A week after President Obama schooled the Republicans in the art of winning elections, the GOP wound-licking continues. But the bubble conservatives live in — where nothing gets in or out that would challenge their ideology — hasn't been punctured.
Some background. Fox News and the Republican echo chamber were certain Mitt Romney was going to win. They ran their own polls showing he was ahead in battleground states (he lost them all), and the GOP faithful was ecstatic when Romney shook the Etch-a-Sketch and moved to the center to win the first debate. Of course, they hated the move to the center, but they hated Obama more.
Nate Silver, the New York Times numbers cruncher, knew better all along but conservatives continued to ignore his findings and keep things in the bubble.
I knew something was wrong all through October when the media began treating Romney as if he were the incumbent. How could things turn around that quickly based on one mediocre debate performance?
Then came Mother Nature's own October surprise, a windy little girl named Sandy who smacked the East Coast pretty hard. There was Obama, shoulder to shoulder with a GOP knight, Gov. Chris Christie, laboring to make New Jersey whole again while Romney, voters remembered, once said the U.S. should do away with FEMA.
That was the key. That was the part gnawing at me. The Republicans, after the first debate, acted as if all of Romney's previous bubble talk didn't matter. Mannequin Mitt was forgiven for saying such dumb things as the 47 percent speech and Obama's apology tour to foreign lands. Indeed, in a speech a week later, Romney told aggrieved rich folks that Obama won because the groups he promised things to voted for him.
There's that bubble again.
Except on election night, voters did remember. They elected someone determined to make government work for everyone and not the candidate who would continue to tear it down.
GOP soul searching in the last week centered on two issues: Romney was the wrong candidate, and the party needs a hard shift to the right. So far no one has said, "Maybe it's the GOP platform of exclusion, demonization and bellicosity that is the problem. Maybe it's time to appeal to more than just old white guys."
After all, Republicans lost the black vote, the Latino vote, the Asian-American vote, the Jewish vote, the Catholic vote and the single-woman vote, the latter made even more amusing after an Associated Press poll following the first debate showing that Romney had completely closed a 16-point gap with women. Now with the fiscal cliff approaching (another tired media frenzy), Republicans and their media allies have been wagging their fingers at Obama: You have to reach out to us. Remember Mr. President, bipartisanship means doing it our way.
The Wall Street Journal, which has barely acknowledged that Obama won re-election, ran an interview with an old white guy, Mitch McConnell, over the weekend in which the Senate Minority Leader, firmly encased in the bubble, said, "We have a voter mandate not to raise taxes." What planet is this guy from? Oh yes, the planet Bubble.
No, Republicans need to reach out to Obama and deal with his mandate to take the country in his direction. If the president doesn't get some of the things he wants concerning the fiscal cliff, he should veto.
There is no indication that the GOP will change its ways to woo diverse voters. Being anti-government is also being anti-people, and the Republicans' obsession with protecting wealth will have to take a backseat to their constitutional duty of providing for the general welfare.
Four years ago, I wrote that those voting for John McCain (and, shudder, Sarah Palin) were on the wrong side of history. Now history is just marching along without them.
Stephen Dick is an editor for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind. Contact him at email@example.com.