equity sector multi-millionaire Romney now champions the dignity of human labor, completely abandons arch-conservative line for latest version of Romney, Romney the progressive-populist
Yesterday the Romney campaign delivered its proof-of-concept for a Romney candidacy in the form of a decisive Romney victory in an important and hotly contested state, MI.
So: Romney is not going away, alas.
Worse: Romney has developed a populist message difficult for the other candidates to rebut, rejoin, or even resist. Regard the following rejoinder to the assumptions of the Romney win issued by a McCain Strategist.
Then regard the ridiculous ease with which ordinarily talentless Kevin Madden smacks it down in a gesture entirely without substance.
[…] Steve Schmidt, a top McCain strategist, attributed yesterday’s loss to “Mitt Romney’s pandering up in Michigan” by promising what Schmidt called a “$100-billion bailout of the auto industry…Mitt Romney should explain to the rest of the country how he’s going to pay for it,” writes Howard Kurtz for WaPo’s The Trail in a blog burst titled McCain Team Critiques Romney’s Record
While Romney has proposed a five-year, $20-billion-a-year effort to revitalize the ailing auto industry, the Arizona senator has emphasized worker retraining and research into green technologies. Schmidt would not put a price tag on that but minimized the retraining plan as a consolidation of existing programs.
Speaking to reporters after a rally here today, McCain declined to use the word “pandering” but said of Romney: “By promising that amount of money to the auto industry, at least he ought to be able to say where it’s going to come from.” McCain cited statistics purporting to show that Massachusetts lagged the nation in economic growth during Romney’s four-year term […]
[…] Schmidt broadened the verbal assault to include what he called Romney’s “rather weak record as governor of Massachusetts,” including sluggish job growth and a $700-million boost in taxes and fees, and said Romney’s record of trimming jobs as a corporate takeover artist would also be fair game […]
Schmidt: What Romney proposes is too expensive. Where will he find the money? Romney mismanaged the Massachusetts economy and cut jobs as a corporate takeover artist.
This is all true, painfully true. But is it compelling? No, not in the least. Does it speak from the center of a competing vision? No, it doesn’t. Rather: This is the line of argument of a scold or, in Madden’s words, a “naysayer.”
Now, here be Madden’s non-responsive but rhetorically effective rejoinder, reproduced on Mark Halperin’s The Page:
Governor Romney has encountered pessimism and a shoulder-shrug attitude like that of Senator McCain before. He faced it in business, he faced it at the Olympics and he faced it when he took over as governor of a state.
Every time, he fought the pessimists and naysayers and brought reform and success. Senator McCain has neither the ability nor the optimistic vision needed to help transform our nation’s economy and bring greater growth and prosperity to working Americans.
Governor Romney is ready to roll-up his sleeves and go to work, even if Senator McCain is ready to just give up on the future […]
Romney’s argument? Relationship. The relationship of ground and consequence. The ground is the person, character, and professional biography of Romney, in whom we are to invest our confidence, and for whom we are to invest our support. The consequence—what we get in return—is “reform and success” through the life and labor of Romney. To doubt or disparage would be to nitpick, to naysay; it would be a failure of the imagination—pessimism. (For Sen. Obama, who Romney idolizes, the enemy is cynicism. For Romney it is pessimism.)
Do you remember Pres. Clinton’s refrain about how he was always “working hard for the American people?” Do you remember how Pres. Clinton would personalize policy proposals and initiatives by talking about how hard he had worked for them? Or how Pres. Clinton would excuse himself for failed promises on grounds of hard work?—he once famously said that he had never worked harder than he had to deliver the middle class tax cut that he had promised in 1992, he just couldn’t make it work etc.
This is not a conservative argument. This is the antithesis of a conservative argument. This argument assumes a great faith in the efficacy of political agency—particularly, Romney as political agent.
Romney’s rejoinder to his critics and dissenters now becomes: You’re trying to destroy me personally, and I’m trying to save the country. Which of us is right?
Conclusion: What Romney has done is to personalize policy. Like Gore in 1999, like Edwards more recently, Romney promises to resist “powerful forces”—e.g. a “broken Washington“—on behalf of “working Americans.” Given the sudden downturn in the US economy and the subprime mortgage crisis, this could be a powerful message.
Further conclusion: the GOP is doomed.
More on these sad themes:
- Romney’s “Bain Capital is partnering with China’s Huawei Technologies in a buyout of 3Com, the U.S. company that provides the technology that protects Pentagon computers from Chinese hackers”—is this the economic policy we can expect from Romney?—answer: yes
- candidate endorsed by the National Review, Romney, suddenly veers hard left, argues that Washington must subsidize, become “partner” with, US automobile industry