Peggy Noonan has penned in The Wall Street Journal an epic and, at times, even poetic dismantling of Mitt Romney and his campaign.
Trust me: this is a must read, regardless of which side of the aisle you may sit. Myself? As a progressive, I will focus upon those sections in which Noonan dismantles Romney in eloquent and biting terms, and leave the "interventionist" suggestions to the David Frums of the world.
She begins her dismantling by addressing Romney's now infamous dismissal of 47 percent of the electorate who supposedly pay no taxes (emphasis mine):
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.Noonan then goes on to tell the story of a fictional conservative woman in her 60s living in Ohio. She describes this woman in complex terms: someone who loves guns, dislikes Obama and thinks mainstream culture has gone off the rails. However, she is also someone who, because of personal circumstance, is invested in things like Medicare, disability for vets and Social Security.
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.
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.
This woman isn't a statistic, Noonan seems to yell at Romney in her piece. She's lives. She breathes. And, as Noonan writes:
[S]he’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 the Romney campaign and its inability to meet the great issues and challenges that it must, this is Noonan's assessment:
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 and big and right and serious subject. It has to be dealt with seriously, at some length. And it is in part a cultural conversation. There’s a lot of grievance out there, and a sense of entitlement in many spheres. A lot of people don’t feel confident enough or capable enough to be taking part in the big national drama of Work in America. Why? What’s going on? That’s a conversation worth having.After reading Noonan's piece, and after admiring her perspective while vehemently disagreeing with her politics, I was left with one dominant thought: thank goodness she is not a senior Romney advisor.
I think there is a broad and growing feeling now, among Republicans, that this thing is slipping out of Romney’s hands.
It’s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It’s not big, it’s not brave, it’s not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It’s always been too small for the moment. All the activists, party supporters and big donors should be pushing for change. People want to focus on who at the top is least constructive and most responsible. Fine, but Mitt Romney is no puppet: He chooses who to listen to. An intervention is in order. “Mitt, this isn’t working.”
Because unlike most in the GOP, she seems to grasp the seriousness of the moment, and understands that great leaders must confidently meet that moment.
Romney? Interventions or not, never will.