Bill O'Reilly of Fox News and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have added their voices to the swelling chorus of second-guessers saying the Mitt Romney ran the race badly and therefore "deserved to lose" to Barack Obama on Nov. 6.
But here's a simpler and, I think, better explanation. There is no magic that dictates that the American people in their infinite wisdom will always make the right choice, and in this instance they 'doubled down' (to use one of the president's favorite expressions) in returning a very bad president to the White House -- one who had already shown himself to be incapable of providing competent (let alone inspiring) leadership in domestic and foreign affairs.
This happened despite the fact that Mitt Romney ran an exceptionally decent (as opposed to nasty) campaign, while President Obama ran an exceptionally nasty (as opposed to decent) campaign.
In his speeches and ads, Obama assaulted Romney's record as a businessman -- accusing him of everything from lying under oath, to being unpatriotic (lacking in "economic patriotism"), to causing to the death of laid-off steel worker's wife.
Obama made his primary theme one of envy, resentment, and class warfare. In one speech after another, he ignored the central truth that the American free enterprise system is based on voluntary exchange for mutual benefit, and he claimed instead that it is based on the rich exploiting the poor… and on profit-seeking businesses looking for every opportunity to cheat their customers on the far side, and their employees on the near side.
More than a triumph of hope over experience, Obama's victory was a triumph of spite over experience; and of government-favored plunder over earned success and achievement. This is an abhorrent (let's hope fleeting) perversion of the American dream.
None of this is not to deny mistakes and mishaps on Romney's part in the long slog from the Republican primaries through to the general election. But it is, I think, very much to his credit that many and perhaps most conservatives came to like him a great deal more at the end of that journey than they did at the outset. He stopped looking and sounding like a robot and -- wonder of wonders -- began to look like "fully-formed adult," as one of my friends put it.
The same cannot be said of petulant and strident Obama, or the mocking and clownish Biden. Both got away from with telling outrageous falsehoods during the debates -- knowing that they could count on the mainstream media to divert or suppress any real criticism. In fact, they could even count on the support of supposedly neutral "moderators" from the fourth estate.
In affirming rather than contradicting one of Obama's falsehoods, CNN's Candy Crowley kept him from being hoist on his own petard in open debate. She jumped in to save the hapless president when he claimed that he had unequivocally called the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi a terrorist attack the very day after it happened. In fact, he did not do so until weeks later.
To this day, Obama has refused to give any detailed account of what he knew and did during the seven-hour siege at the consulate and the annex. And he has never given any satisfactory explanation of why he and others in the administration continued to spin the story of a spontaneous demonstration long after all of the facts pointed to a well-planned terrorist attack.
Among the whopping falsehoods told by Joe Biden in his debate with Paul was the claim:
Let me make it absolutely clearly, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, or any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.
Except that it is most certainly not a fact. As the Heritage Foundation pointed out, "The real 'fact' about the (HHS edict requiring employers to provide insurance that pays for contraception, abortion drugs, and sterilization) is that it applies to almost all employers -- including many religious organizations such as hospitals and social service providers."
One may argue that President Obama benefited from the good publicity that grew out of his response to Hurricane Sandy.
But that only begs the question: Why would anyone give the president high marks in that emergency-- which did not require any hard decision-making on his part -- while giving him a pass on Benghazi, which did put him to the test and expose grave misjudgment and serious weakness?
This brings us back to the main question -- of where to look first in pointing the finger of blame.
I believe it must be pointed at the American people.
People will believe what they want to believe. And in this case more people than not were inclined to focus on a meaningless positive indicator while averting their eyes from a damning negative indicator.
They had two examples of presidential leadership to choose from: the one frivolous and the other serious. And they chose to go with frivolous example.
Now if you accept the premise that the American people made a big mistake in re-electing a very bad president to a second term, there are other conclusions that flow from that regarding the lessons to be learned for the Republican Party.
One of those lessons is not to try to fight the last war by feeling a great need to do more to seek out the youth vote, and the women's vote, and the Hispanic, Asian, or Black votes -- through headlong competition with the Democrats/demagogues in offering special-interest favors to each and all groups.
Obama and the Democrats campaigned on wedge issues -- and on making promises to others that the government will be in no position to honor in driving the nation toward bankruptcy. Obama is physically miscast for the part of Samson, but it seems that he will be happy if he is able to impose a massive tax increase on the "rich" -- the misnamed rich, I might add -- which will pull down the proverbial temple upon all of our heads. His panoply of heavier tax levies on capital gains, estate, and earned income would provide a comprehensive and disastrous set of disincentives for millions of small business owners and entrepreneurs who struggle to send their own sons and daughters to college and who are collectively responsible for an outsized proportion of the nation's total workforce.
Let him (the skinniest of Samson's) do his damnedest: Even if he succeeds, most will probably crawl out from under the rubble. Maybe it's better to have a sudden and violent shock than a slow descent into greater and greater government aggrandizement and greater and greater government failure.
Far better, I say, for the Republicans to stick to principle -- rather than to imitate the Democrats in their slavish pandering to different groups and their insolent disregard for economic reality.
The bedrock principles for conservatives ought to be liberty, open markets, freedom of choice, and limited as opposed to limitless government.
If those are the abiding principles, there will be room enough for everyone to flourish -- including all of the groups and sub-groups mentioned above.
If we re-awaken the real American spirit, there will be less of the useless fretting over wedge issues that assumed such outsized importance among some groups during the 2012 election.
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