The best reason for voting against Mitt Romney wasn’t revealed until the day after the election, when we were given a glimpse of the would-be emperor without clothes.
Romney, we learned, is a proud denizen of the Conservative Echo Chamber, the walled-in neighborhood in which tens of millions of right-wing Americans (and an increasingly scary number of Republican politicians) live their political and social lives. They consume right-wing propaganda as if it were factual news, and live in a state of blissful ignorance, disparaging the greater national dialogue.
As was widely reported on the day after his loss, he and his team were shocked, truly stupefied in fact, when the race was called for Obama early in the evening. Why? They had long ago turned away from all polling except that which showed Romney to be winning. The candidate and his gurus ignored the overwhelming majority of polls–which all showed a significant edge for Obama–and chose instead to focus on polls with an intentional conservative bias. So even when major national predictive markets and highly regarded models, like Nate Silver or Intrade, showed Obama running away with it, Romney and his crew saw liberal bias. They fashioned their own “unskewed” research; it explains, among other things, Romney’s crazy decision to make a last-minute frolic to Pennsylvania. Only in his own world of Echo Chamber data did he stand an outside chance in Pennsylvania.
I find this to be utterly bizarre, particularly because we were always told that Romney was a math-oriented, data-loving guy, an abacus of a CEO who would bring his love of numbers and his cold, analytical persona to government. Perhaps this version of Romney was one created by him or the by the press, and needs revisiting.
And, if you can believe it, Romney implied on Wednesday that he lost because Obama did not fight fairly. In a solemn talk to staff and key financiers the morning after he got thumped, he said that Obama and the Democrats had unfairly portrayed his tenure at Bain and his position on abortion. Is this guy high?
Romney is clearly on his own planet (pardon the expression, Mormon readers). I mean, sure, Romney was dragged through the mud, but hardly more than was Obama by Romney. And yet Romney has convinced himself that this is not the case. In Romney’s mind, everything he did was 100 percent earnest, factual, accurate and objective, unlike the attacks on him by his opponents which were cheap, false, distortive and unfair. This is precisely the narrative on the Hannity show and other FOXNews entertainment, every night. Apparently Romney watches too much of this stuff.
I suppose there were warning signs. After all, we watched puzzled as Romney tried using a Primary message in a General election. Well into the autumn, he was still spouting a coded, white-supremacist slogan–“take back our country”–while many observers wondered why he wasn’t moderating to the wider American audience.
It’s frightening, therefore, what might have been. We’ve already seen what happens when a President adopts such a distorted worldview. The eight years of George Bush were eight years of a President who appeared to live in his own world, in which, by his view, 25% percent of Americans (the 25% of America that liked him and approved of his job performance) were sane and normal, while the other 75% were crazy, nutty liberals, who bought into the liberally biased news media, and allowed themselves to be brainwashed. We saw this from Bush himself; we saw it from people like Rumsfeld, who would take the podium and snicker at anybody who criticized the Iraq war or the administration’s handling of it (or of Afghanistan).
In the last few days of the campaign, Romney’s wife actually admitted that she was concerned that her husband’s mental state might not be able to withstand the rigors of being President. Some bloggers jumped on the remarks, but for the most part Ann’s statements just came and went.
Yet having now seen the naked Romney, having learned that Romney is a citizen of Conservative Echo-chamber Land (perhaps Trump should investigate his birth certificate), I would say that his wife’s psychological assessment of her husband might have merit, and that a deeper psychological problem, or tendency, might exist. This guy can detach himself from reality when reality is not to his liking.
The most delicious part of all this, however, is what comes next. For in Echo Chamberville, when a Republican loses, he is said to have lost because he “wasn’t conservative enough.” So Romney is soon to be tied to a post, and flogged by his own people.