how hizzoner brings the fight to Romney—Romney caught in a punic pincer
The story—a composite of many such stories from Livy’s War with Hannibal—would go like this: The highly-trained and superbly-equipped Romans would invest a hillside or a bridgehead with one of their famous marching camps—ditch, rampart, palisade.
Later, Hannibal would dispatch a few hundred foot and a squadron of horse to march on the Roman camp in no good order.
The Romans would repulse Hannibal’s troops. The Romans would then march out of their camp in force to pursue the routed attackers and, almost invariably, discover themselves caught in a trap as Punic foot and horse would spring from the hollows or defiles in which they hid themselves. The Romans would be weary from marching and fighting on the march; the new Punic forces would be far fewer in number, but they would be fed, rested, and confident in their knowledge of the terrain.
The Romans, fighting to extricate themselves, would then see either (a) smoke rising from their base-camp, or (b) fresh troops suddenly appearing to their rear or on their flanks. The result would be a moral collapse among the Roman forces; they would break ranks, scatter, and the Punic forces would defeat them in detail.
This is the so-called Punic strategy—ruses, feints, traps, followed by moral collapse—this is how Hannibal defeated forces possessed of greater numbers and superior arms with his loosely cohering bands of stragglers and misfits from Spain, Africa, and Gaul.
Turn your attention to Romney. Romney remains pinned down in the early-primary states, hemorrhaging millions in media buys as he spends every waking moment campaigning. Suddenly, to Romney’s rear, in a state that Romney believed bought and paid for, Huckabee appears flush with new cash and, according to rumor an impending endorsement from Dr. James Dobson. See:
- Romney and the Giuliani-Huckabee axis—how a balance-of-power player is thwarting Romney’s early state strategy
- ‘08 Rumor Mill: Dobson To Endorse Mike Huckabee?
Also: McCain is recovering in the polls. A resurgent McCain could cost Romney New Hampshire.
Question: are these developments all just grim coincidence for the hapless candidate from Bain Capital?—well, what is Mayor Giuliani telling the world about his plans?
“Wednesday, after the announcement that Pat Robertson was endorsing his candidacy, Giuliani sat down with me for a talk about strategy,” writes Byron York of the formerly conservative and shamelessly pro-Romney National Review in an article titled, prosaically, The Race Rudy Will Run Giuliani talks state-by-state strateg
The plan he described basically involves counting backward from February 5, that is, first establishing himself in the mega-primary states — with Florida a must-win contest — and then taking up the fight in the smaller early states. It’s a big-risk, big-reward strategy, given the possibility that another candidate might dominate the early primaries, knocking Giuliani out of the running before the big states began to vote.
“Everybody has their own theory,” Giuliani told me. “Our theory was to get the big states organized, try to beat everybody else to getting the big states organized, so you have them as a fallback, and then take your resources and start to expend them in the states that come up first. And now we’re going to do that.”
Translation: I have organized my base and am now prepared to maneuver beyond it—I will take the fight to Romney. What the always-a-little befuddled York seems to miss: a split decision, or a failure to achieve a clear decision, in the early states is a win for Giuliani no matter what other candidate emerges still standing. See:
- Romney bravely—or unwittingly—faces the gathering storm, er, we mean swarm
- Romney poised to fail in Iowa no matter what the outcome (iii)—Romney’s massive spending using his own money has denied Romney the perception of a clean win on fair and equal terms