President Barack Obama handily won a second term largely because he ran a superior campaign. Republicans expected a late Reagan-esque surge to propel Mitt Romney to victory. This made Tuesday's defeat an even more crushing blow.
As Romney was conceding defeat, already indignant Republicans were pointing fingers and assessing blame. They were intensely angry, overwrought, and consumed with personal animus for the president. Highly paid Republican consultants cried foul. After all, consultants must protect their reputation and future income.
Republican strategist Mary Matalin blew a fuse and personally attacked President Obama in an article for the conservative National Review. "What happened? A political narcissistic sociopath leveraged fear and ignorance with a campaign marked by mendacity and malice rather than a mandate for resurgence and reform," Matalin wrote. "Instead of using his high office to articulate a vision for our future, Obama used it as a vehicle for character assassination, replete with unrelenting and destructive distortion, derision, and division."
Her hate and bitterness toward the president oozed through every word. To call him a sociopath is to call him a person whose behavior is, "often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience." Outrageous.
Perhaps Matalin suffers from a case of Romnesia because the Republican primary was filled with negative and personal attacks on Romney. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich even called the governor a "liar" on CBS. All the Obama campaign had to do was repeat the attacks on Romney from fellow Republican candidates earlier in the year.
For Instance, last year Texas Gov. Rick Perry told the National Journal, "There is something inherently wrong when getting rich off failure and sticking it to someone else is how you do your business, and I happen to think that's indefensible." Gingrich told Mediate last December, "If Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years, then I would be glad to then listen to him." And last March Rick Santorum told CBS This Morning, "He doesn't have a core... He's been on both sides of almost every single issue in the past 10 years."
But when it comes to mendacity, Gov. Mitt Romney set the standard. Apart from the constant flip-flopping on issues, Romney regularly leveled dishonest attacks against the president throughout the campaign. The worst lie, which probably cost him a win in Ohio, was the false ad about Jeep moving its operations to China.
Matalin's vituperation was not the least of the GOP blowback to President Obama's reelection. Donald Trump's Twitter response was emphatic: "We can't let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty... Let's fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us." The aging rocker Ted Nugent tweeted, "Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters hav (sic) a president to destroy America... Goodluk (sic) America u just voted for economic & spiritual suicide. Soulless fools."
Tuesday's biggest loser, Republican strategist Karl Rove, who spent $365 million of donor money trying to defeat the president, had the best excuse. He actually accused the Democratic and African American president of interfering with the election. "He succeeded by suppressing the vote, by saying to people, 'you may not like who I am, and I know you can't bring yourself to vote for me, but I'm going to paint this other guy as simply a rich guy who only cares about himself," Rove told Fox News Thursday.
But the most disturbing reaction to the president's reelection may have come from Peter Morrison, the Hardin County Texas Republican Party Treasurer. "We must contest every single inch of ground and delay the baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists at every opportunity," he wrote on his Facebook site. "But in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity." That "opportunity" is secession, "Why should Vermont and Texas live under the same government? Let each go her own way in peace."
Everybody hates to lose. Yes, the Republican party went though a brutally divisive primary that nominated Mitt Romney. Yes, Romney was gaining momentum, while President Obama remained vulnerable because of a weak economic recovery. But somewhere along the line Republicans lost touch with reality. Their expectations blew way out of proportion. And suddenly their balloon popped on election night.
President Obama's resounding victory has exposed a core problem within the Republican Party: It is filled with anger and hatred brought on by an identity crisis. Republican leaders will be meeting over the next few weeks and months to determine what went wrong this election and what can be done to fix the problem.
Perhaps a great first step would be to stop the whining and the ridiculous personal attacks. Tantrums and snit fits will not win over any converts. Nobody likes a sore loser.
Follow Joe Peyronnin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joepeyronnin