Why Romney lost: Pushed by the party’s extremists

Mitt Romney conceding the 2012 election to President Obama on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in Boston.
Mitt Romney conceding the 2012 election to President Obama on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in Boston.
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Very Conservative Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina may have been the first member of his party to launch a volley in the new GOP civil war that most political watchers knew would come if Mitt Romney lost. Senator Graham told Politico on November 5th;

“If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts. We’re not losing 95% of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.”

Mitt Romney lost, the war started, and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, David Frum was ready with  an arsenal. Frum has published a Newsweek “E-Book” entitled “Why Romney Lost, and what the GOP can do about it.” Frum names names and doesn’t hold back on what he calls the “Conservative Entertainment Complex” and why Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Mary Matalin, Sean Hannity, the entire “Fox and Friends” crew, Grover Norquist, and many others should get much of the blame for Mitt Romney and the Republican Party’s loss.

On the Conservative entertainers, Frum writes:

Some combative conservatives may wish that Romney had talked more about the various plots and conspiracies they believed Obama to have launched upon the land: Fast & Furious, Acorn, Pigford, U.N. bike lanes, Obama’s imagined plan to abolish the suburbs. But while this kind of angry talk may gain eyeballs on “Hannity,” it’s not the stuff that swings undecided voters in Colorado and Virginia.

Frum also blames the extreme members of his party, the Tea Party, and conservative entertainers for forcing Mitt Romney to campaign as a severe conservative:

Ironically, with Mitt Romney, the Republican Party found one of its most intelligent and articulate standard-bearers in decades. Yet we weren’t satisfied with him until we had forced him to jettison his own best self and best judgment. This must stop.

Frum also has this to say about the GOP’s insistence on longing for a new Ronald Reagan:

If conservatives are to succeed in the century ahead, they need to rethink what conservatism means in a time as far removed from Ronald Reagan’s as Reagan’s was from World War II… In 1980, the gap between rich and poor had only just begun to widen from its narrowest point of the whole 20th century. Today, the typical worker earns less than his counterpart of 1980, middle-class incomes are stagnating and wealth and power have concentrated to a degree that would startle even the Astors and the Vanderbilts.

And finally, Frum adds this note about the challenges of governing, something he says the Tea Party was never willing to do:

To govern is to choose, and we cannot choose everything. How will Republicans adapt to preserve what they value most? It’s an urgent question, for adapt we must. Cultural reaction, ethnic chauvinism, a defense of narrow status-quo economic interests, and a fact-indifferent approach to policy—these have together led us to an angry and embittered dead-end.

Why Romney lost: Pushed by the party's extremists