An Unvarnished View of Why Republicans Lost

The time for mourning has come and gone.  Before we can rebuild, we need to understand what failed in the first place.

First of all, we did not have the wrong guy.  All the conservatives who fought for a non-Romney in the primaries, and then rallied behind Romney and found themselves quite pleased with him when he pulled ahead, have once again pulled out their knives.  If they think Santorum or Cain, Gingrich or Perry would have done better, they are living in a bubble with sparkly rainbows and unicorns dancing in the glen.  Since I supported Romney in the primaries, I recognize I have a vested interest in defending that decision.  But Romney did not lose because he wasn’t conservative enough.  Mitt was the best candidate we’ve had since Reagan.  Certainly better than Dole, McCain and Bush the Elder, and in my opinion he was better than Bush the Younger.  Bush would not have beat an incumbent Obama.  If Mitt had been able to make the conservative case as powerfully as Reagan, would it have been different?  I’m not sure.  Of course, everyone is a brilliant strategist when they’re not the ones running the campaign, and they’re practically omniscient after the results are in.  No question, there were things that could have been done differently.  No candidate is perfect; no campaign is perfect; but Romney was a strong candidate with a strong campaign.  Of all the Republican politicians who realistically might have run, Jeb Bush is the only one who might have stood a better shot.

It was never going to be a cakewalk.  One of the prevailing assumptions of the anyone-but-Romney crowd in the primaries was that we could run Gary Coleman — yes, even though he’s dead — and beat Obama in this economy.  These were the same people who could not believe that Romney was not wiping the floor with the President.  They were living in an alternate reality.  They believed the rest of the country viewed Obama as a feckless failure, just like they did.  But the truth is, most of the country still likes Obama personally, and views his performance in the presidency as a middling performance at worst.

Obama’s approval numbers were low, but (as I said they would) they rose once he began to campaign and tout his “accomplishments.”  An 8 percent unemployment rate is bad, but it doesn’t look so bad when it’s dropped from 10 percent, most of the electorate still blames Bush, and the media is eager to make it look like significant progress.  Plus, the advantages of incumbency are massive.  Obama rallied his base with a string of executive orders and with his public turnabout on gay marriage.  He purchased the favor of the young through his college loan reform, and locked down the single female vote with the Lily Ledbetter bill and the Hispanic vote with his immigrant reform by executive fiat.  The successful mission against Osama bin Laden effectively muted any criticism on foreign affairs.  Benghazi gave him the opportunity to repeat numerous times how decisively he had purportedly acted (the alternative, Obama-left-them-to-die narrative coming from the Right was always too plainly self-serving and never caught on outside the conservative press) in directing the military and intelligence to respond, and Sandy gave him the opportunity to tour the disaster scene in his bomber jacket with one of Romney’s most important surrogates slobbering on his arm.  Obama is a formidable campaigner, performed quite well in the second and third debates, and had a massive advantage in GOTV and new media.  Naturally he had the mainstream media completely in his pocket, steadfast support from unions, and academic and entertainment establishments making the case to the youth vote.

Finally, let’s not blame it on Sandy.  Yes, she was a factor.  The exit polls make that clear.  Clearly the Obama campaign saw the golden opportunity and rushed to put him on the scene in his commander-in-chief jacket.  But Republicans lost seats in the House and the Senate and lost control of some state houses — and this can’t be blamed on Sandy.  The exit polls also make clear that Republicans have some clear problems appealing to specific demographics, and if we blame Sandy (or the strength of the Obama ground game) for the loss we rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn some very important lessons.  Here, I think, are some of the things we need to learn:

  • The Republican brand is terrifically damaged, especially with minorities, the young, single women, and the religiously unaffiliated.  It’s tempting to blame this on Bush, but I don’t think that’s quite right.  For one thing, the list of Republican malfeasants is long, from Newt to Mourdock.  For another, I don’t think Bush’s actions have harmed the brand nearly as much as the failure of the Bush-ites to defend them.  Bush has disappeared since he left office, and he’s so radioactive no one wants to defend him.  It’s ludicrous that Bush alone takes the blame for the financial crash of 2008 — and yet that’s the view that has taken hold in the absence of any argument to the contrary.  I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Obama held onto the presidency because America still blames Bush for the bad economy, and people still blame Bush because we have failed to press a better and more accurate narrative of the financial collapse out into the mainstream.
  • The Evangelical Vote is still united — but evangelicals are both a blessing and a curse to the Republican party.  Everyone is talking about the death of the Christian Right, but I don’t see it quite that way.  8 of 10 evangelicals voted for Romney.  Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition was one of the most powerful forces the GOP had this year.  The evangelical vote for Romney was stronger than it was for the born-again GW Bush.  It’s just not enough.  Also, evangelicals (I’m trying to be objective here) damage the brand through Akin- and Mourdock-like boneheadedness and make it harder for Republicans to reach out to youth, single women, and the nones.
  • Conservative media too is a blessing and a curse.  After watching this happen to liberals for decades, this time it was conservatives who fell prey to the echo chamber effect.  We believed our own hype.  Fox News and talk radio fought to bring the Mexican gun-running story, Benghazi-gate, and any number of other mistakes and misstatements into the conversation, but those things never penetrated the mainstream media.  They’re just preaching to the choir — and the choir needs to get out a little more. The simple fact is, conservatives made the mistake of assuming that the rest of the country too viewed Obama as a feckless failure.  But the rest of the country by and large likes Obama and thinks he has done, at worst, a middling job.
  • Conservatives are losing the culture.  State propositions and referenda, along with the direction of the youth vote and the growing Hispanic vote, suggest that conservatives (and the evangelicals who stand at their base) are losing the struggle for American culture on issues like gay marriage, immigration and the role of government.  The Obama campaign framed this election as a decision between “you’re on your own” or “we’re all in this together.”  It’s a fantastically self-serving way of framing the decision, of course, but it resonates because conservatives have not provided a powerful moral argument for their vision of economy and community.  The Republican party is viewed as the harbor of bigotry and greed.  As long as that’s the image, it will not be an effective party.

Christians, of course, have a higher hope, but I’m simply looking now at the human level of politics.  The Republican party’s best hope, in a nutshell, is for grassroots cultural renewal and for drawing on the strengths of its governors, putting forward voices who are innovative and accomplished, diverse and winsome, men and women who represent the Republican vision of social mobility and who can make the moral case for conservative priorities.  More on this soon.

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    On the issue of the Republican brand, let’s just be honest and say that Republicans suck at marketing. They don’t know how to run a campaign anymore. My brother-in-law is a senior brand strategist for a top medical provider in the nation and he just broke down very quickly some of the ways that the Obama campaign was just out-marketing, out-selling the Republicans. They know brand, they know target audiences, they have a pulse on general culture in a way that the Republican strategists are just oblivious to. I mean, comparing the twitter accounts and internet graphic front alone is illustrative of the skill-gap.

    I know this sounds like a style over substance point, but it’s really one of communication–the Republicans don’t know branding. They need to get some young, creative, bright conservative brand strategists to work for them and quick-fast.

    • George C

      Mitt Romney, on principle and policy, had the right platform to win. There were headwinds like Mourdock and Akin that was ruining the GOP brand. My biggest beef with Romney’s campaign was that they were too polite. I thought a harsher critique of Obama’s programs were needed beyond the platitudes of unemployment rates and tax policy. I was hoping to see more criticism of Benghazi, but it looked like after that moment Obama had in the debate where he had (self-)righteous indignation, Romney backed off that topic.

      There were other failures, too. You don’t think everything went terribly wrong when you were within 2% of OH, VA, and FL (give or take a little). Today, I read the GOTV efforts failed miserably because of Project ORCA. I also see that many rural Ohioans stayed home, and that could’ve been because of the early branding of Obama of Romney back in the summer. Everything is 20/20 in hindsight.

      I think one thing is for certain. Obama’s campaign executed perfectly on a campaign because they knew it would be a matter of inches and they got every inch. Another thing is that Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate, a JFK persona in a African-American body, someone who captured the hearts of millions with his celebrity and polished speeches, but 2012′s campaign revealed that he is not a savior, but a politician through and through. He was who people believed he was and I don’t think we’ll see another Obama for awhile, given the people who spoke at the 2012 DNC convention.

      • George C

        re: FOX News. Without Fox News, we wouldn’t even had a Benghazi-gate. I think they pushed the stories that needed pushing. Sure, Karl Rove pulled a boneheaded move on election night, but they do help rally the base and expose the corruption that isn’t being covered by other media outlets.

        • http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~regan/ Kenneth W. Regan

          Remarkable to say that there wouldn’t have been a Benghazi hue-and-cry without Fox. That doesn’t go together with the assertion that it was “worse than Watergate.”

          • George C

            Fox broke the story and everybody followed up despite the mainstream media’s desire to dismiss it as a spontaneous attack. The amount of controversy and scandal associated with this coverup is becoming more disturbing each week. Given that we are months removed from this event and NOBODY has given a coherent story on why support didn’t come for the folks that died at Benghazi is quite revealing of the depth of coverup going on.

  • http://wendybrownart.com Wendy Brown

    Thanks for this…as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I was devastated by Romney’s loss and afraid that Evangelicals hadn’t voted for him because of our faith. I needed to read this to understand that wasn’t so. As I have pondered the election results I have realized that the Republican party and the cause of conservatism may actually have won…if you look towards the future. The situation in the country is bad and I don’t think one really good man would be able to dig us out…rather, that man would be blamed for not being able to shovel hard enough. The Democrats will have a hard time blaming Bush for the next four years. We won more governorships and have an amazing crop of young Republicans on the bench…Rubio, Ryan, Mia Love, and a new George Bush who at 36 is just beginning to stick his toe in the poitical waters to name a few. I don’t see that same strength and vitality on the other side. I see the hand of the Lord in this and am so grateful for my Savior and his empowering Grace. Thanks once again.

  • Dan

    You have some goo points here. I imagine it won’t take long for those opposed to your “right-of-center” perspective to castigate you for being so. But, I guess that’s the price paid for stating honestly what one’s position is.

    I would demur on the point about conservatives needing to get out more and that Fox News is “preaching to the choir.” If Fox and conservative talk radio is all one listens to then one is limiting their perspective a bit. Personally I don’t know anyone who does that. As a conservative I am surrounded by opposing views from CNNABCCBSNBCMSNBCPBS to Hollywood-New York entertainment to local “minor” news outlets who get their news linup and perspective from the New York Times. As to the stories of Mexican gun-running and Benghazi, just because the above listed media outlets downplayed or ignored these scandals does not mean they are a provincial obsession of conservatives. These are issues that need airing because they affect our country and leadership. That is not an echo-chamber mentality but an attempt to cover the news that rightly needs covering. If the majority picture is that everything negative is someone else’s fault and that the leadership is truely wonderful, we are not far from the propoganda of countries led by dictators. This is a very serious mutation of the “media” over the last 30 years. I had hoped things would spring back to “normal” but instead they have accellerated and oftentimes are not even hidden.

    There are a number of articles on Christian blogs which lean both left and right that strive to remind us that Christians are citizens of heaven first and that our work for the Kingdom is not finished. Whether one is viewed as a “winner” or “loser” after the elections our true home and calling with and from the Lord. One can’t help but be reminded of the perspective contained in Isa. 40.

  • eS Jay 1ne

    Tim, great read! I think this is one of the best post-election assessments I have read thus far and I’ve been reading a slew of them, mostly liberal though. I couldn’t disagree more with Derek Rishmawy that the GOP is awful at marketing. The way the GOP framed and controlled the message of Obamacare was executed perfectly to a tee! As an organizer I could not understand and figure out how a fellow organizer, the POTUS, could not get a grip on the narrative for that legislation. They had to find another way to get the legislation through and it was because the GOP executed that marketing/messaging campaign! The fear that the POTUS is coming after the 2nd amendment is another great display of messaging, controlling the narrative and pouncing on gaffes. The GOP knows how to message. I believe Tim has one of the best assessments of what went wrong out there.

    • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

      Dude,
      Just go look at the two twitter accounts and compare them.
      Also, really? “The GOP knows how to message?” If they knew how to message Tim wouldn’t be writing two articles about Romney’s loss.

  • Tim OK

    Tim, I think this is a pretty honest assessment coming from a sympathetic republican.

    As a non-affliliated evangelical, let me tell you where I think the Republican party lost me: They have no answers to the majority of problems that face USA today. It’s not even that they have no answers; they don’t even acknowledge a problem. They seem to think that by offering up the same platitudes (higher walls, lower taxes, rising tide, American exceptionalism, yadayadayada) to every problem, people will ignore the problems themselves.

    To wit, here are some Republican responses to problems that concern me (and, I think, many others):
    -climate change: what climate change? Cows fart carbon, so the climate can’t be changing (John Boehner actually said this)
    -income inequality at its worst since 1929: let’s cut taxes on the wealthy
    -gender inequality in the workplace: if we cut taxes, more people will have the opportunity to earn more $
    -America becoming more brown: let’s build a bigger wall around our borders

    It goes on and on, but I just think Republicans are totally tone-deaf. I don’t think ‘conservatism’, as a philosophy, is irrelevant. I just think the current version of the Republican party live in an alternate reality. They make it really hard to vote for them.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Fair enough, Tim. Some good points there.

    • http://mikesnow.org Michael Snow

      I agree that Republicans are tone deaf, otherwise they would not have Mitch McConnell as their voice in the Senate.
      But your yadayadayada on global warming belies the science. It certainly fits with the propaganda.

  • Kubrick’s Rube

    This is a clear-eyed and in my opinion accurate assessment of the election.

    One point I’d like to make though- blaming Bush for the bad economy, for some of us, is not the same as blaming him for the financial collapse. That was 30 years and 4 administrations (Clinton played his part along with your guys) in the making, and while I believe Bush’s policies made the impact of the collapse worse (mostly through the exploded debt), he is by no means responsible for the collapse itself. And kudos to him for recognizing the need for TARP (imperfect though it was) and the auto bailout.

    • Jason Fisher

      I have to say Rube it is comments like your last one that pushed me out of the Republican party. I want a free market and small limited government. The market would have sorted things out if allowed and the same with the auto bailout. Those things would not simply disappear but would have been purchased by companies (Ford, Toyota) have would have used them more efficiently. Which would have been good for all of us in the long term.

      I was a faithful Rep/Con voter all my life until this year. I am tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.

      • Kubrick’s Rube

        Just to be clear, I am a liberal Democrat.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        I’m not sure that Rube is a Republican. I’ve rather been under the opposite impression, actually.

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    One more point: Can we talk about the brilliant idea of having 10 Republican candidate debates during an election against an incumbent? Can we talk about friendly fire and the fact that we had months of Republicans tearing each other up, fielding a bunch of incompetents who had months to gaffe it up? On the one hand, it was nice to get some of the crazy and stupid out early, but still, there’s got to be a less publicly damaging way to do that. The primary season did not help one bit at setting up the eventual candidate.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I agree!

      • George C

        This was my biggest beef with Romney’s approach in the primaries.

  • Gilles

    Finally an evaluation of what happened from a Republican perspective that isn’t pure dreamland. I voted Obama and I’m thrilled with the results. You Republicans have a difficult task on your hands: at the very least you need to expand your house to include so-called (but not for long) minorities, but you don’t really like minorities (or at least the interests of minorities). Obama stands for inclusion. Just look at photos of the respective conventions or after-election gatherings: one is obviously diverse the other is all white and homogenous.

  • Rick Middleton

    I’m still surprised that Romney’s supporters insist he is a fantastic candidate, when he failed at several fundamentals. Presidential candidates provide several years of tax returns for public inspection; Romney did not. Candidates don’t denigrate half of the US population as moochers. Candidates with no economic specifics can’t plausibly be seen as having solid answers on the economy. Candidates who choose Ayn Rand disciples as VP candidates are not going to be perceived as friends of the middle class.

    Here is how much of America views the GOP: Rick Perry, in 2011, calls Social Security a ponzi scheme and insists on privatization, and the conservative audience cheers. But more than half of America is not cheering, because they see bedrock safety net institutions being dismantled and replaced with vague plans that they don’t really trust as safe, fair or viable. The Republicans can’t win by suggesting everything should be torn down in the name of freedom.

    • Thomas R

      Yeah. I mean I agree any other candidate would likely have lost and agree with some of his other points. However starting with “Mitt was the best candidate we’ve had since Reagan” kind of soured me before I got to them. Mitt was not a great candidate. And this isn’t because I’m some kind of Right-wing extremist. I thought Huntsman was interesting and would have been happier to vote for him. And he’s also Mormon. There’s a reason many of us didn’t want Romney in 2008 that had nothing to do with disliking Mormons or moderates. The man was an unpopular one-term governor who touted his business experience and the Olympics almost more than any political accomplishments. Which makes him like a saner Ross Perot, but without the charisma.

      And it’s ashame because, as I said, much of his post is good. He didn’t really need the shot of “I was still right Romney was the best candidate in decades.” He could have said he has no regrets about supporting Romney, and that the others wouldn’t have won either, without the irritating “You who wanted a non-Romney are kind of stupid.” Because I’d agree the others would have lost and some of his closing points.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        Fair enough, Thomas. I really can’t think of any candidate we’ve offered since Reagan, however, who was better. Just being honest here. Bush the Elder, Dole, Bush the Younger, McCain…I don’t believe that any of them would have beaten Obama this time around, and I do view Romney as stronger than the rest. One thing GWB had going for him was a strong sense of identification from white conservative Christians, who turned out in high numbers for him. While evangelicals voted for Romney over Obama in higher proportion overall than they did for Bush, the overall evangelical vote for Romney appears to have been lower, at least in certain states. And GWB had a great organization. But I found Romney much better at articulating the case for conservatism (at least fiscal conservatism) than GWB ever was.

  • MatthewS

    One thing I saw on social media was the “war on women” narrative. I saw some vicious comment streams that from my perspective were group-think, attached to the idea that all people voting for Romney were rabid women-haters and basically just evil people. A vote for Romney must betray an individual’s intention to set the country back 60 years. It makes me wonder what might have happened if Mourdock had not been in the equation to re-stir the pot after Akin’s horrible statement. It’s just almost impossible to carry on a political discourse when people are screaming at you that your party’s position on rape is that the woman probably asked for it. (the maddening hypocrisy of zero popular outrage over Whoopi’s rape-rape remark just makes me shake my head)

    • Bloke

      Whoopi is not running as a candidate as a representative of a political party.

  • MatthewS

    I wish for a modern version of William F. Buckley, Jr. to engage popular media with intimidating intelligence and wit.

  • Larry Denham

    @Larry, thanks for saving me the trouble of posting a long diatribe, since you hit most of my points. But, a couple things to consider. First, in the primaries, Romney either played to the base or simply let the others implode. I feel, as a left-leaning independent, any real conservatives with the clout to move the country (Jeb, Marco, et al.) stayed out because they calculated how difficult it would be to beat an incumbent when your only bargaining chip was betting that the economy would continue to dive. Also, the base that the candidate played to in the primary would never be enough to close the deal in a national election. Like most elections, you play to the base in the primary and then move toward the center in the general, but Romney was forced so far to the right in the primary, his move toward the center looked disingenuous. Combine that with Romney’s paralysis when it came to truly defining his position (had he stayed right, the center would abandon him and if he appeared too far toward center the base would jump ship), we were left with a candidate that was defined by everyone else except the candidate.

    Although, I will admit, I was leaning toward re-election before the primaries, as the campaign rolled on, I was looking for Romney to say something that would make me, and the number of those who would have considered a viable alternative, think twice. It never happened. He never explained why he shifted from pro-choice to pro-birth, He never came out and said ANYTHING about who would be affected by ANY of his plans other than it would be rainbows and unicorns for everybody, and he never took a stand, especially when it came to specifics, that opposed anyone in his camp. That is what killed it for me.

    Heaped on top of that was the childish actions of a do-nothing congress, those who thought it would help to paint Obama as “other”, and the nonsense that was being pushed by old white men that, evidently, skipped biology class in high school. Those extremes, granted outside his control, combined with his inability to REALLY make a case for his presidency outside of “I’m not great, but since you don’t like the other guy, and I’m the only choice”, did nothing to help his case.

    My feeling is that the GOP has really lost touch with the electorate. One in which its recognizable base is shrinking, relative to the demographics. The cottage plank for the GOP, defense, is no longer a strength, and the population as a whole is becoming more educated, more evidence based, more high-tech, and they will not accept promises without proof of action as a viable reason to vote that way.

    When it came to campaigning, there was no one better than Obama, to be sure, but a strong message, that appeals to the majority, a recognition of what the populous looks like, needs, and responds too, and a shift away from 20th or 19th century thinking, with a candidate who embodies the ideals of the electorate, would have defeated a great campaigner.

    • kenneth

      “My feeling is that the GOP has really lost touch with the electorate.”………….
      It’s lost touch with reality. It has not done any original thinking or articulated a plausible vision of America for over 30 years. It has no statesmen of any kind left in its ranks, nor even anyone capable of grown-up governance and negotiation. Its “platform” such as it is, amounts to the personal financial agenda of billionaires, coupled with a statement than anyone who questions that is a “socialist” and a welfare queen.

      Its only other appeal lay with an extreme religious agenda, xenophobia and the anger of older white men who believe with all their hearts that they had a perpetual birthright to order the culture to their personal comfort zones. Anger and a sense of lost entitlement mobilized them, as probably no other force has been mobilized in recent times, but anger is not a viable public policy, and it has no appeal to the rest of us.

      The GOP failure was not a marketing problem. It was not the brand spokesman. It’s the product. It’s a dog and a non-seller with the nations current and future majority, and if the party keeps trying to repackage and sell it, they will become a strictly regional party and fringe player on the national scene.

  • Tom

    Some excellent points by everyone, but we are still lacking substance. What does this mean for America and for us as individuals. What I expect in the next 4 years:

    1. Higher taxes
    2. Greater deficits
    3. Higher unemployment
    4. The poor will get poorer
    5. The middle class will get poorer
    6. The rich will continue to grow richer.
    7. More homeless
    8. Our military will be cut drastically.
    9. More wars (al-Qaeda is still out there and they still want to kill us all)
    10. Obamacare = Substantial grow in the cost of health care and fewer health care choices.
    11. Growing political, class and racial divides.
    12. More abortions, cheaper and easier, all paid by you and I who object to abortion.
    13. Less religious freedom.
    14. More gun control.
    15. Higher gas prices, less domestically supplied energy.
    16. Higher energy prices, his goal is to cut the coal industry in half if not eliminate it entirely.
    ….

    I could go on, but what is the point. The question that boggles my mind is who in the world wants this to happen? Unemployment and homelessness is the worse I’ve seen in my lifetime, arguably worse than the Great Depression. As a Christian, all do all I can to help the poor, homeless, down trodden here in the US and through out the world. Now I feel that we won’t even be able to help our neighbor.

    So again, why did people vote for this?

    • Alice Gordon

      I guess we don’t believe any of the above and we did believe the extreme right wing agenda would make abortions impossible, birth control expensive, class income differentials higher and as far as the economy thought things are getting better under Obama. And whats more it is all true. The sky is not falling chicken little.

    • Rick Middleton

      “Why did people vote for this?” Um, you offer up a silly nightmare scenario of Pretend Obama, not Actual Obama, and then ask why people voted for that. What an absurd way to approach an issue. If you really want to know why more than 50% of the country voted for the candidate you hate (and they did that twice!), you should understand that your premises are completely off-base. You can’t arrive at any understanding if your premises are so badly skewed.

      • Rick Middleton

        Here’s just one example: “more gun control.” People who believe in conspiracy theories are sure Obama is going to take away the guns. But the evidence in front of you is clear — this President, who is very much a pragmatist, understands the NRA is too powerful to take on. Therefore, he never talks about guns, and he never proposes anti-gun legislation, and there’s no plan for a major gun-control bill in the upcoming Congress. The last such move was the assault rifle ban in the 90s, and that was bruising, and probably cost Gore the election; therefore, Dems have given up that battle. Look at the states — gun ownership laws are getting ever more permissive, with concealed-carry measures popping up everywhere.

        This is just one of many issues where conservatives seem to fear Pretend Obama and some strong-arm socialism they are sure he wants to enact. Meanwhile, Actual Obama is seeking to pass budget bills, end the Bush tax cuts, and other centrist-pragmatic things. You can’t beat Obama in an election because you don’t even have an accurate picture of what he stands for.

        • http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~regan/ Kenneth W. Regan

          Not only that, Obama commended the Supreme Court for the DC gun-control decision, which I don’t think he was obliged to do.

      • Larry Easton

        Rick, 50% of the country voted for Obama? Not really. Not by a long shot. Let’s set aside, for the moment, the fact that millions of conservatives sat this election out … at least with regard to the top of the ticket. There are roughly 220,000,000 Americans of voting age at present.

        Obama won roughly 60,000,000 votes, that’s little better than 25% of voting age America. To better understand why those who did vote for Obama, did … well, you’ll need to examine the demographics and anecdotal evidence. It’s not a pretty picture.

        The most responsible among us, didn’t. The most entrepreneurial among us didn’t. The oldest (wisest?) among us didn’t. Married women didn’t. Men didn’t.

        I’ll leave there I think.

        • Rick

          If it makes you feel better to call yourself more responsible, and more entrepreneurial, go ahead (as a business owner I can only smile). I suppose you need such justifications after losing an election that was very winnable.

    • Kubrick’s Rube

      You got me. I totally agree that your sixteen points are the logical consequence of Obama’s reelection and I voted for him anyway!

      I see this on both sides (and have been guilty of it myself). It’s a dangerously easy thought pattern for a partisan to find oneself in: Romney’s policies would hurt the poor ergo he hates the poor ergo anyone who votes for him hates the poor. Obama’s policies will create dependency on government ergo he wants people dependent on government ergo anyone who votes for him wants people- including themselves- to be dependent on government. It is very important to remember that our political opponents don’t accept our formulations of their positions anymore than we accept their formulations of ours. Good faith debate is otherwise impossible.

      • Larry Easton

        Kubrick, your premise is flawed. First you must demonstrate, with reasoning that survives beyond the salons of the Left, which is to say, survives the scrutiny of reasoned argument, that conservative policies “hurt the poor”.

        I’m aware of no such evidence. The most productive policies which yielded positive trends among the poor (which is to say, provided upward mobility away from the ranks of the impoverished) during the last several decades were enacted by the 104th Congress during the mid 90′s (and finally signed into law by then President Clinton, who though he fought them, later found that they promoted such favorable outcomes and now claims them as his own).

        President Obama, by fiat, recently gutted those provisions. The poverty programs of the Left are aptly named in as much as they have perpetuated poverty now for generations. Worse, just as Daniel Patrick Moynihan presciently foretold, these same policies have spawned an army of social pathologies which have descended like a plague over the culture and nation.

        But this only underscores one of the Left’s most pervasive problems, namely, the substitution of myth for fact. False premise, layered upon false premise, layered upon even more false premise finds the modern liberal both in an all out war with the truth and necessarily comforted by the most outrageous of lies.

        Like a child who has been instructed in mathematical nonsense, he not only unblushingly insists that 6+6=15, but calculates that 15+6=53. There’s no basis for a substantive or meaningful discussion when myth supplants fact. When premises require the suspension of belief and replacement histories.

        We don’t face a simple divide today, we stare across a chasm at each other. An authentic conservative finds such an environment welcoming, however, in as much as the majority of Americans don’t hate the obvious … they only wait for someone to restate it.

        Only the doctrinaire finds the obvious so odious. But like Jesus, the Conservative is only seeking an audience with those who have ears to hear. They remain, for the moment, reasoning and persuadable.

        • Kubrick’s Rube
          • Larry Easton

            Kubrick,

            Thank you for underscoring my point regarding the flawed premises of modern liberalism. You’ve attempted to refute fact with fable (Poltifact is largely discredited by the way). Here is the mandate itself … http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/policy/im-ofa/2012/im201203/im201203

            The truth, unmolested, is modern liberalism’s greatest fear and enemy. What a life of denuded dignity and emptiness the Left has chosen.

        • Kubrick’s Rube

          Did you really read your link to the HHS waiver regulations? Because it does not corroborate your claim at all. I see clause after clause, sentence after sentence, reiterating that the goal is to “improve employment outcomes for needy families.” This is about granting individual states the right to opt out if and only if they find “new, more effective ways to meet the goals of TANF, particularly helping parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment.” Nothing about gutting or even weakening work requirements. Really the opposite. So what am I missing?

          • Larry Easton

            No Kubrick it is not. The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 had, at its heart, work requirements … they drove the Act’s success. Welfare rolls decreased by half and the poverty rate for black children plummeted to its lowest levels IN HISTORY.

            They have now been abandoned. I their place Obama offers new requirements “in lieu of” those required by the statute (the Emperor strikes again). This effort has cut out cut Congress out entirely. This effort required the Administration to ignore the clear language of the law and arrogate to itself powers it does not enjoy.

            Government agencies have reported the illegality of the decision as well as the mitigation of the original laws effects. Additionally, it will cost tax payers billions.

            Try acquainting yourself with the facts Kubrick in place of Democratic talking points. Think for yourself and breathe the free air …

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            I agree with Larry here. I’ve sat in the lecture hall as Jim Wallis bemoaned the Welfare Reform Act as dreadful and unconscionable, but it seemed to me like it was a great success. I’m sure there are ways it can be fine-tuned, but progressives would be irked by the President’s end-around Congress on this if it were a Republican president.

        • Joel

          Substitution of myth for fact? Like saying that all the polls are liberal conspiracies?

          • Matti

            Where have you been for the last week? Don’t you know that Republicans just delivered a sound beating to Democrats with nothing but detailed, fact-based policies?

            See how much fun it is to let go of reality altogether? You can even claim it’s not you doing that but your opponent and no-one can prove otherwise since you can ALWAYS just dispute them!

  • Bloke
  • Craig

    Also, evangelicals (I’m trying to be objective here) damage the brand through Akin- and Mourdock-like boneheadedness.”

    Perhaps by “boneheadedness” you mean being candid about what the radical anti-abortion arguments have led one to believe. Tim, what’s your view about abortion in cases of rape?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Craig (hello, by the way, from a fellow Stanford guy), my view is that a life is a life is a life. So I am morally opposed to abortion, period. I do believe there’s a reasonable argument to be made, however, for legally permitting abortion in cases of rape. For one thing, the woman’s responsibility for the child is different, and that can form the basis for a legal distinction. There’s a lot of good philosophical discussion on this in the medical ethics literature, as you may know. And one could make a pragmatic argument that pro-lifers could make the accommodation for the tiny percentage of abortions resulting from rape in order to prevent or diminish the far, far larger number of abortions that have nothing to do with rape.

      Akin’s boneheadedness was in the reference to “legitimate rape” and in the mysterious Penis Fly Trap theory that women who are forcibly raped will not conceive. Mourdock’s boneheadedness was in saying something — presumably based on a Reformed theology — that’s just completely inappropriate and prone to misunderstanding outside of a very specific context. *Some* pro-lifers would agree with Mourdock’s view, but on the basis of a very particular theology that sees all things as ordained by God, but it’s a complex theology and just an extraordinarily insensitive thing to say to people who do not share those views (and even to those who do).

      • Craig

        Tim, while I’m not offended by the association with Stanford, I am not and never have been affiliated with that institution. But why, may I ask, do you imply otherwise?

        Since there’s a reasonable argument to be made for such a legal distinction based upon the woman’s responsibility, do you also allow that there are reasonable arguments for a similar moral distinction on the same grounds? Why or why not? Moreover, if considerations of the woman’s responsibility provides grounds for a reasonable legal distinction regarding cases of rape, then why not think that there might be other grounds for drawing other reasonable abortion-related legal distinctions, like a legal distinction between abortions performed in cases of genetic problems, or between abortions performed before and after the third trimester, etc.? We can all agree that “a life is a life is a life”–but it should be painfully obvious that this tautology settles nothing, legally or morally. The radical pro-life view is so often associated with unreasonable simplicity.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Every now and then I’ll investigate a bit about a commenter, out of curiosity. My search on your email address led me to Craig Levin: http://med.stanford.edu/profiles/mips/researcher/Craig_Levin/ — and since you post as Craig and use the email address you do, it seemed like you must be the guy.

          The tautology doesn’t, by itself, settle anything. By themselves, tautologies rarely do. I’m not making a moral distinction here between the value of a life no matter its age or its health or the manner of its conception. But yes, in the case of a woman raped, there is a moral distinction to be made vis a vis her responsibility toward the child, in my view. And I do believe there “might be other grounds for drawing other reasonable abortion-related legal distinctions,” and grant that those distinctions can be reasonable, even when I do not think those distinctions are best or correct.

          Again, you post big questions, and I rarely have the time in answering comments to post answers to big questions. It’s just not an efficient use of my time, I’m afraid. So perhaps you can take a turn and explain whether you believe a zygote/embryo/fetus possesses any moral worth and whether *you* believe that there ought to be restrictions to the availability of abortion. You mention an “extreme pro-life” position. Is there such a thing as an extreme pro-choice position, and where would you draw the line between the two.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            By the way, I’m granting you may not be Craig Levin, of course, just explaining why I believed you were.

          • Craig

            I’d say that an extreme pro-choice would be one that extended to the mother the legal permissions to abort/kill fetuses up to and even through the point of child-birth. Granting legal permissions to kill after childbirth would be extreme in no small part because of the availability of other options at that point. As for “possessing any moral worth,” I am happy to grant this vague status to many things: actions, attitudes, character traits, species, ecosystems, non-human animals, medical discoveries, human corpses, and even redwoods. To extend “moral worth” to a human fetus, however, may simply mean that one shouldn’t try to flush one down the toilet after the abortion. A lot of radical anti-abortion folks seem to blind this point. Granting due respect or dignity to a human zygote/embryo/fetus many not entail granting to that entity the full moral and legal status of a healthy 12-year-old child. That is, a refusal to grant a human fetus the full moral and legal status of a healthy 12-year-old does not imply a refusal to grant the fetus moral worth.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Right. That was the point. I wanted to know whether you agreed with many of my pro-choice friends that the unborn child (to avoid the unwieldy zygote/embryo/fetus) does possess moral value, and is not simply a morally insignificant clump of cells. And many see a growing moral value throughout the pregnancy, up to the point of birth, when they would say that its moral value becomes, if not absolute, then at least something we want to be extremely careful about parsing.

            Was just trying to see where you draw the boundaries on the opposite side. Pro-lifers are often pressed on the boundary cases, and it’s fair to press on the boundary cases in the opposite direction to test the distinctions.

          • Craig

            But now regarding the extreme anti-abortion view that the human zygote basically possess the moral status of a healthy 12-year-old, and should possess the corresponding legal status: can you appreciate why it would be unreasonable to coercively legislate such an extreme view, when the affects of doing so would have this uncontroversial affect: severely limiting the freedoms of some citizens who, entirely reasonably, reject this extreme moral position? Can you at least appreciate why someone like Kathleen Sebelius can be entirely reasonable and consistent in both affirming her Catholicism and opposing the radical anti-abortion legislative views (and not just regarding cases of rape)?

  • David Naas

    Well, one can either sit smugly self-righteous in your pew, or you can take an honest look at what went wrong. Judging from too many of the reactions to this article, smug wins the day. Speaking as a true Independent (I take Washington’s advice seriously, and also don’t like either Party), it becomes increasingly obvious that Republicans don’t know what the rest of America, let alone the Democratic party thinks (of them).
    The Republicans are seen by the average middle-of-road American (for whatever reason, the ‘evilDemocrats’ propaganda or effect of loud talk-radio blowhards) as some combination of neoconwarkawks, pimps for the wealthy, and Christian Talioban ready to impose evangelical sharia of the nation. Get mad if you like, but that is the way it is. In AA, the first step on the way to recovery is to admit you are a drunk. Republicans have become drunk on right-wing rhetoric.
    The Democratic Party has its own problems, which I will not mention here, since the topic is, “how could we lose so badly?” If you ever want to win again, start by chasing away those who want to feed you more political hooch, get sober, and get to work. Stop blaming everyone but yourselves.

  • Brian

    I am a Republican and an Asian American. Although I thought Romney looked and sounded presidential I thought he lacked in terms of authenticity or having a personality. It almost looked like he was acting and that he had a hard time relating with everyday people and he kind of comes off as being stuck up or arrogant. I think I saw a bit of this back in 2008 when during the Primaries when Huckabee would say something funny during the debates Romney had a look of “how utterly stupid and corny”. I also think Romney was out of touch. There was a time during one of the presidential debates when he commented on an issue and said college students could ask their parents for some money or borrow money from their parents. Although this may be true of some people’s family situations I think most people can’t do that especially in urban America. The Republicans need to expand their base and grow in terms of ethnic diversity in terms of their leadership/candidates. Republicans need to understand how non white, non wealthy, people think and feel. Or else they will increasingly look out of touch. The Republican part should tap into the Asian American community and other minority communities. In terms of Marco Rubio I think he sounds like most other Republicans: like well practiced, well rehearsed robot/tape recorder. We need some authenticity and passion.
    In terms of other candidates who might have been able to beat President Obama I think either Mike Huckabee or Herman Cain might have been able to beat him. Herman Cain against President Obama would have been a very interesting contest because of the African American vote and support. Mike Huckabee, I think, has what Romney is missing, a personality and charm. Mike Huckabee comes off as a normal everyday person. I think Huckabee should run in 2016 and his VP pick should be Condoleeza Rice.

    • Thomas R

      I liked what I saw of Susana Martinez at the convention, more or less, but I don’t know enough to say.

      A Huckabee/Rice ticket could be interesting. I’m not sure it’d go anywhere, but I’m open to the idea of a bit more “splitting” and having the running mate be a moderate. Rice might be too linked to the foreign policy problems of Bush though.

      BTW: I’m Catholic not Evangelical. I hope that’s not a problem, I’ve never much gone into the Evangelical section before.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        Of course it’s not a problem! There are many evangelical Catholics, and many Catholics who are simply interested in the public square conversation, who frequent this blog and this section of the site. So, welcome!

  • Sal_S

    Tim, you write a good reflection on what went wrong for the Republicans. However, your very first premise, in my opinion, is flawed. Yes, you did have the wrong guy. No, I don’t mean he wasn’t conservative enough or that some of the other contenders were better. None of the other Republican contenders were electable in a national election. In that sense, Romney was the best option, among that pool. However, that doesn’t mean he was the right guy. In a time of high unemployment, I think it was a bad choice to go with the rich guy who seemed to have a hard time connecting to the average joe. Yes, I don’t know what kind of man he is personally, but he was prone to being caricatured. And that task was made easier by all the name calling that they did during the primaries. It was Rick Perry who was one of the first to accuse Romney of being a “vulture capitalist.” The Obama campaign just had to build on that foundation.

    Romney was the John Kerry of 2012. Kerry wasn’t able to connect with the average joe and was labeled a flip-flopper, but he was the best candidate within his party at the time. With a relatively unpopular incumbent, the conventional wisdom within the Democratic Party at the time was that regardless of his flaws, Kerry would beat Bush.

    It’s not just a branding or marketing problem. It’s part of it, for sure, but not all of it. I think it goes a little further to the basic ideology of the Republican Party. The Big Government/Little Government debate doesn’t quite connect with immigrant groups, for example. Some immigrants come from countries with no safety net of any sort, so they tend to look at the safety net in this country favorably. Some might come from repressive countries with repressive governments, but that doesn’t make them necessarily believe government is inherently bad. Yes, you might say, but that message resonates with Cuban Americans. Well, Florida Cubans are one of the exceptions, and it’s foolish to use the exception to convince oneself that all is right.

    The Republican focus on individualism also doesn’t resonate well beyond whites. That emphasis was especially evident at the convention this year. Two of the groups that voted overwhelmingly for Obama (Asians and Latinos), have a more collectivist view. The emphasis on the family is an entry point for Republicans with these groups. But Republicans must also understand that American individualism doesn’t translate well among those groups because the same underlying views that place importance on the family also de-emphasize the individual.

    David Brooks wrote a good column in the New York Times on November 9th (“The Party of Work”) that I think is insightful about why Republicans have trouble drawing in minorities. I don’t agree with everything in his column, but it’s a good starting-point for further discussion.

  • http://www.theupsidedownworld.com Rebecca Trotter

    I think TimOK above hits the nail on the head:
    “They have no answers to the majority of problems that face USA today. It’s not even that they have no answers; they don’t even acknowledge a problem. They seem to think that by offering up the same platitudes (higher walls, lower taxes, rising tide, American exceptionalism, yadayadayada) to every problem, people will ignore the problems themselves.”

    Today on facebook, I saw a picture of Pappa John’s castle. Yes, it’s literally a castle with a 21 car garage, lake, drawbridge, golf course, etc. According to the general Republican narrative, people are upset that someone has that much – jealous. But that’s not it at all. The problem is that this man who has such excess is threatening to cut worker’s hours because the company can’t afford to provide health insurance required by Obamacare. He’s said himself that the extra cost comes to 14 cents a pizza. That someone with so much sees nothing wrong with providing poverty wages for the labors of those who do the work that pays the bills on his castle is outrageous. Of course it was a liberal group spreading the picture around. The only answer conservatives seem to have is to accuse those workers of being “dependant on the government”. Add the conservative cries of “jealousy” and “class warfare” against those who think only an evil man would rather cut workers hours than shell out 14 cents a pizza so they can get medical care for themselves and their children while living in a castle. That’s why the Republicans lost. Their message and solutions just don’t match the reality on the ground for many people – especially minorities who are on the receiving end of the Pappa Johns of the world.

    IMO There’s a whole lotta denial going on in the Republican Party about how life is actually working and not working for Americans. Offering up the solutions from yesterday isn’t going to solve the problems of today.

  • Rick

    Conservatives should ask why their media lied to them, all the way up until election day. When pollster Nate Silver ran his sophisticated statistical model in the New York Times, he was blasted as a typical mainstream media liberal Obama hack. And all he ended up doing was calling all 50 states correctly. Meanwhile, Fox News was selling you anger and phony outrage, Glen Beck and Sean Hannity, trumped-up issues like Solyndra and Benghazi and Fast and Furious, convincing you that Obama was a walking Watergate crisis, that all true Americans hated Obamacare and stimulus and his wife’s nutrition work, that he was born in Kenya, that he was secretly a Muslim commando. Why don’t you demand better journalism? Why do you allow yourself to be led down some road, filled with talking heads assuring you that Romney was much stronger than he really was, finding out Tuesday night that all the nice pictures were utterly wrong?

    • John Haas

      Why? Because we conservatives love “America” or, at least, our idea of it, and we don’t let the reality-based community get in our way with facts, which, after all, are stupid things. Clearly, you don’t love “America” enough to ignore those stupid facts, hence, you hate “America.”

      Not America, of course, but “America.” That’s why no one here will listen to you.

      Rubio, ’16!

      That’s the ticket!

      • Larry Easton

        “You complete me” said the big lie, as Professor Haas walked through the-door.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Well, I don’t watch much Fox News, but I know (a) Glenn Beck is not on Fox News and (b) Fox News has never supported birtherism. There was a legitimate question of whether the composition of the electorate would be more like 2008 or more like 2010. Those who believe it would be more like 2008 (like Nate Silver) turned out to be right, and those who viewed 2008 as an aberration proved to be wrong. It wasn’t lying but a different read of the electorate, informed (as we all often are) by a bit of wishful thinking.

      That said, I do think conservatives need to rethink how they engage with media.

      • Joel

        1. Glenn Beck was on FOX news for a couple of years, and there’s still a whole lot of overlap between their audiences and message.

        2. FOX and other major conservative outlets didn’t directly support birtherism, but they didn’t do much to distance themselves from it either. They toed the line to pander to and enable birthers without actually embracing it. I heard over and over again things like “I’m not a birther, but isn’t it suspicious how Obama’s going through so much trouble to cover up his birth certificate? What’s he hiding?” You’d hear people say they weren’t birthers and then cite WorldNetDaily (birther central) as a respectable source. It’s doublespeak. Both the conservative media and major Republican politicians engaged in this sort of dog whistling.

        The left has its conspiracy theories too, but almost all the Democrat leaders stayed far away for 9/11 trutherism (for example).

  • http://mikesnow.org Michael Snow

    “Before we can rebuild, we need to understand what failed in the first place.” And for Christians, this goes way beyond politics. We have had little effect on the course of our culture. The spirit of the times wins while we lose, playing politics in the hope of a ‘savior’ while failing to be the redeeming salt and light of our culture. We have allowed the spirit of the times to re-define many of our basics like “love” which can now be used to defend abortion and homosexual acts.
    http://www.amazon.com/Love-Prayer-Forgiveness-Heresies-ebook/dp/B00A4Z70K4/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_t_3

  • Joel

    So which Republican presidential candidates have been real conservatives? Don’t say Reagan – the real Ronald Reagan was a pragmatist who was willing to compromise (he was not a strict hardliner on taxes, for example), was a total softy on illegal immigration, and was fiercely criticized by his own party for going dovish with his second-term foreign policy. By the standards of today’s tea party he might be a RINO.

    The only primary candidates who might have done better than Romney

    • Joel

      Should say “The only primary candidate who might have done better than Romney is Huntsman, who’s a moderate.”

      • Thomas R

        The weird thing is Huntsman isn’t really that moderate. I’m pretty sure he’s Pro-Life, for tax reform, etc. He just is willing to work for Democrats and is moderate on gay issues. I was interested in him, based on his actual record, but he was sadly a bit unimpressive in debates. He might have done better though, not sure. I would have been more okay voting for him than Romney. (Who I only voted for because I couldn’t find the Third Party I wanted)

    • Larry Easton

      Joel, your coughing up Democratic talking points … a popular caricature of the man modern liberals/Democrats/Progressives loved to hate … until he died. At that juncture, Democrats realized, again, just how enduringly popular the man AND his conservatism was. It was then that they elected to rewrite his biography and recast him in their own image. Dishonest? Intellectually fraudulent? Embarrassingly unethical? Yes, of course. But we are talking about liberals after all.

      And thus we read inane remarks like yours. Reagan was cast regularly as a heartless conservative, warmonger who would lead the world into a nuclear conflagration, starve children and seniors, return blacks to the Jim Crow era (or worse) and conspired to kill homosexuals via the AIDs epidemic.

      He was the Conservative RINOs despised before the acronym had even been coined. So please, save your tutored renditions of history for your weekly coffee Klatch … I’m sure a line like that will meet with knowing nods all round.

      • Joel

        I have a history degree and I’m a centrist with slight conservative sympathies. The snide condescension that emanates from your posts in this thread is one of the reasons I’m alienated from today’s right wing.

        Everything I said about Reagan is true. He obviously believed lower taxes were a good thing and taxes had a net decresae in his presidency, but he was not absolutely opposed to tax increases in any and all circumstanes. Lower taxes were a general principle and a goal to aspire to, not a strict rule. His stance on immigration would have hurt his chances in a Republican primary today. He did move the Republican party and the nation as a whole right at the time, but he was closer to the center than many Republicans today.

        As for foreign policy, he fit in no neat box and had both hawkish and dovish tendencies at different times. When he started taking a diplomatic approach with Gorbachev and working for nuclear disarmanent, a lot of people on the right thought he was letting Gorbachev manipulate him as a useful idiot. George Will said after one disarmanent treaty “people will remember this as the day the cold war was lost.” Even the elder Bush, his VP at the time, thought Reagan was going too soft on the Soviet Union. This is historical fact.

        • Larry Easton

          Joel, you’ve a degree in history? Given your treatment of the Reagan record I wouldn’t broadcast that too widely. You’re either another victim of historical revisionism’s poisonous tendencies or … a political hack who bullies his views into acceptance by waving around a degree as proof of the unassailablity of his posits.

          You offered a laughable caricature, not a credible, accurate or honest assessment of Reagan. In defending your first remarks you persist in your misrepresentations. Dishonest? Ill-informed (a victim of historical revisionism)? Don’t know, don’t particularly care. One thing is certain though … your wrong.

          You specialize in presenting moments stripped of context (Reagan and Gorbachev is a good example … you offer a snapshot, ignoring the events and commentary preceding and following it). You do the same with the infamous Reagan tax deal which he later lamented. Yet you boast of a degree in history. Worse, you ignore the mountains of evidence to the contrary. That’s not just selective … it’s deceptive.

          In classroom after classroom across America, scandalously unqualified teachers hold students captive to under-performance and ignorance. Yet they all possess degrees and certifications … a common and sad commentary on the feckless and vacuous nature of today’s higher education. Nothing at all to brag about Joel.

          Your final remark “This is a historical fact” is sad witnesses to this phenomenon. “Snide condescension” … are you deaf to your own words? Worse, you whine that this attitude is what has so alienated you from the “right wing” (and you write this with an apparently straight face?).

          Are you unable to note the rather extraordinary contradictions in your positions. The puerile reasoning you offer so eagerly. That may sell among the unthinking and uncritical … but not here. At least as you’ve packaged it. However, if you’re willing to bag it … I’ll buy a load. Organic fertilizers are my favorite.

          • John Haas

            Reagan was certainly conservative is a kind of symbolic way–he claimed the title and folk accepted it at the time–but his record is very mixed. He both lowered and raised taxes. He manipulated the money supply. He engaged in stimulus spending. He accumulated a larger deficit than all his predecessors put together. He negotiated with the Soviets and cut nuclear armaments (the first president to do so). His tough stance on war was carried out through proxies in Afghanistan and Nicaragua, or against postage-stamps such as Grenada; he put troops nto Lebanon with no clear mission and in numbers insufficient to protect themselves, and yanked them out after they were attacked–the perpetrators were never brought to justice. He was luke warm about pro-life issues.

            Not all of this is bad, but it’s not the mythical Reagan the right of today prefers to recall. Their image of him is part and parcel of their embrace of unreality, and is one of the reasons they thought packaging Mitt Romney as Goldwateresque would be a sure-fire vote getter.

          • Larry Easton

            “You complete me” said Professor Haas as the Big Lie walked through the door.

  • http://christthetao.blogspot.com David Marshall

    Benghazzi was hardly “trumped up.” It has been a remarkable series of errors, cover-ups, and lies, which the mainstream press has largely abbetted.
    But I think, while Dalyrimple makes some good points, he may explain too much. Obama won by 2-3%. Most incumbants win by more than that, if people think they are doing a good job. I’m appalled that Obama won, and don’t think he deserved any votes. But then again, I was kind of surprised that Bush II won a second term, too.

  • http://industrialblog.powerblogs.com IB Bill

    Why did the Republicans lose? Because the country didn’t think it was time for a change.

    You could make the argument that the GOP didn’t communicate well enough, and there’s some of that. But I usually don’t buy the whole “we didn’t communicate well enough” argument. I didn’t buy it when the Democrats used it from 2000 to 2006 and I don’t buy it now. Could something have been better? Yes. But that’s always true. I think Romney actually ran a good campaign, and thought he would have been an excellent president.

    Most of the GOP hand-wringing (and accusations) was said eight years ago, only the roles were reversed.

    TImothy’s article here is spot on. We need to take stock and regroup.

  • http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~regan/ Kenneth W. Regan

    Good analysis. Only niggle is that Romney never “pulled ahead”—Nate Silver covered that thoroughly and his numbers have been ratified. Gallup and Rasmussen were off-base, as his model already provided as of June 22. Drudge et al. did their best to cherry-pick polls and hope for bandwagon, but that doesn’t work for science. (That the Denver debate had such a large effect is for me the most eye-opening lesson.)

    Only thing I’ll add from my experience talking with people is that it’s wrong to dismiss truth-telling on grounds that “both sides fib and worse”, to diss fact-checking as Newhouse and Rove did. The perception that the R’s fibbed worse really mattered. It was 19-7 on fact-checking; your VP gave the first quintuple-whopper convention speech and then ratified it by making up a clueless marathon time. Just like “47%” completely ratified the Bain attacks which some Dems had criticized—and the country rightly perceives that this is the attitude of much of The Money. This merges with things like Republican senators being (if I recall) unanimously against the scientific consensus on global warming. MSM doesn’t “do” these things, they’re self-inflicted.

  • http://stowellbrown.blogspot.com/ Flyaway

    How do we pray for evangelicals who think disarming America of nukes, feeding the poor, and other social justice issues are more important than preventing unborn babies being ripped limb from limb in the womb and more important than the deception of homosexuality being forced on society?

    Romans 1:18-27
    Unbelief and Its Consequences
    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions ; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural , 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

    • Caravelle

      Hey Flyaway, I have a game for you. Take a piece of paper and divided it into two columns. Read your Bible, and in one column write down every verse that talks about poverty and wealth or war and peace, and in the second column write down every verse that talks about fetuses dying in the womb or homosexuality. Mark with asterisks the verses that are against war or for helping the poor, and the verses that are against fetuses dying in the womb or against homosexuality.

      How many asterisks did you get in each column ?

  • kalimsaki

    Here is good news for all of you

    Death is not destruction, or nothingness, or annihilation; it is not cessation or extinction; it is not eternal separation, or non- existence, or a chance event; it is not authorless obliteration. Rather, it is to be discharged by the Author who is All-Wise and All-Compassionate; it is a change of abode. It is to be despatched to eternal bliss, to your true home. It is the door of union to the Intermediate Realm, which is where you will meet with ninety-nine per cent of your friends.

    From Risalei Nur collection by Said Nursi.
    http://www.nur.gen.tr/en.html#leftmenu=Risale&maincontent=Risale&islem=read&KitapId=499&BolumId=8783&KitapAd=Letters+(+revised+)&Page=265

  • Jennifer G

    Romney Vs Obama can be compared to other candidates in the past, where one is seen as “of the people,” and the other ” far above and out of touch.” One comparison that comes to mind is Andrew Jackson vs. John Quincy Adams. Had John Quincy Adams had a chance, given more of a mandate and better political circumstances, I think he was equipped to be a very effective president (his 4 years were fairly empty; thankfully he shined in the anti-slavery movement). But the general populace often votes for someone whom they believe to be one of their own, and perhaps more willing to give the people what they want, rather than what they need.
    In many ways, our country needs a father. Fatherlessness has far reaching consequences and is rampant in our culture these days. A father disciplines for what is best, and our country needs some course correction, particularly regarding debt. Unfortunately, when we the people have an orphan mentality, perhaps a personal history of untrustworthy fathers, we are more likely to vote for someone who promises we will get our rights: entitlement programs, easy money, no painful consequences, rather than call us to our responsibilities. The painful consequences will come, but they may be felt most powerfully by the younger generations.
    Not sure how the GOP could have navigated all of that better.

  • http://JohnLofton.com John Lofton

    For Christians the standard for choosing rulers MUST be the Word of God and not which candidate is “the best” when contrasted with Dole, McCain and Bush the Elder. Does God’s Word say anything about what constitutes a good, righteous, ruler? Yes, of course. But, we see nothing about that in this article. “Politics” will not save us, Mr. Dalrymple. Our country is turning into Hell because the church in America has forgotten God (Psalm 9:17) and refuses to kiss His Son (Psalm 2.)
 You should have said something about this.

    John Lofton, Recovering Republican
    Editor, JohnLofton.com
    Also: Archive.TheAmericanView.com
    Active Facebook Wall
    JLof@aol.com

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      “Politics will not save us” is something I’ve affirmed countless times. That doesn’t mean politics are unimportant or unworthy of conversation. I’ve emphasized church work countless times, and I’ve spoken about Romney’s character qualities as biblical criteria for choosing leadership. Please don’t judge my message after reading a single blog post.

      Hope you enjoyed your little self-advertisement, though.

  • John Haas

    Larry, in all seriousness–and in love too–you need to up your game.

    You’re still in October-oh-twelve mode.

    Hand-holidng with the choir, it seems, won’t quite do it anymore.

    • Larry Easton

      John,

      There’s simply no point in addressing an adult like you seriously. You are more cultist than conversationalist or even thinker. Your answers are the result of contrivance, not reflection and disciplined, honest contemplation. They are, in short, lies of convenience and necessity.

      Convenient, because they spare you the embarrassment of admitting to others and yourself that you’re an intellectual fraud. Necessary, because like modern liberals everywhere, power-lust drives every political motive. Your need for deception is addictive … you simply cannot bear your existence without it.

      Like a cultist you’ve developed a convoluted set of interdependent lies … a complex web of deceit with which you both, lure the ignorant and unsuspecting, and comfort your own perverse need for an apologia that shields you from the harsh reality that long ago you abandoned verity for comity with others who found maturity an unwanted fate.

      Necessarily you now find truth, unmolested, intolerable and frightening. In its place you offer foolish and absurd liberal apologia. But, because you do this now as an adult of not a few years, you’ve signaled that you’re no hostage … but a willing accomplice. No point in casting pearls … you no longer care for their value and you utterly despise those who offer them.

      So my sarcasm offers a niggle and a prick … perhaps to goad you into reviewing the sad state of mind you’ve allowed yourself to decline into … professor.

      • John Haas

        Darn did you ever nail me, Larry. But fear not. To quote Dick Cheney, all those self-deceived liberals are surely in their last throes.

        • Larry Easton

          John,

          Not last throes … they never actually go away, they merely shrink back into the shadows and gather strength for another day. Each generation is visited and threatened by this darkness. Each generation must war against its lies and ignorance … or fall to its deadly reign.

          • John Haas

            Larry, I respectfully request that you reconsider, and perhaps allow that I am, indeed, a victim here? Reason for this request:

            “President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as “Delphi” to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That’s according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.”

            http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/11/georgia-senate-gets-52-minute-briefing-united-nations-takeover

          • Larry Easton

            John,
            You’ve generously given of your time to validate my observations. That was kind … thanks. BTW, if you’re ever in the mood for exit counseling … just drop me a line.


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