Posts Tagged ‘iron law of institutions’
first as tragedy, then as farce: “Turns out that after the applause died, Romney huddled with ‘some 50 stalwarts of the political right’ to discuss making the former Massachussetts governor ‘the face of conservatism, as Ronald Reagan became en route to his 1980 election win,’ the Washington Times reported this weekend”
[...] “Last week, immediately after Mitt Romney pulled out of the Republican presidential race, we noted that his CPAC address sounded less like a concession speech and more like a bid to become the voice of the culture wing of the GOP,” writes The Political Insider for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a blog burst titled Reed, Sekulow in on Romney-as-face-of-conservatism meeting
Darn, we’re good.
Turns out that after the applause died, Romney huddled with “some 50 stalwarts of the political right” to discuss making the former Massachussetts governor “the face of conservatism, as Ronald Reagan became en route to his 1980 election win,” the Washington Times reported this weekend.
Participants at the meeting included Georgia’s Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, and Jay Sekulow of Alpharetta, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, who served as a kind of liaison to evangelicals for the Romney campaign.
“The movement needs someone of Ronald Reagan’s stature and Romney could fill that role,” the Times quoted Sekulow as saying [...]
The Romney watch continues.
From the Washington Times article titled Right wants Romney as standard-bearer, by the estimable Ralph Z. Hallow:
[...] Participants said the group was not organizing against the presidential bid of Sen. John McCain, the party”s presumptive nominee, but only seeking to revive core values such as lower taxes, limited government and free speech.
“The purpose of the meeting was for him to announce his willingness to fight shoulder to shoulder with true conservatives from here on out,” said political strategist Paul Erickson, who worked for Mr. Romney”s campaign. “He did just that” [...]
Um, yeahright. Is this a case of cash starved conservative activists who want to further bilk a super-stupid rich guy to fund their own projects? Or is this a move to divide the right and guarantee that Sen. McCain gets defeated in November? Whatever is the case, watch your back, Senator McCain.
Rubin: “The talk-show conservatives who were so successful in riling the conservative opposition to immigration reform in 2007 proved to be the flimsiest of paper tigers—-Their shouted directions to the conservative foot soldiers, and their warnings of the dangers of a McCain presidency, were ignored”
[...] “Following John McCain’s victory in Florida last week the chorus of McCain-hatred grew louder on talk radio shows and on many conservative blogs,” writes Jennifer Rubin in a New York Observer article titled Voters Reject Romney … and Limbaugh and Coulter and Dobson
Rush Limbaugh declared that McCain was not conservative and unacceptable as a candidate. Formerly respectable conservative figures took delight in criticizing McCain’s war record—yes, his war record—by tallying up the number of planes he had lost in combat. Ann Coulter and James Dobson, a social conservative leader and head of the Focus on the Family organization, declared McCain so indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton, the featured villainess in any conservative drama, that they would vote for her or stay home.
In short the McCain villifiers doubled down on their bet that they could derail McCain and lift their favored alternative, Mitt Romney, to victory.
Then the voters had their say. McCain racked up victories from California to New York to Missouri. Romney was pretty much relegated to Utah and Massachusetts, two more home states to go along with his Michigan win. Mike Huckabee, also the object of talk show and blogger derision (for, among other grave offenses, raising taxes to build schools and allowing children of illegal immigrants access to college scholarships) had a fine night, taking a batch of southern states.
The talk-show conservatives who were so successful in riling the conservative opposition to immigration reform in 2007 proved to be the flimsiest of paper tigers. Their shouted directions to the conservative foot soldiers, and their warnings of the dangers of a McCain presidency, were ignored.
They did their best to boost Romney, who had striven mightily to endear himself to this crowd, but the voters shrugged and rejected him overwhelmingly. Had Romney not changed residences so often he might have been shut out of the primaries entirely [...]
[...] [Limbaugh, Coulter, Dobson et al] might threaten to withhold support for McCain, but does it even matter at this point? Will voters listen to that marching order when they did not follow previous voting advice?
McCain cannot, in what will likely be a close election, entirely ignore the possibility. But something has clearly changed. The façade of influence, the illusion of electoral importance that these conservative pundits previously held, is gone. They can raise issues, jam the White House switchboard and scare timid politicians. When the chips are down, though, they cannot determine elections. Voters, who base their decisions more on common sense than extreme ideology, get to do that [...]
We concur. Well, for those most part. But, sadly, there is evidence to suggest that the radio talkers and conservative celebrities were beginning to affect attitudes about Sen. McCain. Here be evidence for our claim, as provided by the estimable John Dickerson in a slate.com article titled McCain Not Stopped; But Romney is not seen as a true conservative:
[…] Exit polls nevertheless show that McCain’s problems with conservatives run deep. He lost among conservatives in almost every state except Connecticut and New Jersey, where he split them evenly with Romney. McCain also lost conservatives even in the states he won. Conservatives went for Romney in New York and Illinois. “Hard to do well with conservatives when everyone with a microphone is beating hell out of us,” says a top McCain aide. While the conservative voices weren’t enough to stop McCain, or to elect their guy, tonight they were enough to bruise him […]
Now with Romney promising to hold out and fight until the convention, and even attempt to turn around promised but not-officially-bound delegates, we can expect the voices of Limbaugh, Coulter, Dobson et al to grow louder, more dire, and more shrill. See:
“This weekend, CNN released results of general election trial heats, pitting each of the four leading Republican candidates for President against both of the leading Democrats,” writes Michael Medved in a Townhall blog burst titled PRESIDENTIAL TRIAL HEATS: WHO’S WEAKEST FOR G.O.P?
The unmistakable message from this national exercise (surveying 840 voters on January 9 and 10th) is that Mitt Romney unequivocally qualifies as the weakest candidate the G.O.P. could field.
In the head-to-head contest with Barack Obama he is utterly wiped out, losing by a margin of 22 points (59% to 37%). Against Hillary Clinton, Romney fares little better, falling 18 percentage points behind (58% to 40%).
The results for other candidates show that this is a Romney problem, not a Republican problem.
John McCain, for instance, virtually ties both Obama and Clinton – running 48%-49% against Obama and 48%-50% against Clinton. In other words, in a trial heat against Barack Obama, Senator McCain runs a startling 21 points closer than does Governor Romney.
Even Mike Huckabee (despite remaining virtually unknown to many Americans) draws slightly stronger support than Romney – running 3 points closer to Obama and 4 points closer to Clinton.
After spending more money than his major opponents combined, Romney appears more and more clearly unelectable, and a Saturday column by Gail Collins in the New York Times gives a clear explanation why. “Unfortunately, there’s something about Romney’s perfect grooming, his malleability and his gee-whiz aura that seems to really irritate both the other candidates and the voters,” she writes. “What bothers voters about Romney, as it turns out, is not his Mormonism but his inherent Mitt-ness” [...]
Comment: That Romney will fail in the general election offers us no consolation. Here is why: He will bring the GOP and the conservative movement down with him. Elsewhere, rumors of doom swirl about the hapless candidate from Bain Capital:
[...] “Romney rivals and the few neutrals in the Republican Party say Mr. Romney must win Michigan — with the help of traditional conservatives, sportsmen, old-timers nostalgic for his father’s governorship — and at the very least must not let Mr. McCain of Arizona build momentum with a second victory heading into South Carolina, where evangelicals, as they did in Iowa, are expected to help Mr. Huckabee,” writes Ralph Z. Hallow of the Washington Times in an article titled Right eyes Romney rebound
Randy Brinson, whose Redeem the Vote was credited with getting young voters out in Iowa, says deals are being brokered that will make life all the more difficult for Mr. Romney.
“Already, surrogates of the Republican establishment are working behind the scenes to solidify support and favor among McCain and Huckabee, abandoning both Romney and [former Tennessee Sen. Fred] Thompson,” said Dr. Brinson, a Huckabee supporter. “Both Huckabee and McCain are considered the mavericks, and [they have] postures of wanting to bridge partisan divides on a number of issues” [...]
Yeahright. Color us incredulous. Do these anonymous Republican establishment power-brokers have access to vast reserves of spare money in excess of what Romney commands? Probably not. The Republican establishment is bought and paid for. And whether Romney can win in the general or not is hardly a concern to the Republican “establishment.”
Here is where we make our case:
[...] Brooks: “The leaders of the Republican coalition know Romney will lose. But some would rather remain in control of a party that loses than lose control of a party that wins. Others haven’t yet suffered the agony of defeat, and so are not yet emotionally ready for the trauma of transformation. Others still simply don’t know which way to turn.” That seems about right. In the progressive blogosphere, this idea circulates under the heading “iron law of institutions” which posits that institutional leaders care more about their own power within the institution than about the institution’s power in the world.
It strikes me as a largely accurate characterization of the choice [...]
We followed the elegant Mr. Yglesias’ google link and found the left-of-center blog, A Tiny Revolution. In post titled Democrats And The Iron Law of Institutions, someone—we could not find an author’s name, but neither did we look very hard—elaborates on the theme of The Iron Law of Institutions:
[...] The Iron Law of Institutions is: the people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution “fail” while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to “succeed” if that requires them to lose power within the institution.
This is true for all human institutions, from elementary schools up to the United States of America. If history shows anything, it’s that this cannot be changed. What can be done, sometimes, is to force the people running institutions to align their own interests with those of the institution itself and its members [...]
The author provides this example from an author named Walter Karp:
[...] As soon as McGovern was nominated, party leaders began systematically slurring and belittling him, while the trade union chieftains refused to endorse him on the pretense that this mild Mr. Pliant was a being wild and dangerous. A congressional investigation of Watergate was put off for several months to deprive McGovern’s candidacy of its benefits. As an indiscreet Chicago ward heeler predicted in the fall of 1972, McGovern is “gonna lose because we’re gonna make sure he’s gonna lose”…So deftly did party leaders “cut the top of the ticket” that while Richard Nixon won in a “landslide,” the Democrats gained two Senate seats [...]
But it was this example that, for us, connects with the present moment:
[...] It was a Republican state party boss, Senator Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania, who early this century stated with notable candor the basic principle and purpose of present-day party politics. In the face of a powerful state and national resurgence of reform and the sentiments of the majority of the Republican rank and file, Penrose put up a losing slate of stand-pat party hacks. When a fellow Republican accused him of ruining the party, Penrose replied, “Yes, but I’ll preside over the ruins” [...]
The emphasis is ours, all ours.
The lame-brained editors at the National Review, Rush Limbaugh, ideological courtesan Hugh Hewitt, Dr. James Dobson—Yes, they know Romney will ruin the party, and probably the country, but they’ll preside over the ruins. Yes, only no, because precisely the opposite is the case: Romney, who bought and paid for their services, presides over them.
If Romney continues his disastrous losing streak, he will take them all down with him.