Waiting Time in Iowa

January 3rd, 2012 at 9:33 am David Frum | 27 Comments |

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I attended Romney’s closing rally last night in Des Moines. Very professionally done, introduction by Senator John Thune.

Three themes really stood  out:

* Romney opened with a statement about the danger from Iran. Without mention of Ron Paul, it astutely poked at the top vulnerability of the second-polling candidate here.

* He took a very tough line on China. While some express skepticism about the genuineness of Romney’s concern on this issue, I was struck by the specificity of his complaints: computer hacking, currency manipulation. He’s evidently thought about this issue. He’s no protectionist obviously, but he seems to have gained some skepticism about China’s so-called peaceful rise.

* Romney opened his critique of President Obama by acknowledging that Obama inherited a tough economy. This fair-mindedness may disenthrall base voters, but it eschews the angry paranoia that has put off so many independent voters. Plus it has the additional merit of being true.

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27 Comments so far ↓

  • Oldskool

    Those might work well for someone who isn’t named Mitt “Watch Me Do The Robot” Romney.

  • gmat

    I thought Paul’s “top vulnerability” was being a racist.

    His assessment of the threat from Iran is well reasoned, and essentially the same as establishment analysts like George Friedman.

    By comparison, the other candidates, including Romney, are uninformed and hysterical.

  • lilmanny

    This nomination is so “in the bag” it’s unreal. Let the coronation begin – Mitt’s It!
    How did the entire right wing of the conservative party revolt against the idea of a Mormon westerner who favored gay rights, TARP, global warming, abortion, and gun control, only to see him ride to the nomination on rails? That fact alone makes me lose faith in the Republican party more than anything Cantor or Rush could do. Not because I disagree with any of it( I might or might not), but because it makes so clear that the entire party is a gigantic con.

  • Giggles

    Is Romney stuck in the 70s or something.

    1) The danger from Iran – 1979 (the original Arab Spring?) jumps/springs to mind

    2) Fun with China – 1972 and Nixon

    3) Economic problems in the 1970 – I’m just waiting for that oil crisis of 1973 (mainly Iran this time) followed by a replay of the 1973–1974 stock market crash.

    As per usual the second coming of Reagan will solve everything.

    • dante

      What’s funny is that while the Iranians did as much as they could to get rid of Carter (and make him look bad by releasing hostages as soon as he lost the election), Reagan was a FAR WORSE president for them, arming and supplying Saddam Hussein to carry out his war against them…

  • PracticalGirl

    Taking a moment to remind us all how Romney, the economic visionary, would have treated the American auto industry during the crash.

    “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

    IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”
    Mitt Romney, NYT Op Ed November 18, 2008

    Mitt bit the hand that fed him foie gras since he was a baby, and he was wrong. So very wrong. The sector- restructured, even though Romney said it wouldn’t happen during a bailout- now leads the US economy, outperforming every other in the country. Almost exactly 4 years after the bailout, we’ve seen a mini manufacturing boom in the Rust Belt. Millions of jobs were preserved, and nearly every person laid off in the crash has been rehired…And new hires are being made every day. This also led to more investment in the US by foreign auto makers, creating even more jobs. Mitt Romney may have saved the Olympics, but all Americans would have been much, much worse off (short term and long term) if we’d had a President Romney at the helm during this time.


    Lest we think that another GOP candidate would have better, do recall that all of the candidates opposed the bailout. Hunstman, Bachmann, Paul etc. Newt Gingrich even called it “irresponsible and dangerous.” And every last one of them opposed President Obama’s continued action to save the industry while mouthing how important “job creators” are to the US economy.

    • Traveler

      Great points. I wasn’t aware that the recovery was that successful. Thanks. This one will get a lot of airplay during the election. Cannot wait to see BO blow whatever scum emerges from the POGers out of the water on this point.

  • Dex

    I guess you were busy tweeting or something when Romney said this:

    “I think president Obama wants to make us a European style welfare state, where instead of being a merit society we’re an entitlement society, where government’s role is to take from some and give to others…What I know is if they do that, they’ll substitute envy for ambition, and they’ll poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God.”

    Substitute envy for ambition? Poison the spirit of America? Keep us from being one nation under God? Those are Palin-esque depths of rhetorical depravity.

    Paranoid Obama hatred – is that all you’ve got?

    • rbottoms

      Three words:

      Bain. Capital. Biatch.

    • Reflection Ephemeral

      Yep. It’s all they have.

      If you like America, you really don’t like that Mitt Romney’s entire campaign is based on lying about the president to make whites react with fear and suspicion toward a foreigner-outsider-Muslim president. Daniel Larison has pointed out Mitt Romney’s dogged commitment to lying about matters great and small: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/2011/12/15/why-does-romney-lie/ .

      And if you like America, you don’t like that, as Noah Kristula-Green pointed out, the Republican critique of Pres. Obama’s economic policies consists entirely of lies: http://www.frumforum.com/more-obama-criticisms-fail-reality-test

      Apparently, David Frum just doesn’t like America.

      Just another unpatriotic conservative.

      (Reference explained here: http://old.nationalreview.com/frum/frum031903.asp ).

    • Graychin

      “Paranoid Obama hatred – is that all you’ve got?”

      Actually – yes!

      It’s pretty sad when everyone in a political party says NO to their own ideas, just to feed the party’s paranoid hatred of the Kenyan Usurper. Even the Senate minority leader has admitted as much publicly, more than once.

      Romney, the “moderate” one, has only the same ridiculous charges of un-Americanism to throw at Obama.

      And the lies.

  • TerryF98

    Show us the tax records!

    Also how did you stay awake while the android spoke?

    • Graychin

      I see billboards, on every highway in America:

      “Where’s the tax return?”

  • TerryF98

    No teleprompter for Romney, even a short sentence has to be written on a cue card!

  • dante

    Since we’re on the “anoint Romney” kick, my question of the day is, “can he walk back to the middle and gain enough independent votes to win”? The WSJ has a piece out today about the independent voters being up for grabs…. again.


    And it’s obvious that there are at least some hints of Romney trying to play for the general as opposed to positioning himself too far to the right in the primary (at least that’s the story DF’s trying to pitch). So my question is, can *any* of the candidates ‘walk back’ to the center? Or have they already made too many statements that will pin them far to the extremes for the general election?

    Honestly, the last candidate that I can remember trying to tack back to the center was GWB in 2000. Obama kept to his promises of closing Guantanamo, universal health care, ending the war in Iraq, an additional surge in Afghanistan, etc all the way through election day. McCain didn’t try to grab the moderate center (he tacked right, actually), and in ’04 we’d already had 4 years of the Bush presidency… Kerry was labeled as a flip-flopper on *any* position changes that he tried to make, even if most of them weren’t even from the primary to the general but rather from years past.

    But Bush had the “humble foreign policy”, “no nation-building”, etc all after winning the nomination. He successfully tacked back towards the center (ie, lied, in my view) to grab enough independents to win.

    So my question is, with today’s internet and constant media/news stream, is it even possible for a candidate to tack back towards the center? Can a candidate speak one way during the primary and then change (however subtly) after the nomination? Or are there too many video clips, too many statements, too many viewers out there with a computer and a Youtube account to piece all of that together and show contrasting statements or positions? We’ve already seen it with ads attacking Romney, splicing together clips from his ’02 governor’s race with his current statements to show the various positions he’s taken.

    So, can a candidate tack right (or left) to win the primary and then back to the center for the general? Or is that practice dead and gone?

    • PracticalGirl

      I LOVE the questions you’re asking. It boils it all down: Should a politician be held accountable for playing politics?

      While I think we can safely igonre the small mistakes made (getting the number of states in the Union wrong, saying “refudiate” instead of “repudiate), I also think it matters how that person handles these things. In the two cases listed: Obama- well, he screwed up and took his lumps. Palin? Stubbornly led her masses to ignorance, gleeful that she’d created a new word.

      But again- small stuff. The big things, though…When a candidate is completely, utterly wrong about a huge part of the economy, should he be made to answer for those words, even though he was just piling on with the “in” crowd at the time? Hell yes, especially since Romney’s also putting himself out to be the Economic Guru in the race. Should Newt Gingrich have to answer for saying, in reference to Romney, that if a guy lies while campaigning, you can’t trust him as President…And then days later calls Romeny a liar-but says he’d still vote for him? Hell yes.

      Frankly, I think the “instant replay” society we all live in will eventually get these politicians to stop their petty BS. But they have to be held accountable now, so that they understand that everything they say can and will be considered in a voting booth. If it happens, we’ll get less politics and more thought.

      Will it stop candidates from nuancing their positions based on which race they’re in? Probably not, but it will encourage them to at least think twice before using a voter base as a stepping stone to elected office and then dusting them after.

      • dante

        Thanks!! :)

        I really do think that the “instant replay” is going to hurt all politicians (see: GOP “Playbook” for going after Obama that’s been in the news recently), but Republicans especially. They have a history of talking out of both sides of their mouths, or playing to one group with a politically unpopular position in private while saying something completely different in public. Note how many Republicans hold “no cameras or recording” events (like Sarah Palin), at which invariably someone with a cell-phone camera takes a video and proceeds to post it on Youtube.

        And now that there are a plethora of debates, statements, and video’s of the candidates out there, anyone with a computer and a youtube account can be their own SuperPAC and put together attack ads and forward the URL.

  • hisgirlfriday

    This warmongering on Iran is tiresome. Even if Iran is a threat, after the Iraq debacle and Afghanistan quagmire it just feels like the GOP neocons are crying wolf here. And like they can’t handle Obama being tough on defense with his record on Libya and getting bin Laden so they have to invent some new crisis to be more macho than Obama about. It’s obnoxious.

    • dante

      I’m pretty sure that foreign policy is an automatic loss for Republicans right now. Obama did three things that Bush couldn’t:

      1) Kill Osama Bin Laden
      2) Ended the war in Iraq
      3) Toppled a Middle-East dictator with little cost and no lives lost (Gaddafi)

      I’d bet that after one of the GOP candidates has a clear path to the nomination, you won’t hear a peep out of any of them about Iran. Whether the Obama campaign will bring up past statements by the GOP in attack ads is something entirely different.

  • Graychin

    “While some express skepticism about the genuineness of Romney’s concern on this issue…”

    Which issue was that again? :D

  • icarusr

    “This fair-mindedness …”

    The amusing thing is that Frum might actually believe this. I mean, he can’t possibly think that his readers believe that the man who daily accuses Obama of appeasement and treason and being unAmerican and destroying America’s merit-based economy (hah!) is, really, “fair-minded”?

  • jdd_stl1

    Did Romney recite “America the Beautiful” at that rally?
    Maybe he should go back and read about why it was written and by whom:


  • nuser

    Fair-mindedness does not exist in Willard’s dictionary. How can you defend and promote
    this man , Mr. Frum? What is your reason for doing this?

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