Mitt Romney Drops So Let the GOP Swiftboating Begin

by Jeff Siegel

Those of you who thought the Republican presidential strategy would be full of sweetness and light need to rejoin the rest of us in the real world. What the Republicans are going to do to the eventual Democratic nominee will be so brutal and so despicable that it might even make me feel sorry for Hillary Clinton, and no one ever needs to feel sorry for her.

What else to make of Mitt Romney's decision on Thursday (Feb. 7) to drop out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination? He did so with these words: "In this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."

Which means, regardless of the Democratic nominee, the Republicans will use the same tactics they used on Sen. John Kerry in 2004 – the infamous Swift Boat attack. In the 2008 campaign, the GOP nominee must address a failed foreign policy and the resulting mess in Iraq, as well as a failing economy which is almost certain to be in recession by the end of the spring. So, rather than accept blame or try to fix the problem – or even discuss the issues – they've decided to call the Democrats cowards and to question their patriotism. As in, Romney won't surrender to terror, but the Democrats will. Weaselly Democrats.

And if the GOP was able to successfully smear a decorated war hero like Sen. Kerry (D-MA), imagine what they'll do to a woman and a black man who admitted he used drugs in high school. I can see the ads now – John McCain in the Hanoi Hilton, while (depending on the nominee) there's a shot of an unidentified woman talking about housekeeping or a vague, shadowy black man using a crack pipe.

This is, of course, a gutless and cowardly way to conduct a campaign. But that's what we have come to expect from the Republicans, whether it's Swiftboating or Willie Horton. The last thing they want to do is to discuss the issues, given their track record. If former Gov. Romney truly supported "the troops," why didn't he criticize the Bush administration for the almost criminal neglect of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed? Or that some troops in Iraq were buying their own equipment?

Perhaps front-runner Sen. McCain (R-AZ) will renounce this strategy if and when he gets the nomination. Perhaps pigs will fly some day, too.

As bad as all this is, what's worse is that the Democrats won't figure out what hit them. Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama will be stunned when each is portrayed as a pinko, a liberal and various shades of yellow. Didn't I vote for the war, Sen. Clinton (D-NY) will ask? Didn't I waffle on the war, Sen. Obama (D-IL) will ask? Isn't that enough, they will ask? We support the troops (whatever the hell that means).

No, actually, it's not enough. Enough is to have voted against the war and to have the guts to stand up for that vote and to throw the lies and the dirt back in the Republicans' faces. But that would require real Democrats (see Senators George McGovern and Gene McCarthy in Vietnam, and President Harry Truman in Korea). It's much more than the Republican Lites posing as Democrats these days are capable of – let alone understanding.

For more background on the 2008 campaign, please see these archival posts:

(Photo of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts campaigning in New Hampshire in 2007 by Dave Delay via Flickr, using a Creative Commons License.)

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Liberal Arts Dude said...

I agree with everything you said about Swiftboating strategy that will inevitably be employed on whoever the Democratic nominee will be.

Have you been observing the conservative blogs and talk radio? I have been lurking there and there is a considerable amount of vitriol by people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, etc. against McCain and Huckabee. If these two become the Republican ticket there is an opportunity for the Democrats to take advantage of fractures within the Republican Party.

Perhaps this lack on enthusiasm for the Republican candidates among the Republican will be to the Democrats' advantage.

Of course, if Democrats do win, there is still the problem of whether they will make a difference for the interests of ordinary people and whether they will continue much of the Bush agenda on war, the economy, etc.

Anonymous said...

Limbaugh probably knows the GOP is going to lose the election and he is simply positioning himself to say "I told you so" when McCain loses.

If I didn't think McCain would be bad for America, I would almost like to see him win, just to shut up the fatass Russ Limbaugh

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