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Still not done with the schadenfreude

[ 144 ] December 23, 2012 |

It’s been almost seven weeks since the 2012 general election, but I have yet to grow weary of tales from the Romney campaign:

 

Rich Beeson, the Romney political director who co­authored the now-discredited Ohio memo, said that only after the election did he realize what Obama was doing with so much manpower on the ground. Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.

Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and ­offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.

I’d be fascinated to learn what Beeson thought all those people were doing prior election day. Anyone who paid any attention whatsoever to the 2008 presidential campaign should have had a pretty clear idea what was going on, and it’s not like the Obama campaign was keeping this a secret.

This has got me thinking about an additional danger for presidential campaigns in general and Republican presidential campaigns in particular. Insofar as corporate culture increasingly revolves around the practice of removing wealth from companies and placing it in the hands of <s>their co-conspirators</s> “job creators” at the expense of employees, consumers, small shareholders, and the general public, and Republican leadership and support becomes increasingly tied to this social class, there’s a danger they’ll bring their corporate model to political campaigns, which will surely be to their detriment.

Obama’s campaign treated their task as work, and hired thousands of people to do a fairly simple, straightforward job. That Romney’s people view this strategy as alien to their understanding of the process of campaigning, speaks volumes.

Comments (144)

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  1. RAM says:

    Looks more and more to me that the Romney campaign was actually run like one of his vulture capitalist operations. All the in-crowd made money off the deal, but they seem to have missed the point that unlike slicing and dicing a company and selling off its assets, the goal was to actually win the damned election. The culture where destroying things is a feature not a bug doesn’t seem to work too well when the goal is to actually create someing–in the case of a political campaign, that means winning the campaign.

    • LosGatosCA says:

      My guess is that the most satisfying moment of the whole campaign for Romney was when he cancelled all the credit cards leaving staff stranded without cab fare and having to pick up their own meals on election night.

      • Eric says:

        A well run campaign shouldn’t have aides going out on the town and getting cabs home using campaign funds. That’s what their salaries are for.

        My guess is that what actually happened was that Romney aides were trying to have a little fun on the company dime once they figured out that there wasn’t going to be a Romney Administration to give them a post-election job.

    • Green Caboose says:

      I’ll agree with that. My company was bought early this year by a firm much like Bain. They brought in their mafia of mercenaries to manage the transition to new financial systems in processes – these guys listened to no one (though they had no previous experience in our industry), made decisions on their own over margaritas at their expensive hotel, got their huge bonuses by meeting the target date by ignoring 90% of the requirements, and now that they are gone we are struggling to fix all their screwups. Oh – and our new board of directors is mad at us because we can’t give them detailed financial numbers.

      In short, their technical team is successful only because they are in a position to write their own evaluation. And that works … until they are put in a position, like a public election, where an objective evaluation is made.

    • Kyle says:

      Short answer: Republicans are the party of grifters, parasites, rentiers and con-artists.

      They are incapable of, and have no interest in, building anything of quality or administering an organization to actually function well.

  2. Eli Rabett says:

    The good news is that they are incapable of learning, so telling them what they did wrong is penalty free sport.

  3. jon says:

    I didn’t hear a whole lot about Obama’s get out the vote operation, but i would have been shocked if they hadn’t been putting one together, along with voter registration. Those are core tasks, especially for Democrats.

    I suppose Romney though his air war strategy could prevail. Buy enough ad space and work the media and the votes will show. That and voter suppression amongst the great 47 percenters.

    Today’s Globe article is also just jaw-dropping: Romney didn’t really want to run for/be President. So, I guess he did really well for an empty suit. This is probably not a story line we’d have been treated to if Romney had been bothered to win.

    • LosGatosCA says:

      There’s a concept that applies here, but it escapes me at the moment, ummmm . . . . . .

      oh, sour grapes.

    • Hogan says:

      I suppose Romney though his air war strategy could prevail. Buy enough ad space and work the media and the votes will show.

      And that way no one will have to, you know, spend time where actual voters might be able to touch you.

      • brandon says:

        He sure did have a shitload of ads on the internet!

        Seriously, like every single page had a big ol’ “Romney: Obamacare is wrong, and I’ll repeal it” thing on it.

        • sparks says:

          Ad. Blocker. Plus.

          Didn’t see a one.

        • NonyNony says:

          Seriously, like every single page had a big ol’ “Romney: Obamacare is wrong, and I’ll repeal it” thing on it.

          And I clicked on every single one of those suckers every time I saw one.

          I have no idea if it actually cost his campaign any money, but in my dreams every one of those damn banner ads showing up on a liberal or left-leaning site drained dollars out of Romney’s bank account and into the accounts of liberal and left-leaning writers who were actively blasting Romney’s campaign on a daily basis.

    • NBarnes says:

      I find the assertion that Romney ever really wanted to be President to be completely laughable. Romney clearly burned to be President. The only clear and consistant conviction Romney ever displayed on any topic was that he should be President. His ambition was his defining political trait.

      • NonyNony says:

        I believe that Romney never wanted to do the job of President. But he clearly wanted to be President. He spent all that time and effort and money on something he didn’t really want?

        Honestly I’m beginning to think that Tagg Romney thinks his father is an idiot. That’s the logical conclusion of the stupid that comes out of his mouth.

        • Mike G says:

          I suspect that Rmoney would have been like Bush — disinterested in administering the government, perking up only when there was a chance to settle one of his many grudges, funnel loot to his cronies or play war.

          He just wanted the prestige and ego-stroke of being President.

        • rea says:

          I believe that Romney never wanted to do the job of President. But he clearly wanted to be President.

          It wasn’t so much that he wanted to be president as that he wanted to be king.

        • Eli Rabett says:

          Anyone named Tagg would naturally think that his Dad was an idiot.

      • montag2 says:

        Ah, well, this relates to the meme that the most worthy are the ones with the humility to see that they’re purer than the office demands or that they’re–in their own eyes–unworthy of it. It’s a desperate ploy to suggest that Rmoney was better than he seemed, and thus deserved to win.

        What pretty much undoes this line of bullshit is Rmoney’s behavior. He changed positions on a dime, depending on where he was pimping for votes. It’s the second time he’s tried to convince the public that he ought to be the Big Cheese. In practical terms, he hired himself out to every shitheel in the country with money, and he made it clear that he wanted the job to protect his skeevy Wall Street friends. Then he picks as his running mate someone who has even fewer principles than himself, if that’s possible.

        If Rmoney could have bought the White House instead of winning it in an election, he would have done so, and he did everything but say outright that the job was his by divine right.

        So, no, this nonsense will not prevail. Despite the whitewashing, the truth is that he’s probably as driven as any candidate in the last fifty years, excluding only Nixon, whose mendacity he equalled.

      • sophronia says:

        I figured this stuff would be coming sooner or later. “Americans didn’t elect me? Well, I didn’t really want to win, so ha ha. You hear that? I never really wanted it anyway!”

        Coming up next, somber alleged think pieces about how Mitt is just too special for us lazy, entitled Americans.

    • westside says:

      There were lots of stories in 2008 about how Team Obama trained volunteers including how they were to stress their personal “conversions” instead of the candidate’s policy positions. Even as an early Obama supporter/volunteer I found some of the stories a bit creepy. It worked fantastically, however, so no one should have been surprised that the outreach/turnout campaign would focus on one to one contact in 2012

      • John Protevi says:

        “I used to be a conservative, but after Iraq I turned to the left”? Not so creepy really.

        “I used to be a Hillary supporter, but after reading more about him, I couldn’t see anyone else but Obama as the candidate”? Slightly creepy.

        “My life changed when I met him”? Definitely creepy.

    • Josh R. says:

      “I suppose Romney though his air war strategy could prevail”

      This seemed to be his modus operandi all the way back in the primaries when he used his money advantage to buy up all the air space and fight off the emergent crazy flavor of the month (Cain, Gingrich, etc). I have no clue why they thought that would still work when the other candidate had a lot of money to throw around as well.

      What is particularly interesting is that, until the latter years of the Clinton administration, the Republicans seemed to have an advantage at in-house mobilization efforts (the Dems relied more on allies outside the party itself) [see this book.)

  4. Brian Rogers says:

    I wonder if the Romney folks thought Obama’s high population ground game was some ineffectual, wishy-washy liberal jobs program. You know, the sort we know don’t work.

  5. thebewilderness says:

    The very concept of GOTV is antithetical to vulture capitalists, I think.
    I appreciate the insight that these follow up to failure articles provide.

  6. NBarnes says:

    Ok, here’s a question for you.

    Reading this, Beeson comes outs out and says that they didn’t really understand why Obama was hiring these 3000 people and what their job was once hired.

    What did Beeson think he was hiring his campaign’s 500 people to do, if it wasn’t this?

    I mean, it’s fairly clear that they were just going through the motions of a business that they’d bought with vulture capital funds but didn’t really understand, but still….

    • LosGatosCA says:

      Get his coffee, pick up his dry cleaning, watch Faux News for late breaking news of ACORN counter attacks.

      Really improtant stuff.

    • Warren Terra says:

      Well, it’s traditional to have a certain number of storefronts and back offices to distribute literature and yard signs upon request, to make the arrangements should the candidate come to town, etcetera. To work up a real shoe leather operation requires a bigger workforce, but without it there is stuff for a smaller workforce to do.

    • NonyNony says:

      What did Beeson think he was hiring his campaign’s 500 people to do, if it wasn’t this?

      Year-long jobs for 500 sons/daughters/etc. of particularly important contacts that he wanted to reward/suck up to?

      The idea that most of the paid operatives for a campaign might be patronage positions used to suck up to potential patrons and/or pay family members under the table is not outside the realm of possibility at all. In fact, from what I’ve seen of state government campaigns it’s probably a requirement.

      I wonder how many of Romney’s family members are in that count of 500 paid campaign personnel – and if the assumption was that Obama was doing something similar.

  7. Clark says:

    Conservative social scientists will doubtless produce research on this topic that will then be reported on by conservative journalists. It could happen.

    • LosGatosCA says:

      Heritage and AEI studies will likely show that the campaign staff was insufficiently incentivized to actually dominate the share of the electoral market since the skim on the fund raising was more valuable than the present value of future income flows after actually winning the election.

      Romney’s non-endorsement of Ryan’s incentive laden tax plan was clearly the disincentive here. Future Republican candidates will have to re-order the incentives by committing to the creation of a zero marginal tax rate for Republican donors and operatives so that actually winning the election will provide a greater financial incentive for them.

      Also, too, carpet bombing ACORN.

    • Bill Murray says:

      President Obama had 6x the number of paid workers but only got ~1.12x the vote, so Romney’s workers were significantly more efficient (depending on salary)

  8. DrDick says:

    Further proof, if we needed it, that the Romney campaign was not only not ready for the big leagues, they were not even ready for the bush leagues.

  9. Mike G says:

    Not bad for a “Community Organizer”, eh Republicans?

    Too bad Obama didn’t have more indispensible Masters of The Universe vulture capitalists to strip-mine his campaign.

    • I like your comment so much, I’m dusting off an old joke for the occasion:

      Being a community organizer is sort of like being the President, CEO, largest investor, and Chairman of Bain Capital, except you have actual responsibilities.

  10. ralphdibny says:

    Link? I’d also like to enjoy the schadenfreude too, as well.

  11. Jim Lynch says:

    I could live to be 100 and will still enjoy reading accounts of the great GOP drubbing of 2012. Much as I’ve long enjoyed reading different accounts of the battle of Midway, for example, only way better because no one gets hurt.

  12. Paul H. Rosenberg says:

    Makes me wonder what those 500 people working for Romney were doing all that time–making Obama jokes?

    When, exactly, did voter contact become an exotic (dare I say it–Kenyan) process?

  13. LosGatosCA says:

    I think these snippets speak to what’s wrong with the Republican view of the American election process (as well as the Village perception of reality):

    “While Murphy said he was flattered by Romney’s overture, he decided to remain in California, where he was working

    as a screenwriter and part-time political commentator.”

    “Stevens had helped guide the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush, but he was equally well known as

    an ­author and screenwriter.

    He had scripted episodes of “Northern Exposure” and told remarkable stories about himself, such as when he wrote in Outside magazine about taking “some of the banned performance-enhancing drugs that are often abused in the ­endurance sports I participate in, like cycling and cross-country skiing.”

    Voters are just background extras taken from stock footage in the screenplays filmed on a sound stage.

    Fucking democracy how does it work?

    • Speak Truth says:

      Fucking democracy how does it work?

      You give away candy and ice cream and get elected.
      Free phones, free healthcare, free retirement.

      “What do you want for your vote?”

      • Malaclypse says:

        “What do you want for your vote?”

        Any answer other than tax cuts will make JenBob angry, because his preference is the only acceptable answer.

      • spencer says:

        You give away candy and ice cream and get elected.

        You mean like tax cuts for the superrich?

        • STH says:

          Those oil company subsidies: good for the country.

          Helping poor people not die of treatable diseases: mooching.

          • LosGatosCA says:

            Those miserable old moochers wanting medicine, medical attention, and what not. Way past the point they can even be Wal-Mart greeters making at least minimum wage at 80.

            The wing nuts may have to admit that global climate change is real when the number of ice floes are insufficient to meet the need to Darwinize, a special form of incentivize, these folks.

  14. wjts says:

    In the coming months, ­Romney, ever the data-driven analyst, plans to contemplate how his political life came to an end, and what the party should do next, according to his son Tagg.

    Emphasis mine – one of the better Romney jokes I’ve seen.

    • LosGatosCA says:

      un-unskewing the polling data, no doubt.

    • GFW says:

      “what the party should do next”? Is there anyone in either party who cares what he thinks anymore? It’s not like this is a Parliamentary system and he’s leader of the opposition.

    • SamR says:

      1. Political life? He won 1 office, one time. He was the 4th consecutive GOP Gov of MA, and the last, so unpopular by the end of his term that his Lt. Gov lost big when she ran. He lost a MA Senate race, and both of his presidential bids were unsuccessful.
      2. I assume the GOP will start by not listening to Mitt.

      • Pestilence says:

        (2) only makes sense if you assume the GOP can even recognise a rational decision when it sees one, let alone make it

        • RhZ says:

          Thank you wjts, that is the best quote in the whole piece.

          Hilarious that the quote maker and/or Romney thinks it is viable to suggest that anyone cares for his opinion anymore. He will just go on with his life, regally, without ever realizing how irrelevant he truly is…

  15. Major Kong says:

    What wine goes best with schadenfreude?

  16. mds says:

    I’d be fascinated to learn what Beeson thought all those people were doing prior election day.

    Voting fraud?

  17. LoriK says:

    I’d be fascinated to learn what Beeson thought all those people were doing prior election day.

    I would assume that Beeson thought they were doing what GOP paid staff was apparently doing—-networking and polishing their resumes for future employment.

  18. Paul in NC says:

    Community organizer organized communities…of voters.

  19. Murc says:

    I’d be fascinated to learn what Beeson thought all those people were doing prior election day.

    Well, I’m gonna flip this around.

    If I heard that Romney had hired a shit-ton of people to do a job, and I thought that it wasn’t getting done (remember; conservatives think Obama is both incompetent and corrupt, and they thought his campaign was shitty) I would immediately assume ‘featherbedding.’

    I mean, that’s the understated assumption here, right? They Beeson just assumed Obama and his Chicago-style corruption was giving a bunch of jobs to his cronies and probably getting kickbacks, and thus, didn’t think too much about it?

  20. laura says:

    It’s funny. I didn’t and don’t hate Romney like I hated McCain in 2008 (and still do hate the bitter old shit). But he definitely offers confirmatory evidence in favor of the old liberal saw that being good at business does not make one good at politics or governing.

    • cpinva says:

      contrary to what mr. romney and his gang would have you believe, he isn’t particularly good at real business. that is, the practice of making/doing something, and selling that product/service. what romney does is neither a product or a service, it’s vulturenomics, benefiting only a very few, select individuals. bain produces nothing of tangible value, it simply shifts cash from one pocket to another pocket.

    • Warren Terra says:

      Was Romney ever “Good At Business”? He ran a finance-raiding operation, one that used its privileged access to ready capital to snap up companies that could be raided for more money than it cost to buy them – for example, but causing the newly purchased company to take on huge new debts to pay passive “management fees” to its new owners, effectively wiping out the company’s assets, including its pension plans. Running Bain’s own operations arguably required a certain amount of skill and application, but there’s little evidence Bain had any great interest in the successful running of the businesses it acquired; Bain made its money back in the days after the takeover, if the company managed to survive and retain (or increase) value, that was merely an unlooked-for bonus.

      • laura says:

        Bain made a lot of money though; I think it’s fair to say that Romney was good at business, regardless of the ethics of his brand of business. If it was that easy we’d all be multizillionaires.

        • DrDick says:

          He was not a “businessman”, he was a predator, who looted and pillaged companies. It takes no particular skill to do what he did, just enough money to buy out the company. His “business” is what the Mafia calls a bust out.

        • STH says:

          Well, I suspect that how you get good at that sort of business is by having good contacts and a lot of seed money to start with. For something like that, Romney was “born on third base and thought he hit a triple.”

        • NonyNony says:

          I think it’s fair to say that Romney was good at business, regardless of the ethics of his brand of business. If it was that easy we’d all be multizillionaires.

          Yes. Because we all have seed money given to us by our parents to go out and buy up companies to bleed dry to buy more companies.

          Romney is and was what is known as a “bottom feeder”. He doesn’t produce anything. His “business model” is based on exploiting the tax code and bankruptcy laws in order to borrow money from other people to buy struggling companies and suck the life out of them, then sell them off to another group of suckers trying to do the same.

          Romney’s entire career is based on manipulating the law to make money. The conservatives I know who figured this out were probably more disgusted by Romney than I was.

          (On a related note, one of them the other day mentioned to me how stupid it was that people suggested that the unions killed Hostess when it was obvious that it was the management that did it to them “like Bain did to the companies it bought out”. Seriously – I’m not surprised that Romney went down in flames when the actual small-c conservatives that I know where disgusted by him even more than they were by W at the end of his time in office.)

        • SamR says:

          Bain acquired a lot of money. They didn’t make or earn it, they just acquired it.

          Admittedly, it does take a certain amount of skill, but it also probably takes skill to rob a bank and get away with it.

          • Jon says:

            Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they call you a king.

            Romney is almost certainly very good at the skill of raising money from rich people — he had the opportunity to develop it in the first place because of his background and education, but he did have to work to develop it. That skill is probably rewarded more richly in this economy than in, say, a more industrial-based economy, but he has it.

            That’s separate from the way Bain made its profits, which was by giving a legitimate face to piracy.

            • You know who would have been a formidable candidate in 2012? George Romney.

              An actual businessman, who ran a company that did something productive, would have been in a powerful position to run on his record as a manager and businessman.

              I don’t think the American public rejected the idea of a successful businessman being able to manage the economy. I think they picked up on exactly the distinction you’re making – they rejected vulture capitalism, not capitalism.

    • Major Kong says:

      In an earlier time Romney would have been sporting an eye-patch and a parrot.

      That’s the kind of “business” he was in.

  21. David says:

    I tried googling this, but couldn’t find it. What the hell is this “Ohio memo”? All links come back to this same article when I search for it.

  22. cpinva says:

    since romney and his cohorts are considered actual aliens, by a fair majority of the public, this is understandable.

    That Romney’s people view this strategy as alien to their understanding of the process of campaigning, speaks volumes.

  23. Mike Schilling says:

    I’d be fascinated to learn what Beeson thought all those people were doing prior election day

    Using drugs and talking about how much they hate white people.

  24. Law Spider says:

    Moffatt recalled his assign­ment in daunting terms: “Can we do 80 percent of what the Obama campaign is doing, in 20 percent of the time, at 10 percent of the cost?”

    This confirms the Romney/conservative Republican belief that anything (but particularly government) can be done as well as before, but much more quickly and cheaply if only the “right” people are in charge. And, here, the “right” people = people with the WILL to succeed. Not given any credence is the impossibility of doing something well with no resources and/or no expertise.

    • Managers can do no wrong. Therefore Mitt Romney is president no matter what you say.

    • cpinva says:

      mom always says, “you get what you pay for.”

      This confirms the Romney/conservative Republican belief that anything (but particularly government) can be done as well as before, but much more quickly and cheaply if only the “right” people are in charge.

      the postmaster general said, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”

      two truths i tend to live by, as they have been proven true (in my personal experience, anyway) time and again.

      sure, you can hire people, at dirt cheap wages, to do a job, if they’re desperate enough. the problem is, after a while, desperation turns to anger, over being exploited. then, you have to get rid of all of them and start all over again, elsewhere. and they probably aren’t going to do that great of a job for to begin with.

      this whole “hire a businessman as president, because the country is basically USA, Inc., and any competent MBA (G. bush excluded) should be able to do a decent job of it. well, no, it isn’t USA, Inc., and milo minderbinder can’t run it (though he could have probably done a better job than bush ever did), unless you’d like chocolate covered cotton balls with that war.

  25. Sly says:

    It seems to me as if the Romney campaign just blew millions of dollars on consultants and middle-managers that simply hand-waved away any notion of campaigning as actual work and tried to justify their inaction with the kind self-important and narcissistic bullshit that MBA programs.

    Very surprising.

  26. Sly says:

    that dominates MBA programs

    Edit pls.

  27. RhZ says:

    The story of two tech teams was also…enlightening. I am not a tech person but work with them so I know, the Romney campaign was really a joke, at least in that department.

  28. Brutusettu says:

    Since Obama is a net positive over Romney, it’s easy to see that Romney right sized his staff.

    But why would Romney’s staff just throw money at ads without getting the cheapest deals? They bought expensive ad time that wasn’t all that targeted (it does goes back to them “right sizing” their staff, but it’s weird that they didn’t having marching orders to buy only the cheapest ad time regardless of whether it was on channels barely any voters watch).

    • rea says:

      why would Romney’s staff just throw money at ads without getting the cheapest deals?

      Because the basis of their compensation was a percentage of the money they spent.

      • John Protevi says:

        Wow, talk about a distorted incentive structure.

        • RhZ says:

          I believe several of these types of problems occurred, in reading about bonuses paid to staff and so on.

          Let’s just acknowledge the elephant: Romney is not a very smart man. He obviously knows his particular business well (scummy though it is, with the layoffs and bankruptcy protections to privatize gains and socialize losses), but when push came to shove, he had nary a clue.

  29. patrick II says:

    Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.

    I am glad that a man was not elected commander-in-chief who could not recognize that hundreds of thousands of troops were arrayed against him.

    He was expecting us to greet him in the streets with flowers and flags.

  30. I don’t think the schadenfreude is gong away any time soon. That Boston Globe story is like a Christmas ham. We’re going to be picking at it for a long time.

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