“My God,” they said. “The spell is broken. Donald Trump is just a huckster.”
“Did you hear what Mitt said?” one person asked. “Donald Trump is playing us for fools! ‘He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.’ My eyes are open now! Why didn’t anyone say this before? I would not have believed it had I not heard from the Establishment’s Lost 2012 Candidate himself.”
I mean, maybe?
But somehow, I doubt it. Rousing speeches from Mitt Romney couldn’t even help Mitt Romney.
The prospect of a rousing Romney speech that would rock this election seemed — correctly — a little dubious. Here is a Venn Diagram I just threw together to illustrate the problem.
Instead, he offered just one more sign of the GOP Establishment Looking Panicked At The Prospect of Donald Trump. And if there is one thing Trump voters love, it is to see the GOP Establishment Looking Panicked At The Prospect of Donald Trump.
When Trump supporters see Romney, if my Twitter feed is any indication, they see a wealthy establishmentarian who wrote off 47 percent of the country and could not even figure out how to beat President Obama, a Disastrous Figure Destroying The Country. Why on earth would anyone listen to him? He’s just setting it up to steal the nomination at the convention.
It was just barely possible that he could have said something that would have rocked the election. But for that to happen he would have had to really dive onto the pyre.
I honestly think he could have changed the state of the race if he’d stepped up to the microphone and laughed.
“Listen,” he could have said. “Guys. Hey, guys. Ha ha. Listen, I know Donald. He’s laughing at all of you. Believe me. You can’t see this because you can’t afford to go where he goes. But I can. I’m a millionaire, remember. If you think he’s actually out there to shake things up, you’re wrong. I’m in the establishment with him. We golf together, weekly. He’s like a brother to me. We have adjoining homes in Davos and matching tattoos with sinister eyes surrounded by triangles. Trust me when I say that he does not mean anything he says. I know, because he has told me. I have been in rooms with him. I know what he told the New York Times: the truth. He’s with me. He’s with us. He’s completely safe and totally harmless. We get together at our Sinister Establishment Meetings and laugh while throwing gold bouillon (or in his case, gilded bouillon) to the pigeons. We’re in the Illuminati together. Believe me, he’s just as invested in the status quo as any of us. A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for me. I love the guy.”
That could have done it.
True? False? Who cares? Just get the story out there. You think fact-checking has done anyone any good this election? When has a good conspiracy theory (or Trump promise) ever had to stand up to a fact-check?
Instead, it was just more of the same, but delivered by someone with the charisma of toast.
You can only tell people for so long that everything that touches Washington, D.C., is hideous and wrong, that the media is lying to you, that the establishment is broken, compromise is weak and unprincipled, Obama is a threat to everything this country stands for, and that only a True Outsider can come riding in on a white horse and solve all our problems — before they will start to believe you.
The GOP is trying to fix the fact that they no longer have a line to voters by shouting more loudly into the telephone. The problem isn’t that you need to shout louder. The problem is that the phone’s not connected any more. You can especially tell how badly this is working because the metaphor is a land-line telephone.
It’s like trying to stop the Titanic from sinking by making the band play louder. “The boat won’t listen to the band! That’s not how boats work?” “Well, have they tried playing louder? Have we sent out Mitt Romney yet?”
That’s not how it works any more.