JIM CREES: The big story
Mitt Romney’s defeat will shape Republicans for years to comeAs a page on the calendar turns and a new year begins, it is the wont of many newspaper people and organizations to take a look back at the big stories of the year past. I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately. What was the big story of 2012? Some pretty big news events have taken place over the past 12 months. Too often, we tend to look at the most recent, or nearest story and then consider it the “biggest” or “most important.” For example, the country is still reeling from the horrible tragedy that took place in Newtown, Connecticut - the massacre of the innocents. That is a HUGE story - something that has touched every American. But in all honesty, I don’t think it is the biggest story of 2012. There are the stories coming out of the Middle East - Syria and Gaza. Big stuff, but not the one seminal event that really influenced or had an impact on more people than any other story. I think the biggest story of 2012 - the one that will have the most impact on the greatest number of people, (good or bad) - is the re-election of Barack Obama as president of these United States. Whether you like the man or not, this single event will have more immediate influence on the country, (and possibly the world), than any other. I think, however, that the biggest story within the story is not so much how Mr. Obama won. It is all about the pretty spectacular fashion in which former Gov. Mitt Romney lost. It was impressive, and his loss will have repercussions on the Republican Party and the nation as a whole for years to come. Look, Romney could have won, but he and the GOP virtually took a dive. The 2012 election loss began quite early on, with what can only be described as a manufactured primary - one GOP planners may have thought they were designing for prime time audiences. Instead of getting the Republican Party platform better publicized to a larger audience; and instead of creating the appearance of being a more inclusive and embracing party, the GOP marketed a broad selection of kooks who scared a lot of voters away from the get-go, and who took the party platform way too far to the right to be comfortable for the majority of the nation’s voters. Romney, who could have been a viable candidate, had to battle the lunatic fringe from within his own party from Day One. He had to swing far too right in order to win the primary, and there was virtually no way he could swing back to a more moderate stance that would be more attractive to the most voters in time to carry the day. After he did win one of the oddest, most contentious, and most televised primaries of all time, Romney never gained a true position of leadership within his own party and therefore he never could effectively demonstrate to the public that he was, in fact, a leader. It was a mess. Then, Romney and his team simply were slow to the draw as the Democrats were allowed to created the Romney story. With his opposition dictating, writing and editing who he was in the public square, Romney and the GOP did an abysmal job mitigating the damage. In the things he said and did, he simply reinforced just about everything the Democrats said about him. The Dems said Romney - as a very wealthy man - was disattached from the majority of the people in this country. Time after time, Romney proved them right. (The issue of his tax filing records. The “47 percent” comments. And more ...) He not only couldn’t counter the Democrats barbs, he simply couldn’t stay on message. Romney knew, (and he said it time and time again), that the election would be won on the issue of the economy, but he never really rode that horse home. He and his team continually strayed from the message. Despite the occasional glimmer of focus, and shining moments during debates with the president, Romney and his team said and did too many things that left them open to criticism, (at best), and ridicule, (at worst.) For example, rather then try to reasonably justify his rational for not backing a bail-out of the automakers, his team came up with the disastrous Jeep ad which brought down the wrath of not only the voters working on the production line, but also of the people at the top of GM and other auto manufacturing companies, (the guys who usually support more conservative candidates.) It was simply one blunder after another. Pretty astonishing actually. So, Mr. Obama won the election - not by the grace of a stellar first-term record, but because his opponent virtually threw the win into his lap. The biggest story of the year, the one that will have the most impact for months and years to come is certainly the 2012 election. The biggest sub-story is how the Republicans - for the first time in many years - took what could have been a comfortable win, and did everything they possibly could to lose.