Time for An Intervention

Visit Peggy Noonan’s Blog.

What should Mitt Romney do now? He should peer deep into the abyss. He should look straight into the heart of darkness where lies a Republican defeat in a year the Republican presidential candidate almost couldn’t lose. He should imagine what it will mean for the country, for a great political philosophy, conservatism, for his party and, last, for himself. He must look down unblinkingly.

And then he needs to snap out of it, and move.

He has got seven weeks. He’s just had two big flubs. On the Mideast he seemed like a political opportunist, not big and wise but small and tinny. It mattered because the crisis was one of those moments when people look at you and imagine you as president.

Then his comments released last night and made months ago at the private fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. Mr. Romney has relearned what four years ago Sen. Barack Obama learned: There’s no such thing as private when you’re a candidate with a mic. There’s someone who doesn’t like you in that audience. There’s someone with a cellphone. Mr. Obama’s clinger comments became famous in 2008 because when people heard what he’d said, they thought, “That’s the real him, that’s him when he’s talking to his friends.”

* * *

And so a quick denunciation of what Mr. Romney said, followed by some ideas.

The central problem revealed by the tape is Romney’s theory of the 2012 election. It is that a high percentage of the electorate receives government checks and therefore won’t vote for him, another high percentage is supplying the tax revenues and will vote for him, and almost half the people don’t pay taxes and presumably won’t vote for him.

My goodness, that’s a lot of people who won’t vote for you. You wonder how he gets up in the morning.

This is not how big leaders talk, it’s how shallow campaign operatives talk: They slice and dice the electorate like that, they see everything as determined by this interest or that. They’re usually young enough and dumb enough that nobody holds it against them, but they don’t know anything. They don’t know much about America.

We are a big, complicated nation. And we are human beings. We are people. We have souls. We are complex. We are not data points. Many things go into our decisions and our political affiliations.

You have to be sophisticated to know that. And if you’re operating at the top of national politics, you’re supposed to be sophisticated.

I wrote recently of an imagined rural Ohio woman sitting on her porch, watching the campaign go by. She’s 60, she identifies as conservative, she likes guns, she thinks the culture has gone crazy. She doesn’t like Obama. Romney looks OK. She’s worried about the national debt and what it will mean to her children. But she’s having a hard time, things are tight for her right now, she’s on partial disability, and her husband is a vet and he gets help, and her mother receives Social Security.

She’s worked hard and paid into the system for years. Her husband fought for his country.

And she’s watching this whole election and thinking.You can win her vote if you give her faith in your fairness and wisdom. But not if you label her and dismiss her.

As for those workers who don’t pay any income taxes, they pay payroll taxes—Social Security and Medicare. They want to rise in the world and make more money. They’d like to file a 1040 because that will mean they got a raise or a better job.

They too are potential Romney voters, because they’re suffering under the no-growth economy.

So: Romney’s theory of the case is all wrong. His understanding of the political topography is wrong.

And his tone is fatalistic. I can’t win these guys who will only vote their economic interests, but I can win these guys who will vote their economic interests, plus some guys in the middle, whoever they are.

That’s too small and pinched and narrow. That’s not how Republicans emerge victorious—”I can’t win these guys.” You have to have more respect than that, and more affection, you don’t write anyone off, you invite everyone in. Reagan in 1984 used to put out his hand: “Come too, come walk with me.” Come join, come help, whatever is happening in your life.

You know what Romney sounded like? Like a kid new to politics who thinks he got the inside lowdown on how it works from some operative. But those old operatives, they never know how it works. They knew how it worked for one cycle back in the day.

They’re jockeys who rode Seabiscuit and thought they won a race.

* * *

The big issue—how we view government, what we want from it, what we need, what it rightly asks of us, what it wrongly demands of us—is a good…

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  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    A real leader (which Romney is not) must win the minds not by placating anybody, but standing for the truth and for what is right, Ms. Noonan.

    When half of the nation becomes freeloaders – and PROUD, you have exactly the stage, identified by Alexis de Tocqueville two centuries ago: The stage when the low life voters discovered that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.

    Just some fifty years ago, it was still generally considered shameful to be a freeloader, even among poor people. Their honesty and work ethic made America great then. Now we came to the opposite, when freeloaders are proud, and demand more and more.

    Nobody can admonished them to voluntarily change their way and become moral and prudent again. No amount of speeches or apologies can reverse this erosion of morality caused by 100 years of unsuppressed communist propaganda…

    Therefore it is impossible to vote out the "dear leader" of freeloaders – the dispenser of the treasury and destroyer of America. Fortunately he can be defeated even prior to the election because he happened to be a revealed identity thief, forger and fraud. Expose him fully – and that will be the end of his campaign!

    In the remaining one month, the general election challenges filed by Dr. Taitz will be heard in GA, IN, MS, CA, and KS. (And may be more). These challenges are based on the most solid expertises and testimonies, including the affidavit of Sheriff Arpaio. Still not enough Mr. Romney?

    The mere fact of Romney's willingness to run against a notorious thief (!) not uttering a word about his thievery means that Romney has lost the human dignity! (Never mind the integrity and duty to uphold the Constitution).

    • TiredofItAll

      Oh for heaven's sake, Romney blew it, just admit it. Everyone in this country has depended on the government at one time or another for something, including Mitt Romney! And you know what? We all have benefited from private business as well. Most of us live in the middle, not in these silly extremes rightists and leftists trot out all the time. He's a lousy candidate, Gary Johnson or Ron Paul or a sensible libertarian like him would have been SO much better, but Romney actually believes all that nonsense conservatives have been telling themselves all these years, despite the fact the guy's dad was a moderate politician. He's a lightweight, face it, wait for 2016, hopefully a more sensible Republican will emerge by then. By don't waste your mind defending a guy who doesn't even understand the basic history of the country. You can't become president if you haven't even figured out when to keep your mouth shut.

  • truebearing

    Football games and elections are won with emotion. Building emotional momentum is difficult when the opponent is constantly trying to tear you down, lie about you, and falsely accuse you, but that is expected when your opponent is the ever evil Barack Obama.

    What is harder to overcome is the sniping coming from those who wax eloquent about the exigencies of winning, but can’t offer constructive advice without pontificating as if they are omniscient, while denigrating the already beseiged candidate. The Right is overpopulated with geniuses who have all of the answers to making a candidate unbeatable, but their chorus succeeds mainly in destroying emotional momentum. Every election sees the Right agonizing over finding the perfect candidate, while the Left is working on the perfect lie. Once we choose a candidate, the pundits second guess every word and gesture in a paroxysm of perfectionism that succeeds only in sowing doubt. the collectivists support their guy without question. Maybe if their egos weren’t so over-inflated, these same people could offer some truly iseful advice…in private. Fat chance, I know.

    • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

      At issue is not the Left or the Right, or whether the Conservatives are too picky to a candidate. Nor is it about consolidation around a party chosen whoever in order that he win. The issue is about the illegality of the 2012 election by itself. The questions you have to focus on are these.

      1) Can the 2012 election be possibly legal if the name of the contender Obama/Soetoro/Soberkach is not legally established, and he is a revealed identity thief, forger, and fraud? And his rival Romney does not even mention these "problems"? This is merely the issue of law and order: not even the constitutional issue.

      2) Was the election 2008 (and 2012) legal if both parties obfuscate, mum, or mumble about the meaning of the constitutional requirement for the presidency, namely to be a US Natural Born citizen?! If the definition employed to one candidate McCain in Senate Resolution 511, 2008 is inapplicable (and was never applied indeed) to a contender with an unestablished name Obama/Soetoro/Soberkach, having foreign biological father and Indonesian citizenship of the step father.

  • joetentpeg

    Great. Glad we got that settled from the chief of the "Great Leader" police.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ted.brock.75 Ted Brock

    You underestimate the american people those that "get it" like both these suposed flubs. Leave Mitt alone your cowardice projected on him will make him look weak.

    • Jim_C

      Mitt doesn't need to worry about others projecting–he's the one who has been on both sides of every issue, who failed to define his candidacy now 45 days before the election, whose party threw a convention that could barely be bothered to mention his name. He's "not Barack Obama." That's about it.

  • Indioviejo

    Mrs. Noonan writes for herself. The Republican Party as a Conservative Party is a stretch of credibility. If it wasn't for Tea Party Patriots, it would still be stuck with Bushes, McCain, and a host of RHINOs imposed by the Party machinery on the desperate voter who really needs an alternative to Socialism. I understand Mitt is tepid, but if we remember the recent primaries, the Republican rank and file wanted anybody but Mitt, but the Party imposed him. The second assertion you make, calling his speech to donors a gaffe, and illustrating your idea about what goes on in "regular folks" mind is also a lie. I did not feel offended. I am a disabled Vietnam veteran and earned a VA disability which i don't consider a handout. I am retired on a Government Pension and SS, both of which I earned, and I payed into medicare. Clearly only a stupid person would call me a freeloader, so I know Romney was not referring to me. How come you would? My vote for Romney will be because he is a much better man than our Marxist POTUS, and I love my country. You do well in the Wall Street Journal.

    • TiredofItAll

      Fair enough, so who's a freeloader then? There's a lifetime limit on welfare benefits now, so that argument's long dead. The government chose to imprison millions of poor people and minorities for selling drugs to white people, not me, so I don't consider inmates freeloaders unless they're murderers, rapists or thieves. And you have to leave out children. So who are you left with? You're left with folks on various entitlements, like yourself, and I agree, you're not a freeloader. In fact, I'm not even sure Romney knew to whom he was referring — was it a business that passes along the costs of health care to its employees while enriching its CEOs? Yeah, pretty sure he didn't mean that crowd. I would never vote for Obama because I believe he's shredding the Constitution. But attacking the millions of Americans who are simply trying to figure out how to survive in the Great Recession was a monumentally stupid idea. And Romney did just that. Face it, he's a rich stupid kid, met a lot of them when I was in college trying to avoid people who think Karl Marx OR Ayn Rand had something to say.

    • lynda martinez

      well said. Peggy Noonan occasionally writes a pretty sentence, but her thinking is shallow. I don't think she ever offered up penetrating analysis like Daniel Greenfield[aka sultanknish],Mark Steyn ,Victor davis Hanson Sarah palin ,David Horowitz,Jaime Glazov and others. She never nails anything or takes the reader's breath away. She also praised then voted for Obama. Hard to take her seriously when we all witnessed her getting hoodwinked and bamboozled by a Chicago punk. Not too smart. She's become so tedious.

  • Indioviejo

    Another comment never to be seen again.

  • Advocatus

    It would seem to me that Romney gets the measure of the seriousness of the historic challenges facing the US and the world, but he is not particularly articulate in spelling them out for a general audience. He should have taken a leaf out of Obama's playbook. The current president has never had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve beyond some boilerplate platitudes of "hope" and "change" and "unity" etc. Or even if he did, he clearly had no clue about how to get there. Yet Obama still managed to convey a sense to most people of having a "vision" for a better America. Romney may have a roadmap about how to fix things with the economy and international relations, but he sure as hell doesn't come across like a new Reagan in the making.

    • Jim_C

      Reagan came from regular people. He understood regular people. He projected an image of strength, and he communicated a vision.

  • semby

    Never saw Peggy's column on your website before.
    Not sure what it is there now.
    Would like an explanation.

    Anyway; she doesn't know what she's talking about.
    Everyone knows that Peggy lives in a fantasy world.
    She's like the widow who had a horrible marriage; but now that the husband has passed she makes much more of their memory than what it actually was. That is how it is with her memory of Reagan.
    She's doesn't have a clue.

  • Ar'nun

    Peggy Noonan sounds like a moron Liberal Writer here. Is she really positing that Romney made bigger "flubs" than Obama? I mean look at the Middle East, if what Romney said is really a "flub" is it worse than running a Bombing mission and arming al Qaeda in Libya? Is it worse than 10 years later trying to negotiate with the Taliban, and then the Taliban organizes an attack of an allied base trying to kill a British Prince? Isn't bigger than the "flub" of believing in Keynesian Economic nonsense? Is it a bigger "flub" than claiming the recession is over while 10's of millions of Americans are out of work and more are underemployed? IS anything Romney has ever said in his entire life a bigger "flub" than Fast & Furious?

    No, Obama is a walking "flub" and Peggy Noonan's article here is a "flub" as well. If this is the great intellectual prowess of modern Conservative Women, then it's time to send Miss Noonan back to the kitchen.

  • cynthia curran

    Poor Romney if he was an evangelical instead of a Mormon he would be ahead of Obama and the largest group in some states that take the dole are legal immigrants and illegal immigrants for their kids and many of them don't vote period, Romney should have made this clear that the Hispanic vote the Republicans are courting are more likely on average than the white native born population to be on the dole. Romney could have pick up the white vote in Ohio and even Colorado if he explain that our immigration system allows a great number of people to get welfare.

    • Johnny Van Styn

      Romney won’t touch the immigration issue with a 10 foot pole.

    • Racist

      We don't need Romney to explain the destruction being wrought on us by illegal alien invaders! It's not a secret problem. Their effects are stark and vast… Especially to those of us in tand around the construction business! Romney needs to just continue to focus on Obumbler's Economy and his weakening of our National Security! Even the welfare set knows that the Alien Invaders continue to destroy the job market and cut the throats of Tradesmen. In fact there would be a lot less Black men on the govt dole if the Aliens weren't driving labor wages down to where a man has to work two jobs to afford even the most basic of necessities!

  • Andy

    His percentage was probably a bit off – the true freeloaders who will only vote for whoever bribes them enough make up about 25% – 30% maximum. But he committed the cardinal sin in electioneering – telling the truth. America desperately needs a leader who tells the truth but truth tellers can't get elected. Let's hope for a miracle here because another four years of Obama will seal America's coffin for good.


    Noonan, like some other purportedly conservative commentators, is badly mistaken here. True, Romney mixed several ideas together, and the 47% figure, which had been bandied about for some months now, is almost certainly wrong. But Romney's basic point, which of course he picked up from others, is that with any redistributionist government outwardly democratic in form, there will arise a class of politicians who seek election by promising a segment of voters that they will get lots of other people's money by voting for them, and there will arise a subset of these voters who respond to the pitch and vote for such politicians in order to receive other people's money. In the U.S., these conniving politicians are called Democrats. This is not only inescapable in theory, it is demonstrable in fact (see, e.g. the voting patterns of people who receive lots of welfare payments, and those of public sector workers).

    As this recipient/entitlement class grows larger, it becomes more dangerous, and eventually it becomes large enough so that in conjunction with other dedicated supporters of Big Government, it has effective control of the government, forever outvoting the opposition, where those whose incomes are stolen can never protect themselves. This is the "tipping point" that is often spoken of. Noonan can deny its existence, but if Republicans lose this election, that will be the reason and not any of Romney's admitted deficiencies.

  • BLJ

    Who cares what a phony like Peggy Noonan thinks? She has gushed about Obama in the past and she is no conservative. Not even close.

    The media is too self-absorbed to understand that the silent majority is fed up with Obama and his criminal Chicago buddies.

  • Republican Pro

    Peggy Noonan has become so tiresomely liberal. But continues to run on the momentum of "What I Saw at the Revolution" 30 years later. Let's remember that she was enthralled by Barack Hussein Obama II in 2008. That she's not happy with Romney is no surprise, given her previous infatuation with the Emperor who indeed has no clothes, intellectually, or morally. She's a mainstream media bonehead.

  • No Apologies

    Mitt was right… Obama has 49% on food stamps right now & has doubled welfare rolls from gutting the work requirement. I believe what he was saying was that he cannot go courting these individuals. Plus Obama's tape about redistribution coming out at the same moment bares BHO naked. IMHO many people (probably including some stuck on welfare at the present) appreciated those comments. He finally sounded like a real conservative & I've seen attitudes toward him from many conservatives suddenly warm up.
    Lets just understand the poles are so obviously rigged to intimidate us from going to vote. Just like the MSM narrative is when it comes to Obama. I mean I was at MSM ABC news website earlier & astounded by the support I saw for Romney there among those making comments on news stories! Fox maybe but ABC?
    I do agree he needs to be more assertive in his delivery when it comes to BHO & only pray that during the debates he stands strong & calls out Obama on his lies. Exposing who Obama really is & his agenda will be what wins the WH. Americans for the most part will not want the communism Soros wants to sell them. That's up to us as well. Breaking through the liberal media bubble isn't an easy task.

  • stevef

    Peg's still in love with O.

  • Len_Powder

    Although Romney may have stated a correct statistic conceding 47% of the population to Obama was a stupid and amateurish thing to do. How about convincing this group that welfare is not the best that life has to offer? Is Romney content to allow such a large proportion of the population to remain dependent on government? And isn't a President supposed to care about the well-being of ALL citizens, rich and poor alike? Surely the people who don't pay taxes cannot consider him their 'friend' when he basically acknowledges that they are BEYOND HOPE AND REDEMPTION. Romney was the wrong choice to oppose Obama in 2012. Before this is all over he may get less votes than John McCain did in 2008, but he won't have anyone to blame but himself. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we're screwed!

  • fanlad

    Are you kidding, Romney is being judged for a cell phone video that has two minutes of the full video missing, really? Are we supposed to accept that the race is over for Romney because the press has said so, and is totally in the tank for Obama, really? The pro obama press and main stream media, if you have not noticed, is acting more like the a propaganda machine, than the free and independent watch dog press that our country once had, and that America desperately needs. Has anyone noticed our economy is on the brink of financial collapse again, 16 trillion in debt and climbing, or that that the President's foreign policy is one blunder after another, that alienates our friends and allies but strengthens our enemies. While throwing billions of dollars into a raging inferno.
    I like Peggy and I value her opinion, and yes Romney can learn something from this. However, my gut feelings tell me that we must watch the other hand and not be distracted, watch what is really happening around us.

  • Ray Czar

    I thought I was reading/listening to Elenor Cliff with that whinny
    I too am wondering what the…..heck. She would do better on the “View”,
    and how in the world on FPM?
    Like listening to Bill Clinton lecturing on fidelity.

  • hippiepooter

    Sage words from Ronald Reagan's ex speech writer and a lot of boorish, tone deaf Romney flunkeys showing why America will be having a Communist in the White House instead of a Mormon. Or maybe, after making such ridiculous comments, Romney's creed carries one 'm' too many?

  • https://www.facebook.com/mike.villano.71 Mike Villano

    Ms Noonan needs to take a pill.
    Republicans need to stop conducting themselves like cannibals.

  • fablad

    Well, Here is the rest of the missing tape as Romney states: "Yeah, it's interesting….the former head of Goldman Sachs, John Whitehead, was also the former head of the New York Federal Reserve. And I met with him, and he said as soon as the Fed stops buying all the debt that we're issuing-which they've been doing, the Fed's buying like three-quarters of the debt that America issues. He said, once that's over, he said we're going to have a failed Treasury auction, interest rates are going to have to go up. We're living in this borrowed fantasy world, where the government keeps on borrowing money. You know, we borrow this extra trillion a year, we wonder who's loaning us the trillion? And the answer is we're just making it up. The Federal Reserve is just taking it and saying, " Here, we're giving it.' It's just made up money, and this does not augur well for our economic future. You know, some of these things are complex enough it's not easy for people to understand, but your point of saying, bankruptcy usually concentrates the mind." Peggy get out of the for Obama, I think Colin Powell has.

  • fanlad

    Should read, Peggy get out of the tank for Obama, I think Colin Powell has.