Can We Learn Anything From Losers

Published: Good Men Project (January 13, 2015)

Matthew Rozsa looks for lessons in the lives and legacies of the presidential ‘Also Rans.’

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I have looked by the way at what happens to anybody in this country who loses as the nominee of their party. They become a loser for life, alright?
—Mitt Romney, from the documentary, Mitt

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There is something oddly poignant about the plight of America’s “Also Rans,” the 38 men throughout our history who were officially nominated as the presidential candidate of a major party only to lose in the general election. Of those 38, only nine were ever given a second chance by being renominated; and of those nine only four actually won in one of their subsequent attempts—Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, William H. Harrison, and Richard M. Nixon. As Irving Stone put it in his classic biographical collection, “They Also Ran”:

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Netflix’s New Mitt Romney Doc, Summed Up in One Dumb GIF

Published: mic (January 27, 2014)

“I think I’m a flawed candidate.”

You pretty much hit the nail on the head there, Mitt Romney.

The central narrative arc in Mitt, the new Netflix documentary chronicling Romney’s two presidential campaigns, is that of a candidate who aims for the highest office in the country only to return, heartbroken, to ordinary life. The film, while failing to reveal anything new about the inner workings of American politics, is reasonably effective at humanizing Romney (which seems to be its primary goal). It does so by applying the Deschanel treatment to its subject: striving to paint him as quirky and loveable.

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Netflix Mitt Romney Documentary Shows Never-Before Seen Human Side

Published: mic (December 19, 2013)

The official trailer for Mitt, a new documentary chronicling former Governor Mitt Romney’s six-year campaign for the American presidency, is utterly tantalizing. It is a rare, up-close look at the erstwhile candidate in his natural habitat of campaign rallies, debate stages, and awkward photo ops.

In it, the Mitt displays an astounding amount of surprise upon realizing that he is going to lose the 2012 election, despite the vast majority of independent polls at the time indicating his impending defeat. He reveals having not put any forethought into writing a concession speech and, in a tense moment, realizes he does not even have the president’s phone number.

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Ron Paul Shamefully Absent in History Book on 2012 Election

Published: mic (November 12, 2013)

Double Down, the new book on the 2012 presidential election by John Heilemann and Mark Helperin, falls short in one way that has been overlooked by the media. While it contains nifty insider tidbits about Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and other major players from that epic political battle, it overlooks one man whose influence may prove as lasting as the others — Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

Believe me, I’m not writing this as a diehard Paulbot (as one of my more controversial comic articles on this site can attest). While I agree with some of his views on social and foreign policy, his zealotry for the gospel of Austrian economics, regular distortion of American constitutional history, and disturbingly cultish following are all significant turnoffs in my book. Like him or not, however, the historian in me recognizes that he had an enormous – and most likely lasting – impact on the shape of American politics. To overlook this fact in a work meant to chronicle the 2012 election is downright negligent.

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Fiscal Cliff 2013: Mitt Romney Has A Chance To Be The Hero

Published: PolicyMic (November 30, 2012)

I have no idea whether Mitt Romney will ever see this editorial. While I do know at least one of my articles was noticed by the erstwhile Republican candidate’s inner circle (a piece from six months ago that drew complaints from his former foreign policy adviser Richard Grenell), that hardly assures that anything else I write will make its way to him.

Nevertheless, as the partisan gridlock preventing Republicans and Democrats from finding a way off the so-called “fiscal cliff” brings us closer and closer to economic catastrophe, I figure the quixotic hope that Romney will read these words is worth pursuing. After all, America’s fate may hinge on Romney fully appreciating the rare opportunity that has been presented to him:

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Happy Birthday Joe Biden: Tribute to the Man Who Helped Obama Get Reelected

Published: The Morning Call (November 20, 2012), PolicyMic (November 20, 2012)

In honor of Joe Biden’s 70th birthday, I think it’s time he received credit for the indispensable role he played in Barack Obama’s re-election.

Flash back to the week after the first presidential debate. Romney was widely believed to have triumphed over Obama in that forensic exhibition, due in large part to the president’s disinterested showing. After more than a month of maintaining a solid lead over Romney in national polls, Obama’s diffidence had caused his standing to plummet so badly that he was slightly behind in most surveys of the popular vote, as well as gradually losing his electoral college edge. Spirits were low among Democrats, in stark contrast to the euphoria that followed the lackluster Republican National Convention and the calamity of the “47 percent” tape.

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Obama Wins Reelection, But Democrats Should Show Grace in Aftermath of Victory

Published: PolicyMic (November 7, 2012)

“When news of the surrender first reached our lines our men commenced firing a salute of a hundred guns in honor of the victory. I at once sent word, however, to have it stopped. The Confederates were now our prisoners, and we did not want to exult over their downfall.”

By now, most of you probably recognize this quote as the famous passage from Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs in which he discussed Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. Its relevance today should be just as obvious for those of us who care about the integrity and character of our political process…

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Top 4 Reasons Why Exit Poll Results Are Completely Meaningless

Published: PolicyMic (November 6, 2012)

While pundits and pollsters alike will start crowing about the exit poll results soon, the truth is they could not matter less.

Here are the top four reasons why you shouldn’t care about the exit polls:

1) Non-response bias

In 2004, exit polls gave Senator John Kerry such a massive lead over President George W. Bush that Democrats began to prematurely celebrate based on what turned out to be unreliable figures. The same thing happened again in 2008, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent. (Obama did win that year, after all.)

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