Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Rubin’
Rubin: “The talk-show conservatives who were so successful in riling the conservative opposition to immigration reform in 2007 proved to be the flimsiest of paper tigers—-Their shouted directions to the conservative foot soldiers, and their warnings of the dangers of a McCain presidency, were ignored”
[...] “Following John McCain’s victory in Florida last week the chorus of McCain-hatred grew louder on talk radio shows and on many conservative blogs,” writes Jennifer Rubin in a New York Observer article titled Voters Reject Romney … and Limbaugh and Coulter and Dobson
Rush Limbaugh declared that McCain was not conservative and unacceptable as a candidate. Formerly respectable conservative figures took delight in criticizing McCain’s war record—yes, his war record—by tallying up the number of planes he had lost in combat. Ann Coulter and James Dobson, a social conservative leader and head of the Focus on the Family organization, declared McCain so indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton, the featured villainess in any conservative drama, that they would vote for her or stay home.
In short the McCain villifiers doubled down on their bet that they could derail McCain and lift their favored alternative, Mitt Romney, to victory.
Then the voters had their say. McCain racked up victories from California to New York to Missouri. Romney was pretty much relegated to Utah and Massachusetts, two more home states to go along with his Michigan win. Mike Huckabee, also the object of talk show and blogger derision (for, among other grave offenses, raising taxes to build schools and allowing children of illegal immigrants access to college scholarships) had a fine night, taking a batch of southern states.
The talk-show conservatives who were so successful in riling the conservative opposition to immigration reform in 2007 proved to be the flimsiest of paper tigers. Their shouted directions to the conservative foot soldiers, and their warnings of the dangers of a McCain presidency, were ignored.
They did their best to boost Romney, who had striven mightily to endear himself to this crowd, but the voters shrugged and rejected him overwhelmingly. Had Romney not changed residences so often he might have been shut out of the primaries entirely [...]
[...] [Limbaugh, Coulter, Dobson et al] might threaten to withhold support for McCain, but does it even matter at this point? Will voters listen to that marching order when they did not follow previous voting advice?
McCain cannot, in what will likely be a close election, entirely ignore the possibility. But something has clearly changed. The façade of influence, the illusion of electoral importance that these conservative pundits previously held, is gone. They can raise issues, jam the White House switchboard and scare timid politicians. When the chips are down, though, they cannot determine elections. Voters, who base their decisions more on common sense than extreme ideology, get to do that [...]
We concur. Well, for those most part. But, sadly, there is evidence to suggest that the radio talkers and conservative celebrities were beginning to affect attitudes about Sen. McCain. Here be evidence for our claim, as provided by the estimable John Dickerson in a slate.com article titled McCain Not Stopped; But Romney is not seen as a true conservative:
[…] Exit polls nevertheless show that McCain’s problems with conservatives run deep. He lost among conservatives in almost every state except Connecticut and New Jersey, where he split them evenly with Romney. McCain also lost conservatives even in the states he won. Conservatives went for Romney in New York and Illinois. “Hard to do well with conservatives when everyone with a microphone is beating hell out of us,” says a top McCain aide. While the conservative voices weren’t enough to stop McCain, or to elect their guy, tonight they were enough to bruise him […]
Now with Romney promising to hold out and fight until the convention, and even attempt to turn around promised but not-officially-bound delegates, we can expect the voices of Limbaugh, Coulter, Dobson et al to grow louder, more dire, and more shrill. See:
“1. The national media doesn’t know squat,” writes Jennifer Rubin in a stream-of-consciousness AmSpec blog-burst titled Thoughts
They didn’t get Huckabee’s appeal and mocked him incessently for his admittedly weird presser. In places in which they have no idea and couldn’t care less who Joe Klein is or whether the NY Times thinks Huckabee made a horrible gaffe they really don’t do a very good job of predicting results or interpreting events. And with due modesty, the voters don’t always pay that much more attention to conservative media.
2. People vote for people for president not a list of policy positions or resume points. Obama and Huckabee connect on a very emotional level. We forget that at our peril. (See #1) [...]
Also from Rubin:
If figures are correct and Romney spent about $10M then he spent $322.58 per vote for a projected 31,000 votes. By contrast,
Mike Huckabee spent $47.44 per vote for a projected 42,160 votes [...]
We would add that the conservative media performed worse than the national media. At this precise historical moment the conservative movements most formidable enemy is the conservative movement.
“Romney is up with a negative attack ad– taking on Huckabee’s crime record. What this tells me is he is down, and down so big it’s worthwhile to run a no holds barred spot like this, at Christmas no less,” writes Jennifer Rubin in an AmSpec blog post titled What’ s the Non-Christmas Version
The contrast with the Huckabee ad Phil posted on could not be greater. Steffen Schmidt, political guru at Iowa State University, who I asked about the ad says simply that Romney is in “disarray” in Iowa. The danger is that this type of ad, and image of a flailing candidate, affects his chances elsewhere … etc.
You can find the advertisement here.
Note the opening, “two governors, both pro-life, both pro-family”—this must be the most naive, unsophisticated, and transparent instance of what used to be called triangulation—where a campaign draws close to its opponent where he or she is strong, and tries to draw contrasts only where the opponent is vulnerable—in the entire corpus of contemporary campaign advertising. It is as if an undergraduate communications major read about triangulation in a textbook and tried to write a script.
Ben delivers an apt response here.
We concur with Rubin about Romney’s disarray and desperation. Romney’s operatives have squandered US$7 million dollars on the ground in Iowa—have saturated the airwaves with Romney’s voice and image, have organized even down to the county level—yet they cannot guarantee the hapless candidate even a third place finish against rivals with neither money nor organization.
Here is the problem for Romney: Romney’s own ultra-high negatives—far, far higher than Gov. Huckabee’s—and cold, remote personality will not support a negative message without Romney’s own numbers tanking. See:
- Gallup Guru: Romney is “the only candidate with a more negative than positive ratio”
- Romney has the most negative image at this point of any of the major candidates for president, claims Newport of USA Today’s GallupGuru; the Romney campaign’s death-by-internal-memo part (ii)
… “Frankly this type of article–don’t want to “surprise” people– exemplifies my objection to the roll out and giving of The Speech,” writes Jennifer Rubin in an AmSpec blog post titled, mysteriously, Re: Specifically
By giving into the howls of the mob he has unleashed a ridiculous exploration of the details of his religion (which seems bizarre in a presidential race- did I miss this with Joe Lieberman?), assured 24/7 Mormon coverage( which let’s face it will make some uncomfortable) and ultimately will make The Speech, I think, seem either disappointing or like he was “pulling a fast one” when The Speech itself doesn’t march through Mormon theology.
[Romney] had to market it as the Mormon speech people have been demanding (to satisfy some pundit group and frankly to get the attention he wants) but indications are from him and others that it will be a rather banal discussion generically of faith in America.
I find the whole effort odd in the extreme and irrelevant to the real issues which concern people about Romney, –not his “faith” but his lack of political conviction and the sense that he will say virtually anything to get elected. As to the latter, there is, unfortunately, no speech to cure that ailment” … etc.
The paragraphing is ours. We’re a little baffled by “the whole effort” too. Here is one explanation:
“… So let’s get to the heart of this,” writes of Erick of redstate.com in a post titled Allow me to express my cynicism about “The Speech”
Why is Romney doing it? Here is my cynical nutshell opinion: Huckabee talking about faith is working. Romney is incapable of doing it. We saw how he reacted to the Bible question in the YouTube debate. How odd it is that Huckabee is starting to be accused of mixing church and state in a Republican primary. A Republican primary. Good grief. Anyone ever hear of George W. Bush? I do believe he once said his favorite philosopher is one Jesus Christ. You might have heard of him. His birthday is coming up.
Unfortunately for Romney, George Bush’s religion talk worked. And Huckabee’s is too. Look again at the RCP Poll average for Iowa. Notice that precipitous fall in Romney’s support corresponding to the rise in Huckabee’s support? I can’t see it either. Huckabee isn’t taking votes from Romney totally. He’s taking them from everybody and he’s pulling in people who think the rest of them, well, not to repeat myself, but they all suck.
So, the super predictable strategy? Try now to take religion off the table. Romney failed to capture those voters, so now we’re hearing hints of bigotry and suggestions that Huckabee is too much of a Jesus freak for American politics … etc.
Contra Rubin, Erick argues that Romney’s speech issues a clear message in response to obvious stimuli. However: the message—that Romney is a naive and inexperienced campaign ingenue supported by a tight-circle flak-claque of political primitives—is not the message Romney intended.
“Contrary to advice from David Brody, Romney seems not keen at all about describing with any specificity — even any generality — his faith,” reasons Jennifer Rubin in an AmSpec blog post titled Re: Romney’s Speech
This I think is perfectly appropriate under most circumstances but neatly highlights the dilemma he faces. If: 1) he says his faith informs who he is and all he does and 2) his faith is not one most are familiar with (and some are downright uncomfortable with) can he simultaneously say ‘but I’m not going to tell you anything about my faith’? Well sure he can say it, but with such an approach whose minds will he put at ease?” …
Also, Romney’s reversal on the speech issue has accomplished precisely the opposite of what he wanted to accomplish: he has drawn attention to the Mormon tradition, and is rapidly becoming “the Mormon candidate”:
… Given four days to mull this over the press has begun to discuss, even if Romney won’t, the ways in which Mormonism “diverges from conventional Christianity” and the differences between Romney’s and JFK’s situation ( “Kennedy could take for granted that Americans understood Catholicism, whereas few understand Mormonism. And Roman Catholics make up a large portion of the population.”) Perhaps a Sunday announcement for a Tuesday speech would have cut short some of this …. etc.
Well done, Team Romney. Your “speech” has now failed at every single task that was set for it—e.g. to inoculate your candidate against the Mormon issue, to articulate how Romney’s faith informs Romney’s conduct, to provide a rationale for Evangelicals to support Romney—in advance of it ever being delivered.
In the long and boring history of rhetoric, this has to be a first.
P.S. Way to not control a message, Team Romney!
“It’s getting increasingly hard for Mitt Romney to stick to the script about his record,” writes the estimable Jennifer Rubin for the New York Observer in an article titled A Bad Fight for Mitt Romney
As he traveled through chilly New Hampshire on his post-Thanksgiving campaign tour, he found himself in a toe-to-toe fight with Rudy Giuliani about their respective records.
This is particularly dangerous territory for the Romney campaign.
In broad strokes, Mr. Romney should be happy to tout his executive experience – which he contends Hillary Clinton and many of his opponents sorely lack – as a business executive, Olympics chairman and Governor. But the details of his Massachusetts record are problematic, especially in New Hampshire, where many voters are Massachusetts transplants or live within the Boston media market. Indeed, the more specific the arguments get, the worse they are for Mr. Romney.
The problems start with his immigration stance … The Annenberg Center’s factcheck.org confirmed that Mr. Romney’s plan was a last-minute gambit that never went into effect and that he had a handful of his own sanctuary cities. The result: his latest immigration ad mentions neither issue.
Likewise he has been challenged on his economic record. Mr. Romney contends he “never raised” taxes and balanced the budget despite a liberal legislature. However, that provided an opportunity for the Giuliani campaign to talk about Mr. Romney’s “C” rating from the CATO institute, his failure to deliver on his promised reduction of state income taxes and his efforts to raise revenue by “closing loopholes” in the tax code.
Most troublesome for Mr. Romney is his record on healthcare. Mr. Romney trumpeted his record of achieving near universal healthcare with “no taxes.” Mr. Giuliani and other Republican rivals responded by pointing out that the “no tax” plan sounded quite a bit like Hillary Clinton’s health care plan and included fines on businesses and individuals who did not comply with the mandate to buy insurance. Meanwhile, Fred Thompson and other pro-life rivals were more than happy to highlight another feature of Mr. Romney’s healthcare plan: subsidized abortion services.
And this weekend, Mr. Giuliani seized on a Romney-appointed judge’s decision to release a convicted murder (who proceeded to kill a newlywed couple) as an opportunity to label his rival as weak on crime. Mr. Giuliani produced FBI crime statistics to argue that murders went up over 7 percent during Mr. Romney’s tenure. Mr. Romney shot back that crime rates overall decreased (by over 8 percent). But still, comparing crime-reduction records with Rudy Giuliani is surely an activity the Romney campaign will want to move on from as quickly as possible … etc., etc.
In an NRO The Corner post, Andy McCarthy comments on Romney’s bitter and personal attacks on Mayor Giuliani:
… I am a declared Rudy guy who likes Mitt, so I’m not enjoying the cross-fire. But after reading Byron’s piece, I gotta say I’m surprised — and offended — that Mitt claims voters are worried about a candidate who has “been married more than once.”
Like Ronald Reagan, I’ve been married twice. So have a lot of people. It’s to his great credit and good fortune that Mitt found the right person at a young age and has obviously enjoyed an enduring, wonderful marriage. But, y’know, Bill Clinton’s only been married once, too. Does Mitt really think there is upside in playing this game? I think he’s gonna turn off many more people than he’ll appeal to. It’s not the sort of thing people base their vote on, but I liked him less after reading it than I did before …
“Despite his Mormon faith and the evolution in his position on abortion rights, Mitt Romney insists that he is a consistent conservative and the best choice for Republican voters,” writes someone, we know not who, for cbsnews in a release titled Romney: I’m The Consistent Conservative; Former Massachusetts Governor Says He Has Steady Republican Credentials.
No, Romney has been wildly inconsistent—here is but a small, small sample:
- debate performance: Romney flip-flops on Iran—again!—how many positions can one man have on the issue of Iran?
- Kornacki: Not the first time Romney has changed public position on abortion
By Romney’s own admission he has been wildly inconsistent. Regard: an excerpt from Dan Baiz and Michael D. Shaer’s take on the debate (titled Personal attacks pepper debate):
Romney was forced to defend positions he had taken in his 1994 Senate race against Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. In that race he supported abortion rights and said he would be a better choice for gay Americans than Kennedy.
“I was fighting against the liberal lion in perhaps the toughest state in America. And I’m pretty proud of what I was able to accomplish in that race, but nothing compares to the pride I have with the work that I was able to do as a governor,” Romney said … etc., etc.
Let us try to follow Romney’s, um, “reasoning”: I was fighting against the liberal lion—the liberal lion!?—in the toughest state in America, so
I had to adopt liberal positions?
I had to pretend to adopt liberal positions?
I had to persuade people that I held to their positions even though I didn’t?
What does this mean, precisely!?—what can this mean?—what it seems to mean is that Romney is a creature of convenience and expedience—and, moreover, he’s proud of it! OK, fine, but how is this in any way consistent? (Was he a mole for social conservatives?—a secret agent for the right?)
Back to cbsnews.com:
The former Massachusetts governor, who on Saturday won a straw poll of evangelicals at the Values Voter Summit, gave an exclusive interview to Face The Nation Friday night.
Correction: Romney did not win, at least not in any conventional sense—like everything else in Romney’s life Romney’s win was equivocal. See:
Back to cbsnews.com:
“I believe in the principles of my party,” Romney told Bob Schieffer. “And I believe that the only way that we’re going to take the White House is not by acting like Hillary Clinton, but by holding true to the principles of our party, which is a coalition of social, economic and foreign policy conservatives” … etc., etc.
And we believe that Romney’s flat denials of grim reality are precisely why he is the least effective of the Republican candidates. Regard: AmSpec’s Jennifer Rubin concluded her remarks on the last debate with these two lines: McCain is back in the fight and no one really laid a glove on Rudy. Someone eventually will have to or the race won’t change.
But gloves were laid on Rudy at the debate. And: the Romney Slime machine emits anti-Rudy noise almost continuously. See:
- an angry Romney continues to lash out against Giuliani
- Romney plans to attack Giuliani’s “anger”—not the first time Romney has riffed on Democrat talking points to attack another GOPer
The result of Romney’s constant attacks? Negligible. Think of words as units of exchange, as a form of currency, which, in a sense, they are. Now consider: Romney’s negatives are as high as his credibility is low. Hence: Romney has nothing to trade, and nothing reliable with which to guarantee the veracity of his claims—no personal prestige (gravitas), no commitment to the the truth, nothing. Romney simply isn’t credit worthy. Because Romney is a credit risk, he pays higher interest rates than the rest of us. This accounts—in part, at least—for Romney’s disastrously low ROI for his every campaign dollar. Mismanagement and incompetence probably account for a lot of it too. See:
The debate reviews are in. Romney avoided a major gaff but otherwise tanked.
… “I think it was a bad night for Romney,” writes eye of eyeon08.com. “Mitt can outtalk Fred,” observes James G. Poulos, “but not Mike Huckabee.” “All I can conclude for now is that Mitt Romney is the only guy who won’t show up on a national ticket with any one of the other guys” … etc., etc. … “Romney?”—asks AmSpec’s Jennifer Rubin rhetorically: “No ‘ask the lawyers’ moment but not his best outing and the side by side comparison to his opponents hurts him” …
“On paper, Mitt Romney seems the most attractive G.O.P. contender,” writes the fantastically insightful Jennifer Rubin in a NY Observer Op Ed titled Romney Can’t Believe He’s Losing to These Guys
He has business and executive experience, a fine family and no connection to the “Washington mess.”
Yet his chance to win the nomination is slipping away. His national poll numbers barely hit double digits, his New Hampshire lead is vanishing, and he’s spending millions of dollars just to keep afloat.
As he stood next to Fred Thompson at the Dearborn debate looking puzzled, one was reminded of the Saturday Night Live skit in which the Michael Dukakis character looked at the George H. W. Bush figure and said incredulously, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.”
There are several popular explanations, ranging from his now-renounced liberal past to his religion, but it is also something more fundamental than any of that: Mitt Romney is the least adept politician in the field and comes across as the least in tune to Republicans’ dominant concerns.
In interacting with voters, he often appears to be at a shareholders’ meeting, impatiently waiting out an obstreperous protestor so he can resume his prepared remarks.
In New Hampshire’s Red Arrow Diner earlier this year, he seemed unmoved as a waitress described her family’s medical difficulties, robotically informing her of his Massachusetts medical plan’s low deductibles.
And when he has been forced to think on his feet, he has displayed a remarkable tone-deafness. His “let the lawyers sort it out” answer to a question at a New Hampshire debate about the need to consult Congress about stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, a perfectly corporate approach to a nettlesome problem, was a perfectly awful answer. As all three of his major rivals piled on, he stubbornly insisted for days that his answer was just fine until forced to write an explanatory letter to The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Romney has also made a fetish of checking the policy boxes for social conservatives and rolling out a slew of policy papers with accompanying PowerPoint presentations. Voters soon sense that he has many ideas but little gravitas. He has lots of pitches—the “three-legged stool” of conservative values, “change” and “private sector experience”—but no overarching theme or core. If Mr. Giuliani is tough and Mr. Thompson is soothing, what is he?
Making matters worse, his manicured appearance and cautious language (he really likes “apparently”) fail to convey a robust commander in chief profile that conservatives crave. Promising to “double” the size of Guantanamo seems a comical attempt to keep pace with his more macho rivals.
As a result, Mr. Romney has the highest unfavorable rating of any candidate. He doesn’t seem to like his audience much, and they don’t like him … etc., etc.
The emphases are ours.
No theme. No core. No message. None. Nothing. Nothing but garbled noise. Who is Romney’s national communications director?—and why can’t he or she communicate!?
At last: journalists, editorialists, analysts—i.e. the media—are beginning to notice and to elaborate upon themes that we’ve been developing for months and months. Conclusion: Romney doesn’t like his audience, i.e. us. Anyone who has ever met the man can sense it. Anyone who has ever seen the man can read it in the furrows of his troubled brow.
Now even other campaigns are talking about it—we mean, finally they’re talking about it: Sen. McCain boldy states the obvious: Romney disrespects voters