Romney continues strategy of pursuing elite social conservative figures and coordinating the release of their endorsements with operations on the ground
“GREENVILLE, S.C. — Mitt Romney stumped Tuesday on the importance of adoption, traditional marriage and faith, aiming to coax South Carolina Republican voters to his side in a state where the support of Christian values voters once seemed out of reach for the only Mormon presidential candidate,” report FOX News’ Carl Cameron and Shushannah Walshe in an uncritical puff-piece titled Romney Stresses Family Values in Bid to Win Over South Carolina
“Republican Mitt Romney today announced he’s been endorsed by Paul Weyrich, a leading social conservative who co-founded the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the Free Congress Foundation. At least one blogger sees this as a turning point for Romney,” write Mark Memmott and Jill Lawrence in USAToday OnPolitics post titled Are social conservatives about to fall in line behind Romney?
“It’s Official: Romney is the Social Conservative Alternative,” Matt Lewis writes at Townhall.com. He says the endorsement signals social conservatives have given up looking for the perfect candidate and predicts more major figures will line up behind Romney. He also notes Fred Thompson’s refusal to support a federal abortion ban.
Some religious conservatives have been wary of Romney because he is Mormon and has opposed abortion rights only since 2004. Lewis is among several conservative bloggers who view the Weyrich move as a big deal, including Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, who broke the story … etc., etc.
So now we understand the timing of the Paul Weyrich endorsement. Various responsa follow, rendered in the terms and concepts of narrative:
1. Note that the Romney strategy of pursing elite social conservative leaders and as opposed to developing a larger narrative, has not changed. See:
This leaves Romney vulnerable to discomfiture from below:
2. Note also that Romney has yet to pass his qualifying test. In Greimas’ account of narrative a subject typically faces 3 tests, a qualifying test (e.g. demonstrates better character than stepsisters), a decisive test (plays at being princess, gets exposed), and a glorifying test (recovers glass slipper, becomes princess). Romney has to even prove that he qualifies. Ken Silverstein, in a Harper’s release titled Mitt Romney: How to Fabricate a Conservative, describes the problem this way:
… The problems holding him back were all identified in the campaign’s PowerPoint presentation: the Massachusetts background, the image of slickness, the fears about his religion, and, above all, mistrust of his ideological transformation. Romney and his handlers portray him as having undergone a political conversion, but they can’t point to any convincing catalyst. There was no religious epiphany (as, for example, with George W. Bush) or political awakening (as with Ronald Reagan, a New Deal Democrat who joined the Republican Party in 1962 and backed Barry Goldwater for president two years later, which at the time was hardly a politically savvy move). With Romney, there’s merely been the recent espousal of positions diametrically opposed to his earlier ones, feeding the suspicion that his political shifts are more reflective of his ambition than of his convictions … etc.
3. Translation: the facts of the Romney story do not objectively correlate with what Romney claims is now his stance, his line, his attitude, his attachments. If there was a conversion, then there must have been a crisis to precipitate it—otherwise, the narrative doesn’t make sense—otherwise, one is perceived to have surrendered his or her first position too cheaply or with motives ulterior. Listen to the so-called testimonies of Evangelicals or 12-steppers—or the stories of any converts, e.g. Saul of Tarsus, Augustine of Hippo—and what you will discover is crisis passing into critical reflection, what Silverstein refers to as a “catalyst”.
This is what Romney cannot provide and remain consistent with his own line—his own self-portrayal—of the bloodless, gutless, emotion-free problem solver.
Besides, Romney’s life has been strangely crisis-free.