Romney slime machine staggers, sputters, and creaks into motion; target: Fred Thompson—question: how critically will the blowback damage the Romneys or the GOP?
“The Washington Post is reporting that members of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s South Carolina campaign are behind an anti-Fred Thompson website, http://www.phoneyfred.org, which was launched Monday. It was taken down mere hours after its release following inquiries to the Romney campaign by Washington Post reporters,” reports the editor of palmettoscoop.com in a story titled Romney SC staffers in hot water over “Phoney Fred” site.
The site attacked Thompson as, “Fancy Fred, Five O’clock Fred, Flip-Flop Fred, McCain Fred, Moron Fred, Playboy Fred, Pro-Choice Fred, Son-of-a-Fred and Trial Lawyer Fred.”Phoney Fred screenshot
And the trail of bread crumbs back to Team Romney is rather conspicuous … more
Conclusion: Team Romney is panicking. Why? Perhaps because fresh polling reveals conservative voters breaking more than 2 to 1 in favour of Fred Thompson. Hence, the Romneys are acting out. Or: they would never have agreed—nor would their hirelings have attempted—the political equivalent of a suicide bombing, which is precisely what phoneyfred.com is. Recall: Romney’s negatives are historically high. Conventional wisdom: you should never go negative when your negatives are high. We detail all this here:
Here is what we concluded then, and what we still hold to now:
Allow us to articulate our argument in more familiar terms. It is common wisdom that a candidate whose negatives are high should not go negative. The negative campaigner may bring down her rival or rivals, but not without bringing herself down as well. Does any remember Dick Gephardt’s bitter attacks on Howard Dean and how they backfired on him? Neither do we. But the same was once said about Gephardt as is now said about Romney by Geraghty and others. Gephardt, however, was at least limited by the poverty of his campaign and Gephardt’s own loyalty to the interests of his party.
Romney has high negatives and has clearly gone negative. He has a far smaller-narrower base of support but far, far more resources than Gephardt ever had. And: Romney has far less of a commitment to the success of the GOP than Gephardt, a loyal soldier to the end, had to the DNC.
So: Imagine a Republican Dick Gephardt, on steroids, angry, alienated, estranged, adrift, and with no larger sense of party loyalty to restrain him, a man surrounded by hirelings, contractors, and highly-paid specialists, as opposed to the usual politicos, interest group players, and party insiders that surround other candidates, i.e. people with larger and longer term interests at stake. Now imagine that this hypothetical Republican Gephardt with nothing to lose but everything to gain has both the will and the resources necessary to slime and vilify whatever candidate or candidates he chooses.
This is Willard Milton Romney.
And this is where we are at this historical moment.
These are interesting times for the GOP … more
P.S. History predicts that Romney’s next move will be to condemn his erstwhile hirelings in the strongest possible terms. Romney will tell us that the web designers responsible are examples of all that is wrong with contemporary politics—they are symptomatic of a corrupt system etc., etc.—somehow it will get lost in Romney’s stern jeremiads that it was Romney himself who ordered the hit on the honourable former Sen. Fred Thompson. We shall see. Update: we were dead wrong on this one. The Romney’s have issued alibis and casuistries much as a frightened little squid squirts ink. We had expected a robust denial combined with a vile display of the very behaviors which the candidate affects to condemn; instead we got a limp and flaccid excuses. Romney has become less entertaining lately.
P.P.S. The estimable Michele of Reformed Chicks Babbling in a post titled Update on the anti-Thompson website have updates us on only the latest Romney slime-imbroglio:
It turns out that it was owned by someone who wasn’t just a Romney donor, he was a consultant for Romney:
A top adviser to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney appears to be behind today’s launch of a new Web site attacking GOP presidential rival Fred Thompson … more