The Conversation

Writing the first draft of history

In response to Hearing From Romney Will Be Good, But Big Boi Would Be Better:

Big Boi sounds like an excellent idea for a guest speaker.  Along the lines of pop-culture outreach, I've often wondered why we don't hear from Adam Baldwin at such an event.  Maybe he's been invited and declined, I'm not sure.  But he's a recognizable face with both mainstream and cult appeal.  Or how about an author like Brad Thor?  This would actually have been a good time to invite Orson Scott Card, who's not really a conservative, but certainly has an interesting story to tell about the Left's pop-culture totalitarianism.

As for the backlash I'm hearing against inviting Romney to speak: it occurs to me that one good reason not to shun the guy, or treat him like an irrelevant loser, is that doing so gives the other side free reign to write the first draft of history.  The Left is pretty good about getting over its immediate frustrations with disastrous candidates and refusing to discard them.  The big exception might be Michael Dukakis, and that was a long time ago; they arguably learned from the mistake of allowing him to be remembered as a joke.  

They didn't cast Al Gore or John Kerry aside.  If Obama had been crushed in a landslide, you can bet they'd never let him be remembered as a miserable candidate whose first term was a disaster.  They acted to protect Bill Clinton's legacy; it's hard to remember now that even Gore's 2000 campaign was presented as fumigation of the White House, with Clinton slinking away into the shadows so as not to drag Gore down.  Those rehabs paid dividends - Gore remained influential (and got filthy rich), Kerry's the new Secretary of State, and Clinton was indispensable to Obama's re-election effort.

Not only does a little polite applause for the loser candidate preserve his individual viability, but it protects the Party.  It allows the Democrats to pretend their election losses were somehow unfair - rather obviously in Gore's case, but remember a lot of them tell fairy tales about the 2004 victory getting stolen from Kerry to this day.  It preserves a narrative that even the most difficult loss is not a repudiation of the Party or its ideology by voters.  

On the other hand, treating Mitt Romney like a chump lets the Left firm up a narrative that portrays the Republican Party itself as hopeless and doomed.  And that's obviously not true - Romney had good moments during the campaign, some of his proposals were excellent, and he drew a gigantic number of votes.  If a Democrat challenger had lost 2012 to a GOP incumbent, you can bet the Left's narrative would dwell endlessly on how Hurricane Sandy was ruthlessly exploited by the rascal Republican to steal the election, and of course they'd never stop talking about tactics as scurrilous as the Joe Soptic hit, or the phony "Mitt Romney is a tax cheat" storyline.  

If you want to push back against that garbage, and defuse their ability to use it again next time, a little polite appreciation for the man who trounced Obama in the Denver debate would be in order.  No one has to swallow any of their criticisms of Romney to offer such appreciation.




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