Posts Tagged ‘Justin Hart’
“Bottom line: the Romney campaign made their bed with the early state primary strategy and got short-sheeted,” writes Justin Hart in a race42008.com blog burst titled, strangely, Autopsy of a Great GREAT Campaign
The momentum that Huckabee gained through his stunning Iowa win together with the victory that McCain edged out in New Hampshire seriously maimed the Romney narrative [...]
Hart refers to Romney’s ill-starred von Schlieffen plan, a plan that we criticized early and often. Romney’s von Schleiffen plan was an electoral-map fantasia so over-the-top preposterous that we always assumed that it was a cover for a more rational undertaking, an undertaking that required secrecy to pursue. We were wrong about that, and about a lot else besides.
John Ellis has a different take on the “Team Romney mounted a GREAT campaign” theme, one more consonant with our experience:
[...] The sad thing about the Romney campaign’s demise is that Mitt Romney is an exceptional person; highly intelligent, enormously hard-working, a man of great integrity and grit and executive ability. Given the dearth of talent in both parties — the seemingly endless parade of mediocrity and venality — we’re lucky to have people like Mitt Romney who are willing to get in the game. But he was terribly served by his campaign staff and advisors. I would argue that they win the worst campaign team of 2008. Good riddance to them. They had everything they needed to make a good run and they made a complete hash of it [...]
The problem: to explain just went wrong is surpassingly difficult as it requires the observer to interpret the data of the world differently than is otherwise the case. Byron York attempts such an explanation on personal and narrative grounds in an NRO article titled Why Romney Failed
[...] Romney made a lot of mistakes that didn’t seem like mistakes at the time. Drawing on his enormous success as a business consultant, he put together an impressively well-organized and professional campaign. That was good. But he never fully understood that the voters were looking for some spark in a candidate that connects him to them. Instead, Romney placed his faith in his magnificent organization and his PowerPoint analyses.
He hired a lot of people, spent millions to build organizations in key states, and then spent millions more for television and radio advertisements. The day after the Iowa caucuses, I dropped by WHO radio in Des Moines, and a top station official told me that Romney had been WHO’s second-biggest advertiser in 2007. (First was Monsanto farm chemicals.) In all, Romney pumped $1 million into WHO’s bank account. In South Carolina recently, a local politico marveled at how much money Romney’s in-state consultants made from the campaign. “Those guys made a mint out of him,” the politico told me. “It’s sinful how much they made.”
Yuh-huh. How much of the Romney phenomenon is the story of a super-rich ingenue getting bilked—just mercilessly fleeced—by a corrupt and cash-starved GOP party establishment?
Back to York:
As a result of all that spending, Romney ran a campaign on a deficit, deeply in debt. Of course, it was in debt to Romney himself, who put $35 million of his own money into the campaign as of December 31, and likely a lot more since. All that money freed Romney and his team from making some of the tough decisions that other campaigns had to make every day. You could argue either way whether that was good or bad.
Just before the Iowa caucuses, I was at a corporate headquarters outside Des Moines, asking a few questions of Eric Fehrnstrom, the press secretary who usually traveled with Romney. Fehrnstrom looked at Mike Huckabee’s campaign and saw a ragtag lot. “We’re going up against a loose confederation of fair taxers, and home schoolers, and Bible study members, and so this will be a test to see who can generate the most bodies on caucus day,” Fehrnstrom said.
I interrupted for a moment. “Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those groups?” I asked.
“Not that there’s anything wrong, but that’s just a fact,” Fehrnstrom continued. “That’s just where he has found his support. I have a theory about why Mike Huckabee holds public events in Iowa like getting a haircut or going jogging, or actually leaving Iowa and going to California to appear on the Jay Leno show. It’s because he doesn’t have the infrastructure to plan events for him. And when he does do events in Iowa, he goes to the Pizza Ranch, where you have a built-in crowd, so you don’t have to make calls to turn people out. We’re very proud of the organization we have built in Iowa.”
They had reason to be proud; it was a good organization. But in a bigger sense, they just didn’t understand what was going on. Fehrnstrom, like his boss, placed a lot of faith in Romney, Inc. How could a bunch of seat-of-the-pantsers like the Huckabee campaign possibly beat the Romney machine? Well, they could, in Iowa, and McCain could in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and then in Florida and on Super Tuesday. The race was never about the imposing infrastructure Romney had built. It was about that ineffable something that voters look for in candidates. With Huckabee, some of those voters saw an intriguing and refreshing figure. With McCain, a larger number saw someone who wanted, above all, to defend the United States. And with Romney — well, they didn’t quite know what to think [...]
This is the problem with positive feedback, say, success. Success often passes into a crisis of perception as people and organizations optimize for successful activities at the expense of a more thorough review of changing conditions etc. It is the very definition of the learning or the experience curve. Failure and tragedy are excellent teachers; but what works for us—our triumphs, our successes—affirms us in what we are already doing, and recedes into the half-consciousness of habit and routine.
But here the problem for the Romney campaign was always this: their success itself was never real. For example: Their highly professional organization was the best that money could buy, but that money was not a reliable indicator of the candidate’s success as a fund-raiser or fitness as a candidate. It was only ever an indicator of the candidate’s personal worth.
ROI, people. ROI. There is no more effective metric for the success of a message or a message campaign than the your Return on Investment, and Romney’s was always preposterously low.
[...] “The fact of the matter is that Massachusetts officials win in New Hampshire,” writes Holly Robichaud in a Herald.com blog burst titled Time for a graceful Romney exit
Nota: Robichaud identifies herself as [...] The Lone Republican in the Herald’s Monday Morning Briefing, is a successful GOP political strategist who is known for speaking her mind [...]
[MA officials, like the former Gov. of MA, Romney] don’t lose [in NH].
When Clinton first ran for President, he was the comeback kid for placing second to Tsongas. It would have been a significant victory if McCain had placed second, but he placed first. For McCain this is a mega victory and a mega loss for Romney.
There was no reason for Romney to lose in New Hampshire. He had the Massachusetts advantage. He owns a second home in the granite state. And he significantly out spent all of his opponents. Therefore, you must conclude that not only did Iowa voters completely reject Romney, but so did New Hampshire voters. There is no excuse for this loss. There is no credible spin for this spanking.
This loss also has ramifications for the General Election in November. If somehow Romney was to be the nominee, Republicans will most likely not be able to hold on to the White House [...]
Gary Matthew Miller of Truth vs. the Machine blog makes the same case on narrative grounds in a race42008 post titled It’s the Narrative, Stupid!
[...] Presidential campaigns also have a narrative. While I appreciate the Romney supporters attempt to change that narrative, here is the reality: Romney’s candidacy was predicated on 2 wins in Iowa and New Hampshire to slingshot him to the nomination.
Governor Romney may have a narrow lead in delegates. He may have more total cumulative votes than Senator McCain. But his narrative is broken. Badly.
Now we are told that Romney will prevail in Michigan because his father was governor there 40 years ago. I remember in 1988 the Kemp campaign was using a similar mantra to salvage a highly-touted candidacy that also had a broken narrative. Jack Kemp could stay in the race until California because a quarter-century prior he had quarterbacked the San Diego Chargers. Kemp’s narrative of how the campaign would play out had as much plausibility as Romney’s does in Michigan. Much like Romney is doing today, those of us involved with the Kemp campaign were touting delegate counts that had Jack essentially tied with Bush and Dole. But the narrative was broken with Bush’s triumph over Dole in New Hampshire where Kemp’s pristine anti-tax credentials were supposed to help him win the Granite State’s “Live Free Or Die!” crowd. It didn’t and the narrative passed Kemp by.
Some have valiently tried to draw parallels between 2008 and 1976. The problem is that Reagan, after losing New Hampshire by the narrowest of margins, still had his best states in front of him. Governor Romney has his best states in the rear view mirror [...]
Justin Hart issues this rejoinder to G.M. Miller:
[...] Gary – I agree with your sentiment but I disagree with your semantics. The early state approach is a strategy not a narrative. The narrative is “outsider with business prowess and experience on fixing things comes to Washington”.
I have to admit that the Romney camp did wed themselves very close to the early state strategy which makes the 2nd place finishes that much more painful. But I don’t think the narrative is broken [...]
We concur with Mr. Hart on this one. Mr. Miller seems to conflate the notion of a campaign narrative with the notion of an electoral scenario.
Here would the sad and despairing counterpoint to the emerging “Romney failed his won test and therefore should withdraw” fixed point, provided by Romney-sycophant and tireless Blogger-for-Mitt, Stanley Kurtz, in an NRO blog burst titled No Mentum
[...] This will probably not be a momentum-based campaign. If all the Republican candidates held roughly similar views (as with this year’s Dems), then a Romney loss in Michigan might be decisive. But in the Republican race, Romney holds a place (fairly mainstream conservative across the board) matched by no other candidate. Given the resistance of some portion of the conservative base to every other candidate, Romney would be foolish to drop out, even after a loss in Michigan. In fact, Romney stands to capitalize on what may well be the next big development in the race, the (relative) rise of Giuliani, at McCain’s expense [...]
[...] At that point, if he’s been smart enough to stay in the race, Romney will be in a position to benefit from the raging battle between McCain and Giuliani. That will allow all three candidates to make it to the convention. Huckabee is a bit of a wild card here. He may turn out to be a one hit wonder. But even if Huckabee soldiers on, it won’t change the basic picture. Huckabee’s evangelical support may be enough to keep him alive, but Huck’s unconventional views won’t allow him to gain clear front-runner status.
With so many Republican candidates distancing themselves from some key part of the base, no candidate will find it easy to consolidate the support of seemingly defeated rivals. With a field holding so many candidates who speak for competing wings of the party, and excluding others, the logic is for candidates to stay in the race as the last best hope of their base, and to prevent the “horror scenarios” represented by the alternatives.
Momentum is out and substance is in [...]
Momentum is out and substance is in. You don’t say. We have argued the same point—harped on that same string, as we like to say—since July of last year. On the 2nd of November we argued that the primary map was a “low mobility environment,” and that Romney had optimized himself for movement and momentum that simply wasn’t possible for him to ever achieve (see the “early state strategy” links below). We have argued these points ad nauseum:
- Chris Cillizza provides further evidence against the success of the Romney von Schlieffln plan
- Lunquist mistakes Romney for Kim Jong Il—claims former NYC mayor Giuliani already beaten
- Romney’s early state strategy; an investigation
- Romney’s early state strategy—an addendum
Question: What do Romney’s frantic and out-of-control efforts to implement his von Schlieffen fantasy reveal about Romney, Romney the man, Romney the leader? Note how the troubled candidate could not let go of Iowa when a better, abler, or wiser man would have walked away. Note the bewilderment of his own top staff.
Romney’s Kevin Madden “flabbergasted” at Team Romney’s helplessness against under-funded and un-organized Gov. Huckabee—Romney loses control of his spending says Carr—more on Romney’s fantastically low ROI for his every campaign dollar
Romney lesson #1: You do not spend credibility that you do not have on a game that you cannot win, especially when you know that you cannot win it. Or: Pursue that which buys you the most gain for the lowest cost, not the other way around. And if something costs you wildly more than it costs anyone else in the game, STOP and investigate, because something is wrong.
Our own assessment: Romney’s von Schlieffen plan was a ruse. Grim and slogging attrition leading up to a brokered convention was always Romney’s plan, and always his only hope. Expect the bitterest and most negative campaigning ever to begin about … now.
“James Dobson Declares Values Voters Still Have a Strong Voice; Calls Romney’s speech a “magnificent” reminder of faith’s role in politics and policy,” as reproduced by Justin Hart in a race42008.com post titled James Dobson on the Romney Speech
Colorado Springs, Colo. — Focus on the Family Action founder and chairman James C. Dobson, Ph.D., issued the following statement today in response to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s speech on “Faith in America”:
That’s interesting. Is there a vast Dobson responsa literature?
“Gov. Romney’s speech was a magnificent reminder of the role religious faith must play in government and public policy. His delivery was passionate and his message was inspirational. Whether it will answer all the questions and concerns of Evangelical Christian voters is yet to be determined, but the governor is to be commended for articulating the importance of our religious heritage as it relates to today.
Dobson’s reasoning is perverse on its face. Romney’s inoculation script—what bloggers refer to as The Speech—reminds us not that religious faith plays a role in government or public policy, but rather in US electoral politics as the Evangelical movement, whom Dr. Dobson purports to represent, maintain a bloc that Romney sorely wants to claim for his own. It is precisely Romney’s peril—his Agony-in-Iowa—that provoked Romney into finally delivering The Speech.
Please also note Dobson’s hedging and qualifying: “Whether it will answer all the questions and concerns of Evangelical Christian voters is yet to be determined” … etc. Dobson is right to be cautious. He’s been burned before for drawing too close to Romney, e.g. at the so-called Value Voters Summit:
Back to Dobson:
“Many in the media have been busily crafting the obituaries of ‘values voters’ in recent months. David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times, along with Tom Brokaw, Frank Rich and other liberal journalists, have been predicting a dramatic ‘Evangelical crackup’. They are dead wrong. Religion has already played a major role in this election cycle, and will continue to be evident through’08. The sanctity of human life, the institution of marriage and the care and nurturing of children will be important issues to people of faith as they choose a new generation of leaders. You can take it to the bank.
Here is Dobson’s real concern, his only concern: power, power in the form of the influence he once wielded in Republican party politics. Dobson uses the occasion of Romney’s abject humiliation—Romney’s being forced by Gov. Huckabee to dwell on the topic of his faith tradition—to lash out at voices in the media who had the audacity to suggest that Dobson’s power is on the wane.
“Again, Gov. Romney’s speech served as a reminder that religion has always played a significant role in electoral politics. Candidates who disregard the spiritual heritage of this great nation and its viability today will do so at their peril.”
Here Dobson corrects himself precisely where we suggested above—not government, not policy, but the marketplace-barnyard of electoral politics is Dobson’s concern. What Dobson means to say is this: “Candidates who disregard Evangelical elites like Dobson will do so at their peril.”
Here is the problem for Dobson: power—power not in the form of coercion, but rather power in the sense of group cohesion or social solidarity, what ibn Khaldun would call asabiya—never needs to justify itself or to argue for its own existence. And Romney’s speech is not a demonstration of Romney drawing strength from a vital movement or an historical source, but precisely the opposite—it is rather a demonstration of supreme weakness, almost helplessness on Romney’s part as he tries to attach himself to a base that has lost its coherence.
Moral: Dobson and Romney deserve one another.
P.S. About my subject line: apologies to Dylan Thomas and lovers of poetry everywhere.
“I knew it would happen when I pulled the trigger,” writes the estimable Justin Hart in a mymanmitt.com post titled “Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated”
I knew that Soren, Dotan, Flap and others would try to make hay out of the act. And they did. They did so for propaganda. They did so with a bit of vitriol. They did so without asking me to clarify why.
First know this, I am still very much here and will be blogging non-stop for Mitt. All I did was simply remove my name from the Faith and Values Steering Committee so that Soren, Dotan, Flap and others could not use it as a weapon against me … etc.
Vitriol!? Mr. Hart is our only friend. If you doubt please follow the link to our Facebook page and see for yourself.
Anyway: we are pleased to concede to every point that Mr. Hart raises. And we thank him for his clarification.
“Justin Hart has notified me that he has resigned from his position as a Vice Chair of the Romney campaign’s Faith and Values Steering Committee after I challenged himfor not disclosing that he was an official in the Romney campaign,” writes eyeon08.com in a post titled Blogger in contact with Western Wats resigns from Romney campaign
[Personal note: This sucks. We hope Mr. Hart continues to participate on race42008.com and we wish him all the best.]
Please: Go to eyeon08.com and read the rest. There’s more. E.g.: eye refers to a Liz Mair post where Mair concludes: So, a top pollster and the firm alleged to have made the calls in question both agree: consultants determine the questions and the call sample, calling firms solely execute the project
Why is this relevant? Well, it indicates very, very strongly that whoever orchestrated the calls wanted these particular respondents– who could be counted on to run to the media complaining about the calls– contacted. Certainly, it was not up to Western Wats (allegedly) to determine who was called, so it wasn’t an accident, mistake, oversight , or even deliberate action (perhaps to aid a candidate that some at the firm seem to strongly back) on their part that led to these people being called.
Of course, this still doesn’t move us that much closer to determining who commissioned the calls– but we do at least know now, with a very high degree of certainty, that the party that pushed them wanted people who would rush to the media, and had pre-existing biases included … etc.
Dear Team Romney: how many more of your crack campaign staffers must fall on their swords for you? You need to get ahead of this situation now, dudes. As we wrote elsewhere:
… Either prepare to die the death of a thousand cuts, or get your lazy pear-shaped side-ways organization in gear and get out in front of this. The only way you can do that is to
(a) immediately reveal everything that you know about this,
(b) mount your own investigation promise to take action against any staffer who may be involved.
You need to position yourself as being on the side of law and order. Right now, Team Romney, you’re behaving as if you’re hiding something.
Were you anything other than a joke-campaign—and if your negatives were not higher than space—we would further recommend mounting and circulating a vigorous counter-narrative. Do you remember Prosecutor Star and the constant revelations about Monica Lewinski etc. leading up to Pres. Clinton’s impeachment? Clinton partisans has a counter-narrative that they repeated constantly: THIS IS ALL ABOUT SEX. This would not work for you, however. Your candidate’s ultra-high negatives and icy-cold humanoid persona will not support a negative message.
In a race42008.com post titled Western Wats Speaks Some More … , the intrepid Justin Hart attempts to diffuse the push-poll scandal issue:
- … In many cases [insists Hart's source at Western Wats] they have no idea who the end client is. (this way they don’t taint the data one way or the other)
- [Hart's source]indicated that he would love nothing more than a political entity to force their hand on this and reveal the client. But his hands are tied.
- [Hart's source] believes that if the script is ever made available that the reaction will be “Is this all? that’s not a big deal” … etc.
Yes. Only the Romneys botched their response to the issue by cynically attempting to blame the intended victim of the smear, Sen. John McCain. See:
This blithering-idiot level mistake resulted in a grass-roots backlash so fierce that Team Romney can neither control nor even contain it:
… “But a far more conspiratorial take is gaining steam in the blogosphere,” writes Sam Stein for HuffPo in a release titled Could Romney Be Behind the Anti-Mormon N.H. Phone Calls?
The theory is that Romney’s campaign orchestrated the scheme, in hopes that the fallout would taint GOP rivals as character assassins.
On its face it seems preposterous. But commentators, online columnists, and political blogs are giving it increasing credence. And the idea is being talked about among insiders and higher-ups.
For starters, they note, the company behind the phone calls, Western Wats, is based in Orem, Utah, and its former executive, Ron Lindorf, is the founder of the BYU School of Business; meaning the anti-Mormon calls were, suspiciously, coming from a company with strong connections to the Mormon community. In addition, Western Wats’ past client list includes several high-profile Romney supporters. The company has worked for Allan Bense, the Florida House Speaker who chairs Romney’s Florida Statewide Steering Committee, and has made calls for Michigan State Representative Gary Newell, who serves on Romney’s Michigan Leadership Team.
Then, they say, there is the money. A review of campaign finance data reveals that Hugh Black, a programmer at Western Wats has donated $500 to the Romney campaign, while Jeffrey Welch, a business manager, offered up $500 of his own. Amanda Earnshaw, a dialer (the job title is often emphasized by others) maxed out with $2,300. And Neil Hahl, who is currently on the board of American Capital Strategies, which acquired Western Wats in 2005, gave $4,600, half of which was returned.
Asked about these reports, Kevin Madden Romney’s spokesperson responded: “Citizens have a right to donate, but we would reject outright any insinuation that these [calls] are tied to this campaign.”
Comment: Way to repeat the charge, Kevin. Shades of Nixon’s (in)famous “I am not a crook!”—or Pres. Clinton’s (in)famous “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinski.” Are you sure you’re not a mole for a rival campaign, Kevin? Back to Stein:
Even so, some sites have noted, there are direct personal relationships between Romney and Western Wats. Teena Lindrof, the sister-in-law to the founder and chairman of the company, is reportedly a friend and supporter of the former Massachusetts governor. And back in 2002, when Western Wats was seeking reimbursements from a customer service assessment agent, it was represented by Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn LLP, the firm of G. Scott Romney, Mitt’s brother … etc.
So an event that should have, or could have been a non-event—or an event that could have redounded to Romney’s credit since he was—perhaps, we suppose—one of the intended victims of the smear—has boomeranged back on Romney, and not because of anyone else but Romney. The same boomerang effect occurred when Romney-flunkie and famous dirty-trickster Paul Weyrich tried to smear the National Right to Life Committee:
Harris: “[Romney] should understand that despite their campaign’s every effort, groups like the National Right to Life Committee’s PAC (NLRC-PAC) cannot be bought”—the Romneys get taught another painful lesson in what it means to go negative when your own negatives are astronomically high
Memo to the political primitives of Team Romney: Are you beginning to detect a pattern, you super-geniuses? Dudes!—wake up!—your negatives are too high—and your candidate is too icy-cold—to support a negative message!
Has their ever been a more fabulously funded yet totally-completely inept campaign? Do we really want this man to be our president?—we mean, really?
“Romney brought all those skills to the table. [Romney's] most important one now is the built-in financial advantage that comes from his willingness to dip into his personal wealth, valued at $190 million to $250 million. To date, 27 percent of Romney’s receipts have come from his own pocket,” writes Jeanne Cummings in a politco.com puff piece titled
Jeanne Cummings hums Money Machine hums for Romney, a puff piece reproduced with commentary on race42008.com under the titled Politico: Ronmey best Positioned by the estimable Justin Hart.
Comment: Romney brings skills to the table. His most important one is money?—how is money a skill?—answer: it isn’t.
In the first nine months of this year, Romney raised $45 million from individuals for his primary bid — more than any of his rivals — and loaned $17.5 million to it. His total of $62.5 million in primary election contributions beats the second-place finisher, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, by more than $20 million.
More important, though, Romney’s willingness to spend his own cash has made the normally significant cash-on-hand advantage of his rivals meaningless. Already his adversaries are fretting over just how much he is prepared to lend his campaign in the critical final quarter … etc., etc.
What Cummings describes as Romney’s chief asset is Romney’s principal liability. Regard:
1. Romney’s ROI for his every campaign dollar is frighteningly low and falling lower
- market research reveals Romney’s freakishly-unprecedentedly low ROI for his every campaign dollar—Romney spends more but gets less in return than every other single candidate, Republican or Democrat—question: so does it really matter how much money Romney has or can spend?
- Kleefeld: “High Burn Rate Puts Romney Behind Rudy In Cash On Hand”—more evidence of the scarily low ROI Romney gets for his every campaign dollar
- Romney airs nearly 10,000 TV spots yet he still sags, lags, and drags in the polls—yet more evidence of Romney’s strikingly low return on investment (ROI) for his every campaign dollar
2. Romney’s self-financing cancels the learning opportunities that condition the development of other campaigns. Part of the primary process is learning—and learning how to learn—recruiting and challenging personnel, developing and testing messages, developing and testing the operational concepts based on those messages, developing relationships with journalists and other media, voters, interest groups, party elites, community organizations, learning how to gather, sift-sort-winnow, interpret, review, and act upon data etc., etc. The chief instrument of any practical learning experience is failure—what prompts or promotes transformation, adaptation, and reflection is failure. Success is a poor teacher; it reinforces existing behaviors. Our point: The Romney campaign has insulated itself from the costs of its own mistakes. Hence, it has eliminated any incentive to grow, adapt, or change on an operational level. Evidence:
Scherer: subtract the money Romney gave himself and Romney had just as much cash on hand in June as McCain did, a little more than $3 million—”at the time, this was seen as a disastrous state of affairs for McCain, prompting the departure of his top advisors”
3. Consider the distinction between power and direct influence. Here we borrow from Luttwak. For Luttwak power derives from consensus; people want to follow you; people want to do what you tell them; on some level a person or a group identifies with you and your interests. Hence, your costs are low. A person of power can make a phone call and inspire action. For our purposes, to directly influence someone is to provide an incentive or a subsidy, e.g. a paycheck, a grant, or a concession. Hence: direct influence is costly and brittle; you consume something when you attempt to directly influence others. When the instrument of influence disappears, so does the target behavior. Where power exists is in people’s attitudes and perceptions; it is therefore neither finite nor easily controlled, direct influence is more reliably definitive—i.e. prices may go up or down, but you tend to get what you pay for. Our point: Romney relies on direct influence far more than his rivals as evidenced by his massive spending—and this is consonant with Romney’s hyper-controlling management style.
- Example: Romney’s generous PAC spreading the love around e.g. SC.
- Example: Romney’s massive media buys.
- Example: Romney’s army of hirelings—consultants, technical specialists, political professionals.
All politics requires combinations of power and direct influence. The efficiency of a political entity—to paraphrase Luttwak—is the degree to which “direct influence is maintained as an inactive component of perceived power.” E.g. a state that enjoys power, i.e. consensus, can spend less to enjoin its laws and polices than a state that must rely on direct influence in the form of police formations, militias, or payoffs to influential persons or groups. Romney may command power in his close circle of equity-sector elites. But an index of Romney’s more general powerlessness—and continuing powerlessness—is his over-reliance on costly instruments of direct influence.
Hence, by this metric: Romney’s operation is wildly inefficient—borderline non-efficient, as indicated by Romney’s still-sagging poll numbers everywhere except where Romney has spent lots of money on instruments of direct influence, i.e. the early primary states.
Hence: Romney’s low and growing lower ROI for his every campaign dollar, which is our first point (1).
4. Combine (2) few learning opportunities, and (3) an over-reliance on direct influence, and you produce disasters for the Romney campaign like the value voters summit, a coordinated and precisely timed operation that Young Justin of the Heartland calls “classic Team Romney”:
- Dr. Don Wilton comes to his senses: retracts endorsement of Romney—this is the same Wilton that Justin Hart boasted of in his mymanmitt post titled The Ability to Execute
- Hart: Romney campaign unmatched in its ability to execute
- out-of-touch Evangelical “leaders” stunned by Huckabee upset at the value voters summit—prepared to sigh, shrug, and coronate Romney as their Lord, G_d, and King—oh, the irony!
Points (1)-(4) account for one of the Romney campaign’s core contradictions, its operational sophistication combined with its organizational primitiveness—it is like the Tsarist army—armed with with best weapons that could be purchased from Krupp or other arms manufacturers in the West, and drilled in the latest tactics by French or Prussian officers—but organized like a Mongol horde. Put simply, Romney rules by checkbook.
Moral: expect more, and more spectacular disasters from the Romneys. Why? Because Team Romney has no idea—not an inkling, not a clue—of the perilous conditions it has created for itself, or of the flood-tide of reaction even now conjuring against it from an entrenched political establishment enraged by a sense that the Romneys are not playing by the rules. Nor does Team Romney even care about these dangers so long as the money keeps flowing from Romney’s pockets. But not even Willard Milton Romney can buy off everyone.
This could be the most spectacular example in our generation of a corrupt political class bilking a naive and unprincipled sucker out of his many millions—well, next to George Soros, the super-easy-mark who got relieved of US$37,000,000.00 in 2004 by activists, operatives, party hacks and interest group cadres, and all for nothing.
“SPARTANBURG, S.C. (BP)–South Carolina pastor Don Wilton said Oct. 23 he made a “personal error” in agreeing to support the campaign of Mitt Romney for president” reads a Baptist Press release titled Wilton: Romney endorsement a mistake
The pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg and a former president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, Wilton said the Romney campaign has agreed to withdraw all references to his endorsement of Romney as a candidate.On Oct. 19, the Romney campaign issued a press release stating Wilton had “announced his support for Governor Mitt Romney and his campaign.” The release, which received attention from national media, quoted Wilton as saying, “We need someone in Washington who will stand up for traditional families and Governor Romney is that person.” It also said that while they disagreed on theology, “his values are my values — protecting the sanctity of human life, defending marriage and strengthening the family.”
But Wilton now says that endorsement was a mistake.
“While I did give my consent to the local campaign to use my affirmation of the Governor’s stance on family values in my capacity as an individual citizen, I made the mistake of not realizing the extent to which it would be used on a national basis,” Wilton said. “It was my personal error to agree to support Romney’s campaign. Until this incident I had never endorsed any person running for any elected office, Democrat or Republican” … etc., etc.
Translation: I got played by the Romney campaign.
Young Justin of the Heart Land touts the “endorsement” of Dr. Don Wilton as if it were a scalp hanging from young Justin’s belt. Wilton is actually named in Young Justin’s “plan,” a plan that Young Justin calls “Classic Team Romney”:
Day of straw poll – Final endorsement before the conference ends. This time taken from another campaign. (check – Dr. Willkie founder of a pro-life effort) … etc., etc.
Here is what we wrote in response to Young Justin of the Heart Land’s arrogant claims about his organizational prowess:
Hey, Justin?—just as an aside—do you think Evangelicals like being touted—shown off like war-trophies—in your blog-post? Do you think they appreciate you depicting them as the passive objects of your misguided communications campaign? (How can Boy Perkins deny the charge of being a sell-out, or, worse, a patsy, now?) Don’t you think they would rather be depicted as thinking, reasoning beings who arrived at a decision for Romney based on their own estimation of the candidates, their values, and their goals? Just a thought, dude. But, hey, you’re doing a great job!—for former Mayor Giuliani … etc., etc.
Answer: Apparently Evangelicals don’t like being treated like swag at a swap meet—go figure! You can read more about it here: Hart: Romney campaign unmatched in its ability to execute
Romney, dear. You have a problem. It is not your Mormonism. It is not even your flip-flopping or ideological cross-dressing. We are increasingly convinced that it’s your crack communications team. And by “crack” we mean that they must be smoking crack.
“None of this happens by accident,” writes young Justin of the Heart Land in a preening and self-congratulatory MyManMitt post titled The Ability to Execute.
The plan is laid, the efforts set and the execution is nearly flawless. Classic Team Romney.
The plan is laid?—who talks like this? This sounds too much like the trap is set.
Young Justin refers to the value voters summit:
Take this last week for example. Think of it in terms of a business case study, outlining the “challenge”, proposing a “solution”, targeting specific “benefits” and measuring “results”.
CHALLENGE: Disolve concerns about Mitt’s Mormonism among Conservative Evangelicals.
SOLUTION: Highlight the Governor as the only leading candidate meeting 100% of the SoCon values and win endorsements from leading Evangelicals leading up to the seminal pre-primary “Values Voters” conference.
BENEFITS: Develop day after day endorsements followed by a good showing at the straw poll giving serious momentum to the campaign among Evangelicals and building qualified talking points to address the Mormon question.
EXECUTION PLAN … etc., etc.
Only here is the problem. The “plan” backfired painfully. The endorsers backed away in horror when they realized that their activists and donor base had refused to follow their lead. See:
- out-of-touch Evangelical “leaders” stunned by Huckabee upset at the value voters summit—prepared to sigh, shrug, and coronate Romney as their Lord, G_d, and King—oh, the irony!
- Pat Robertson: value voters summit represents “a narrow slice of Evangelical thought”
What the Romneys need is less of a Justin Hart let-us-delight-in-our-superior-organization approach, and more of an outcomes based approach that focuses on what we in the working world call results.
Hey, Justin?—just as an aside—do you think Evangelicals like being touted—shown off like war-trophies—in your blog-post? Do you think they appreciate you depicting them as the passive objects of your misguided communications campaign? (How can Boy Perkins deny the charge of being a sell-out, or, worse, a patsy, now?) Don’t you think they would rather be depicted as thinking, reasoning beings who arrived at a decision for Romney based on their own estimation of the candidates, their values, and their goals? Just a thought, dude. But, hey, you’re doing a great job!—for former Mayor Giuliani.
Back to young Justin:
Regardless of what you think about “Romney the candidate”… “Romney the campaign” is unmatched in its ability to execute …
Here is what impressed us the most about Justin’s strange epistle: Justin, by his own admission, really doesn’t care what you think about “Romney the candidate.” Rather, he wants you to marvel at how the campaign plans and executes. What sort of message does this send? What sort of campaign is this? What sort of candidate is this? Is there anyone in charge over at Team Romney? Any adults, we mean? Is anyone thinking any of this through? We would really like to know.
“You don’t try to win straw polls as proof of your national success among a group of voters,” writes the estimable Romney sycophant, young Justin of the Heart-Land, in a petulant and hectoring complaint titled This is why you win straw polls.
You don’t try to win straw polls as proof of momentum. You don’t try to win straw polls as solid proof of your chances at victory.
You DO try to win straw polls to gain free press to accomplish all three of the above. In other words: straw polls are a means to an end and not the end itself.
The all-caps are a nice touch, Mr. Hart. Are you having a bad morning?
Yes, we get it, even without the all-caps shouting: you win straw polls as proof of momentum. But it necessarily follows that an equivocal win constitutes a dubious proof, right?—the whole point is that Romney’s so-called win is contested. See:
Young Justin of the Heart-land begs the question, i.e. he assumes in advance the premise that Romney won when precisely what is at issue is whether, and to what degree, Romney won. This is yet another example of Romney or a surrogate attempting to blur the distinction between claiming to have established a claim and actually establishing a claim: