Data-Driven Mitt Couldn’t Do the Math

From “Why Romney Never Saw It Coming,” John Dickerson, Slate:

“In the final 10 days of the race, a split started to emerge in the two campaigns. The Obama team would shower you with a flurry of data—specific, measurable, and they’d show you the way they did the math. Any request for written proof was immediately filled. They knew their brief so well you could imagine Romney hiring them to work at Bain. The Romney team, by contrast, was much more gauzy, reluctant to share numbers, and relying on talking points rather than data. This could have been a difference in approach, but it suggested a lack of rigor in the Romney camp. On Election Day, the whole Romney ground-game flopped apart. ORCA, the much touted computer system for tracking voters on Election Day, collapsed. It was supposed to be a high-tech approach to poll-watching, a system by which campaign workers would be able to track who voted. Those who had not yet voted could therefore be identified and then have volunteers tasked to finding them and getting them to the polls. ORCA was supposed to streamline the process, but it was never stress-tested. Field operatives never saw a beta version. They asked to see it, but were told it would be ready on Election Day. When they rolled it out Tuesday, it was a mess. People couldn’t log on and when they did, the fields that were supposed to be full of data were empty. “I saw a zero and I knew I wasn’t supposed to be seeing a zero,” said one campaign worker. A war room had been set up in the Boston Garden to monitor ORCA’s results, but in the end Romney and Ryan had to watch CNN to find out how their campaign was doing.  In the end, the numbers guy was deprived of his numbers in more ways than one.”

Not real impressive for a Harvard MBA, is it?

First Thoughts on the Election

I was pretty confident we’d won yesterday afternoon PST when I saw that early exit polls showed that 52% of voters believed Mitt’s policies favor the rich.  At that point, I knew it didn’t matter if we were looking at an electorate like 2004 or 2008 or 2010 (which was causing dispute about the accuracy of the polls), all that mattered was that more than half of them felt this way.  I believed that single finding was disastrous, and I didn’t see how Mitt could survive.

By the end of the campaign, Mitt reminded me more and more of Sarah Palin.  I know the contrast between a guy with two advanced Harvard degrees and a complete ignoramus is stark, but when I listened to him, he spoke in the same “word salad” we got in 2008 and still get from her.  Palin’s word salad comes from not knowing anything about policy, while Mitt’s comes from not wanting to be specific about policy.  The cause is different, but the effect from both is a complete lack of confidence in their ability to lead.

Even when we thought Mitt was taking a stand on something — like supporting an abortion exception for the health of the woman or promising to keep Obamacare’s coverage for pre-existing conditions — his campaign walked it back almost immediately.  The only time he spoke from the heart was when he thought we couldn’t hear him, when he railed against the 47% percent.

Palin’s lack of a “there there” comes from lack of knowledge, Mitt’s from a lack of courage.

When someone comes across as fearful and nervous while talking about the most basic of domestic issues, as Mitt does, you inevitably wonder how this guy could be commander in chief, how he could deal with Putin if he can’t deal with cuddly Bret Baier.

So he seemed tough as nails in a bad way — when it came to killing jobs at Bain — but then also wimpy, when you’d want him to be tough.

We kept hearing that Mitt was a terrible candidate for the GOP, which was true.  It’s galling to hear someone who pays 14% in taxes talk about cutting Medicaid to poor kids and the elderly in nursing homes.  A “soak the poor” message is never appealing, especially to women, but never more so than when presented by a man worth hundreds of millions of dollars who doesn’t pay his fair share and wants to cut taxes on the rich even more.

But more than a terrible candidate for one party, Mitt is a terrible politician.  He is stiff and awkward, and can’t convey warmth or empathy.  He’s cursed with that nervous laugh and obnoxious smirk.    That’s a bi-partisan problem, one we saw with Al Gore and John Kerry.  He went into politics to finish what George Romney started, but, like many men who follow in their father’s footsteps out of a sense of obligation, he lacked his dad’s innate talent for the profession.

When we fail, we tend to make excuses and to blame others.  I hope that, as Mitt licks his wounds, he doesn’t think he lost because he’s a Mormon.  I really don’t think voters cared.  I also hope he doesn’t think we rejected him out of jealousy and resentment because he’s rich.  That’s not how or who we are.  It was the cluelessness and out-of-touchness he displayed as a result of that wealth, an inability to put himself in our shoes.  You can be rich (many, many politicians are) and still have charisma and connect with people.  Forty-four years after his assassination, it is easy for me to picture Bobby Kennedy radiating compassion as he campaigned, I see that toothy grin, those rolled-up shirtsleeves as his arms reached back in the crowd.  Was it real or fake?  I have no idea.  All that mattered was his ability to do it.

Speaking of failure and making excuses, the GOP should not blame their defeat just on Mitt.  I picture Mitt and his party as two drowning men, desperately clinging to each other and dragging each other down to their deaths.  If Mitt was a terrible candidate, he was also leading a terrible party.  Mitt oozed slickness and smarminess, but his party oozed craziness and extremism.  Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock helped take Mitt down with them.

The GOP should blame Mitt, and he should blame them.  There is plenty of blame to go around.

There is also plenty of hypocrisy that needs to be replaced with humility.  Last night on Fox News, Karl Rove shamelessly accused the President of being the one refusing to compromise and of calling his opponents unAmerican.   It is to laugh.  Sure you can get away with that on Fox, but you can’t win an election just with the Fox faithful.  The rest of us know our rubber from our glue.

More on Gloria Allred Case and Mitt

Most of the coverage of this story has described it as about Mitt’s testimony in the divorce proceedings between Staples co-founder Tom Stemberg and his first wife Maureen.

Actually, Mitt testified in post-divorce proceedings, when Maureen tried to get her financial settlement amended.  The couple divorced in 1988, and Staples went public in 1989, at which time it was trading at ten times what she got in the divorce.

Gloria Allred, who now represents Maureen, produced three volumes of testimony involving Mitt, testimony that can now be made public.  She intends to pursue the denial of the motion to lift the gag order that prohibits Maureen from talking about the case.  Tick tock, people, it won’t matter if the order is lifted on November 7.

Mitt’s Bain Capital invested $2.5 million in Staples and got a $13 million profit when the company went public.

Wednesday at the Convention

In the 10-11 EDT hour, Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton will speak.

Near the end of the 8-9 hour, Sister Simone Campbell from the “Nuns on the Bus” social justice movement will speak.

Near the end of the 9-10 hour, three former employees from companies controlled by Bain will speak.  One of them is named Randy Johnson, but I don’t think it’s that Randy Johnson.

 

His Consultants Made Him Do It

From “Romney:  No more Obama’s a Mr. Nice Guy,” Reid J. Epstein, Politico:

“For months, Romney held back on Obama, GOP strategist Rick Wilson said, because his team was holding out hope that it could reach independent and moderate voters. But Obama’s attacks on Romney’s Bain Capital career…ended his inhibitions.

“’When the Bain ads started to hit, it hurt him, being a successful business guy is at the core of what Mitt Romney is all about,’ Wilson said. ‘Mitt Romney was saying Barack Obama is a nice guy because his consultants were telling him to lie.’”

This is who we want in the Oval Office — someone who lies when his consultants tell him to?!

Little-Girl Mitt

Wow, just wow!  In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd poor little Mittens said that his campaign would be “helped immensely” if he could get an “agreement” with those big, bad Obama people not to talk about “business or family or taxes or things of that nature.”

Yes, that’s exactly what Obama thinks every morning when he wakes up — how can I help Mitt’s campaign today?  Hell, I’m a generous guy, how can I help it immensely?

Mitt’s the one who said he should be president because of his Bain experience.  So now he doesn’t want to talk about those 25 years, or however many he had before he “retired retroactively” in 2002?

You’re nominating this sniveling, pathetic little coward, GOP?  Wouldn’t you really rather hold him down and cut his hair with a pair of scissors?  Isn’t that the emotional response this wimp evokes in you?

Netanyahu is shaking his head, Putin and Ahmadinejad are laughing their asses off.  As they are in the White House and Chicago too.

Mitt’s Back to Loving Romneycare

And, by extension, Obamacare!

In response to the Priorities USA ad about the steelworker Bain fired who lost his health insurance and his wife died of cancer, the Romney campaign is arguing that everything would have been fine for them if they’d just lived in Massachusetts and had Romneycare.

The Base is freaking out big-time.

This isn’t just another clean-up on Aisle Mitt, this is a big toxic chemical spill.

Dirty Harry?

It got nasty on the Sunday talks shows today.

Reince Preibus, the RNC chair, called Harry Reid a “dirty liar” for his claim that a reliable Bain source told him that Mitt didn’t pay income taxes for ten years.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey “Butters” Graham said of Reid, “I think he is lying.”  Graham knows a lot about lying.  Just Google “Lindsey Graham, gay.”

The GOP knows Mitt is just a disaster for them.  Some of the outrage directed at Reid is just their own frustration for being stuck with Mitt the Millstone.

 

Reid Hangs Tough on Tax Allegation

From “Why Harry Reid keeps attacking Mitt Romney,” Manu Raju, Politico:

“Reid has calculated that the frenzy created by his charge has accomplished exactly what he sought to do: Turn the focus back onto the GOP nominee’s unreleased tax returns, according to several people close to the leader and the campaign. For Reid, he’s got virtually nothing to lose: His approval ratings back home are still upside-down, and he may not even run for reelection when he’s up for a sixth term in 2016.

“On top of that, his aides say, Reid genuinely believes his source — an old friend and longtime investor at Romney’s former company Bain Capital — who told the Senate majority leader a couple months back that the GOP nominee didn’t pay taxes for at least a decade.

“Despite the uproar and the lack of additional evidence to present, Reid isn’t going to stop talking about Romney’s taxes.”  Emphasis added.

Give ‘em hell, Harry.  Mittens has painted himself into a corner, and his campaign knows it.

Does Mitt Have a Tax Problem with Church as Well as State?

Is Mitt’s tax problem a church problem?

From “Harry Reid Gives Mitt Hell,” Bill Buck, CBS Boston:

“But the source coming to Harry Reid for these revelations [about Mitt's not paying taxes for a decade] adds a level of intrigue. Reid just happens to be the highest-ranking member of the Mormon Church in the history of this nation.

“It is likely that Senator Reid’s source shares the Mormon religion with Reid and Romney.

“That message will not be lost on Romney. If the Bain fortress is not a fortress; if people are talking, Romney knows that trouble lies ahead.

“And the motivation for this leak may not be political. It is likely personal and tied to the Mormon Church.

“Specifically, if Romney was hiding money from the IRS he may have hidden money from his church.

“It is expected that members of the Mormon Church tithe a minimum of ten percent of their incomes. But if Romney was not paying taxes and hiding money, then his disclosure – which itemizes deductions, including to the church – would tip off his actual income to the IRS.

“Even more telling, Senator Reid specifically says that Romney’s father, George, would be ashamed of his son.

“It is true that Mitt’s father, who set the precedent of releasing multiple years, would be ashamed of the son’s lack of disclosure.

 “Another reason for such a strong statement from Reid is that Mitt’s father would be ashamed for religious reasons.”
I think the key element here is not that Reid is a Dem and Romney is a Republican, but that both are Mormon.  I don’t think Reid would attack Mitt unless he was confident of his source because he would be sensitive about attacking a fellow Mormon, given that it is a minority religion that has been harshly persecuted in this country.  It’s a strong tie that would make Reid, whom I see as a very cautious guy anyway, extra cautious.