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Mitt Romney was a highly successful businessman, was successful in managing the Salt Lake City Olympics, and was elected governor as a Republican in one of the liberal states in the country. That resume doesn't jibe with the bumbling fool we have been watching. It almost seems as if he was trying to throw the election.

When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Sherlock Holmes
Let's explore this below the fold, Watson.

The Motive

Up until now, Romney's signature achievement in politics was the passage of the Massachusetts health care bill. As we all know, the Affordable Health Care Act was modeled on this successful program. In a century, no one will remember the political rhetoric of this campaign, but a successful US health care system may very well trace its roots back to Romneycare.

This legacy was threatened by the rise of the tea party and the takeover of the Republican Party by the radical right wing. One of their main talking points has been the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act. No Affordable Health Care Act, no Romney in the history books.

Meanwhile the economy wasn't doing great. We had dodged a collapse, but voters tend to focus on the immediate situation, not something that happened several years ago. There was a real risk that a right winger could capture the Republican nomination, ride an anti-Obama wave into office, and destroy the health care system. Romney needed to make sure that this did not happen.

The Opportunity

Romney had credibility with the Republican establishment, since he had come in second in 2008. He was going to have problems with the Tea Party nuts, but he had money and there were no right wingers with national organizations running except Ron Paul. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee were going to sit this one out.

The Modus Operandi

First, Romney knew that to have any chance at the Republican nomination he had to appear to be even more of a right-wing nut than the true believers. This was difficult for someone who was liberal on social issues, but he forced himself to say things that were anathema to his personal belief system. By doing this he accomplished two things: he satisfied the Republican base but he also pushed the rest of the electorate towards Obama.

Next, he had to destroy the authentic Tea Party candidates. He did this quickly and effectively, at least until Rick Santorum managed to rally the last of the dead-enders. Perry, Bachmann, Cain, and Gingrich each only lasted for a few weeks. He left Ron Paul alone- Paul was running just to talk about his ideas and was not willing to make the compromises necessary to win the nomination or the election. It also allowed him a chance to insult a large portion of the right-wing base at the convention, an opportunity that he took full advantage of.

With the nomination assured, he needed to use it to thoroughly discredit the Tea Party. One way he did this is by using "gaffes" to point out the absurdity of their positions. However, he discovered that much of the media failed to appreciate his ironic style and even supported the most cringe-worthy statements he could come up with.

Another effective strategy was refusing to release his tax returns. As even most Republican commentators have pointed out, whatever was in the returns could not be worse than what people imagined wias there.

Then he delivered his master stroke. I do not know whether he had been planning this from the start or if it was a brilliant improvisation, but it would effectively destroy the remaining credibility of the Tea Party. He picked Paul Ryan, acknowledged as the their intellectual leader, to be his vice-presidential running mate. This put Ryan's ideas and actions at the center of the national debate where they were quickly attacked by the opposition. Romney did his part by repudiating large parts of Ryan's budget plan while simultaneously expressing his full confidence in Ryan. Anyone who has ever played office politics will recognize this strategy and shudder at it's effectiveness. Within weeks Ryan went from a cocky culture warrior to an incoherent buffoon.

The Republican establishment seems to know that they have been gamed, but they can't figure out what to do about it. They are too respectful of authority to suggest that their candidate is trying to throw the election. Even when he says something totally ridiculous- like attacking the Egyptian embassy staffers who were under assault by a mob- the pundits have to come up with some way of agreeing with him.

Let's help Romney

Mitt Romney is doing everything that he can to re-elect Barack Obama and to defeat the Tea Party candidates down ballot. We need to step up and let him know that we have his back.

Vote for Obama!
Vote a straight Democratic ticket!
Make Romney proud of us.
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