For Republicans, the only thing harder than losing to Barack Obama might be explaining it.Continue reading.
By any reasonable standard, Obama is a seriously vulnerable incumbent: a president overseeing a limping economy, whose party got thumped in the 2010 midterm elections and whose signature accomplishment of health care reform is highly controversial. Whatever his strengths on national security and personal likability, Obama probably began the 2012 campaign as the most beatable sitting president in 20 years.
So if Obama manages to defeat Mitt Romney on Tuesday, the Republican Party will have to go through a painful process of self-examination and internal debate in order to explain what went so badly wrong.
The debate won’t just be fodder for political obsessives: It will also determine how Republicans approach governing next year and how the party campaigns in 2014, 2016 and beyond.
Even before tomorrow’s vote, the post-election arguments about why Romney lost — if he does — are beginning.
And see this outstanding essay from Jonathan Tobin, from last night at Commentary, "The Conservatives’ Obama Delusion":
Most conservatives were prepared to acknowledge that the majority of Americans were still pleased with the idea of righting some historic wrongs by electing an African-American in 2008. But they failed to understand that even though Obama’s administration was not widely viewed as a great success, at least half of the country was not prepared to toss him out of office after only one term.Tobin's a treasure.
As an incumbent, Obama was able to claim credit for things for which he did not deserve many plaudits, like the killing of Osama bin Laden or even the response to the hurricane in the last days before the election. He also could count on the unfailing support of much of the media even when he was embarrassed by events, such as in Libya.
These were strengths that many Republicans continually discounted or disregarded entirely.
The close nature of the loss at a time when the national economy is still stagnant will naturally cause many on the right to speculate on what Romney and his campaign could have done differently. They will be right when they point out he should have fought back immediately against the slurs against his character that were the focus of much of the Obama campaign’s early efforts. Maybe a perfect GOP effort could have gotten that extra one percent of the vote that would have turned a few close states and elected Romney. That’s something that will torment conservatives as ObamaCare is implemented and Obama continues to govern from the left.
But even his sternest critics must admit Romney ran quite a creditable campaign and was able to use the debates to make the race closer and even take a lead in some polls in the last month. They must also acknowledge that the conservative assumption that the electorate in 2012 would be very different than it was in 2008 was wrong.
RTWT at that top link.
Tobin suggests the post-mortems will continue all the way up to the 2016 election. At that time no incumbent will be on the ballot, and perhaps the cycle of history will return to greater individualism and the decency of traditional values.
I'll have more...
Wait! Don't miss Ron Radosh, "Why Obama Won — and What Conservatives Must Do..."
Okay, no I'll have more later...