Sunday, November 18, 2012

 

RAG on WSJ: Obama's Presser & Romney "Gifts"

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal's Jason Riley and I discussed President Obama's first post-election press conference and Mitt Romney's conference call with his donors.  This was the now much-criticized session where Romney blamed his loss on the various "gifts" that he distributed to various parts of the electorate.

Jason and I both shared our horror at Romney's comments -- not merely because of the content, but also because of the political foolishness demonstrated by allowing the press in on a call to one's donors! Apparently, there was more than one lesson Romney failed to pick up in the fallout from the "47 percent" debacle!

In any event, here's the video:


A rather perceptive observation on the "gifts" statement was also made by my former boss Newt Gingrich.  If it was all about "gifts," why did Republicans do worse with Asian-Americans than they did with Hispanics?  ("Right, seventy-three percent of Asian-Americans, seventy-one percent of Latinos," the Texas Tribune's Erik Smith corroborates.)

Gingrich follows up: "This is the hardest working and most successful ethnic group in America, okay. They ain’t into gifts. Second, it’s an insult to all Americans. It reduces us to economic entities who have no passion, no idealism, no dreams, no philosophy..." 

Some might want to jump on Gingrich by implicitly buying into the notion that the other groups Romney are into gifts, but put that aside. But his overall point is simply dead-on. If you go by the stereotype of Asian Americans being as family-oriented as Latinos and even more entrepreneurial, why would they be so hostile to the GOP (or friendly to Obama/Democrats, if you will). I would argue that this may well be considered "collateral damage" of Romney and the GOP's immigration problem.  

The party's blocking of comprehensive immigration reform didn't just send a signal of being tough on immigrants coming across the Southern border. It also made things remain difficult for those trying to enter the country for either education or technology jobs.  A significant number of those, duh, are coming from Asia.  If all Asian Americans see is a GOP seemingly opposed to overall immigration reform -- and hear its presidential nominee talking more "self-deportation" than actual policy -- it's only logical they might conclude that this is a party that isn't so friendly to their presence either.

Yes, elections have consequences.  

So, does the combination of  ill-focused strategy and thoughtless rhetoric.  

I think the same conclusion has come to Bobby Jindal -- the nation's first governor of South Asian descent.  This may explain why, perhaps moreso than any other outraged Republicans, he's been the most vocal in denouncing Romney's "gifts" comments. And Jindal doesn't sound like he's just making a rote "distance myself from our recent embarrassing party standard-bearer." He seems genuinely appalled. And I think there's a reason for that. This is as much personal as it is political for Jindal. 

The contrast with Marco Rubio's going rather easy on Romney is fascinating. These different post-election statements may be tactical moves by young Republican leaders who will be the ones seeking to define the party in the coming years. 

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