Unintentional, Self-Created, Blissfully Unaware Irony Prize
Mitt Romney’s concession
speech was remarkable for many reasons, not the least of
which is that Romney attacked Democrats for wanting to “declare defeat”
and “surrender” during his own defeat and surrender speech! Where do
these people come from? Are they cynical? Or are they so blinded by
self-righteousness that they can’t recognize irony even when they’re
the ones creating it?
a few highlights from Romney’s unintentional self-nomination for a
sadly nonexistent Unintentional, Self-Created, Blissfully Unaware Irony
that is why we must rise to the occasion, as we have always done
before, to confront the challenges ahead. Perhaps the most fundamental
of these is the attack on the American culture… The threat to our
culture comes from within. The 1960’s welfare programs created a
culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed
welfare, but the liberals haven’t given up. At every turn, they try to
substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. They
fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on
Medicaid, and to remove more and more people from having to pay any
income tax whatsoever. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking
and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug—we have got to
fight it like the poison it is!
Whatever is wrong today, it was caused by liberals in the 1960s (see
also, below: It’s Bill Clinton’s Fault We’re Losing in Iraq). Things
like privatizing a war, handouts to Halliburton? They don’t count as
government largesse. And privatizing social security would not be
government largesse to wall street (see also, below: Only Liberals Can
Overspend). The only people who shouldn’t have to pay income tax are
people rich enough to contribute to a Republican campaign. When I say
“individual responsibility,” I’m talking only about liberals.
“Conservatives” shouldn’t have to accept individual responsibility for
anything because everything bad is the liberals’ fault.
attack on our culture is not our sole challenge. We face economic
competition unlike anything we have ever known before. China and Asia
are emerging from centuries of poverty. Their people are plentiful,
innovative, and ambitious. If we do not change course, Asia or China
will pass us by as the economic superpower, just as we passed England
and France during the last century. The prosperity and security of our
children and grandchildren depend on us.
America used to richer because China and Asia used to be poorer. The
prosperity and security of our children and grandchildren depend on
continued poverty in China and Asia.
our economy is also burdened by the inexorable ramping of government
spending. Don’t focus on the pork alone—even though it is indeed
irritating and shameful. Look at the entitlements. `They make up 60% of
federal spending today. By the end of the next President’s second term,
they will total 70%. Any conservative plan for the future has to
include entitlement reform that solves the problem, not just
Ignore the fact that the current “conservative” administration has
spent America into a $1.4 trillion deficit. Out of control spending is
a liberal phenomenon. Only liberals can spend too much, so if we’ve
been spending too much, liberals must be to blame. See also: Only
Bad, Totalitarian American Enemies Can Torture.
high time to lower taxes, including corporate taxes, to take a
weed-whacker to government regulations, to reform entitlements, and to
stand up to the increasingly voracious appetite of the unions in our
Okay, maybe we have been spending too much under the current,
“conservative” administration… but that’s the unions’ fault!
finally, let’s consider the greatest challenge facing America—and
facing the entire civilized world: the threat of violent, radical
Jihad. In one wing of the world of Islam, there is a conviction that
all governments should be destroyed and replaced by a religious
caliphate. These Jihadists will battle any form of democracy—to them,
democracy is blasphemous for it says that citizens, not God shape the
law. They find the idea of human equality to be offensive. They hate
everything we believe about freedom just as we hate everything they
believe about radical Jihad.
Forget what I just said a minute about the most fundamental challenge
to America being an internal cultural threat. Seriously, that was,
what, ten whole paragraphs ago? And I didn’t really mean it, I was
only pandering. Or even if I meant it, ten paragraphs is a long time
to change your mind. I mean, listen to some of the positions I’ve
taken on homosexuality and marriage! And all that health care reform
when I was governor of Massachusetts, which I realized when I had
someone write this speech for me was just a bunch of ridiculous
entitlements forced on me by liberal unions, so not my individual
responsibility. But I digress…
battle this threat, we have sent the most courageous and brave soldiers
in the world. But their numbers have been depleted by the Clinton years
when troops were reduced by 500,000, when 80 ships were retired from
the Navy, and when our human intelligence was slashed by 25%. We were
told that we were getting a peace dividend. We got the dividend, but we
didn’t get the peace. In the face of evil in radical Jihad and given
the inevitable military ambitions of China, we must act to rebuild our
military might. Raise military spending to 4% of our GDP, purchase the
most modern armament, re-shape our fighting forces for the asymmetric
demands we now face, and give the veterans the care they
Bill Clinton lost the war in Iraq, damn it! Bill Clinton! And maybe
liberal unions, too. They’re usually to blame for something, even
though they’re never willing to take individual responsibility for it.
the face of liberalism in America will have a new name. Whether it is
Barack or Hillary, the result would be the same if they were to win the
Presidency. The opponents of American culture would push the throttle,
devising new justifications for judges to depart from the constitution.
Economic neophytes would layer heavier and heavier burdens on employers
and families, slowing our economy and opening the way for foreign
competition to further erode our lead.
maybe I was right the first time, when I said the greatest threat to
America comes from within. Okay, I’m switching back to my original
position. For now.
though we face an uphill fight, I know that many in this room are fully
behind my campaign.” You are with me all the way to the convention.
Fight on, just like Ronald Reagan did in 1976. But there is an
important difference from 1976: today… we are a nation at
If we weren’t at war, I wouldn’t declare defeat and surrender. I know
that sounds a little counterintuitive, but bear with me…
Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and
the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. And the
consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on
America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the
Taliban look like child’s play. About this, I have no
To prevent Barack and Hillary from retreating and declaring defeat, I
will retreat and declare defeat. Because they’ve said they will
retreat and declare defeat! Okay, I can’t tell you exactly where or
when they said that… but I have no doubt because I know it’s true
because I’m a Conservative Person of Faith and I don’t have to back up
veiled accusations of treason against liberals, who anyway as I’ve
argued above (the position I switched back to) are traitors.
disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I
agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on
finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and
terror. If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I
would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more
likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of
war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender
When I declare defeat and surrender, it’s merely tactical. When
liberals want to reallocate resources in the war on terror, it’s a
pathetic white flag. I mean, it was the same when I was at Bain
Capital. I never fired anyone at a company I acquired; I was only
rightsizing those people. I’m a good guy, and good guys by definition
can’t do bad things. Ask George Bush, he understands this.
is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends
and our supporters… many of you right here in this room… have given a
great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this
were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I
love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand
aside, for our party and for our country.
reasons for surrendering are good reasons and you must accept them
because I am a Conservative Man of Faith and when a Conservative Man of
Faith surrenders it’s not really a surrender, but a Noble
Self-Sacrifice for the Greater Good, even nobler than the
self-sacrifice I made by being a missionary in Paris instead of serving
in Vietnam, even nobler than the self-sacrifice my five sons have made
by campaigning for me instead of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan (what?
You want them to enlist now that I’m surrendering and they can’t
self-sacrifice by campaigning for me anymore? Uh… uh… let me get
back to you on that, okay?). But wait a minute, I just realized, I’m
not really even really surrendering! I only said I’m “standing
aside.” It couldn’t have been a surrender, because only liberals do
that, and I’m a Conservative Man of Faith.
the speech in its entirety. You’ll find it singularly bereft of the
notion of individual responsibility except as a slogan used to blame
others for their lack of it. Memo to the Republican party: the first
step in fixing a problem is acknowledging you have one.
the speech’s tremendous unintentional irony, Romney leaves the race
less an ironic figure than a tragic one. Here’s a guy with
intelligence (albeit often well-concealed in his speeches); executive
experience in politics and business; and (again, despite some of his
ridiculous speechifying asides) demonstrated economic fluency, who
lacked the confidence to run on any of it, preferring instead
plasticity and pandering, right to the bitter end. He reminds me of no
one so much as Hillary Clinton, another otherwise capable candidate
whose lack of confidence in her own strengths has led to a sad pattern
of pandering followed by attacks on her opponent, whose substantive
record by its very existence calls hers into question. Romney and
Hillary… even in Romney’s tragedy, there is irony.