallace: “Your campaign started running an ad in Ohio, this week, which implies that Jeep is shipping U.S. jobs to China – when in fact they are just expanding their operations to China, they are not actually shipping U.S. jobs overseas….Rich, wasn’t that a mistake, especially when G.M. and Chrysler both said that the ad was basically misleading and the fact is that Chrysler, far from shipping jobs to Ohio is actually expanding operations in Toledo?”
Beeson: “I find it interesting that President Obama would attack Governor Romney on that, when they put up an ad saying that, you know, Governor Romney said, ‘let Detroit go bankrupt’ when that’s a headline from The New York Times op-ed.”
Good grief. Having been outed – by two car companies, and now by Fox News, for crafting a blatant lie – Beeson didn’t even address the question. Instead, he concocted a diversionary reply that was almost as misleading. Fact is, the November ’08 Times headline merely encapsulated what Romney had written in his op-ed, starting with his opening salvo: “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.” And in TV interviews after his op-ed was published, Romney never renounced that Times headline.
When it comes to lying, and inventing new deceptions in order to dodge accountability for lying, these guys are worse than Sgt. Brody on Homeland. Suffice it to say, the Romney campaign is staying in character all the way to the series finale.
Meanwhile, over on ABC News, host George Stephanopolous put the squeeze on Obama strategist David Plouffe – by posing the questions that may well drive the news cycle by week’s end.
Stephanopolous: “Even if the president wins, his margins are going to be smaller than last time around. Doesn’t that mean less of a mandate? And won’t it make it harder for the president to succeed in his second term?”
Plouffe: “Well, George, you know, as soon as the election’s over, we’ve got to move on to the pressing business. We’ve got, obviously, some fiscal and tax issues in front of us. We’ve got a lot of potential, I think, to do some great things on education, on manufacturing, on immigration. And so, no, I think that, you know, we need to try and have compromise and balance. If we do that, if those two things are present, we’re going to be able to solve our long-term deficit challenges, we’re going to be able to do some things to create jobs in the short term, and build on the progress that we’ve seen over the last four years. And that’s really the question – are we going to build on the progress that we’ve made after we’ve dug out of this recession? Or are we going to take an enormous risk and go back to the same policies that wrecked our economy and devastated the middle class? Which is really, at the end of the day, in our view, all Governor Romney is offering.”
Ninety five percent of Plouffe’s response was bob and weave; the only semi-substantive moment was when he said “we need to try and have compromise and balance.” Good luck with that. If Obama does win by a smaller margin than 2008, that will become the GOP’s rallying cry in 2013.
But only after the GOP exhausts its blame game.
I’m slated to be a phone-in guest on Buzz Bissinger’s talk radio show (WPHT, 1210 AM), at 5:05 p.m. today.
Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1