Posts Tagged ‘eyeon08.com’
First, let us pass in review:
(1) As Romney-apologists tell the story, Romney wanted to run as a competent technocrat, an outsider with the business experience and native genius necessary to “fix Washington.” Only Romney could never stay on message. So what the campaign emitted was unintelligible noise.
- Luo: “Ever since Mr. Romney began his presidential bid, his campaign has oscillated between two distinct, some would say contradictory, themes—Mr. Romney as a conservative standard-bearer and him as a pragmatic problem-solving businessman”
- Bartlett: Romney miscalculated the primary field, hence his many flip-flops—OK., but what does this say about Romney’s character or competence?
In the opinion of observers Romney had tried early on to position himself as a social conservative, only this ridiculously revisionist line never withstood any encounter with the facts of Romney’s record. Romney responded by tacking ever further to the right.
(2) After Iowa returned its decision for Gov. Mike Huckabee, Romney suddenly transformed into the “change” candidate.
- Romney’s new theme of “change in Washington” developed by same super-genius advisors who delivered Romney’s Agony-in-Iowa US$10 million dollar rout
- Romney cross-dresses as Sen. Barack Obama in NH—Romney is a better Sen. Barack Obama than Barack Obama, Romney implies
- Martin and VandeHei: “[Romney] blame[s] reporters—not his advisers—for forcing him to focus intensely on his conservative views instead of the message of change”
(3) After New Hampshire returned its decision for Sen. John McCain, Romney transforms himself yet again. Romney abandons his social and economic conservative line altogether. Suddenly Romney wants to nationalize an ailing industry, only in the post-industrial, post-progressive era this assumes the form of a Washington-Detroit “partnership” combined with massive subsidies.
This is Romney himself from a Transcript of Romney’s Speech to the Detroit Economic Club
[...] “First of all, we have to be honest about the problems we have and tackle them head on. If I’m President of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership. It will be a plan that works for Michigan and that works for the American taxpayer.
“And as part of this, we will directly address and rectify the enormous product cost and capital cost disadvantages that currently burden the domestic automakers. From legacy costs, to health care costs, to increased CAFE standard costs, to the cost of embedded taxes, Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer. The plan is going to have to include increases in funding for automotive related research as well as new tax benefits including making the Research and Development Tax Credit permanent.
“I am not open to a bail out, but I am open to a work out. Washington should not be a benefactor, but it can and must be a partner [...]
In an article titled Romney on the Ropes, Byron York of the National Review comments:
[...] [Romney's] plan is to make the United States government a virtual partner of Ford, GM, and Chrysler. “If I’m president of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership,” Romney tells the Economic Club. “It will be a plan that works for Michigan and that works for the American taxpayer.”
The plan would involve easier-to-reach mileage standards, increased funding and extended tax breaks for research and development, worker health care reforms, and more. “Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer,” Romney says. “I am not open to a bail out, but I am open to a work out. Washington should not be a benefactor, but it can and must be a partner.”
Romney’s proposals might not be music to the ears of free-market conservatives who believe Detroit made its own problems and needs to fix itself. But it’s what a lot of people in Michigan want to hear [...]
Might not be music to our ears? Here be the problem, and it has little to do with Romney’s tone deafness: Not only does Romney’s plan to nationalize the US automobile industry reflect yet another complete ideological reversal for the hapless candidate—Not only is Romney’s proposal impracticable and nearly impossible on its face, just the worst possible public policy imaginable—Not only will Romney’s proposal issue into in a furious race to the bottom as Romney himself and the other candidates are forced to out-bid each other promising to bail-out, subsidize, or protect from competition other ailing industries and entire economic sectors—but Romney’s plan for MI is also based on a risibly inaccurate and historically flawed assessment of an already globalized and post-industrial US automobile “industry”. Micheline Maynard of NYT’s The Caucus outlines the case against Romney’s proposals in an article titled Romney Address a Car Industry That Has Changed:
[...] Mr. Romney’s speech to the Economic Club of Detroit on Monday seemed more rooted in a time when Detroit companies dominated the automotive scene, rather than now, when Toyota is No. 2 behind General Motors.
For example, Mr. Romney vowed that if elected, “in my first 100 days, I will roll up my sleeves, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders to develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership.”
But America’s auto industry now is no longer exclusively American. It includes Toyota, Honda, Nissan, as well as the leaders of European and Asian automakers. All have built factories in the United States over the past 25 years, particularly in states across the South. Collectively, foreign companies held 48.9 percent of American sales last year, when Detroit’s market share slipped to 51.1 percent, its lowest ever.
Mr. Romney also referred to a series of areas where the industry ought to engage with Washington, ranging from its pension and health care expenses, known as legacy costs, to mileage standards, known as corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE.
“From legacy costs, to health care costs, to increased CAFE standards, to embedded taxes, Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer,” Mr. Romney said.
However, G.M., Ford Motor and Chrysler reached contracts with the United Automobile Workers union last fall that will shift their burden for retiree health care costs, the major portion of legacy costs, to an independent trust that will be administered by the U.A.W. Moreover, the companies and the union pledged to spend money creating a new think tank that will lobby for federal health care reform.
Speaking of fuel economy, Mr. Romey said, “Of course fleet mileage needs to rise, but discontinuous CAFE leaps, uncoordinated with the domestic manufacturers, and absent consideration of competitiveness, kills jobs and imperils an industry,”
Mr. Romney added: “Washington-dictated CAFE is not the right answer.”
But the auto companies just finished taking part in a spirited Congressional debate over CAFE during 2007. And while they fought increases in fuel economy standards early on, the automakers wound up supporting the new law that requires them to achieve 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
Mr. Romney also had a vintage perspective on his father’s former company, American Motors.
“I used to ask my dad, ‘How in the world can you compete as head of America Motors when you’ve got such huge competitors, GM, Ford, Chrysler, the Big Three — how do you possibly think you can succeed?’” Mr. Romney said. “And he’d say in a way that I have not forgotten: ‘Mitt, there’s nothing as vulnerable as entrenched success. There’s nothing as vulnerable as entrenched success.’”
Yet it was A.M.C. that was vulnerable in its final years. It first turned to Renault of France for a rescue, selling a 46 percent stake to the French auto company in 1980, earning it the nickname, “Franco-American Motors.” In 1987, Chrysler purchased A.M.C. from Renault, and the company vanished from the automotive scene [...]
Back to Byron York:
[...] From the beginning of his campaign, Romney has argued that he is the only candidate who can unite the three main elements of the Republican party: economic conservatives, national-security conservatives, and social conservatives. But Romney is really mostly an economic conservative; his foreign-policy credentials aren’t much, and his social conservatism — highlighted by the famed flip-flop over abortion — has earned him as many critics as fans. That hurt him in Iowa and New Hampshire, but on the last day of the campaign in Michigan, it’s economy, economy, economy, and that is where Romney is strongest [...]
(1) Contra York, the National Review itself argues that Romney “is the only candidate who can unite the three main elements of the Republican party: economic conservatives, national-security conservatives, and social conservatives.” See:
- Shocker: “In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field,” the super-geniuses at National Review endorse the most fluid and unpredictable Republican, Willard Milton Romney
- NRO organizes conference call to defend questionable decision to endorse Romney—eyeon08.com reports that they received not one supportive question, and no one spoke in favor of the endorsement
So here you have York, a writer for the National Review, arguing that Romney really isn’t a conservative at all—correction: York argues that Romney is really only an “economic conservative,” even though Romney’s policies, as York admits with his “music” comment, are anything but conservative. What does this say about the goof-balls at the National Review!?
(2) Romney’s proposal for the US automobile industry is not economic in content or in character—this is not an economic proposal.
It is a political proposal.
It assumes in advance that the performance or non-performance of a US industry is a political question. It assumes in advance the priority of political agency over private activity. And it arrives at the conclusion that the US taxpayer should subsidize the wrongheaded and shortsighted decisions of US automobile executives, and that Washington should supervise—as a partner—and assume the costs of, an entire economic sector.
So why should Romney’s proposal not apply also to e.g. US agriculture, or the technology sector? This is the logical contradiction of Romney’s proposal: it admits of no conceptual limit or limit in principle. It is not enough to argue that the automotive industry is the “canary in the coal mine” for the US economy and therefore deserves special attention—every sector of the economy, it can be argued, is vitally important—that’s part of what it means to be an economy—every sector is interrelated, interdependent.
The empirical contradiction of Romney’s plan is this: it cannot be done. History has already returned its verdict on heavy industry as an economic driver. The cash value of manufactured goods has declined for the past 25 years. Industrial capacity is more generally distributed in the world. Information processing technology and technique drives up productivity so more can be made with less labor, and this drives down prices—etc., etc.—no longer can heavy industry be the material basis of the US middle class. It is simply impossible at this historical stage.
Romney’s plan is not merely government activism, it is government atavism. It is an attempt to reverse history.
Our conclusion: Romney is not a conservative. Not in any sense of the term. Also: Romney has successfully bought a primary contest by issuing a check he cannot possibly cash.
Michigan belongs to Romney now. He can have it.
P.S. Credit goes to eyeon08.com for the Byron York article.
“MANCHESTER, N.H. — For months, there has been an open secret among insiders working in or covering the 2008 Republican campaign: The rival candidates despise Mitt Romney,” writes Jonathan Martin in a Politico.com article titled Rivals pile on Romney
After Saturday night in New Hampshire, it’s no longer a secret. The contempt was obvious, and relentless. And it was harnessed for clear strategic purposes at the debate. Everyone — even candidates who don’t seem to be in the center of the New Hampshire action — felt it was in their interest to pile on the former Massachusetts governor.
Romney may have been knocked from front-runner status in Iowa, but this night he was at the center — of a rhetorical firing squad. Four of Romney’s Republican opponents joined together to put him through a grueling evening, taking turns offering derisive quips and questions about his authenticity and throwing him on the defensive at a critical moment for his campaign [...]
[...] Combined it was a brutal gang attack, the likes of which have been unseen in any previous debate.
And it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Romney. With two new New Hampshire polls out showing him now down 6 points in this critical state, he needed to set himself apart tonight.
He had hoped to sound his outsider message and discuss his private sector credentials.
Instead he looked rattled at times, unprepared for the waves of attacks.
After McCain’s final salvo, he seemed to plead for mercy: “The continued personal barbs are interesting but unnecessary” [...]
Romney is the establishment candidate. He bought and paid for that singular distinction.
So: What do you call it when all of your other candidates rebel against—and concert their arguments against—your party establishment in the person of the establishment candidate?
These are not good times for the conservative institutions—talk radio, new media, The National Review etc.—who joined their fortunes to those of Willard Milton Romney.
abcnews.com’s Rick Klein concurs with Martin:
[...] But I saw that as a pretty bad night for Mitt Romney. I think he was outflanked on immigration by McCain and Giuliani — that’s not easy to do. And you can tell that nobody on that stage likes him. He’s a frontrunner here, so he can expect the heat, but so is John McCain, and yet everyone rushed to defend McCain and attack Romney. Why would Romney say he likes mandates? How could he have let Fred Thompson best him on a debate over healthcare? Just a few of the many questions he’s going to have to sort out, against the backdrop of some McCain momentum in New Hampshire? [...]
Team Romney concurs too, as eye of eyon08.com argues:
[...] only two surrogates were in the spin room: Tom Tancredo and Bay Buchanan. None of the national surrogates in town. No Senator Judd Gregg, Romney New Hampshire campaign chairman. Where was Judd?
That leads me to my second fact. Judd Gregg was the first person to leave the debate. [...]
We long ago predicted that the other campaigns would concert their efforts to defeat Romney. Events continue to confirm our surmise:
“MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney absorbed repeated attacks from his rivals tonight, as competitors joined in common cause to take down the one-time New Hampshire frontrunner,” writes Elizabeth Holmes in an online.wsj.com article titled McCain Leads Attack on Romney in New Hampshire Debate
The harshest blows during the ABC News/Facebook debate came from Arizona Sen. John McCain, Mr. Romney’s fiercest opponent in this first-in-the-nation primary state. Mr. Romney, who was badly beat in Iowa Thursday, has been campaigning ever since as a “change agent” able to fix Washington.
But Mr. McCain turned his words on him, derisively referenced his changing positions on social issues, calling him the “candidate of change.” Later, during a discussion of immigration, Mr. Romney complained about being misquoted. Mr. McCain responded: “When you change…positions on issue from time to time, you will get misquoted.”
The attack on Mr. Romney continued throughout the evening in the only Republican debate to fall between Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s contests. The assault came not just from Mr. McCain but from other Republicans in the hunt as well: Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.
Although each is fighting his own battle, the quartet appeared united in trying to eliminate Mr. Romney from the race sooner rather than later [...]
Romney for his part would be well advised to suck-it-up. For Team Romney it may be useful to study Sen. Clinton’s attempts to play victim after a similar debate debacle.
Her complaints were counterproductive.
… “Romney was [...] was queried about why he gave a sunny assessment of the war in Iraq after a visit in 2006, even though he now often says the aftermath of the invasion was not managed well,” writes Marc Santora in a NYT The Caucus blog post titled McCain on Experience
[Credit goes to eyeon08.com in a post titled Romney: Check with Lawyers and Notes ]
[Romney:] You could look at what I said at that time. I was encouraged at that time that there was a creation of a coalition government and believed that was a positive step and I continue to believe that that was a positive step. Let me make it very clear. Not everything that happened over the period of time following Saddam Hussein’s collapse was bad.
The establishment of a constitution, the election of a coalition and the creation of a coalition government. Those were positive developments but nonehtheless I felt in some respects the management of the post-Saddam Hussein conflict there was not as well managed as we would have hoped it would have been, and I think that was in part because we frankly did not have sufficient preparation and planning for what occurred.
Q: If you felt at that time, why didn’t you say something then?
Mr. Romney: I don’t recall all the things that I said at that time, so I’d just have to go back and look at my notes at that time.
Q: Wasn’t it important to take a stand?
Mr. Romney: I said what I knew at that time … etc.
Another profile in courage.
Conclusion: It is impossible to hold this man—his imperious holiness, Willard Milton Romney—to anything he has ever said, to any commitment he has ever made, to any position he has ever held, to any policy he has ever pursued. Romney—apparently—is, or believes that he is, a creature of pure will and imagination, a demigod-like figure who stands apart from the causal nexus, a creature unlimited by even his personal history, a story he feels himself free to revise on the fly: He is what he says he is, and his words mean only what he says that they mean, and he takes grim offense should a miserable quaking mortal stand and suggest otherwise.
Moral: There are no messages in the abstract. There are only the men and the women who emit them, who carry them, who must defend them, creatures of flesh and blood, historical entities who pass into this world, live, love and labor for a short time, construe their experiences of this world as stories, and then pass away again. All politics is therefore identity politics, because a message has meaning only to the degree that we can identify with a flesh-and-blood messenger, and that messenger’s motives, intentions, perceptions, reflections, history of good or bad fortune, hard sufferings, and costly successes.
Our question: Who identifies with Romney?
Who is Romney’s natural constituency? Just how many super-rich, super-privileged shape-shifters exist among us?
Who gapes upon the expertly groomed face or form of Romney and believes that he sees in it himself, or believes that she sees in it herself, or even detects in it something remotely human and familiar?
“Romney has been forced into a two-front war, trailing Mike Huckabee in Iowa and holding onto a lead against a resurgent McCain in New Hampshire,” writes Eric Kleefield in a TPMelectioncentral.com post titled Romney Rolls Out Anti-McCain Ad in New Hampshire
But as it turns out, his lines of attack against each are the same, faulting them on taxes and immigration in both states … etc.
Here is the problem for the bitter, angry Romney. His rivals—Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain—have concerted their criticisms of Romney, the man and his message, by playing up each other even as they play upon the same themes.
Yet Romney’s response is to argue against both of his rivals on the same grounds, immigration and taxes.
In the case of Gov. Huckabee Romney’s critique raises his rival to the level of a peer when Romney has been trying to argue that Gov. Huckabee’s rise is artifact of misplaced religious zeal.
In the case of Sen. McCain Romney’s line only underscores the independence and integrity of discretion of a man already known for these virtues, even as Romney foregrounds his own slavish hewing to party orthodoxy in a state that appreciates coherent and individuated lines of reason.
- Romney Opens Second Negative TV Front, writes Mark Halperin for The Page.
- Eye of Horus, in an eyeon08.com post titled Desperate Romney flip-flops and goes Negative, elaborates on how Romney told reporters he was going positive only hours before his campaign went deeply, painfully, negative.
“While trying to defend his weirdness over MLK a couple of days ago”—writes John Amato for Crooks and Liars in a post titled Quote of the Day—“Mitt Romney made it worse by saying this”:
He added, “You know, I’m an English literature major as well. When we say, ‘I saw the Patriots win the World Series, it doesn’t necessarily mean you were there — excuse me, the Super Bowl. I saw my dad become president of American Motors. Did that mean you were there for the ceremony? No, it’s a figure of speech.”
You and every Starbucks barista, Romney.
Memo to Romney: We have a BA in English literature too—not American literature, but English—and an MA in English with a concentration in Rhetoric, and a PhD in Rhetoric. (Not this should mean anything to anyone except, say, you, Boy Romney, since you seem to suggest that holding a degree should make your questioners shut up and sit down.) And we almost never use the term “saw” in the tormented sense that you seem to want your listeners to accept on its face.
The all-seeing Eye of eyeon08.com issues a rejoinder that caused us to laugh-out-loud:
… You know, I don’t know any serious person who cites their college and graduate school education as authority when they talk. Experience, sure. That just strikes me as a weird, weird trait. And also note that it is ad hoc. He didn’t cite his lawyerly authority when he said “I’d have to ask my lawyers” about Iran …
Does anyone remember that interview with Romney on Jan Mickelson’s radio talk show, carried by WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa?—the one where to this day Romney claims that he was caught on hidden camera?—We remember a particular Romney-rejoinder to Mickelson: “Would you agree with me that I know more about my faith than you do?”
Romney’s message to America: I’m smarter than you are. So shut up.
“Mike Huckabee is now becoming a very divisive figure in the Republican party,” writes Mark R. Levin in a carping and caviling NRO The Corner post titled Curious Huck
It’s not his faith or his Merry Christmas commercial that many conservatives question (I certainly don’t), but it’s his record as governor and his stated positions on the war, foreign policy generally, taxes, spending, and illegal aliens. And exposing his positions is a natural part of the primary process. He is now using his faith as a defense for populist/liberal/misguided policy positions and implying that those who disagree with him are challenging his faith — or more accurately, dismissing Evangelicals …
Translation: Gov. Huckabee has completely out-flanked Romney on the religion issue by appropriating Romney’s line of argument. It was Romney who first used his faith as a defense for his positions and implied that those who disagreed with him were challenging his faith—as David Bernstein argues:
… Romney’s similar [to Gibson’s] marketing challenge emerged this past year, when he and his advisors made the strategic decision to campaign as the conservative alternative option to Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, the perceived front-runners for the Republican nomination. That strategy would require Romney to win large numbers of votes from religious conservatives. Unfortunately for him, Romney had a long, well-established record of moderate and even liberal stands on a number of issues, including abortion.
So, like Gibson, Romney began spreading word of the anti-Mormon plots against him long before anyone knew who he was, let alone what religion he practiced. By late 2006, he was sitting for interviews with almost anyone willing to write about the “Mormon question” — landing him on the cover of almost every conservative publication in the country … etc.
For more, see:
Bernstein on Romney’s “speech”: “Whereas Kennedy asked Protestants to vote for him despite the bias against his faith, Romney, with a keen ear for the contemporary Christian right, asked them to vote for him because of that bias. No, Romney was not taking from JFK’s playbook — he was taking from Mel Gibson’s.”
Back to Levin:
How did Huckabee become the spokesman for Christians anyway? When did this happen? A few weeks ago he was a little known governor from Arkansas with 2-percent national support among Republicans. Now, he’s a spokesman for an entire religion, or part of it anyway. (Also, I am not part of the Wall Street crowd, a neo-con or whatever, in case he or anyone on his staff is wondering. Just an old-time Reaganite.)
Yes. Old-time Reaganite. The past and the future are trading blows. The Reagan coalition has dead but its elites and established constituencies persist to protect their interests. Example: the formerly conservative NRO.
“Gov. Huckabee”—as eye of eyeon08.com argues—”represents a new movement in American politics”:
… So, I think, [after eye argued that affluent voters that the GOP has lost are probably never coming back] that the other option is to try to dig deeper into the working class. Huckabee’s overt populism is one approach. John McCain’s slightly more low-key populism, on economic issues, combined with a more rabid anti-Washington populism is another strategy and, perhaps, a more likely endpoint than Huckabee’s approach. However, Huckabee does open a window to that future.
In any case, I suspect that the continual attacks on Huckabee aren’t going to be so threatening. First, his voters probably don’t care. As Richard Land said about Duncan Hunter, “A lot of evangelicals are probably sympathetic to his protectionist arguments.” Second, his response that he spent money on school and roads can be pretty compelling to a bunch of Iowa farmers, if he manages to get his message out. And third, I wonder how many of the super-rich Club for Growthers are left? How many i-bankers participate in Iowa caucuses anyways?
Now, this has focused on Huckabee’s economic message. There is an interesting question about Huckabee’s message on moral issues. My gut is that Huckabee follows the breezes in the evangelical community …. etc.
“[The issue of foreign policy, which the NRO ignored in their rationale for endorsing Romney] shines an important light on National Review’s endorsement of Mitt Romney, which I discussed previously,” writes the Coptic Eye of eyeon08.com in a post titled McCain, Putin, and why experience matters
They had a conference call today to defend it. I didn’t hear a single supportive question, and no one spoke up in favor of their endorsement. Ari Richter of the Concord Monitor asked why so little discussion of foreign policy twice. The first time, Rich Lowry responded that all the candidates were pretty similar. They shared the same views, so the only differences are execution.
But you know what? I don’t think that’s true. Experience and demonstrated judgment matter in this stuff. A lot. And it says a lot about National Review that they are playing that down. And John McCain’s statements today and almost 8 years ago demonstrate that … etc.
Formerly we argued that Team Romney’s decision to go negative in Iowa amounted to a suicide bombing, i.e. an act of complete desperation as Romney’s own negatives and icy-cold personality will not support a negative message without Romney’s own numbers plummeting. See:
We must now revise our hypothesis. Eye of eyeon08.com has developed evidence to suggest an alternative reading of events on the ground in Iowa based on the Mormon support for Romney. Regard:
... In other words, the very high end of typical turnout is around 10%. IA Mormons are looking at 50%. Assuming that, under normal circumstances, Mormons participate in higher numbers, perhaps 20% would normally participate in the caucus, (just a guess) that would mean 2,800 votes. Romney will be beating that by at least 2.5x.
That means that Romney will be increasing the universe of caucus-goers by approximately 4,200 people. Increasing the universe is the Holy Grail of winning the Iowa caucuses, but most people don’t succeed. (Exhibit A is always the famed Youth Vote)
The upshot is that you can safely add 5% or so to Romney’s numbers in any Iowa poll. Furthermore, if the Romney campaign is smart — and they are very, very smart — they are trying to drive these numbers even higher. What if turnout was 70% not 50%? Then that would be the equivalent of adding about 7% to his numbers.
The bottom line is that Mitt Romney will win a caucus that looks close. Romney starts with 5-7% of the vote. Any attempt to play down Romney’s chances in Iowa is just a game, the expectations game … etc.
This reads like a Team Romney Orange Plan.
“Under the threat of impending disaster, [General MacArthur] determined on that day to withdraw his forces on Luzon to the Bataan Peninsula, to declare the Philippine capital, Manila, an open city, and to transfer his headquarters to the tiny island of Corregidor.”
In other words, Team Romney has tactically withdrawn from any attempt to develop a broad coalition of support in favor of a hard, narrow, double-edged wedge that consists in
(a) targeting Gov. Huckabee with ferociously negative advertising
(b) developing further its Mormon-affinity base—its only unified, committed, and coherent base of support
(1) This explains why Romney believes he can go bitterly negative against Gov. Huckabee, now, in Iowa, and survive. He believes that he can risk his own numbers crashing and still prevail in the caucus because of the unity and coherence of its Mormon supporters.
(2) If Team Romney can remove Gov. Huckabee from viability in Iowa, he will not have to face him later in states like SC where there are fewer Mormons to offset Evangelical primary voters.
(3) This fits a general pattern in Team Romney’s behavior. Earlier Romney attempted to develop a broad base of funders, failed, and fell back upon self-funding and developing further his narrow base of Mormons, bankers etc.
(4) The risk is that Romney will further marginalize himself as The Mormon Candidate.
(5) NOTA: Team Romney has failed—and continues to fail—at every attempt to build a broad base of support or to form a coalition. What is left to Team Romney is the brinksmanship that issues into plural outcomes (plural as in plurality), where committed minorities off-set a dispersed and divided majority. This strategy is not sustainable and Team Romney knows that it is not sustainable—a first-past-the-post electoral system will not support a minority candidate (in the sense of a minority government in a parliamentary system). Incredibly, Team Romney still believes that they can parley early state primary victories—without regard to how they are won or at what cost—into a band-wagoning of general support, precisely the kind of support they have consistently failed develop on the ground. In other words, having failed to build a coalition, they hope to have one handed to them by default of better choices.
This dejected and despairing plan may have worked 30, 20, even 10 years ago.
But not now.
Now it matters more not only that you win, but how you win.
In other words, post Florida 2000, observers tend to look closer for the grounds that confer legitimacy. Too many gamers have gamed our troubled system for it to be otherwise.
P.S. Update: shameless Romney sycophant Geraghty—of the formerly conservative NRO—spins for Romney by way of a rejoinder to eye of eyeon08.com. His point: No-no, Romney is doing terrible in Iowa, just terrible!—really … Conclusion: eye is right—Team Romney has been reduced to playing the expectations game, and the NRO is now yet another “blog for Mitt.”
“Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday called one of Mitt Romney’s mailers in New Hampshire ‘not true,” writes the all-seeing eye of eyeon08.com in a post titled Fox News: Romney mailer “is not true”
What is Romney’s strategy? Lie about everything through the primary? CNN caught him being dodgy yesterday. But the guy has the money to do it.
I don’t think that the Republican Party wants a guy who spends millions of his own money to spread lies about other Republicans. I just think that the party is more decent than that.
Comment: There are Republicans that are more decent than that—however many or however few remains an open question. But is the party more decent than that? That would depend on what you mean by “party.” The basis of the US party system is the state organization—US parties tend to be nearly incoherent at the national level except during presidential election cycles; they are far more coherent and organized at state and local levels. Part of the task of the Romney campaign has been to generously fund state and local party organizations, right-wing and right-of-center foundations, PACs, think-tanks, ad hoc committees, pressure groups etc. at a time when Republican party influence (and, hence, fund-raising power) is on the wane. We refer to this as Romneyism, when a national party in decline recruits the rich and the super-rich—so-called self-funders—to compensate for its competitive deficits. See:
Our conclusion: While many Republicans are probably far more decent than to support a candidate who spends millions of his own money to slime other Republicans, the Republican party establishment and its many elites are content to allow Romney the full use of his resources to destroy the careers of better men than he just so long as the party elites get their cut.
Some people ask us why we are so opposed to Romney. This is precisely why.
P.S. The Coptic Eye provides this update: Quote of the day from Rudy Giuliani’s campaign:
“Mitt Romney’s already changed his own position on illegal immigration, so it should come as no surprise that he’s trying to change everybody else’s position as well.”
… “[Mayor Giuliani's slide] would seem great for Mitt Romney, the Rudy Giuliani challenger,” writes the all-seeing eye in an eyeon08.com post titled Huck rises, Rudy slides, Romney’s strategy breaks down
But not so much. I think that this dynamic of Rudy falling and Huckabee rising creates a very serious challenge for Romney. You see, his proposition has long been that conservatives should rally around him because he can defeat Rudy. But if Rudy is … falling … then that argument goes out the window …
… Well. It seems like, on the day before the big Mormon speech, the Romney guys might need a new rationale for how they get conservatives.
And the Rudy guys, without being the frontrunner, may have a real problem on their hands.
They may have a problem on their hands, or they may not.
It is possible that losing now sets Mayor Giuliani up for victory later. As we have argued elsewhere, Hizzonor is historically a balance-of-power player, one who thrives in a crowded field, a unique entity in US presidential politics as most presidents tend to rise from the strong executive offices of state governors. Regard:
The question that has dominated the GOP contest is, “Should we nominate someone as liberal as Rudy on social issues?”—writes Dick Morris in a dickmorris.com post titled HILLARY, RUDY MAY KNOW LIFE AFTER DEATH
The answer among the stalwarts is obviously no. As long as the social conservatives are divided among four candidates, Rudy has a shot. But when they rally behind one man (probably Huckabee) conservatives outnumber moderates in Republican primaries, particularly if the independents are drawn into the Democratic primary by Hillary’s new vulnerability.
But by losing, Rudy shifts the focus. Republicans will ask, “Is America ready to elect a Mormon?” (unfortunately not) and, “Are we ready to go with Romney or Huckabee who have no experience in foreign or military affairs?” Once again, Rudy will profit from the shift in focus his defeat in the early contests will trigger.
Of course, the real question that will determine Giuliani’s fate is how seriously we take the threat of terrorism. There is no reason to nominate Giuliani except for his demonstrated ability to fight terrorism. This threat is the only way a Republican can win and Rudy has a huge edge in making terrorism his issue. But the subject has been virtually absent from the Republican debates of late and the national discourse. Rudy needs to get that fixed if he is to have a chance to recover from early defeats.
But recover they both likely will. Remember how Gary Hart beat Mondale in New Hampshire in 1984 and Mondale came back to win? And how Paul Tsongas beat Clinton there in 1992 and Clinton eventually won? And how McCain defeated Bush in New Hampshire in 2000 but how Bush came back to win? Different year. New candidates. Same deal.
“There’s a new term this year in the political lexicon: ‘momentum-proof,’” writes Charlie Cook of the nationaljournal.com in an Off to the Races post titled Hey, Mo! Early State Victories May Not Figure Into Who Wins Nomination Nods
It was coined a few weeks ago by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s top strategists to make the point that their candidate’s support in the states that come after Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina was sufficiently large enough that he could lose in the early states and still hold on to win enough delegates to capture the GOP presidential nomination.
While no candidate has lost the first four contests and come back to win the nomination, Giuliani’s handlers made a case that this was plausible, and it could turn out to be true. Indeed, itmay be even more likely now than it was when Giuliani’s people first articulated it.
If former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney loses the Iowa caucuses to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or wins unimpressively, and if subsequent victories in his next-door-neighbor state of New Hampshire and his native state of Michigan ring a little hollow because they are viewed as home games for Romney, Giuliani might be able to mount a successful comeback.
While Giuliani has been hit with some tough and potentially damaging stories about his personal life and expenditures during his tenure as mayor in recent days, it hasn’t been a good time for Romney, either.
If Huckabee had resources and a real organization, this would be the perfect scenario. But he doesn’t, and it isn’t clear that he’ll get them in the next month. If Romney has an ace in the hole, it’s that he will be in a position to outspend Huckabee by a 20-to-1 ratio over the next month — more if necessary. Any Romney victory may require him to win ugly.
The sharp delineation between Romney, the front-runner in the first three or four states, and Giuliani, who leads most other places, makes this race so confounding and wonderful. Historical nomination patterns are being challenged …
We drew the same conclusions weeks and weeks ago. Should it please us that others finally—finally!—are beginning to see through the Romney fog? Well, it does. See:
Update, 12.8: Patrick Ruffini also agrees with us. See Mitt/Hick fight helps Rudy.