Debarkle Chapter 18: Meanwhile…2012 Romney versus Obama

[Content warning for racism, religious prejudice and accounts of mass shootings]

On May 16 2011 a minor sideshow in the Republican Party’s bid to oust Barack Obama came to an end: businessman and TV celebrity Donald Trump announced that he wouldn’t be running for president. Trump had been hounding Obama over the so-called “birther” issue but had been roundly mocked by Obama and discredited when Obama released the long-form birth certificate. Nonetheless, the flamboyant property developer had been posturing as a potential Republican candidate:

“In spite of Trump’s claims about being frontrunner in the polls, one published on Monday by the Politico website and George Washington University showed 71% of those surveyed thought he had no chance of becoming president.”

Other potential candidates who would withdraw before the start of 2012 included Tea Party favourite and opponent of Occupy Wall Street, Herman Cain — the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. Conservative science-fiction author John C Wright regarded Cain quite favourably[1], but Wright’s future editor, Vox Day, was far more antagonistic towards the candidate:

“Herman Cain is not the man with the courage of his convictions for whom pro-life conservatives have been waiting for more than 20 years. He is not the bold and principled leader that their courageous steadfastness merits. The Magic Negro, Part II: Republican edition, is the black version of Mitt Romney, only less intelligent, less monied and more closely tied to Wall Street. The fact that these two bank-owned, flip-flopping faux conservatives are presently leading in the pre-Iowa polls is a testament to the sad and muddled state of the Republican Party.”

Something about Herman Cain really did not sit well with Day, even more than Day’s general dislike of insufficiently nationalistic Republicans. Cain’s candidacy was derailed in October 2011 due to an allegation of sexual harassment[2] and despite hiring the lawyer L. Lin Wood[3] to help refute the claims, Cain eventually withdrew.

Day’s dislike of Cain was distinctive but not unique, he also had a long term dislike of Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Romney was regarded as a relative liberal within the Republican Party and helped institute a public healthcare system when Governor with many features in common with the current Obama administrations scheme for a federal system. As early as 2008, Day had taken to calling Romney “Captain Underoos”[4] — a dismissive reference to Romney’s Mormon religion[5]. Day had been critical of the idea of John McCain potentially picking Romney as running mate in 2008, making an unusual comparison of Romney to Hitler:

“In general, there is something distinctly problematic about an outsider who wants to come in and lead. It seldom ends well, as the Germans learned after embracing an Austrian outsider. One of the reasons for the disastrous state in which conservatism finds itself, particularly the conservative media, is that so many of its self-appointed leaders are not really conservative and hail from very different social, ethnic, and religious backgrounds than the great mass of conservative America. Can it really be considered any great surprise that irreligious Ivy Leaguers, naturalized aliens and secular New York City Jews have failed to provide successful intellectual leadership for religious conservatives from the heartland?”

Like Trump, Vox Day was also a subscriber to the “birther” beliefs that Barack Obama was not a natural-born US citizen[6] but was unsure of the quality of candidates that the Republican Party could run against him. The only possible saviour was the maverick libertarian, Ron Paul. Day, like Paul, was a believer in the anti-empirical economic theory known as Austrian Economics[7] and was convinced that government stimulus spending and measures taken by the Federal Reserve bank to stabilise the economy in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, were going to cause the economic downfall of the USA.

You may not like him. You may think he is crazy and hypocritical and wrong on a panoply of issues. But the fact of the matter that he has been warning everyone about the eventual consequences of the credit boom that the Federal Reserve and the federal government created over the last fifty years, and the subsequent bust they have been desperately staving off since 2008. In doing so, they have made things worse, so much so that the USA may not survive as a nation when their efforts finally fail. This is not a Democrat vs Republican thing. It is an economic sanity vs insanity thing. Obama has been disastrous, as he has increased federal debt 92% since 2008. McCain would have done the same or worse. Romney and Gingrich would actually be worse than Obama in this regard. The economic Fimbulwinter is coming and there is only one national politician who even understands the core issues involved.

Without providing too many spoilers for the next few years, I can confirm that America did not fall into the economic equivalent of the Norse mythological end times.

Meanwhile, as the process of selecting a candidate continued into 2012 author Brad Torgersen was anxious about the possibility that the GOP would pick former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In 2008, Torgersen had written Mitt Romney rather than vote for McCain or Obama. Gingrich’s history of infidelity made him unacceptable to Torgersen. In the comments to his Facebook post, fellow author Kevin J Anderson anticipated a future irony within a possible Obama v Gingrich contest:

“I rarely comment on politics, but this has really been making my head spin. If Gingrich is the nominee, Hardcore Christian family values voters will look at two candidates:One candidate who has never been divorced, who has a strong marriage, a loving wife, and two daughters he obviously adores, who has belonged to the same religion all his life.One candidate who is now on his third religion as well as his third wife, who broke his marriage vows repeatedly, who left one wife when she got multiple sclerosis, left another wife when she got cancer. And the Christian family values voters will choose the latter. So much for their principles. (I am not endorsing any candidate here; I just loathe the hypocrisy.)”

Mormons no more uniformly vote for the same candidates than any other social grouping in America but in broad strokes, they sit in an unusual position. Largely traditional, often with socially conservative views and mainly concentrated in a state that would likely be Republican regardless, nonetheless Mormons often found themselves unwelcome by the dominant evangelical Christian faction of the Republican Party that sees the Church of the Latter-Day Saints as, at best, heretical and at worse an alien religion pretending to be Christian. However, those same socially conservative position of the church put them at odds with many on the left.

Brad Torgersen rightly objected to misinformed Facebook jokes about Romney’s Mormon faith in 2012:

“Well you know what? I am a gosh-damned Mormon!! And the yuks and snickers and ‘magic underwear’ comments that followed on simply reminded me that I am not sure who is worse: the evangelicals who are bigotted against me and mine, or the progressives who are bigotted against me and mine? Because really, this crap all looks the same after awhile regardless of the source. Guess what progressives, you’re behaving just like your hated rivals, the evangelicals, when you do this shit.”

Although, he didn’t make similar comments about Vox Day’s jibes.

Larry Correia was never much of a Mitt Romney fan because of Romney’s past support of public healthcare and some gun control measures but Correia was also not keen on Gingrich[8].

John Scalzi (a former ‘Rockefeller Republican’ who had anticipated voting for Obama again) made a small but surprising intervention into the nomination process. He donated $50 to the campaign of John Huntsman in the interests of pluralism and a healthy electoral process:

“What I would actually like is two candidates I don’t see as entirely unfit for office (note I say “I” here — I’m not particularly interested if you agree with my assessment) go and have a presidential campaign that doesn’t make me feel like it’s being waged at the level of two second-graders sticking their tongues out at each other and talking to me like I jammed a cake mixer into my brain and clicked it over to the “high” setting. I figure a Huntsman/Obama election race is my best chance for a campaign that does not actively make my country stupider, either before or after the election.”

What the Republican Party lacked was a charismatic candidate who could garner enough support from the party’s right to win a nomination and yet still appeal to the broad electoral centre of US voters to beat Obama. The eventual compromise candidate was Mitt Romney but with the anti-tax “deficit hawk” Paul Ryan as Vice Presidential candidate.

Not that Obama was unbeatable. The flagship policy initiative of the Affordable Care Act (aka ‘Obamacare’) had been a bruising legislative struggle but the major provisions of the act were not due to be implemented until 2014[9], so voters had not yet had a real opportunity to see the policy in action. Nor was the economy in great shape, although things had improved since 2008 the impact of the Global Financial Crisis was still in effect. Technically the Iraq War was over with an official withdrawal of US troops in 2011[10] but Iraq was still in civil disarray and internal violence was on the rise. Elsewhere in the region, there was a growing civil war in Syria[11] and instability in multiple countries.

In September of 2012, an attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya led to the deaths of four Americans including the US Ambassador to Libya, J Christopher Stevens[12]. The attack would become a cause célèbre for the Republican Party which would mount a number of investigations in an attempt to identify wrongdoing by the Obama administration and in particular to attempt to prove negligence by the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

The mass shooting in a cinema in Aurora, Colorado[13] led to renewed calls for gun control laws, in particular controls on so-called “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines[14]. Larry Correia strongly disagreed:

“As can be expected in the aftermath of any shooting that grabs headlines, two things are going to happen. 1. Liberals will knee jerk try to pin it on the right. 2. They’ll start bleating for more gun control. We got #1 when ABC news was trying to blame this on the Tea Party before the blood had even dried, and of course when that came back as untrue, just like it did with the Giffords shooting, they went right into #2.”

Statistical coverage of US elections had increased by leaps and bounds during the 21st century. After surprising success at predict outcomes of the 2008 Presidential Election, the website FiveThirtyEight run by sports statistician Nate Silver had been acquired by the New York Times[15]. It was just one of many websites analysing and commenting upon polling information. The increased interest in polling also led to an increased interest in polling methodology.

Among conservative circles, the relatively poor performance of the Romney ticket in opinion polls often blamed on polls oversampling Democrat voters. Coverage of alternative polling figures where critics of the major polling companies produced “unskewed” poll results gained press coverage[16]. This belief ranged from claiming that the ‘skew’ in the polls was a faulty assumption, to something more like an active conspiracy theory i.e. that polling companies were intentional skewing results in the hope of boosting Obama’s chances[17]. When Romney’s poll numbers improved in October 2012, Larry Correia felt vindicated:

“I’ve been saying that the polls were crap and Romney was going to win for about four months now. My friends kept getting all despondant and bummed out, and I’d just tell them that that was what the media wanted them to feel. The narrative wanted conservatives to forget the Tea Party movement ever started, forget the 2010 midterms, forget the Wisconsin recall, hell, forget the Chick-Fil-A debacle boycott turned biggest fast food sales day ever.”

Vox Day was so unhappy with how Romney became the candidate that he wasn’t keen on voting for him[18] but even Day thought that Romney would beat Obama by 305 electoral college votes to 233[19]. Meanwhile, John Scalzi was predicting Obama would win 294 to Romney’s 244 and in the comments to that post, Brad Torgersen went the other way with Romney 291 to Obama 247[20]. Torgersen was so confident of a Romney win that in the comments to his own Facebook post on the subject he stated that he expected Nate Silver would be discredited by the final result and also counselled that Obama would be wise to concede quickly and gracefully once the results became clear:

“If he’s not… if he refuses, and we get dragged-out legalese or threats to force recounts and accusations of vote fraud…. can even Obama believe this won’t shred whatever good will is left for he and his Presidency?” [21]

Vox Day’s prediction is even more surprising considering that he also thought that Romney was fighting a demographic uphill battle. The shifting population of many Republican states, including Texas, was presenting a future challenge for the GOP. Day thought the tipping point where Republicans might become unelectable as President might be as early as 2016. He predicted only one route out for them:

“Unless, of course, the Republican party becomes the party of white nationalism and starts winning 75 to 80 percent of the white vote, which seems extremely unlikely given SWPL cultural influence, white female left-liberalism, and the party elite’s preference for irrelevance to “extremism”. So, my prediction of a US collapse by 2033 would appear to be progressing rather nicely.”

In the end, none of these would be pundits was correct, although John Scalzi came closest. Obama won 332 electoral college votes. A decisive win. Vox Day was philosophical and Larry Correia took to quoting Robert Heinlein:

Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome.”

Robert Heinlein

Correia and Heinlein both left it unclear who they imagined the barbarians might be. However, Correia did have a theory of how Obama might have won so (to him) surprisingly:

“Yeah, about the voter fraud, really, Cleveland? You get 100% turn out in your inner city districts? I used to live in the inner city. I’m fairly certain you could hold a FREE all you can eat barbeque, with pony rides, a wet t-shirt contest featuring Playboy bunnies, and a Jay-Z/Led Zepplin/50 Cent/Kayne/Beyonce/Elvis/Sinatra/U2 concert, which handed out a free Obamaphone to every visitor, and you still wouldn’t get 100% turn out. That’s cool though, because Philly did even better, because after they threw out 70 of the court appointed observers, not only did their super record banana republic level turn out beat every possible expectation, they also voted 99% for Obama. But Colorado was not to be outdone, because they had ten democrat counties with over 100% turnout? That’s even better than Venezuela or Cuba! Bravo.”

Larry Correia provided no links or references to these claims but despite him pointing to his capabilities as an auditor, he did not appear to have actually checked any data[23].

Correia’s primary concern about a second Obama term was gun control. Tragically, before the year was over the issue would once again dominate the headlines. On December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut a twenty-year-old man first murdered his mother and then went to the Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered twenty-six people including twenty young children using an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. The horrific killings shocked America and brought renewed calls for gun control measures. Although, not all Americans felt that way. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee responded to the attack by suggesting that violence in schools was due to the secular nature of schools[25].

Larry Correia responded to the ensuing political debate a few days later with what was to become one of his most widely shared posts. Entitled An Opinion on Gun Control [26] it outlined many of the key points of what he regarded as the futility and danger of gun control. The post did not directly address the murders and Sandy Hook Elementary School or that the weapons used by the killer had been bought legally by the killer’s mother.

The popularity of Correia’s post eventually led him to an appearance on Mike Huckabee’s own Fox News show, much to Correia’s delight:

“For any of the new visitors interested in checking out my work, just click on any of the books linked over on the right.”

Vox Day pushed back on the moves towards gun control in a different way:

“At this point, I think it is perfectly reasonable to question if Lanza had anything to do with the shootings beyond being one of the victims of the real shooters.  But what about those grief-stricken parents?  And why is the media still going on about assault rifles when they have nothing to do with what supposedly happened at Sandy Hook? I was entirely willing to reserve judgment, but the inexplicable anomalies are rapidly piling up again.  The pattern is readily apparent and given the facts at hand, Occam’s Razor increasingly suggests a false flag.  I don’t understand why anyone finds it hard to believe there are elements in the US government who don’t hesitate to murder US citizens, given that the Obama administration openly asserts its legal right to kill citizens at will without due process. Let’s engage in a little outlandish legal conjecture and assume that the shootings were real.  What, one wonders, would have prevented the administration from legally placing the children of Sandy Hook elementary school on its secret kill list and then ordering their assassination?”

Day would continue to attempt to cast doubt on the truth of the mass murder for years afterwards[27].

Next Time: How to get Correia Nominated for a Hugo…



37 responses to “Debarkle Chapter 18: Meanwhile…2012 Romney versus Obama”

    • Also two more mistakes in the sentence “the pseudo-economic discipline known as Austraian Economics[7]”, The name is Austrian School and it is not “pseudo”-science – it may be wholly incorrect but it is a part of economics in general. The Wikipedia article article lists criticism from the mainstream economists but they are criticizing the ideas of the Austrian School instead of dismissing it as pseudo-science.


      • Mmm, I really do think it is pseudo-scientific at least the more Von Mises version which eschews scientific method but you are right that I can’t just assert that and it has more academic respectability than that even though it has big crank-magnetism. I’ll go with heterodox


  1. “ process.mLet’s engage” – In Beale’s loathsome screed, replace the lowercase m with a space. Accurate quotation means that Brad’s grammar error must persist.

    Amazing how right-wing trolls persist. This section is set in 2012, and here are Newt Gingrich, trump, and Lin “plenty of perjury” Wood. Doubtless Herman Cain would be grafting along with them if he hadn’t died from Covid, possibly contracted at one of trump’s superspreader rallies.

    And Mitt Romney’s now a Senator and serving as what passes for the voice of reason in the Republican Party. One assumes Brad and Larry loathe him more than in 2012 …

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I had meant to say this as a comment on the last installment, but it applies here too: A good life rule is that whatever position Beale takes on any subject, you cannot go wrong taking the opposite one.

    I think I can now expand that to include any position Larry takes as well.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. “…[Romney] helped institute a public healthcare system when Governor that had many features in common with the current Obama administrations scheme for a federal system”

    While “helped institute” isn’t technically wrong, in that Romney had expressed support for some form of healthcare reform and he signed the bill that eventually passed, it’s a bit misleading since the legislature had much more ambitious ideas than Romney was comfortable with, and he had attempted to strike out (since Massachusetts allows a line-item veto) eight major provisions– mostly the ones that most closely resembled the federal bill Obama later signed. The legislature overrode him on all of those points, so it’d be fair to say that what became known as “Romneycare”, especially in its points of similarity to “Obamacare”, was enacted in spite of Romney as much as because of him. However, that didn’t stop both parties from pretending it was Romney’s baby, basically in an attempt to argue that “moderate” Republicans are or should
    be in favor of such measures (which for the Obama administration would be helpful, whereas for the far right it was a way to say that moderate Republicans are terrible).


  4. Sayeth Brad T: I am not sure who is worse: the evangelicals who are bigotted against me and mine, or the progressives who are bigotted against me and mine?

    Brad, Brad, Brad. Progressives being opposed to Mormons’ collective social regression and repression are not being ‘bigoted’. They oppose what you do for valid reasons, none of which can be even remotely construed as bigotry. Do stop playing the victim; it doesn’t suit you.

    Sayeth Larry C: Yeah, about the voter fraud, really, Cleveland?

    I note that Conservatives, and especially American Republicans and their supporters seem to be unable to allow themselves to admit that since their stated policies and party platforms are repugnant to the general public this translates as inability to win without cheating. Therefore, in order to allow themselves to keep on not admitting this, they invent conspiracies and accuse their opponents of doing the cheating they themselves wish to do.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Re: Obamas win, some people in the comments got pretty close and Scalzi did know the danger, that he was to pesimistic.
    Funny the text from Brads facebook wall that sudenly makes sense and doesn’t come of, as from … and then to realise ‘O it’s not from Brad it’s from Kevin J. Anderson.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I liked finding that Anderson quote. It gets to a good point and I think it presages evangelical support for Trump very well. The Christian Republican block were faced with two candidates in 2012 that were devout, monogamous family men who tried to live virtuous lives according to their faith…and they hated both of them. Obama because he was black on a lefty and Romney because he was a squishy ideologically and a Mormon.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I don’t recall if Brak ever made a political statement, but Robert E. Howard gives us Conan’s political program in “The Scarlet Citadel”, which boils down to:

        – Lower taxes
        – No divine right of kings
        – No imprisonment or executions without trial
        – Nobles may not abuse random citizens
        – Consent matters. Abusing and raping women is not okay.
        – The arts are important and poets are more important than kings.

        In some other stories, Conan also takes a stand against slavery.

        In short, Conan’s political program is still better than that of some modern day Republicans.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. In Obama’s first term when he had to lead the charge in cleaning up Bush’s and Wall Street’s destruction of the economy and tried to get the ACA through once he had a Democratic majority in Congress, the right-wingers invented the Tea Party and went after Obama for: A) being black which clearly meant he would give everything to the Black people; B) spending government money to help people during a near new depression; C) spreading Muslim communist atheist socialism, chiefly by trying to turn the American car industry into a socialistic government owned area, all because he wouldn’t loan them bail out funds without safeguards that they wouldn’t massively lay off workers (already the big problem in the Great Recession); and D) claiming that clearly he was going to raise taxes on the middle class (and the rich) to pay for all his supposedly grand schemes. (He lowered taxes on the middle class and then lowered their expenses with the ACA giving more people a shot at health insurance.)

    In mid-term U.S. elections, the opposition almost always does well and in 2010 the recovery efforts on the Great Recession were still slowly steering the economy out of its cargo boat stuck in the canal phase, so the Republicans did well on their he’s going to tax us claims. But by 2012, the Tea Party was dispersed, the economic recovery was in full swing, Wall Street was much happier, the U.S. car industry had been saved, Obama hadn’t done massive taxing, interest rates were low, and millions of nervous Americans had realized that having a Black (centrist) president was in fact not disastrous for white people. He was the favorite to win the election all the way through and won based mainly on the improved economy.

    So for the rest of Obama’s second term, the conservative refrain was to steroid the white nationalism of the original Tea Party. Obama was going to refuse to leave office after his second term and make himself dictator, he was going to bring in the Chinese, etc., and most importantly, that Obama was going to declare martial law, come and take away all the white conservatives’ guns, put them in FEMA camps in WalMarts and give all their property to Black people. It was in Obama’s second term that the wild, weird conspiracy theories we then saw in the Trump era and among QAnon really started ramping up. Republican politicians holding town halls were greeted with constituents who thought they were going to be microchipped from flu shots so the government could track them, there was going to be a race war and preppers became popular, George Soros became insanely popular as a mention and the Jade Helm military exercise was actually the start of the autocratic, gun seizing takeover. For me personally, much of Trump’s presidency was a sort of re-run of Obama’s second term, except now the conspiracy theorist white autocrats were running the place fully so that more white people noticed.

    Of course, they’re coming to get our guns has been going on since the 1990’s. In particular the 1994-1995 Federal Assault Weapons Ban law, which dropped violent crime to lower and lower levels, was used to declare a mass gun seizure was coming every time a municipality did a gun-buy back day. Which is why they wiped it out ten years later when the initial ban expired and Republicans had control and they’ve been fighting since using the argument that Democrats want their guns rather than just regulations that have been proven repeatedly to work. But with Obama, it was a Black man who wanted their guns. It was all they had and they milked it and they kept running it even when the predictions that Obama wouldn’t leave were shown to be a lie. He never came and took their guns — no one has ever come and taken their guns.

    To admit that the Black man handily won re-election as president was to put a huge nail into the coffin of white supremacy and autocracy. Organized campaigns of right wingers and right wing media pushing the claim of election fraud came out of 2012. Which leads to things like Larry shocked that Philadelphia, a majority black city, went for Obama and then just a lot of wild claims they threw out there without evidence. It worked a little bit on the media at the time, enough for Trump to start truly exploiting that in 2015.

    So I get the parallel that you are making here with their views on the 2012 election and their statements during their Hugo campaigns, but I’m not entirely sure it matches. But I guess we’ll see as you go forward into the Puppy years. it is interesting to see the uneasy alliance between right wing extremist Catholics, Mormons and evangelicals with the sniping. The angry white men of the alt right hadn’t quite arrived yet.

    Liked by 3 people

    • On the other hand, although it’s not the comment thread that Cam cites as (21), where Torgersen concedes that the polls that showed Obama winning were correct, it wasn’t very long after that, in another Whatever comment thread, when Brad publicly lost it and started ranting about how Obama’s win showed that “the takers” (which, even in 2012, wasn’t code anymore) were now in the majority and would just vote to be handed free stuff by the Democrats, and that was game over for the US. After getting his ass handed to him repeatedly by a bunch of Whatever regulars, he vanished in an epic flounce and, as far as I know, never commented there again.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. the Global Financial Crisis was still in affect.

    s/b effect

    Technically the Iraq War was over with an official withdrawl of US troops in 2011

    s/b withdrawal

    So by 2016 and 2020, was Brad getting more okay with the hypocrisy? Or did he stay “neutral” on Trump?


  8. It might be that Vox Day liked Ron Paul for other reasons. Google “Ron Paul newsletters” – for around 20 years Ron Paul ran an explicitly white supremacist newsletter, full of racial slurs, attacks on Martin Luther King, Jr. and on black Americans generally.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. In the linked post in footnote 21, Scalzi said:
    “There’s money to be made inside the warm, safe confines of the right wing’s own ass”.

    Truly a scholar and a prophet.

    Too bad that was the last time Braddles ever admitted he was wrong about anything.

    Liked by 2 people

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