Thursday, November 15, 2012

"No Romney wing of the party"

Mitt Romney, getting further beaten up by his own party after his "gifts" comments.

“There is no Romney wing in the party that he needs to address,” said Ed Rogers, a longtime Republican strategist.

“He never developed an emotional foothold within the GOP so he can exit the stage anytime and no one will mourn.”

This past week and now these past 24 hours have been brutal for Romney.

But these "gifts" comments are a variation (even a milder variation) on the 47% theme, and really, the only difference between Romney on November 5 and November 15 is about 206 electoral votes -- 64 shy of what he needed to become the greatest thing that ever lived (besides Trader Joe's chocolate).

By the way, here's a particularly good (and balanced) read on the gifts comments from Forbes' James Poulos, who acknowledges that Obama practiced what he calls "federal patronage politics."

It'd be easy to conclude that "patronage politics" is just "gifts" by a more academic term, but it's a more complex argument, and he notes that Republicans aren't beyond patronage politics, either.

Viewed solely from the standpoint of identity politics, Obamanomics is patronage politics, the distribution of “gifts” for votes. That’s not an abject fantasy, but it’s arguably the least important of the three components of political economy under Obama. The second component, detailed in Tim Carney’s book Obamanomics, show how big, intimate public-private partnerships are foundational to the president’s approach. There’s some patronage woven in there, to be sure, but the superstructure most resembles the corrupt Gilded Age system (ahem, Republicans) that gave rise to the trust-busting movement. After the Civil War, Republicans were no strangers to patronage. But their affinity for nation-building, which required that big business and big government collaborate on sea-to-sea projects, reaches back past European immigration and the Republican party itself to the Whig and Federalist imperative to transform the American hodgepodge into a union in fact — complete with a fully integrated continental economy, national education, and so on. Obama is in danger of wresting that tradition away from Republicans, and mainline establishmentarian conservatives who grasp this are right to tremble.

But even beyond that, the third layer of Obamanomics, and evidently the hardest one for Republicans to come to terms with, is the one that champions the economic interests of middle-class singles, for whom the economic logic of heads of family households does not apply, and for whom the American Dream does not involve the imminent formation of traditional (or even neo-traditional) families — or, increasingly, even the not-so-imminent formation of such families.

Because the culture wars still have some life in them, the third layer of Obamanomics was mistaken by many conservatives as just a specific, identity-political pitch to single women. Rather than complaining that Obama’s base is “stupid single women,” however, conservatives would be better off recognizing that Obama’s swing voters are single middle-class humans, a growing wedge of the electorate that perhaps best captures the nature of Republicans’ so-called demographic challenges.