States economy is in the dumps, unemployment
close to eight per cent, leaving working Americans feeling let down, beleaguered
and fearful – and still Mitt Romney couldn’t win an election that ought to have
been a Republican stroll in the park.
How did that happen?
This morning, Romney himself is no doubt scratching
his head for answers. He should have
been scratching it very hard weeks ago, when it became clear from opinion polls
indicating that, while he had a plausible chance of sneaking up on a
disappointing incumbent, a fretful electorate wasn’t about to sweep him into
office with a thumping majority.
He might then have come to the conclusion that a
Republican agenda apparently in thrall to the Tea Party and other sinister
idiots of the extreme right was far more likely to frighten those moderates
disillusioned with Barack Obama’s performance than seduce them. If they longed for a sensible alternative, as
one must suppose, they weren’t given one. It can only be assumed that they felt far more
threatened by what the Republicans might do than they were of anything the
Democrats had done, or not done.
Simplistic solutions such as reducing taxation on the
affluent – on the so-called trickle-down theory – and increasing defence
spending were never likely to appeal to blue-collar workers struggling to make
ends meet, or spending their days looking for work instead of doing it. Nor were retrogressive positions on such
social issues as women’s rights, gay marriage and immigration – not to mention
a bellicose, trigger-happy approach to foreign policy – likely to appeal to
anyone except those already secure in the Republican fold.
Picking Paul Ryan as a running mate, a man who
fervently endorsed a rigid evangelical position on all those issues, did
Romney’s campaign no favours either.
Ryan, a Catholic who spends his leisure time shooting God’s creatures, came
across as a crude bigot. Putting the
nuclear trigger anywhere near such hands was a scary thought. In the end, the Republicans couldn’t even win
Ryan’s home state.
Romney tried to paint himself as a moderate, but many
saw him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
This morning, he’s just a sheep in sheep’s
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