After kowtowing to every conservative whim during the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney could have eased into retirement, maintaining the moderate, nice-guy image he cultivated during the final month of the campaign. Alas, rich uncle moneybags needed to bash the 47 percent on his way out the door. "The president’s campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift," Romney said Wednesday on a conference call with his donors, portraying African Americans, Hispanics, women, and young voters as moneygrubbers whose votes were up for sale. His post-election takeaway squashes any lingering doubts about who the real Mitt is. For Pete's sake, he's no longer running for office, so we can stop wondering whether the 47 percent video represented his true beliefs.
What is, however, surprising is the condemnation the Republican Party has rained down on Romney. "We have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent," said Bobby Jindal. "Our mission should not be to deny government benefits to people who need them," concurred Marco Rubio. Republicans have tossed aside Romney like a discarded tissue; at this point, it's hard to imagine Romney—never a particular favorite of the GOP base—ever becoming the party's éminence grise.
Paul Ryan, on the other hand, has lost none of the golden boy shine. He was greeted with a standing ovation from his House colleagues upon his return this week, and House Republicans are expected to waive normal term limits and allow Ryan to continue to chair the influential Budget Committee. Erick Erickson is even pining for Ryan to be Speaker! The Ayn Rand sphere of protection enveloping Ryan has blinded conservatives from the reality that the public also rebuked Ryan's agenda—just look at the poll numbers after Ryan joined the ticket. What's more, Ryan himself blamed his loss on those pesky "urban areas," offering the same analysis that's got Romney in hot water.
So They Say
"In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day. Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in (these) towns knows anyone who's black. How did that happen? I don't know. We're going to find out."
Daily Meme: Scandal Envy
- Although the Petraeus scandal hasn't strayed far from its TMZ and New York Post moorings, Republicans are trying their darndest to link it back to their topic du jour: Benghazi.
- While journalists are staking out Paula Broadwell's current location in D.C., GOP head honchos are staking out seats for Petraeus's testimony tomorrow.
- Petraeus spoke to HLN this week, saying that his resignation has nothing to do with the terror attack, only his own personal failings, and that he never passed on classified information.
- That admission hasn't stopped the Republican scandal-mongers, though. They quickly returned to their favorite target of Benghazi scorn: Susan Rice.
- Several senators, including John McCain and Rand Paul, were so busy telling the world about their skepticism over the U.N. ambassador's role in the aftermath that they missed a classified briefing on the same subject.
- When asked by a CNN reporter why he didn't go to the hearing and then didn't comment on his absence, McCain got feisty. "Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”
- President Obama also got angry over the Susan Rice accusations, especially at McCain and Lindsay Graham: "But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador? Who had nothing to do with Benghazi? And was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received? To besmirch her reputation is outrageous."
- Dave Weigel carefully outlines why all this outrage over Rice is ... misguided.
- And yet it goes on. Why? Paul Waldman likely has it right: After four years of nary a big scandal, despite the GOP's best efforts on the Solyndra front, the party out of power has scandal envy.
What We're Writing
- Ian Millhiser writes that Obama should copy Bush when it comes to judicial appointments.
- Scott Lemieux notes that it's a mistake to let fear of a backlash stop forward movement on same-sex marriage.
What We're Reading
- Gerrymandering was the real winner for the GOP on Election Day.
- Tim Murphy on how Obama's nerd army won him a second term.
- Warren Buffet already picked his 2016 candidate.
- American Crossroads might have broken the law.
- Michael Schaffer pens the inaugural issue of Mitt Monthly.
- Dave Weigel explores conservatives' desire to call the election illegitimate.
- Nate Silver doesn’t care about the future of punditry.
Poll of the Day
Virginia might have become reliably blue in general elections—Obama carried the Commonwealth both times and the state sent Democrat Tim Kaine to the U.S. Senate this year—but Old Dominion stays red for local politics. Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, term-limited to only one four-year term, enjoys wide popularity in his home state. His job approval sits at 53 percent in a new Quinnipiac University poll. While McDonnell can't run for re-election next year, he's already bandied about as a potential 2016 presidential contender, and that positive reputation in Virginia could boost his national appeal.