Opinion Brief

Why Republicans want Mitt Romney to take a hike

Losing is never a great way to increase your popularity. But to an unusually vocal degree, Republicans are going out of their way to show Romney the door

A week and a half ago, Mitt Romney was the king of the Republican Party, drawing big, genuinely enthusiastic crowds to his presidential rallies and basking in glowing press from the conservative media. Now, after a landslide loss and post-election comments that blamed his crushing defeat on "gifts" President Obama had doled out to young and minority voters, "Republicans are essentially coming together in a collective 'go away, Mitt,'" say Benjy Sarlin and Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo. "For conservatives and Republicans trying to make the GOP friendlier to those groups, Romney's comments have not been well-received. To say the least."

Romney is still in shock over his loss, and wants to keep on "rehashing why he didn't win" — blaming the voters, not his campaign — while Republicans are clearly trying to "move on as quickly as possible from an election that badly exposed their weaknesses," says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. And since Romney embodies just about everything his party is trying to ditch — namely, "the stereotype that it is of, by, and for white, affluent men " — you can't blame the GOP for telling its failed nominee: "Thanks for playing. Now go away." The problem for Republicans is that "Romney has no motivation to toe the party line now," and no incentive to shut up.

But it doesn't really matter what Romney says now, says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. His losing campaign already irreparably — and unforgivably — damaged one of the GOP's sacred cows: Trickle-down economics. Yes, Romney "killed Reaganomics." Voters had a stark choice between Obama's pledge to raise taxes on the rich while keeping middle-class taxes the same and Romney's central promise to cut everyone's taxes by a fat 20 percent.

There was a time when a promise of a 20-percent tax cut would have ended the whole conversation in Romney's favor. But all it accomplished this time was to raise questions — legitimate and never answered — about how he was going to pay for it. Romney had nothing to say to the middle class beyond cutting taxes and watching the magic happen. But voters have stopped believing in that magic. Some conservatives understand this. But it's literally three or four people right now.... The rest of the Republican Party is still in fantasy land.

Hey, let's give Romney some credit here, says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. He's already managed to do something that's eluded Obama for four years: "Uniting the country across party lines." Of course, what's uniting everyone is the belief that "he's someone who should leave as soon as possible and not say anything publicly again." But even there, Romney's hardly the first losing candidate to be thrown down the memory hole by his own party. Michael Dukakis? Bob Dole, anyone? The part of this that's amusingly unique to Romney is that a candidate who "was never more than a tolerated transplant among professional conservatives" is being drummed off the national stage by the GOP "precisely because he's continuing to make the kind of makers-and-takers-ype statements you might hear on a particularly feral and untethered right-wing blog."

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