Crazy on a ship of fools

Updated
Crazy on a ship of fools
Crazy on a ship of fools
DolceDanielle/Flickr

About a week after Election Day, National Review held its Post Election Cruise 2012, aboard the m.s. Nieuw Amsterdam, and fortunately, New York’s Joe Hagan was there to document just how nutty the excursion really was.

There’s quite a bit to chew on in Hagan’s article – don’t miss the racist Californian who said the ship’s managers should be white, the retired surgeon who sees armed insurrection as a credible scenario, and John Yoo’s mother complaining that conservatives are stuck in “denial and projection” – but what stood out for me were comments from Kevin Hassett, a former economic adviser to Mitt Romney, and co-author of the ridiculous 1999 book Dow 36,000.

As we drained the Pinot Noir, Hassett gave his audience the insider’s view of the Romney campaign, describing how its election-monitoring software crashed on November 6 and Obama was probably behind it, “because those guys are so evil.” […] “The thing we have to understand is, these are people who don’t have any morals,” said Hassett. “They’ll do anything. I’m one of their No. 1 targets. I mean, they really want me bad.”

“Well, you’re safe on this ship!” said Bobbie boldly.

Then Hassett pivoted to the liberal media. “I actually think that Goebbels was more critical of Hitler than the New York Times is of Obama,” said Hassett, tucking into a piece of strudel. “I was in the middle of the fight against the propaganda, and I have stories like you wouldn’t believe. These people are so evil. They’re basically Fascists. It’s unbelievable.”

Now, Hassett’s propensity for nuttiness isn’t exactly new, and he’s certainly entitled to his opinions about Democrats’ morals and ideological beliefs.

But to hear Hassett argue that President Obama was probably behind the crash of Romney’s election-monitoring software, “because those guys are so evil,” points to a larger concern.

It’s true that the Romney campaign came up with an Election Day program called “ORCA,” which did in fact crash when it was needed most. But that wasn’t Obama’s fault; it was the result of Team Romney’s incompetence.

As dawn broke on Election Day, 800 Romney volunteers filled the floor of TD Garden in Boston. This was the centerpiece of the campaign’s turnout operation, code named ORCA, that was supposed to swallow Obama’s Narwhal program. But the Romney team was so determined to keep ORCA secret that it had never run a test at TD Garden; it had only gone through some lesser runs in a different building.

The ORCA workers were supposed to be in contact with more than 30,000 volunteers stationed at polling places across the country. Those volunteers were told to bring a smartphone and go to a secure Web page on which they could report the names of everyone who voted. In this way, the Romney campaign could determine if supporters had failed to show up and urge them to vote.

But as volunteers on Election Day began tapping in the names of voters, it became clear something was wrong.

The system was so overloaded with incoming data from volunteers that it exceeded capacity and crashed.

Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns wrote a lengthy report on ORCA’s spectacular failures over a month ago, and it’s clear there was no sabotage. The Romney campaign just didn’t know what it was doing, and the result was an untested program that didn’t work.

As for Hassett’s self-pity, I understand the stages of grief, but paranoia isn’t one of them. That this guy was a leading economic advisor to Romney is a little disconcerting.

Kevin Hassett

Crazy on a ship of fools

Updated