Between Iraq and a Hard Place: In Which I Bail the President Out From His Bad Middle East Optics

ISIS-truck-convoy-Anbar-Province

ISIS column in Anbar Province, Iraq.

After an early enthusiasm for the Viet Nam war, other than Grenada, I have not supported any American intervention overseas in my lifetime. So for once, I find myself in agreement with the 44th president.

Mr. Obama has some bad optics with the ISIS assault in Iraq. Sure, it wasn’t his war, but his Vice President did say this in 2010:

(Iraq )”could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.”

The rout of the Baghdad government from large parts of the country looks bad, and calling it Bush’s war will resonate with the faithful, but others are a bit jaded with the” Bush did it” excuse six years in.. No matter who may be seen to “own” Iraq politically, the ISIS advances represent at the very least, a massive intelligence failure – or perhaps failure to act on intelligence. Coming so soon after the Crimea takeover, it just looks like crap.

As senator, Obama did not vote for Iraq, and rather than his frequent custom of listing himself “present,” voted against it. Others in his party cannot say the same. Mrs. Clinton was in, and both her husband and his VP, Al Gore, are on record long before the war, pointing to the danger posed by Saddam. Many other Democrats joined in the war vote, including the current Secretary of State, John Kerry.

nissan

Shiite militia parade, Baghdad, June 20, 2014. Despite the Nissan in the lead, from the headlights, it looks like Toyota has the conflict sewed up,truck-wise.

So how can Mr. Obama clear up his Iraq optics?

Embrace the Iraq war, and then kiss it goodbye.

Here, Barrack, let me show you how to do it.

“Good evening.

My fellow Americans, I am asking for your time this evening to speak on the recent and ongoing events in Iraq. This country has cast a long shadow on American politics and foreign policy, across administrations and parties, long before I became President.

Mehdi Army Women loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during a parade in Najaf

These Shia ladies are on our side, sort of.  In Syria and Lebanon, their veiled sisters are on the other side. Got it?  I don’t. Did American really think it could handle this place?  What were we thinking?

It is no secret that I voted against the Iraq War as Senator and ran against it when I first campaigned for the office of President. I promised an end to ur role in the conflict, and I kept that promise. As President I have learned much, and I have come to know this about America’s role in Iraq.

The men and women, in both parties, who voted for, and worked towards the ouster of Saddam, l believe, especially in view of Iraq’s present agony, were wrong.

But they were not, and are not, selfish or evil. There was no war for oil. Those who supported the war policy had two things in mind:

The national security of the United States, and, along with a hatred of Saddam’s tyranny, a sincere wish that Iraq be stable and free, and in time, lead the region out of its sad history of conflict and deprivation.

They should not be vilified for misplaced hope.

I, they, and all Americans honor the courage and sacrifice of the many thousands of our forces who served, died, and were maimed in Iraq. We also recognize the contributions of our civilians there, the diplomats, engineers and technicians, doctors and nurses, educators, and the whole range of specialists who worked to bring Iraq back from ruin.

In 2010, when we finally withdrew our forces it seemed we had succeeded.

That we have not is not the fault of any administration. America expended massive amounts of her treasure and expertise, and above all, the precious lives of our best and brightest young people, to give the Iraqi people a chance at a future of freedom and progress.

We are deeply saddened that ancient hatreds should make this unlikely for the foreseeable future.

But we have done enough, and can do no more. Nor would we if we could.

Self reliance is a core American value. While we cannot instill such a value where it is not, we understand that it must exist for any nation to succeed.

Therefore, while I will take such action as may be necessary to our immediate security needs, and may provide assistance where it can be used efficiently and honestly, the United States under my administration will not intervene in Iraq. Our time in Afghanistan is also coming to an end, and I hope profoundly hope that our friends there will look to Iraq and resolve to do better.

That so grand an undertaking has failed is a tragedy, but I urge you all tonight and in the days to come, to look back upon this chapter in our history as one of many times when America has given much, in return for little.

God Bless America

God bless our veterans

Thank you, and good night.”

 

C’mon, Mr. President. I guarantee you a 5% overnight bounce in the polls.

But for Barrack Obama to make such a statement would require both humility and magnanimity, two qualities in which he is signally lacking.

Not a chance.

 

 

Does One Voice Matter?

It does.

To me.

And that’s enough.

As did many observers,after the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, I felt a sense of great futility.

A president with one of the worst economic records in history, a clearly failing foreign policy, a man of no managerial or administrative skills whatsoever, had been reelected on the basis of “coolness.” Familiarity with rap and basketball, ease in the talk show guest chair and near universal adulation as a great husband and fine father were the qualities judged by a plurality essential to leading to a country of 300 plus million.

Then there was his hapless opponent, and the stumble bum Republican campaign, which, while ably and precisely aided on its disastrous course by Obama For America, would have buried Mr. Romney all on its own. With of course, plenty of assists from a phalanx of media fellatrices.

Another four years of policy based on feelings, which sounds silly and insubstantial, but is all the more dangerous for its inchoate millenarian utopian longings manifested in multiculturalism, politically correct nostrums rooted in Stalinism, all backed by the coercive power of the sate, shown only occasionally with guns, more oftenly cloaked in a phantasmagoria of regulations and impenetrable law. Lawlessness is shrugged off with a giggle or a sneer, as the opposition party has the vapors and clutches its pearls.

Across the conservative threads(libertarians were largely cheering what they see as the coming conflagration, there were repression of weary defeat, and a strange sense of relief: If it’s all over, one no longer needs to care, as often expressed in the comment threads:.

It’s over

Fuck it.

Let it burn.

And my favorite:

Burn it down

Scatter the stones

Salt the earth where it stood.

So I quit blogging, restricting my writing to outraged, or cynical tweets, far easier to do while surfing the net, reading, watching TV or doing all three.

I mean, why bother?

Yet, over these last months things, some small and obscure, some momentous and widely known lead me to believe that it is not all over. The tide of infantile leftism has not washed away everything.

While Europe and the U.S. may be turning on the economic system that made them havens where humanity is safest, richest, healthiest, and happiest, much of the rest of the world – with the exceptions of some foolishly misguided regimes in Lain America, and of course, the Middle East – even large parts of Africa, are emerging from the poverty and oppression that has been the lot of most since humans first formed governments.

Image

I admit to only skimming this 2000 page plus behemoth back in the 70s.

The Malthusian misery that experts saw as Asia’s inescapable fate turned out entirely wrong. Gunnar Myrdal’s Asian Diilemma of burgeoning populations and scarce resources gives way to an Asian dilemma as how best to supply the goods, services and opportunities the continents’ new middle classes demand.

While Mr Obama, fresh off diversionary feints on immigration and gun control, turns to “Climate Change,” that issue has nearly dropped out of public consciousness, as the defects in it proponents” arguments become more and more clear as they themselves cannot explain the failure of their models.

Even as, in the wakes of the Boston bombing, and the Woolich beheading, governments and media rush to assure us that these atrocities have nothing to do with Islam, public disapproval of Islam rises.

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Evil White racists just didn’t bring out the fans.

While much of American made television and film is filled with endless anti-male, anti – christian, and, dare I say it anti white –sentiments(See “White House down.” Better yet, don’t) some science fiction seems to feel freer to express sentiments not acceptable in mainstream Hollywood drama or comedy, and go beyond the Left Coast’s pet hates to address issues and ideas of real substance. Resistance to big government and constitutional legitimacy are common themes(More on this topic here).

There is of course schadenfreude in Mr. Obama’s current travails. To those who have shifted their views to give him approval ratings that would have sunk him in the election, it’s” We told you so ” time. The president’s Olympian distance( some call it cluelessness), and the dodge and weave tactics of his operators have held back the deluge so far, and while wouldn’t bet on a “Downfall” scenario, irrelevance, however, is quite possible, and more than enough.

Better yet, while the Presidents approval remains in the mid to high forties, an indicator of the truth in Romney’s 47pct remarks, there is a growing sense that something is amiss. In the “Wizard of Oz it was a diminutive nobody pulling the levers powering the illusion. Now, many have the queasysy feeling that there is no one at all behind the curtain.

Republicans can be counted on to cringe at exactly right moment, and decades of of indoctrination and propaganda from left dominated institutions will not be undone by a scattered and not yet self conscious opposition, but it may be – yes ,I understand my weaselly use of the conditional here – that a second term for Mr. Obama, even with all its costs in money and institutional damage, is what is necessary to once again discredit leftism at a time when growing numbers are not old enough to remember its previous failures.

Stay tuned.

Post Campaign 2012: Settling into the Occupation

A month now after the U.S. election.

Readers of these pages will know that I am no supporter of Mr. Obama, but that I had a foreboding he would win.  Many of my friends were on board with Messers. Carl Rove, Dick Morris, Michael Barone and other pundits, convinced that Romney would win.  After all, no president looking for a second term with the country in similar distress had ever succeeded.

I replied to these pep talks that the country now was not the country then, not even the same country that rejected McCain in 2008.

Paris1941

Paris, 1941. OK, I’m not as despondent as this guy was.

So, I really should not be despondent.  But I am.

In 2008, Mr. Obama promised fundamental transformation, and prior to the vote, one could hope that it had not been yet fully accomplished.  Now it will be completed.

The guns have fallen silent, and the occupiers are marching in.

From the Huffington Post:

“Obama Meets With Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, ‘Influential Progressives'”

White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed the meeting took place. It wasn’t listed on Obama’s schedule.

“This afternoon at the White House, the President met with influential progressives to talk about the importance of preventing a tax increase on middle class families, strengthening our economy and adopting a balanced approach to deficit reduction,” Earnest said in a statement Tuesday.

There it is.( Al Sharpton?  Can you say “Tawana Brawley?”)

vLady

No need to dissemble anymore. Nobody is watching anyway

We have re-elected a President who sees “Progressives” as major players. Of course, he and his staff met with these people earlier in his term, but now there is no reason to dissemble.  The fifth columnists and franc tireurs show themselves.

600px-Bill_Signing-_Manpower_Development_and_Training_Act_of_1962._President_Kennedy,_Secretary_of_Labor_Arthur_Goldberg..._-_NARA_-_194205

George Meany of the AFL-CIO and many others at 1962 signing of Manpower Training Act

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AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka along with Soros funded Moveon.org head Justin Ruben after meeting the President in the White Hoiuse November 13, 2012. Just in case you had any doubt as to who is in charge.

On November 13,The President met with AFL-CIO leader Trumka and Moveon.org at the White house.  I’m old enough to remember George  Meany, and a time where  unions, having purged the radical leftists among them, were pretty solidly at the center of American politics.  If Trumka ever watched “On the Waterfront,” he was cheering for the bad guys.

The comment boards are full of hopeful writers who put out their point by point programs for retaking Congress, and then the White House. Others rightly point to the institutions, schools and churches,

The Hollywood Left( which is most of them) nver forgae director Eii i Kazan for both tetfying to commmunist influence in tinelstown, an making tis film showing teh leftist thugs among the longshoremene.

The Hollywood Left( which is most of them) never forgave director Elia Kazan for both testifying to communist influence in Tinselstown, and making this film showing the leftist thugs among the longshoremen.

which must be retaken by grassroots action.  The entire culture,online pundit Roger L. Simon says,must be retaken.  He recommends Youtube. Or something.

And then there is the fight between those who want to dump social issues, and those who would rather see the Republic obliterated before one more fetus is aborted.

Not to mention those who recommend investing in “brass and lead” and can’t wait to shoot leftists. Let’s remember the last scene in  1970 movie “Joe” in which hippie hating Peter Boyle ends up wasting his daughter. Or the Spanish Civil War.

And of course, the United States Military, which, PC as it may have become, still can cream pretty much any fighting force on earth..  And then there is DHS, ramping up local law enforcement firepower.

So, all of this is blather, in my view.  A “center right” country could have elected Obama in a fit of inattention, but such a nation could not have reelected him.

Mr. Obama still bridles at being called a socialist, but he need not.  When 23% of Republicans have a favorable view of socialism, “progressives” should lick theirWTF? Just WTF!

                              WTF? Just WTF!

chops.

 

23% of Republicans viewing socialism favorably?

Do they know what socialism is?  Do they know what Republicans are?  Do Republicans know what Republicans are?

And then, there is this ” Americans Aged 18-29 Have A More Favorable Response To Socialism Than To Capitalism.”

Perhaps they will grow out of it, but I wouldn’t bet on it.  I doubt many under 50 would have much idea of the references I’ve used here. There are those things, it seems, that have to be learned through experience rather than study.

Something has changed.  And perhaps the country that those of us who despise this change mourn, never existed.

If it did, it will not return, and what takes it place will be what it will be.

Twits at the BBC Provide 21 More Reasons to Vote for Romney/Ryan

22 October 2012 Last updated at 23:21 GMT

BBC poll: Rest of world favours Obama

A Beeb poll conducted in 21 nations around the world shows President Obama the clear favorite. I can just imagine the newsroom folks cackling sententiously as they make American jokes with appallingly bad Texas accents. As an expatriate working among mostly Brits and Aussies I was constantly being condescend to, and was met with utter incredulity when I objected.  As far as I am concerned these 21 nations are 21 more reasons to vote for the Romney –Ryan ticket. Except for perhaps in his own mind, Mr. Obama is not running for President of the world, but maybe he should, as the past four years show him to be singularly unfit for the job of President of the United States.

Among a certain set in the U.S., largely the same demographic that enjoys British period drama series on PBS, this survey will serve as confirmation of their own place among the smug global elect.  After all, the rest of the world agrees with us, so we must be right.  Things are  in my view, unfortunately – changing, but historically the US hasn’t much cared what the rest of the world thought, and this may be the single most important reason why we are still here.

Let’s look at the world that so many in the Obama camp think we should emulate.

First there is Europe.  There has always been a certain summer in Tuscany set that thought the European way far superior to the disordered and rapid pace of American life. While we work long hours, they are sitting in cafes sipping fine coffee and discussing, well,

important stuff.

What one needs to remember is that, despite recent demographic shifts, a majority of

Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre in Paris on 24 August 1572. 70,000 Hugenot protestants murdered.

Americans are descended from people who thought their lives depended on getting the hell out of Europe.  This was a rather sensible outlook.  Why would thoughtful people with some gumption wish to remain on the continent that gave us Wars of Religion, and wars of succession where armies battled and looted to advance the

The alfresco cafe is now a part of the American scene. The coffee at 7-11 is pretty darn good, too.

hereditary prerogatives of whoever had married whichever princess, somewhere, sometime.

And that was the good stuff, just a warm up for the total wars of ideology.

Well, now in the US we have fine coffee, outdoor cafes and, while we still don’t have long vacations, even in the current downturn, a lot more of us have jobs than do over  on the other side. We are grateful for some of our European heritage.  After all, we gained our independence based on our rights as Englishmen, and our founders were profoundly influenced by the Enlightenment, both French and Scottish.

Thus is it is sad for us to look at Britain, where the same elite that staffs the BBC

In Britain they haven’t quite figured out thoughtcrime, but crimespeak will get you finds and/or jail. The black and white hands would seem to have anticipated the ruling multicutural ideology.

unilaterally decided to overwhelm its native people with an alien and unassimilable horde because, well, because it would be neat to have more “diversity.” This disarmed and helpless populace could do little about it if they wanted to, as under their “unwritten constitution,” which is none at all, they can be taken into custody for such Orwellian offenses as “conspiring to commit a public nuisance” or” damaging community cohesion.”  We are grateful to Mr. Orwell for providing us the language to describe this madness, but wish his countrymen had listened a little more closely. The ruling class has little fear of change as the brutal and demeaning class system remains in lace, destroying the working class’s sense of self worth from the cradle on, and anesthetizing a large part of  it with the dole.

King John signs the Magna Carta 1215. It helps when you write stuff down.

Somehow, after a promising start at Runnymede you never quite found your way.

Then there is France.  Her revolution was  the model for every bloody vanguard of the proletariat uprising since, and the monster this nation laid to rest at Les Invalides gave the world total war.  Still, the wine and cheese are great, and the movies, well, I think a lot of us were faking when we hung out, smoked and drank coffee while discussing the Nouvelle Vague.  We don’t smoke anymore and our wine and cheese have gotten pretty awesome.

From the Time of that latter Louises until now, statism has been your way of life, andt he results have been mixed to say the least. It enabled you to wage war, but not to win.

“Third of May” Francisco Goya. Napoleon’s troops shoot civilians. An archetype for countless atrocities over the next century and a half.

Germany, well while we are grateful for the industriousness of the many Germans whose descendants are still a major segment our population, the less said about you, the better.

         It’s as if Goya were clairvoyant.

Spain has been an indirect, but still major influence on our history because she bequeathed her system to our neighbors. Latin America may prefer Obama, but there is no reason to listen.  A continent yet to pull itself out of the seventeenth century feudal mercantilist economic and social structures bequeathed it by Iberia has nothing to teach us.  One has only to look at the telenovelas so popular around the world, or pictures of the ruling classes, to marvel at the almost uniformly white faces in a continent whose inhabitants are predominantly brown and black.

We’re grateful for the great food, exotic cocktails, and wonderful music, but have no interest in the dizzying and manic array of social organizations you have attempted to solve your problems.  Military dictatorships, collectivism, crypto socialists, fascist populists, race based oligarchies, messianic leaders combinng the qualities of caudillo, cacique and shaman come and go down there, but we are still here.

Asian ladies are a highlight of any trip to the symphony these days.

As for Asia, even better than the fine cuisines you’ve brought our way are the industry and success of your emigrants, who, like the Europeans before them, had to leave their ancient lands so as to thrive. We’ll take your engineers, physicists, classical musicians and entrepreneurs, but you can keep your caste systems and oligarchic collectives.

In Africa, perhaps the affection for Mr. Obama there is based on a sense of him as a native son made good.  He has certainly done nothing else of benefit for that struggling continent. We are happy to welcome arrival such as Alioune Niass, the Senegalese street vendor who helped foil the 2010 Times Square bombing plot, but want no part of the conditions that drove him across the Atlantic.

Arabian American OIl Company’s(ARAMCO) first producing well, Dammam #8, 1938.

Then there is the Middle East.  No one would pay any attention to you were it not for the fortunate placement of hydrocarbons in your region, and you would not have that had not the  British and Americans found it for you.  Please, refrain from boastful myth about inventions you had nothing to do with.  Arabic numerals came from India. What you did do was over a millennium ago, and your real thinkers and doers of that time you imprisoned or killed, as you do today.

So, you see, we don’t care what any of you think about who should lead us.  We take from you what is good, and leave you the rest.  And now, we will ignore your advice, and elect a man who looks to us, not to you.

.

Campaign 2012: Out of Touch and Worlds Apart

You don’t know what’s goin’ on,

you’ve been away for far too long

You can’t come back and think you are still mine

You’re out of touch, my baby, my poor discarded baby I said,

“Baby, baby, baby, you’re out of time”

The Rolling Stones, “Out of Time”

 

Both the Obama and Romney campaigns have been accusing each other of being out of touch. It’s an enduring and common ploy.  Many will remember the canard that the elder Bush was so out of touch he had never seen a supermarket scanner.

As Politico reported on May 24, the President had this to say about Romney:

There was a woman in Iowa who shared her story of financial struggles, and he gave her an answer right out of an economic textbook.  He said, “Our productivity equals our income.” And the notion was that somehow the reason people can’t pay their bills is because they’re not working hard enough.  If they got more productive, suddenly their incomes would go up.  Well, those of us who’ve spent time in the real world — (laughter) — know that the problem isn’t that the American people aren’t productive enough — you’ve been working harder than ever. The challenge we face right now, and the challenge we’ve faced for over a decade, is that harder work has not led to higher incomes, and bigger profits at the top haven’t led to better jobs.

The laughter in the report may have been at Romney, but outside the world inhabited by the President’s most steadfast supporters, world, in the world of work, trade and productive investment, the laughter was surely directed at the President. Pundits and bloggers were quick to point to Mr. Obama’s lack of private sector experience, and rather abbreviated curriculum vitae in general.

But, is this fair?

While he misunderstood the thrust of Romney’s remarks, the President was on to something: Clearly, Romney was speaking in macroeconomic terms, but macroeconomics may not be the way to connect with town hall listeners.

His  campaign makes much of his private sector experience, but a quick review of modern American presidential politics will show that such experience as many of our presidents have had was not in the manufacturing, retail and service jobs common to the work experience of most Americans.

Surprise!

Politicians typically spend a lot of time in politics.

In my lifetime, there was Harry Truman, artilleryman and failed haberdasher, yes, but for most of his life a mid-level functionary in county and state government. Ike was a soldier, and while his military successes required a high degree of organizational and executive skills, the Army isn’t the private sector.

As to JFK, the only job I can find him in outside of politics was a brief stint as a correspondent for the Hearst Chain, William Randolph Heart and Joe Kennedy being good buds. From 1947 on, it was politics for JFK.  LBJ taught school for a bit, and entered politics.

Nixon’s private sector experience was in private law practice, between his 1937 graduation from Duke and a short time as an Attorney for U.S. Office of Emergency Management, 1942, before he joined the Navy in the same year. He returned briefly to the law before his 1946 election to Congress, and again during his time in the wilderness after the 1960 election, this time a high priced New York layer rather than a storefront practice in Yorba Linda.  Gerald Ford, too, practiced law for a short time before his wartime Navy service, and for a couple of years before he ran for Congress in 1946.  And there he stayed.

Many jests were made at the expense of Carter, the peanut farmer, but he was good at it, taking a modest inheritance and turning it in to a successful concern. Reagan as a radio station announcer, actor and union leader can be said to have worked in the private sector, but not the areas familiar to most Americans. Yet his background, from a family of always modest means as his father drank and failed again and again, was the well spring for his ability to be supremely in touch, as his most critical detractors did and do acknowledge, including President Obama himself.

The first Bush worked in Texas oil and gas for a number of years. Bill Clinton worked some part time jobs in college, but was never in the private sector after graduation.  The second Bush also worked – with far less success than his father – in the Texas oil and gas industry before entering politics, first working for his father’s campaign, then on his own.

FDR, a lawyer without a law degree, having passed the bar exam before he had finished his studies, practiced law for around two years before entering politics. So, we have to go back to Herbert Hoover to find a big time businessman like Romney in the White House.  And you might ask, how did that work out? (Many argue that Hoover’s understanding of markets was defective, but that’s too large a topic for this piece)

Thus, presidents typically have had long political careers, with their private sector experience generally brief, and not in jobs accessible to most people. Nor is there any correlation in background to success or failure. Highly educated and successful farmer Carter is remembered as a failure, while Reagan, with his degree from an obscure college and second tier acting roles is considered a success.

This brings us to the incumbent.  The president held a summer job at Baskin and Robbins, which might have taught him a lesson on consumer choice that he seems to have missed.   Keith Koffler, of whitehousedossier.com put together this handy chart of Obama’s “real world experience.”

At first, I thought Mr Koffler was being kind in counting community organizing as “real world experience.”  I would have included only the stint at Business International Group, as it is the only for profit group employing Mr. Obama after his Baskin and Robbins gig.

But it occurs to me that Koffler is right.  The real world is the world we live in and we don’t all live in the same ones; some overlap, some may as well be separated by interstellar distances.   The issue goes back to being in touch: to connect, the candidate must know the worlds of those whose votes he needs.

This is essential not only to electoral success, but to success in office. In political terms, a successful presidency is defined ultimately by popular perception.  Historians, economists, ideologues and partisans will debate and revise for decades, but the people’s definition of success remains remarkably consistent over time.  Good Presidents, in tribal memory, are those who connected with the American people and addressed what they saw as their needs at the time.

Hoover will forever be a cynosure for failure, while the patrician and autocratic FDR is still beloved of memory. Truman, JFK and LBJ were successful in their connection for a time; dour Nixon managed for a while, connecting with the slightly larger fraction of the electorate that didn’t care for peace marches.  The intelligent, avuncular and gifted athlete Gerald Ford is remembered as an incompetent boob. Carter’s failure to connect, and his successor’s mastery of the art, are both legend.  The Bushes too managed for while, but never neared Regan’s bar, while one can only think that Clinton must have been his secret disciple. His presidency is recalled with longing by a broad swath of the electorate well across party lines; Clinton could travel with ease the disparate worlds of the American electorate.

President Obama seemed a rising master in 2008, but in his execution has faltered. It may be too late for him to regain the worlds he has relinquished in the single-minded pursuit of his beliefs, and it remains for Romney to seize those he has abandoned.