“PHOENIX — When Mitt Romney swooped into the heart of John McCain country this week, he brought a pointed message on illegal immigration: McCain’s approach is the wrong one,” writes an uncritical Scott Helman in a Boston Globe article titled, strangely, Romney’s words grow hard on immigration

Romney’s words are growing hard? Nothing about Romney is growing hard.

Proudly touting the endorsement of Joe Arpaio, a sheriff in the state who is known nationally for rounding up immigrants in desert tents, Romney boasted of cracking down on illegal immigrants as governor and denounced an immigration bill that the Arizona senator introduced with Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 2005.

It is a theme Romney has hit hard in recent weeks in his appeals to conservatives, many of whom attack McCain’s immigration bill for proposing an eventual path to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the United States and a guest-worker program to help fill American jobs.

“McCain-Kennedy isn’t the answer,” Romney said in a well-received speech to conservatives in Washington this month, describing it as an amnesty plan that would reward people for breaking the law and cost taxpayers millions to provide them benefits …

“McCain-Kennedy?” Please note how Romney, without benefit of style or subtlety, clumsily-naively attempts to associate Sen. McCain’s name with Sen. Kennedy’s by means of simple combination. Other Romney drive-by conflations: Giuliani-Clinton, Osama-Obama, and even NYC-San Francisco in a DrudgeReport Romney anti-immigrant advertisement.

Is Romney a master propagandist? Well, ahem, no. Here is why. What Team Romney has yet to figure out about civic discourse is that a claim about the world is like a check. You need to have (a) funds in the bank in order to cash it, and (b) the bank itself needs to be solvent. Romney has neither (a) nor (b). In fact, despite Romney’s great wealth, Romney remains desperately poor in the credibility that derives from authority. See:

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)

As Ruffini argues, Romney has done to himself what Bush did to Kerry. See:

Ruffini: “Romney has done to himself what the Bush campaign did to John Kerry”

Hence: the more Romney pulls to the right—e.g. on the immigration issue—the more Romney reinforces the impression that he is valueless and unprincipled, that he will do or say anything to win. And herein lies the irony: Romney has vacillated wildly and unpredictably on the issue of immigration. See:

Romney backs off immigration by fine parsing

yours &c.
dr. g.d

P.S. Counter argument: In 1996 the Clintons were able to link then Sen. Dole to then Speaker Gingrich through just such a juxtaposition. Yes, but (a) President Clinton was, you know, the president, and he out-polled Sen. Dole at often more than 10 points, and (b) Pres. Clinton enjoyed the advantage of months of early advertising, media attention etc. Romney, on the other hand, has nothing.

Note to the Romneys: you can’t just say whatever you want and expect people to believe you. It’s called ethos, and, yes, it’s even quantifiable. Go look it up. And, yes: propaganda techniques can be effective, but you sort of need to know how, and when, to use them, and especially when you can use them, you super-geniuses. Otherwise you will look, and sound, like a total Romney.

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