Election 2012

Shellshocked: The Arrogance of Team Romney

According to a report from CBS News, the Romney campaign was completely caught off guard and Mitt Romney himself was "shellshocked" by his loss.

After Ohio went for Mr. Obama, it was over, but senior advisers say no one could process it.

"We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory," said one senior adviser. "I don't think there was one person who saw this coming." [...]

"We just felt, 'where's our path?'" said a senior adviser. "There wasn't one."

Romney then said what they knew: it was over. [...]

"There's nothing worse than when you think you're going to win, and you don't," said another adviser. "It was like a sucker punch."

Prior to the election all available evidence suggested that President Obama was poised to be re-elected. The idea that Mitt Romney could win was always a long shot because his path to victory required that he perform a near sweep of the swing states where President Obama lead in nearly every poll.

Was the Romney campaign, and Mitt Romney himself, caught off guard because their own arrogance lead them to categorically discount the possibility that they could lose, or were they just as caught up in the idea that the polls were skewed as regular viewers of Fox News were?

The notion that Team Romney had no inkling that they could lose is supported by more than just the words of anonymous campaign advisers.

The Boston Globe reports that the Romney campaign even hired a company to orchestrate a fireworks display in Boston following his victory. And, ironically, Romney conceded the race shortly after their permit expired.

The same company that does some of the illuminations for Boston’s Fourth of July celebration was poised to ignite fireworks within view of Romney’s party at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center to celebrate a win over President Obama.

A permit filed with the City of Boston said the detonation could occur any time between 7 p.m. Tuesday, just after the first polls closed, and 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, which ended up being just before Romney conceded the race.

Instead, Atlas Professional Fireworks Displays unloaded the pyrotechnics from mortars set up on a barge near the Bank of America Pavilion and carted them back to its headquarters in Jaffrey, N.H.

The Romney campaign also built a presidential transition website that would have gone live immediately after declaring victory.

I think Yglesias said it best today.

I think that people underestimate how problematic it can be to walk around life being a rich guy. The problem with being rich is that everyone stops telling you what they think and starts trying to get your money. You necessarily end up living your life in a fog of flattery and misinformation. And worse, because Americans genuinely admire rich people even people who aren't flattering you tend to give undue deference to your bad ideas. Live in that bubble for long enough—and Romney's been in it for a long time indeed—and you can end up pretty unmoored from reality.

On election night I quipped that Romney took so long to concede the race because, out of fear of being bronzed, none of his advisers wanted to approach him and tell him that he lost. That may have been more accurate than I imagined in my half-drunken state, but it seems clear now that this pattern of obscuring reality gripped the Romney campaign for much of the last few months.

The decades-long Republican campaign to stupefy the electorate has finally caught up with their own campaign operatives and turned them into incompetent rubes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/samella.williams Samella Williams

    Mitt to so long to reconigize reality because he believed that Karl Rove was going to keep his promise to fit the voting machines.

    • priscianusjr

      I’ve got to admit, I was thinking that too. It turned out there were just too many voting machines to fix.

  • agrazingmoose

    Just imagine what havoc that mindset would have wrecked if he had become president.

    On another note, it reminds me of the 30 Rock episode where Liz dates the handsome guy that is totally inept but everyone keeps complimenting him. It didn’t go well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Norris/1597765442 Michael Norris

    I have discussed this before on this blog a couple of times, so I swear this will be the last time, since–it doesn’t matter. I realize of course that most people who read this blog are not licensed mental health workers–but I am. What does it say to you when the people who work for Willard were too afraid of him to go tell him the truth? What do you think it means when he is so convinced of his superiority and victory that he didn’t even write a concession speech? Campaign staffers credit cards were shut-off as soon as Romney conceded–they had to pay for cab rides home out of their own pocket. Clearly, since Willard had no more use for them, he didn’t need to make sure they were taken care of.

    Feelings of superiority; believes in his own truth–cannot be convinced otherwise; uses people for his own benefit and promotion and then dumps them when he no longer needs them. Uses fear and intimidation to manage others. Any of this sound familiar? Mitt is a sociopath.

    I told a Republican friend of mine yesterday that if he cared anything at all about the Republican Party, he needs to pray everyday and thank God that Willard did not win. Had he been elected, the Republican Party would be destroyed. hell, it may be on it’s way out anyway. But believe me when I tell you, Willard as president would have been the scariest thing this country has ever experienced. We have no idea how big a bullet we dodged.

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      Michael, I think your spot on. His narcissistic, sociopathic characteristics combined with that belief system were very disturbing and tremendously dangerous.

    • JoyP

      I agree and you said it much better than I could. It was something that I noticed about Romney early, the lack of empathy. He couldn’t even really fake it. I don’t believe most Republicans thought that the man really cared about them, they were more interested in defeating Obama and furthering their religious/anti-women/anti-minority interests. I feared his presidency more than I did McCain’s even with Palin on the ticket. I agree, we dodged a huge bullet here – economically, internationally, militarily. I still get chills up my spine just thinking about it.

    • priscianusjr

      What you said.

  • muselet

    Charlie Pierce:

    You apparently could convince this guy of anything. I’m surprised they haven’t convinced him that he actually got elected. (Maybe they have by now, and he’ll show up in morning clothes on the steps of the Capitol next January. Hilarious hi-jinx ensue!) Let me be the first to point this out: By the available, and continuously emerging evidence, Willard Romney was a dumber politician than Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin combined.

    Pierce ends the post with a picture of a box of rocks.


    • muselet


      I just realized I linked to the same post that rob black mentioned this morning. Apologies to all.


    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      I love Charles Pierce, he is so damn funny.

  • Ned F

    I confess that in the past 6 months I began to have serious doubts that Obama was going to win this election. I live in PA, and everywhere were Romney signs and billboards, few Obama ones. I am exposed to lots of Republicans and their confidence really had me worried. They had all the money, it seemed, also. There seemed no way to pierce the misinformation, lies and reality of this fictional President they were against. That, and the fact we elected Rick Santorum and recently Pat Toomey (who has been strangely quiet since being elected). So, I can understand their astonishment and surprise.
    I looked at the election returns by county in this state, and where Obama lost, which was everywhere but SE PA, Pittsburgh and Erie, he lost by large margins. If I lived in Carbon or Tioga Counties, never looking beyond, I would have been shocked also. We really do have Alabama in the middle.

  • mzmijewski

    It is called cognitive dissonance. Not willing to believe what all the data tells you is true – he should have gone to Nate Silver’s website. This is why he believes in his phony religion and how he would have lead the country. I guess it was “god’s will.”

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Good lord. Disappointment is one thing, losing when you expect to win is another (believe me, I’ve been there), but this is on a whole other level.

    Combine being a rich guy surrounded by subservient yes-men with a political cohort that is itself “unmoored from reality” and derives all of its information and understanding from media sources that are themselves “unmoored from reality,” and you find yourself getting punched in the gut pretty hard by, you know, reality.

    It’s hard to fathom that they really could have been that clueless about what everyone outside the paracosm seemed to know and understand. But that’s what happens when you live in a paracosm. Romney, ironically, was the standard-bearer for its inhabitants and would up getting sucked into it himself. He created a feedback loop of delusion. It’s no wonder he lied so easily and effortlessly in the debates, in stump speeches, and in ads; the things he said are self-evidently true inside the paracosm. And if all the things he said are true and self-evident, there was no way he could lose.

    The problem, of course, is that they were not true, people outside the paracosm knew they were not true, and the actual voting took place out here, in the real world, not inside the paracosm.

    I don’t sense, from reading various comment threads over the last couple of days, that the paracosm is collapsing. Rather, a new narrative is being crafted to keep it intact, and keep its inhabitants from leaving. This bizarre and grotesque reverse Truman Show is going to continue.

    • bphoon

      When the only person you listen to is yourself, it doesn’t take long before you start believing yourself.

      Being convinced of their own infallibility seems to be a hallmark of today’s Republican Party as evidenced by, for example, their strict aversion to admitting to any kind of error. Hubris takes over the human mind and crowds out all else. And these guys were nothing if not hubristic.

    • ninjaf

      This can be seen by the Republican suggestions for avoiding the fiscal cliff:

      “Yes, we had an election where the American people voted for the man proposing to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 per year. But our guy ran on a platform of closing loopholes or capping deductions on those same people, instead. So, our compromise will be that we will only accept the platform that the voters rejected. Let the true will of Teh People™ be known!”

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    You necessarily end up living your life in a fog of flattery and misinformation

    Yglesias is right about rich people, but the truth is that a lot of average and even poor Americans can end up in the bubble. Libertarians who only get their news online and only from certain sites and only through the ever-present conspiracy lens. The busy middle class family who didn’t have time or take the time to bone up on all the issues. The poor and religious family who hears the propaganda straight from the pulpit. All these kinds of people believed that Romney was going to win and were shocked when he didn’t. This reinforces the right’s memes about stolen elections, which reinforces the paranoia but doesn’t jive with the person’s experience where everyone they know, was going to vote for Romney (not understanding their anecdotal evidence is not comparable to actual statistical data). That logic just goes round and round for them, making them ever more paranoid.

    It’s like we’re dealing with a kind of mass hysteria. It’s either that or we’re facing the most successful “programming” campaign in the history of mankind. Hell, I’d wager Romney and his supporters were as clueless as many of the residents living in North Korea. One of my big questions is whether we will get to the point where it doesn’t matter whether anyone is actually doing what they accuse us of (e.g., stealing elections) It will only matter that they believe it to be true (e.g., voter suppression attempts). Oh wait, we already passed that event horizon…….shorter me, I wasn’t surprised that Romney was surprised nor should any liberal at this point.

    in my half-drunken state

    Only half?

    • MrDHalen

      You’re right, lots of people living in their own selective bubbles these days. Reality is now an optional place we have to visit only to avoid starvation or death.

    • nathkatun7

      Excellent commentary, IrishGrrrl!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ralph.gardner.927 Ralph Gardner

    After he said he likes to fire people who give him bad service he’ll only get bad news if it’s unavoidable.

    “The decades-long Republican campaign to stupefy the electorate has finally caught up with their own campaign operatives and turned them into incompetent rubes.” LOL

    Another site said they cancelled the credit cards of their campaign workers leaving them to fend for themselves in paying their hotel bills and getting back home.

    • Ned F

      Well, that was the Republican plan…you’re on your own.

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      workers leaving them to fend for themselves in paying their hotel bills and getting back home

      I read that too. I’m betting the campaign didn’t pay them nearly enough. Can you imagine giving your all for a couple of years, neglecting your family, your health, hell even your sanity and then have the guy do that to you? Most of the big mistakes were Romney’s and his alone. But sure kick those staffers out on the street. Typical Republican, blame everyone else for the problem and use it as an excuse to treat them like shit.