Political Battle

07.15.12

Romney: Too Weak?

This is powerfully said by Josh Marshall on Friday the 13th, a bad day for Mitt Romney:

I’m not sure how many people watching this spectacle even remember that it’s nominally about whether Romney is responsible for outsourcing Bain did post-February 1999 or its investment in a company that serviced abortion clinics. I barely remember it myself. What’s driving this now is that the Obama camp has backed Romney into a position in which he looks ridiculous — something much more lethal for presidential candidates than most people appreciate.

Romney had absolutely nothing to do with Bain after 1999, no responsibility for anything it did, barely even knew what it did. Only he was the owner, the Chairman of the Board and the CEO. At least according to all the official documents, many of which he signed. Only he wasn’t any of those things, says Romney.

Marshall's column is titled "Weak, weak, weak," and it puts its finger on a core weakness of Romney as a candidate. It's not just his arguments that are weak. For the past year, we have watched him be pushed around by the radical GOP fringe. He's been forced to abjure his most important achievement as governor, his healthcare plan. In December, he was compelled to sign onto the Ryan budget plan after months of squirming to avoid it. Last fall he released an elaborate economic plan. On the eve of the Michigan primary, he ripped it up and instead accepted a huge new tax cut - to a top rate of 28% - that has never been costed (and that he now tries to avoid mentioning whenever he can). Romney has acknowledged in interviews that he understands that big rapid cuts in government spending could push the US economy back into recession. Yet he campaigns anyway on the Tea Party's false promise that it's the deficit that causes the depression, rather than (as he well knows) the other way around.

A big majority of this country is rightly frightened and appalled by what the congressional Republican party has become over the past four years: a radical cadre willing to push the nation over the cliff into utterly unnecessary national default in order to score a political point.

The hope for many of us was that a Republican president could do a better job constraining them than Barack Obama has been able to do - especially if (as I personally also hoped) the very act of electing such a president would deflate the radicalism of the congressional GOP and revive a more constructive spirit.

But at every point, Romney has surrendered to the fringe of his party. Weak. And now in his first tough encounter with Barack Obama, Romney is being shoved around again. This is not what a president looks like - anyway, not a successful president.