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2012 Election Richard Falknor on 26 Sep 2012 01:51 pm

Romney & The Big GOP Money:Ben Domenech’s Challenging Take

“My [Domenech’s]original point was the irony that the Tea Party seems more comfortable with this ‘it’s his turn’ arrangement for Mitt Romney in the aftermath of the Paul Ryan pick, more pragmatic and less fickle than they were described in the months ahead of the nomination when they were chided for toying with the idea of Rick Santorum far past the point of politeness. They’ve made their peace that this is the only way to beat Obama, they’re sanguine about Romney’s technocratic sins, and they’ve swallowed most of their pride. The insiders are more frustrated – and their criticisms of Romney and his campaign today sound remarkably like investors in a stock that’s headed in the wrong direction. Because for them, in some cases, that’s exactly what he is.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)

Today Ben Domenech in his invaluable Transom (click here to subscribe) makes some essential points about governor Mitt Romney, the campaign, and the “establishment.”

This is a post about understanding the real forces shaping the Republican Establishment. It is not a post against voting for Romney nor for sitting out the election. After all, conservatives can both think and deliver at the same time. And of course, there is no question that president Obama must be defeated on November 6.

But the Domenech insights — a few of which we list below — merit serious consideration by grass-roots conservative leaders who also understand that we will be on a very long march after November 6.

(Highlighting below is Forum’s throughout.)

  • “Bear with me as I return to a point I’ve made before, but it’s been long enough that I should repeat it for all the new subscribers: the DC/Manhattan establishment, the one that really matters, is not the punditocracy. This is not to say such voices have no influence – they do. The opinion of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page in particular holds a great deal of sway. But the opinions of the people who focus on the other sections of the Wall Street Journal matter more, because they communicate those opinions in dollars and cents. What’s more, decisively winning the establishment money primary typically dictates the direction of the DC/Manhattan punditocracy in Republican primaries – they see the money, they see the team, they see that he’s the guy whose turn it is, and their expectations form about who can matter and who can’t. Expectations of inevitability are hard to shake, particularly in Republican primaries.”
  • “And of Romney’s $87 million, a mere 13 percent came from small donations. (If we’re talking about the limits of populism, that’s it: you don’t need to be populist at all in order to win a GOP primary, and you can’t afford to run as one any more in my view. Except on immigration, because it’s the litmus test that matters now.) Romney’s combined warchest lapped the field, and his ability to self-fund effectively scared away a number of potential candidates as well – no one wanted to go up against that Death Star: not Barbour, not Christie, not Rubio, not Ryan, and not Daniels, who got a shot across the bow warning about it first – and we saw what happened to those who did.”
  • “And that doesn’t even count the $40 million Romney’s Super PAC spent against Republicans in the primary – including over $21 million against Santorum alone, about as much as Santorum’s entire campaign raised (by comparison, Santorum’s Super PAC spent $700k on anti-Romney ads – 10% of their total budget). What we’re talking about, in political terms, is a metric ton of cash. With the exception of the odd Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess types, the big donors got on board with Romney early and gave big, not just to him but to his Super PAC. Funded exclusively by big donors and corporate funders, Romney’s Super PAC spent more to defeat Republicans in the primary than it has spent thus far to defeat Obama.
  • “Nor do these numbers include the sideline benefit of the other activist groups that sat on the sidelines to avoid angering their biggest donors, or the benefits of crossover fundraisers between American Crossroads and Romney’s team. These donors don’t just give to campaigns and PACs: they also fund organizations in Washington and have exerted enormous pressure on Romney critics within those organizations to hold their tongue, spend their money differently, hold off on endorsements, and tamp down on criticism – the sort of push that carries a lot of weight when it comes from someone with their name on buildings. These insiders, not the pundits, were the ones doing the ‘foisting’ from my perspective. They also fund a few pundits, too, though no one likes to talk about that.”
  • “This is the way the process is, it’s unlikely to ever change, particularly in the wake of the process changes at the most recent convention. While the Tea Partiers and the conservative base can unite to toss out Senators in their own party, they lack the sophistication and the invested capital to beat anyone whose turn it is. And if Romney wins, I’d expect more foisting, not less, in the foreseeable future. Establishment, establishment – you always know what’s best.”

Subscribe to the Transom and read editor Domenech’s entire post on Romney and the campaign.

And the future? Conservative leaders drawing their post-election road maps should revisit (or visit for the first time) one of the best manifesto’s of recent time: Angelo Codevilla’s  “America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution,” here.

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Related Article: Open our post “Phyllis Schlafly: Rove ‘Toxic’ By His Loose Talk About Todd Akin” here for questions about “Karl Rove’s Donors and The Serious Resources of American Crossroads.”

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