Kent Bush: Lessons need to be learned from 2012

Kent Bush

It is said that politics makes strange bedfellows.

The statement refers to the often-incomprehensible allies that are created simply because  a common enemy unites them.

But I think the best example of this statement comes after an election - especially a failed election. That sweetheart candidate who got you so excited about taking as your date to the general election ball becomes the evil ex-girlfriend who everyone knew was so bad for you the whole time.

Mitt Romney has done something that many politicians have failed to do for generations. He has united the two major parties.

After his failed attempt to knock off Barack Obama, Republicans have joined the Democrats in taking shots at him.

Romney hasn’t helped himself. Since the election, he has doubled down on some campaign gaffes that pushed voters away and proved that he still held firm to the ideas that cost him and his party the election.

Two Republican governors, who also happen to be minorities, have blasted Romney for his post-election comments that minority voters chose Obama because he gave them gifts.

Bobby Jindal of Louisiana cautioned his party in no uncertain terms.

“We have to stop being the stupid party,” he said.

Susana Martinez of New Mexico was far more excited about Romney at the Republican National Convention when she was featured as a speaker. After being used in an attempt to appeal to Hispanic voters, Martinez now says of Romney’s comments, “That unfortunately is what sets us back as a party, our comments that are not thought through carefully.”

Marco Rubio also gave a glowing speech about Romney at the RNC and now struggles not to “rebut him (Romney) point by point.”

But the best example is Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey.

Christie was thought to have been a top pick for the vice presidential spot on the ticket before Romney chose Paul Ryan.

In Romney’s defense, at that point, the election was all about the economy, and Ryan has conservative credentials and is one of the true budget nerds in Congress. You don’t have to agree with him on ideas, but Ryan knows the line items and has forgotten more about the national budget than most people will ever know.

Sure, unemployment dropped after Ryan became Romney’s running mate.

Social issues came to the forefront thanks to several undisciplined and ill-reasoned candidates down the ticket in a few states.

The Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks of the world became Democratic talking points, and the fact that their staunchly conservative views lined up perfectly with Ryan’s took the budget and economy off the front burner and made Ryan a problem for the ticket rather than a positive. The GOP didn’t even win Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin.

Ryan getting picked over Christie became an issue thanks to another circumstance that Romney had no control over - Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy.

When Christie spoke of his appreciation for Obama’s help after the storm devastated parts of his state, he was seen as a traitor who was making Obama look presidential.

All of the Republican backlash hasn’t been reserved for Romney, Christie is taking his fair share from right-wing pundits as well.

The lead headline on The Drudge Report on Monday morning took Christie to task for appearing on “Saturday Night Live” while some residents of New Jersey still suffer the effects of the storm.


It links to a Front Page Mag column about Christie’s appearance and how the governor has been more interested in photo ops than fixing problems.

I’m sure Christie is seen as the floozy who cheated on Romney with another candidate. Strange bedfellows indeed.

Look, these people who are tossing Romney under the campaign bus now were the same ones endorsing him and predicting victory only a few short weeks ago.

They loved him for his 47 percent comments, and no one was calling Romney “Thurston Howell III” back then. It’s easy to kick a guy when he is down, but the same people who put him on the top of the ticket shouldn’t be the ones taking him down a notch.

Who would you have preferred to take on Obama in November? Are you longing for the leadership of Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann? Do you not remember how Romney got the job?

He may not have been the best pick, but he was the best you had to choose from.

It is tough to get top candidates to take on an incumbent - even a weak one like Obama. Incumbents have an advantage that won’t have to be overcome in 2016.

Lessons do need to be learned from 2012. Hopefully, both parties can field thoughtful candidates who understand what middle-class Americans are dealing with and have a vision to make the country better.

But don’t blame Romney. He threw his hat in the ring with all of the others.

You picked your horse and he didn’t win.

I can understand putting him out to pasture but there is nothing to be gained by sending him to the glue factory.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.