Posts Tagged ‘NYT’
In an ABC News blog burst titled Romney Camp Laments, John Berman Reports: The remnants of the Romney campaign are shaking their heads this morning.
For months they were whispering about a New York Times investigation into John McCain’s ties to a certain lobbyist.
They would poke and prod reporters to see if they had heard anything new about when and if the New York Times would publish the story.
On Thursday, while no one would allow their name to be published, several former advisers lamented the timing of the story, one suggesting, “If this piece had run before New Hampshire, McCain would have lost. If it had run before Florida, he would have lost” [...]
[...] Most of Romney’s staff has dispersed, but when reached they made clear there would be no statement from Romney or the Romney team about the New York Times piece … just a lot of wondering about what might have been [...]
Here is what would have been: You would have still discovered a way to fail. So: Let it go, losers. Just go home. You had lots of second chances and you blew them all. See:
John Ellis: [Romney] “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”
Also: the NYT smear will redound to Sen. McCain’s benefit.
[...] “Apparently the word is going around Team Romney that McCain will need 77 percent of the delegates remaining to win,” writes Romney sycophant Jim Geraghty in an NRO Campaign Spot blog burst titled Romney Fighting All The Way To The Convention?
(I’m pretty sure that’s wrong, if the numbers 720-256-194 are accurate. And if McCain, the guy in the 600-700s needs to win an extremely high percentage, doesn’t Romney, the guy in the 200s, have to win an even higher percentage?)
However, if Romney stays in, it’s very plausible to see a scenario in which he denies McCain the nomination on a straight delegate victory. This would result in some really, really rough coverage and criticism. I’m hearing some fans of Mitt talk about doing something like this to “keep McCain honest” and to broker concessions in St. Paul.
We’ll see. If the sense is that his campaign isn’t being run to win, but being run to make a point, I think you’ll see his support in subsequent states drop … I’m not sure the Romney campaign was built to be a protest candidacy [...]
Um, we’re not so sure either. A protest candidate? Romney?
[...] “Al Cardenas, a member of Mr. Romney’s national finance team and his Florida chairman, said the campaign could still achieve certain goals, including pushing a conservative agenda, while hoping for the outside possibility of winning the nomination,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Losses Aside, Romney Puts Convention on Calendar
“You’ve got a chance to win the nomination based on either getting the required number of delegates in the first round,” Mr. Cardenas said, “or having a campaign that results in no one have the required number of delegates in the first round, which is maybe a more tangible goal.”
Mr. Romney’s advisers had said that if he reached only 300 delegates by Tuesday, a threshold he fell short of, he would essentially have to win every remaining contest, often by large margins because most of them allocate delegates proportionally.
Charlie Black, a senior strategist for Mr. McCain, put out a strategy memorandum on Wednesday that made a similar argument. McCain advisers said that, by conservative estimates, they expected to wrap up the nomination by early March.
“I will not say, in order to stay consistent with my boss’s superstition, which I share, that it’s impossible for these guys to get nominated,” said Mr. Black, referring to Mr. Romney and Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, “but it is virtually impossible just based on the arithmetic of the matter.”
But Mr. Romney’s advisers have been discussing three categories of delegates: those that have been already been awarded and bound to a candidate; those that have been promised but are not technically bound; and those that have not yet been allocated.
The goal would be to continue to battle, hoping that Mr. Romney starts to sweep up states, and then arrive at the convention with no clear winner and the momentum to wrest some of those promised but not officially bound delegates into his column.
Mr. Romney appeared to allude to this possibility in his speech on Tuesday night, promising to take the Republican race “all the way to the convention” [...]
The emphases are ours, all ours.
We harp more on this string here:
[...] “In a measure of just how dire the situation is for the campaign, Mr. Romney’s advisers have been discussing the existence of three different categories of delegates: those that have been already been awarded and bound to a candidate; those that have been promised to someone but are not technically bound; and those that have not yet been allocated,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT The Caucus blog burst titled Romney Prepared to Keep On Going
They are mapping out a farfetched possibility premised on conservative fears continuing to fester against Mr. McCain, which they hope fuels a series of wins for Mr. Romney and then perhaps get him to a point where he has enough momentum to wrest some of those promised but not officially bound delegates into his column at a contested convention.
Mr. Romney appeared to even allude to this potential route in his speech on Tuesday night, promising to take the contest “all the way to the convention.”
“There’s a whole lot of scenarios that get us there,” Tagg Romney said [...]
Yeahright. A lot of scenarios. More than ever. Possibilities everywhere. Options abound. But the scenario Tagg Romney suggests is singular, pointed, clear, and perilous. It consists in an attempt to nullify the expressed counsel of Republican primary voters—i.e. the returns of the primary contests themselves—by turning-around promised but technically not bound party delegates. It also consists in continuing to drive up Sen. John McCain’s negatives to undermine any claim the man has to being electable in November, as Luo indicates below:
[...] Tagg Romney also seemed to allude to his father’s continued willingness to pour his own money into his presidential bid, saying the campaigning hope is that conservative alarm about Mr. McCain continues to grow, allowing the campaign to still “fund-raise outside as well as from my dad and make this a real battle” [...]
So, what should we call Romney’s newest and probably boldest yet hare-brained scheme? We haven’t decided yet. But think about it, friends, fans, and well-wishers. Romney is supposed to be a dispassionate android number-cruncher problem-solver, a man of facts, data, and detail, a man of argument and not affect, a man of reason and not rebellion. So why is Romney behaving like a desperate out-of-control wannabee Captain Ahab or Richard III, i.e. a drastic figure willing to sacrifice everything and everyone? What in this man’s past would have predicted this? And what else do we not know about Romney?
Who, we would ask again, is Willard Milton Romney?
“An interview with John McCutcheon, a state consultant for Mitt Romney, made clear why he is expected to win easily,” writes the estimable Michael Luo for the Caucus, The NYT Political blog, in a post titled Romney at the West Virginia Convention
[Credit: Kavon W. Nikrad]
“We have had the only organizational presence in West Virginia to speak of,” said John McCutcheon, a state consultant for Mr. Romney. “It’s all Romney all the time.”
Mr. McCutcheon, who has been working with Mr. Romney since 2006, when he had only a national political action committee. The campaign’s field director, Wendy McCuskey, was hired over the summer. In all, the campaign has three paid people in the state, along with hundreds of volunteers.
Early on, the campaign had believed West Virginia might be one of the early voting states before Feb. 5. Even after it became clear that would not happen, the campaign still poured out significant resources in the state.
Mr. McCutcheon described an ambitious county-by-county ground operation, complete with phone-banking, direct mail and radio advertisements, compared to only modest efforts made by all the other candidates.
“Any presence that has come in has been last minute and skeletal,” he said about the other campaigns [...]
Yet Romney’s investment was all for naught. Romney got out-maneuvered by his under-funded rivals. Romney’s response? A burst of rage in the form of a press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kevin Madden (857) 288-****
Boston, MA – Today, Romney for President Campaign Manager Beth Myers issued the following statement regarding the outcome of West Virginia’s Republican Party convention:
“Unfortunately, this is what Senator McCain’s inside Washington ways look like: he cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney’s campaign of conservative change.
“Governor Romney had enough respect for the Republican voters of West Virginia to make an appeal to them about the future of the party based on issues. This is why he led on today’s first ballot. Sadly, Senator McCain cut a Washington backroom deal in a way that once again underscores his legacy of working against Republicans who are interested in championing conservative policies and rebuilding the party.”
Yuh-huh. Note the anger. Note the name-calling. Note to Romney: This is the price you pay for alienating the other candidates. See:
how friend and foe alike make careful note of Romney’s duplicity—on Santorum’s endorsement of Willard Milton Romney, where we discuss the “I hate Romney club”
“ATLANTA — Mitt Romney is leading a citizen revolution, or at least that is what he has been telling people these last few days as he has tries to right his bid for the Republican nomination,” writes the estimable Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Meet the New Mitt Romney, the Anti-Insider Populist
It may seem an unlikely role for a PowerPoint-loving, buttoned-down multimillionaire, but there Mr. Romney was, on stage Monday here in his starched white shirt and tie, raising his voice to be heard above the crowd and portraying himself as the anti-establishment insurgent.
“It’s time for the politicians to go and the citizens to come into Washington!” he said, drawing a roar from the several hundred gathered at his feet [...]
[...] It was in New Hampshire that he settled on a theme about Washington’s being broken and his ability to bring change.
But with Mr. McCain now threatening to run away with the nomination, Mr. Romney has melded the old with the new, lobbing conservative grenades once again while talking about change. His latest script is calculated to sound the alarm over the prospect of Mr. McCain as the Republican nominee.
“In our party right now, there’s a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” he said, addressing an enthusiastic audience on Sunday at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill., a rock-ribbed Republican suburb of Chicago. “Which way are we going to go? Are we going to take a sharp left turn in our party, get as close as we can to Hillary Clinton, without being Hillary Clinton?” [...]
[...] Conservative commentators, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, have thrown their support behind him or sharply criticized Mr. McCain, something that Mr. Romney now regularly cites.
Their influence, he said, helped lead him to victory in the Maine caucuses over the weekend.
“All the power structure was behind him,” Mr. Romney said in Glen Ellyn, in reference to Mr. McCain. “But you know what? Conservative voices on talk radio and news magazines, they got behind me and said, ‘This guy Romney’s the guy’ ” [...]
[...] Mr. Romney has been making more of an effort to cultivate the news media as part of his refashioned candidacy. When he sauntered back onto a flight on Saturday, he broke the ice with an unusual remark.
“What did they say in ‘Star Wars?’ ” he asked. “What’s that line? ‘There’s nothing happening here. These droids aren’t the droids you’re looking for.’ ”
Eric Fehrnstrom, his traveling press secretary, said it had actually been rendered: “These are not the droids you are looking for.”
“These are not the droids you’re looking for,” Mr. Romney said. “Sorry” [...]
So why has Romney suddenly recast himself from android data-cruncher, problem-solver into an outraged everyman Howard Beale figure? Bryan Dumont, a guest contributer to Virtual Vantage Points offers us a clue. His conclusions are based on an APCO World Wide emotional factors analysis of the GOP and Democratic candidates. Says Dumont:
[...] On the Republican side, McCain has a stronger link with voters on all the nine emotional dimensions essential to building a strong brand relationship. However, he has a slightly weaker link on Approachability, relative to other key emotional factors. Compared to other emotional dimensions, Huckabee’s key emotional strength is building a sense of Identification with Republican voters. Meanwhile, the Emotional Factor tool indicates that Republican voters have yet to connect to Romney on an emotional level. He falls far behind all of the other Republican candidates on every emotional dimension [...]
From the APCO study itself:
[...] Gov. Mitt Romney has the weakest emotional connection with GOP voters overall. Romney is also building weaker emotional links with his supporters than the other candidates are with their supporters. Our study indicates that Romney has a particular vulnerability on Warmth—described as a sense of personal admiration and fondness [...]
[...] All of the nine emotional dimensions are fairly equal in their impact in driving voters’ candidate preferences. However, among both Democratic and Republican likely voters, Relevance is the most important emotional driver. Building a sense that the candidate “fits who I am” and “speaks to me” is the most important emotional link in driving voter choice; while Approachability and Familiarity are less decisive. Republican voters are slightly more driven by Pride in their candidates than Democratic voters as a deciding factor in how to vote [...]
The emphases are ours, all ours.
Comment: Yuh-huh. So Romney’s “anti-insider populism” is Romney’s absurdist, fantasy-land solution to the problem of how to develop an emotional connection with voters. It is a play for Relevance, however misguided. This is beyond farce. This is risible on its face. This is vanity politics.
Oh, and by the way, according to Wonkosphere, Romney has dropped to less than half of Sen. John McCain’s buzz share on the very eve of super-duper apocalypse Tuesday.
Romney descends to 12; Sen. McCain remains steady at 30.
[...] “Operating in survival mode, Mr. Romney’s circle of advisers has come up with a detailed road map to try to salvage his campaign,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Romney Maps a Strategy for Survival
The plan is complete with a new infusion of cash from Mr. Romney, a long-term strategy intended to turn the campaign into a protracted delegate fight and a reframing of the race as a one-on-one battle for the future of the party that seeks to sound the alarm among conservatives about Mr. McCain.
The advisers have drawn up a list of states, dividing and ranking them into those considered relatively easy and inexpensive targets, along with a broader grouping of more costly battlegrounds where the advisers hope that Mr. Romney can be competitive.
Some states like Arizona and Arkansas, the home states of Mr. McCain and Mike Huckabee, respectively, are largely written off.
The question is whether the planning, along with the campaign’s one trump card, the candidate’s vast wealth, can overcome the growing sense of inevitability that has begun to attach itself to Mr. McCain.
Complicating the outlook, Mr. Romney’s campaign has been racked by infighting over advertising strategy between some senior advisers, including some consultants who joined the campaign after leaving Mr. McCain’s [...]
[...] The most serious obstacle in many places is Mr. Huckabee, who continues to pull social conservative voters from Mr. Romney.
“The more the Romney strategy hinges on picking up red states, the bigger a factor Mike Huckabee is going to be,” Mr. Harris said [...]
Only Romney precluded the possibility of ever reaching out to Gov. Huckabee voters when he went viciously negative against the candidate so many, many moons ago.
- Romney’s viciously negative attacks on Gov. Huckabee in Iowa still returning rich dividends for the hapless candidate from Bain Capital
- Cost: Romney’s furiously negative campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire may have already cost Romney the nomination by alienating Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain voters
- Luntz: “Romney made a ‘big mistake’ by going negative against Huckabee”—how a Faustian Romney rages against the laws of physics
But here would be a positive development for Romney. Romney’s anger may have turned on Team Romney itself. Romney may finally be thinking over whether his own organization is the cause of many of his woes.
[...] “The day after Feb. 5, Mr. Romney said he anticipated he would begin reviewing with his campaign team what states to go to next, as well as the budget. Mr. Romney seemed to allude to the possibility of downsizing his staff after Feb. 5,” writes Michael Luo in another NYT article, this time titled Romney Vows to Push on Past Tuesday
Yes. Only Romney may be pushing on past Tuesday with fewer of his hirelings and hangers-on to attend him.
“I mean, we have a very substantial staff, as you know, not what’s here but back in Boston,” he said. “And we had a big staff in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire. That’s a much larger staff than you have as you go on to these subsequent primaries, so who are the people needed, where are we going to need them, what’s the campaign budget going to look like, all of those things.”
In typical Romney fashion the hapless candidate turned and flatly denied what he had just stated.
But then when pressed about the issue during a news conference in Minneapolis, he said there had been no discussions about downsizing [...]
But note what Romney said: “There had been no discussions”—does Romney mean that no one among his staff had discussed the issue of downsizing?—so was Romney riffing with reporters about plans he is developing independent of the candidate’s spectacularly ineffective personnel? Recall: This is the same lavishly funded and superbly equipped organization that delivered Romney Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and other humiliating defeats.
“A memo from a senior strategist for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says that the media are ready to give the Republican nomination to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), but if Romney can attract more conservatives, he will win the nomination,” writes Sam Youngman in a TheHill.com analytical fantasia titled Romney memo says media ‘ready to anoint McCain’
“We still have an uphill battle in front of us,” Romney strategist Alex Gage wrote in the memo. “The mainstream media is (sic) ready to anoint John McCain and he will have advantages in many states running for president for the past eight years – but Gov. Romney has a clear path to victory on February 5th and beyond.”
The memo, obtained by The Hill, outlines how McCain has failed to win over conservative voters in the states that have voted so far, and it details how Romney could have won if only a few more percentage points of that bloc had come over.
“The coalitions that John McCain assembled in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida have been strikingly similar – and are strikingly tenuous,” Gage wrote [...]
[...] The memo goes on to say that Romney and McCain “are now in a two-man race and a few points’ movement among conservatives is all that’s needed to tip the scales in favor of Gov. Romney.”
Gage writes that in the early three states McCain won, his margin of victory was the result of the support of moderates, independents and voters that disapprove of the Bush administration.
“None of these groups is a majority of the Republican electorate,” Gage wrote, adding that this is the reason “McCain has failed to win more than 36 percent of the vote in any of them” [...]
Gage’s conclusions are based on an emerging fixed point in the discussion. Sen. McCain can reach across party lines to build issues coalitions; Romney can win the base. Chris Suellentrop develops the data coming out of Florida’s contest to arrive at a similar conclusion:
[...] In short, Mitt Romney won the Republican Party’s idea of itself and that, too, is a big deal. If you’re white, Protestant, anti-abortion, go to church on Sundays, think well of the President, want lower taxes, hate terrorists, make a good living, want to do something about immigration, and live in Florida, chances are you voted Romney. The question before Florida was whether McCain could win a closed Republican race, and now we know he can. The question now is whether he can win conservatives and in Florida, he did not [...]
Here, for Romney, begins what we earlier called the race to the base.
Hence Romney’s sudden volte face on whether to mount a last ditch advertising salvo. On January 30 David Espo of the AP reported that “Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney signaled Wednesday he’s not ready to finance a costly campaign in the states holding primaries and caucuses next week.“
By February 1 Dan Morain and Scott Martelle of the LA Times issued the headline: Romney launches Super Tuesday ad barrage; The multimillion-dollar campaign in far-flung states, he hopes, will help him regain the edge he’s losing to McCain. Experts question whether ads will help at this point
[...] Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney launched a multimillion-dollar purchase of television ads Thursday, in a last-ditch effort to remain competitive with GOP presidential front-runner John McCain in the Super Tuesday contests.
Sources familiar with Romney’s plans said the ad buy would exceed $1 million in California alone, enough to give the former Massachusetts governor a presence in much of the state. Romney also was expected to spread some money around to some of the other 20 states holding GOP primaries or caucuses Tuesday, though experts question whether the late advertising would have any impact.
“I don’t think it’s possible to flood the airwaves in 22 states,” Romney said, but he nevertheless authorized “a seven-figure — I won’t give you the exact number — but a seven-figure advertising buy for our campaign.”
After a series of single-state contests in which voters could shake candidates’ hands, the Republican presidential nomination could be decided by millions of voters casting their ballots after having seen the candidates only in advertisements or news reports.
Those political ads depend on candidates’ ability to pay for them, and with the fields in both parties dwindling this week, the surviving candidates looked to pick up the support of former candidates’ fundraisers and bundlers [...]
Can Romney pull off this last chance, high-stakes, 11th hour, and super-expensive gambit? Can Romney secure his nomination and destroy the GOP? Keep watching the skies. Or the airwaves.
Haven’t we all been here before?
[...] “Many professional conservatives do not regard Mike Huckabee or John McCain as true conservatives,” writes David Brooks in a NYT editorial titled The Voters Revolt
“I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party,” Rush Limbaugh said recently on his radio show. “It’s going to change it forever, be the end of it.”
Some of the contributors to The National Review’s highly influential blog, The Corner, look to Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney to save the conservative movement. Their hatred of McCain is so strong, it’s earned its own name: McCain Derangement Syndrome.
Yet a funny thing has happened this primary season. Conservative voters have not followed their conservative leaders. Conservative voters are much more diverse than the image you’d get from conservative officialdom.
In South Carolina, 34 percent of the Republican voters called themselves “very conservative,” but another 34 percent called themselves only “somewhat conservative” and another 24 percent called themselves “moderate.” Only 28 percent of the primary voters there said that abortion should be “always illegal.” This, I repeat, was in South Carolina, one of the most right-wing places in the country.
While various conservative poobahs threaten to move to Idaho if Huckabee or McCain gets the nomination, the silent majority of conservative voters seem to like these candidates. Huckabee has done very well among evangelical voters while loudly deviating from conservative economic orthodoxy. John McCain leads among Republicans nationally. He has a 71 percent favorable rating and a 23 percent unfavorable rating. He has a 63 percent favorability rating among Huckabee supporters, 66 percent favorability among Romney supporters and 81 percent favorability among supporters of Rudy Giuliani. These are much higher second choice ratings than any other candidate.
McCain’s winning coalition in South Carolina was pretty broad. He lost among the extremely conservative but won among the somewhat conservative and the moderates. He lost among those who go to church more than once a week, but won among weekly churchgoers. He won among those who strongly support the Bush administration and among those who are angry at the Bush administration, among those who strongly support the war and among those who strongly oppose it. He won every income group over $30,000.
Even among people who want to deport every immigrant, McCain only lost to Huckabee by 34 percent to 26 percent.
The fact is, this has been a bad year for the conservative establishment. Fred Thompson was supposed to embody the party line, but he has fizzled (despite being a good campaigner the past month). Rudy Giuliani proposes deep tax cuts that do not seem to excite. Mitt Romney ran as the movement candidate in Iowa and New Hampshire and grossly underperformed. Now he’s running as a nonideological business pragmatist for the exurban office parks, and his campaign has possibilities.
The lesson is not that the conservative establishment is headed for the ash heap. The lesson is that the Republican Party, even in its shrunken state, is diverse. Regular Republican voters don’t seem to mind independent thinking. There’s room for moderates as well as orthodox conservatives. Limbaugh, Grover Norquist and James Dobson have influence, but they are not arbiters of conservative doctrine [...]
The emphases are ours, all ours.
[...] “Over in Michigan, the Republican voters clearly had the same thought on Tuesday when they went out and gave their primary win to a candidate absolutely no one would want to have a beer with,” writes Gail Collins in an NYT editorial titled The Anti-Charm Offensive
(Or in his case, a bracing lemonade.) Mitt Romney! Mitt Romney!Michigan voters are so frightened of falling into permanent economic collapse that they’ll grab onto almost anything. Romney, the native son who lived in Michigan in the Eisenhower era, played them for all they were worth. He was going to bring back the old-time auto industry and the rest of the 1950s with it. There was no lost job that could not be retrieved under Mitt’s skilled-businessman’s supervision. He’d bring them all home!
Human nature being what it is, you have to give politicians a pass for one pander per primary. (The Democrats have spent the last week in Nevada arguing about who is the most against a federal plan to store used nuclear fuel in Yucca Mountain as if it were a plot to tax air.) But in Michigan, Romney went way over quota.
He told the auto executives that they were being picked on when Congress required fuel efficiency to reach 35 m.p.g. by 2020. (Washington told Detroit to improve mileage in 1975, and just 32 years later, here’s Big Brother, harping again.) And he promised $20 billion in federally funded research and development to get the auto industry back on track.
Let’s see, $20 billion for Michigan, and 46 states left to go. We’re looking at nearly a trillion dollars in potential pander just to get Mitt to the conventions. We won’t have to worry about Congress doling out pork anymore — Romney will give the entire store away himself.
In his victory speech, Romney said his inspiration came from “Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.” I’m not sure how Reagan would have felt about that $20 billion, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time the words “George Herbert Walker Bush” and “inspiration” have appeared in the same sentence [...]
Yuh-huh. And it suddenly occurs to York of the formerly conservative NRO—the knuckle-draggers who endorsed Romney for president—how Romney’s proposal to MI will play in the upcoming primary contests:
[...] “if Romney’s success in Michigan prompts more and more candidate attention to economic issues, the campaign will take on a new, decidedly post-war-on-terror feel,” writes Byron York of the National Review in a The Corner post titled Message: We Care
And if that happens, it will probably go in directions that few conservatives are happy with. When candidates start talking about easing voters’ pain, there’s no telling what they will promise – Romney’s $20 billion check to the auto industry might be just the beginning [...]
Well, duh. We make the same case here:
[...] 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” [...]
We conclude this sad blog burst with an excerpt from an editorial by the Washington Times:
[...] “No doubt [Romney] will soon saturate Florida’s airwaves the way he bombarded Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan,” write the crack editorialists of the Washington Times in an article titled Romney’s Michigan Win
Too bad Mr. Romney continues to refuse to tell voters how much of his personal wealth he spent during the fourth quarter even as he ratchets up his personal spending throughout the critical month of January.
… Mr. McCain told Michigan voters what they know in their hearts to be true. Those auto jobs are gone. But they chose to believe, at least for a day, Mr. Romney’s dubious optimism, which, if he is elected in November, will surely become one of the first campaign promises he will have to break [...]
We can only hope he breaks it. Now that Romney could actually end up as our president, we need to hope and pray that his lies and duplicities work in our favor.
[...] “Meanwhile, the Republican prospects in the fall just got even dimmer,” writes David Brooks in an NYT Campaign Stops blog burst titled Republicans Brawl, Democrats Yawn
I say this not only because a weak general election candidate won a primary, but because Mitt Romney’s win pretty much guarantees a bitter fight for the nomination. If you doubt that, here is what Rush Limbaugh said about McCain and Huckabee on his program today: “I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it.” This week, Rush and his radio mimics have been on the rampage on the party’s modernizers, from Newt Gingrich on over.
Dear reader, were you aware that Romney’s Bain Capital recently acquired Clear Channel?
Rush Limbaugh is owned and operated by Romney.
Back to Brooks:
This thing will only get uglier.
Second, Mitt Romney found, as Hillary would say, his voice. I remember watching him campaign at a financial company about 6 months ago. He talked about business and was fantastic. The next event was at a senior citizen center. He was ideological and dreadful. In Michigan, the full corporate Mitt was on display.
His campaign was a reminder of how far corporate Republicans are from free market Republicans. He proposed $20 billion in new federal spending on research. He insisted that Washington had to get fully engaged in restoring the United States automotive industry. “Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner,” he said, “not a disinterested observer.” He vowed, “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.”
This is how the British Tory party used to speak in the 1970s [...]
Well, duh. What Romney describes is redolent of the “social market economies” of post-war Western Europe. Soziale Marktwirtschaft, in German. Here is an adequate description of the model:
[...] The social market economy seeks a middle path between socialism and capitalism (i.e. a mixed economy) and aims at maintaining a balance between a high rate of economic growth, low inflation, low levels of unemployment, good working conditions, social welfare, and public services, by using state intervention.
Basically respecting the free market, the social market economy is opposed to both a planned economy and laissez-faire capitalism. Erhard once told Friedrich Hayek that the free market economy did not need to be made social but was social in its origin.
In a social market economy, collective bargaining is often done on a national level not between one corporation and one union, but national employers’ organizations and national trade unions [...]
In the 90s the model reappears in the less administrative-pragmatic-compromising, and more heatedly ideological form of “third way” speculation by Anthony Giddens et al.
U.S. self-funded outsider campaigns tend to articulate themselves in an intuitive, naive “third way,” “beyond right and left” rhetoric that describes a polity or a society, in weirdly medieval way, as an organic whole comprised of various components, e.g. towns, guilds, fueds, church, estates etc. Ross Perot and Romney both speak of “bringing together” government, labor, corporate interests, engineers, specialists, communities etc. to develop the consensus necessary to support policy solutions. Social problems become technical problems. Political questions become administrative tasks—e.g. Romney’s now infamous to-do list for Washington.
The rubes at the formerly conservative National Review who endorsed Willard Milton Romney because of his—snarf!—guffaw!—constant and steadfast commitment to conservative principles—cough!-cough!—are of course anxious to revise and redact the hapless candidate’s atavistic proposals.
Regard the following strained casuistical divisio to arrive at a mixed ruling:
[...] [Douthat] “thinks that conservatives are going too easy on Romney’s supposedly left-wing, “back-to-the-’70s, ‘D.C. will save the auto industry’ promises” and giving McCain too much grief over his “2000-2001 preference for a more progressive tax code,” complains Ramesh Ponnuru in an NRO The Corner post titled Douthat on Romney
Many of Romney’s policy specifics involved removing Washington-imposed burdens on the industry, such as the prospect of new regulations. You can think he exaggerated their impact—I do—but that’s not left-wing.
Rejoinder: Granted. Only this is not the claim or claims to which Douthat refers.
Convening industry reps and government officials to gab about the industry’s problems doesn’t strike me as all that alarming, either: It’s what comes out of the meeting that matters, and Romney didn’t commit to anything statist.
Rejoinder: We must assume that Romney wants his proposals to be received as meaningful and relevant. So does Ponnoru therefore argue that Romney’s proposal to convene government and industry actors to address the problems of the US automobile industry is at best a palliative exercise or at worst a cynical ploy?
And: does Ponnoru have no experience in political activism, community organizing, or politics in general? What Romney has proposed is called agenda setting, and political formations on the left and center-left use this technique to co-opt and corrupt actors and organizations on the right or otherwise uncommitted all the time. Organize a committee or convene a conference to investigate e.g. healthcare issues, invite lots of different stake holders etc., and everyone present will return a ruling in favor of reform at public expense. Why? Because the principal assumption governing whether you organize a committee or convene a conference is that you have a task, and that task is to address an issue—to attend at all is to assent to the proposition that there is an issue, that the issue resolves itself into a political question or quetions, and that all involved need to act to resolve it.
Romney’s proposal assumes in advance that the Government is committed to, and responsible for, the performance of the US automobile industry. The questions that remain are questions of degree—how much is the US government responsible, what is the US government expected to do, and how much is this going to cost us beyond the US$20 billion already committed.
Romney’s plan to quintuple research spending was pretty bad, in my view—but plenty of free-market folks are okay with such subsidies. The reason Romney got a “slap on the wrist” is that it’s all he deserved [...]
Rejoinder: Granted, Ponnoru. This was bad, as you put it. Really, really bad. But this is still not what has people like Douthat, Brooks, and ourselves exercised. It is rather Romney’s explicit claim that “Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner,” combined with his subsidies etc.
Your eagerness to completely miss the point speaks volumes.