Election 2012: the G.O.P. whining begins

In less than 48 hours, Election Day will be here. And while quite a few leading lights of the G.O.P. continue desperatelyspinning the fantastic delusion of a Romney landslide, the smell of their flopsweat is unmistakable, and getting stronger by the minute. According to Nate Silver, the probability of Obama winning has risen to 85%. So it’s not surprisingly that some Republican leaders are already switching gears; in anticipation of a Romney loss, they are already looking for ways to discredit an Obama victory. Here are some of the most popular excuses you’ll be hearing:

— Wah! It’s Sandy’s fault!! The polls are indicating that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Obama’s approval numbers have gotten a boost. Haley Barbour, Karl Rove, and Romney campaign operatives are spinning the fiction that Hurricane Sandy stalled Romney’s momentum. That’s impossible, Romney never had “momentum” to begin with. The other problem with this argument is the assumption that Barack Obama had somehow benefited unfairly from the storm. But it was by no means certain that Obama would handle the crisis well, and be rightly credited for performance. We all saw how the disastrous response of the Bush administration to Katrina caused severe political damage to George W. Bush, from which he never recovered.

And if part of the reason why the storm may have helped Obama is that voters know that Democrats tend to respond more generously and more competently to victims of natural disasters, what of it? No one forced Mitt Romney to say, as he did during the primaries, that he would get rid of FEMA. Holding him accountable for such statements is only fair. Voters know that Republicans want to slash funding and/or privatize agencies like FEMA; it’s an important part of their anti-government agenda. It is certainly the voters’ privilege to reject these ideas by voting against them.

— Another popular argument to try to discredit the president: hey, Obama may be “the choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites,” but that’s not Amurka, buddy! Everyone knows that Amurka is white people. ‘Specially white people who are dudes. Oh, and of course, rich people! The notion non-whites, the poor, urban dwellers, and unmarried women are second-class citizens whose votes shouldn’t count is straight-up racism and sexism of the most despicable kind. Obama’s detractors will use prettied up phrases — they’ll say he didn’t win over “middle America” or (as per Atrios) “the heartland,” but what they mean is that the votes of those who don’t have white skin or possess a penis, or a piece of paper that legally connects them to a penis-holder, should not count. This argument is of course shameful and beneath contempt. and anyone who makes it should immediately be called on it.

— Another excuse they are cooking up seems to be the argument that if Obama doesn’t win the popular vote by a large margin, it doesn’t count. Funny, but when one of their own lost the popular vote in 2000 yet was appointed to the presidency by the Supreme Court, they had the chutzpah not only to treat his victory as 100% kosher, but to try to brand it as a mandate to boot! Clearly, though, we’re supposed to flush that recent example down the memory hole

It does seem obvious that the Republicans are deliberately running up the popular vote. Whether that’s trying to discredit Obama by ensuring the narrowest of victories, or even a loss, in the popular vote; or whether they’re simply trying to make it close enough to steal, who knows. Whatever the case, Republican vote suppression shenanigans continue apace.

— Speaking of which . . . their final, and most desperate excuse will be that Obama has stolen the election. This claim aids the conservative project in several ways: it casts a shadow over the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency, it diverts attention from their own vote suppression efforts, and in a pinch, it enables them to weaken and possibly destroy some of the left-wing activist groups engaged in GOTV campaigns. (Case in point: ACORN). Well-played, indeed!

And now, back to your regularly scheduled G.O.P. whinefest and precriminations fiesta!

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee