Mitt Romney lost big on election night and has continued to take a beating from his fellow Republicans ever since. The lack of affection toward Romney is no surprise, but the post-election response has also revealed an absence of basic respect for the man among conservatives. It is hard to recall a candidate so thoroughly and quickly repudiated by those who just a few days earlier were touting him for the most important job on the planet.
Karl Rove, who wasn’t even on the ballot, has also lost big in the days since the election, suffering a hit to his reputation from which he may never fully recover. However, the biggest off-ballot loser of the season may turn out to be Grover Norquist, the one-man keeper of the GOP’s no-tax-hike-ever-ever-ever-under-any-circumstances-whatsoever pledge.
I must say, it couldn’t happen to a nicer, more deserving guy.
As Dana Milbanks reports, Norquist continues to put on a game front. Just this week, Norquist told a gathering at a Washington think tank that “he sees no chance of Republicans going squishy” and allowing tax hikes to pass as part of a budget compromise.
“The Rs are holding,” he announced at a luncheon Monday of the Center for the National Interest.
“The fantasy is that the Republicans would cave on marginal tax rates — they’re non-negotiable,” he added.
In fact, Norquist maintained, if you think there’s any erosion of support for his Pledge, which forbids any net increase in taxes, Norquist would like you to know something. “You’re mistaken,” he said. “The entire Republican leadership has been elected on that commitment in the House and the Senate.”
I think Norquist is wrong, and that he knows he’s wrong. Most of the signals coming out of Washington suggest that in the end, the final budget deal will include a higher marginal tax rate on the wealthiest of Americans. If that happens, if the Norquist pledge is broken en masse, as seems likely, his bizarre source of political power disappears as well.
That said, a lot of Americans have yet to be convinced of the GOP’s willingness and ability to compromise. According to a new Gallup poll, 65 percent of Americans believe that President Obama will make a sincere effort to reach bipartisan compromise. Only 48 percent say the same about congressional Republicans. Among independents, only 43 percent believe Republicans are sincerely willing to compromise.
As the chart above demonstrates, those numbers are down significantly from four years ago, when 62 percent of Americans had faith that Republicans were interested in compromise. Somebody out there has been paying attention, which gives Obama and the Democrats considerably more leeway in the negotiations ahead.
– Jay Bookman