Archive for the ‘centrism’ Category

“LONG BEACH, Calif. — Mitt Romney hopes to revive his Republican campaign by championing himself as the last true conservative contender,” writes Elizabeth Holmes in a online.wsj.com article titled Romney’s Comeback Plan Trumpets His Conservatism

“We’re quite far apart,” Mr. Romney said of John McCain yesterday at a news conference here. “That distinction is what will, in the final analysis, be my best weapon in a battle to the finish.”

To survive in the race, Mr. Romney must stop Arizona Sen. McCain’s momentum on Tuesday, when 21 states select among Republican candidates. So far, Sen. McCain has won in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, while Mr. Romney has taken Michigan and Nevada [...]

We discuss and criticize Romney’s latest incarnation here.

Here we want to develop the race to the base theme.

In an earlier transmission, we developed and describe this particular stage of the primaries contest as the race to the base. Here be our account with updates and annotations provided largely by the crack bloggers of race42008.com.

Our analysis: Here begins the race to the base, friends and well wishers. Sen. McCain will, we predict, begin to reach out to conservative personalities (right wing shock jocks, talking heads, celebrities, talking heads), professional conservatives (writers, analysts, columnists, editors, think tank researchers), conservative activists, issues coalitions, pressure groups etc. But now he can reach out to them from a position of power, having developed reliable evidence of

(a) his fitness as a candidate,
(b) his fitness as a developer of issues and a builder of coalitions.

Now Sen. McCain has something to offer the base: the influence that flows freely from proximity to power. This is how the primary process as political ritual is supposed to work. It reduces to a barter economy, a patron-client system of tribute where the coin is power and the exchange rate can be murderous.

This is largely coming to pass as we predicted—e.g. LJ provides pro-Sen. McCain quotes from conservative luminaries Grover Norquist, Romney shill Tony Perkins, and Richard Land.

Back to our earlier analysis:

Romney for his part will reach out to the base too, frantically, desperately, if only to counter Sen. John McCain. But Romney’s position is more tenuous, more perilous. Romney can only issue threats and dire assessments of a Sen. McCain presidency—in simpler terms, Romney’s task, as Romney himself describes it, is “to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain”—i.e. Romney’s task is to slime Sen. McCain so badly that he cannot win.

This is also developing as we had predicted. Romney surrogates and shills are frantically retailing the following themes

(a) “If Sen. McCain wins, I will vote for Hillary,” e.g. Romney shill Ann Coulter

–and–

(b) “Sen. McCain once considered running as a Democrat,” as debunked and criticized by Kavon Nikrad of race42008.com.

Will Tribe Romney win the day? Is Tribe Romney willing to destroy the GOP to put Romney in the White House? History will answer these question for us.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

You can read Rasmussen’s full analysis here.

Michael Luo, from an earlier discussion:

… Nevertheless, Mr. Romney spent much of the spring and summer focusing more on bolstering his credentials as a conservative champion as he fended off vigorous criticism for his more moderate past. Romney advisers believe they have succeeded in establishing his conservative bona fides, even though lingering questions about his authenticity persist, and are able now to move on to focusing on the next layer of voters.

“If you look now and you ask, ‘Is Mitt Romney a conservative?’ People would say, ‘Yes,’” said Russ Schriefer, one of the campaign’s media strategists.

“Now as we get closer to the election,” Mr. Schriefer said, “I think we need to be focusing more on his experience. What is it about Mitt Romney that makes him unique? What is it that makes him uniquely qualified? He has the experience. He has the experience to manage big things. He’s done it before.”

Um, not so fast, Russ. Your hapless candidate is losing ground. Less people believe that Romney is a conservative, not more. So perhaps what makes Romney “unique” is his singular ability to leave his listeners ambivalent and unconvinced.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“GOFFSTOWN, N.H. — Mitt Romney was recounting to his audience here a political fable of sorts, about how he had never expected to get into politics after spending his life in business. The moral is one he has been telling again and again in his final sprint before the first votes of the 2008 presidential campaign are cast,” writes the estimable Michael Luo in an NYT release titled As Voting Nears, Romney Shifts Political Narrative

“The skills you have and that you develop in the private sector, whether it be small business or big business, they’re desperately needed in government,” Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor seeking the Republican presidential nomination, told a crowd here Monday.

The theme has essentially become Mr. Romney’s closing argument to voters before the nominating contests, marking a subtle but significant shift from the far more ideological frame that has often been at the forefront of the campaign. The change speaks to the campaign’s broader strategy in its final push to slice away supporters from Mike Huckabee in Iowa and bolster Mr. Romney’s lead in New Hampshire.

Remarks:

(1) Romney has retailed his private sector business experience theme for months. Only it never won him an inch of ground. So he would abandon it only to take it up again later. A few examples from our archives:

(2) What Luo describes as Romney’s “ideological frame” is—or was—Romney’s attempt to outflank his rivals on the right. Again, from our archives:

(3) Here is the problem for Romney. The oft-touted Romney von Schlieffen plan (a lightening strike on 2 fronts to secure the center) consisted in

(a) securing the social conservative, Evangelical base

-and-

(b) developing commanding leads in the early state primaries to create a bandwagoning effect

Only Team Romney never accomplished (a). The social conservative, Evangelical base remains divided and dispersed. The Huckabee surge and Romney’s failed “speech” is evidence of that.

And Team Romney pursued (b) so primitively and naively—activity that reduced to spending enormous sums of money—that it has set up expectations such that even the most positive outcome for Romney in the early state primary contests is prejudiced in advance. Now no one but the political primitives of Team Romney argues that Iowa or New Hampshire will decide the nomination. Instead the speculation rests on either a contested convention, Michigan, or Super-Duper Apocalypse Tuesday.

(4) Every campaign attempts to develop a base, an issues coalition, and then pivot back toward the broad center. This is how you win elections. Romney’s von Schlieffen plan was Romney’s attempt to develop a base.

Because Team Romney failed at every task it set for itself—because it could never develop, consolidate, and mobilize a base of support—because its claims of conservative commitment were consistently greeted with incredulity and disbelief—it could never move toward the center.

So the Romney address to the center—the business experience, business methodology line—never got brought to the center. Oh, the Romneys tried to retail it, however sporadically, however inconsistently, and however much it undermined their larger, more ideological claims. But they would always get distracted or someone would scare them off.

(5) The Romneys tested and abandoned lots of other lines too. Does anyone remember their risibly inconsistent “change” line?

Romney’s inflection point—the strange rhetoric of a troubled campaign

Back to Luo:

“I do believe that by virtue of my work in the private sector and at the Olympics and as a governor that I’m able to tackle the big problems that America faces,” Mr. Romney said in a recent interview. “I think in the final analysis when people go to the voting booths, they’re going to ask themselves, given the scale of challenges we have, ‘Who can solve the problems in America today?’”

The focus on Mr. Romney’s business acumen — he is the founder of Bain Capital, a prominent private equity firm — is in keeping with how almost all the leading Republican candidates have been running to varying degrees on their competence as a way to distinguish themselves from the Bush administration, without distancing themselves from President Bush ideologically.

Nevertheless, Mr. Romney spent much of the spring and summer focusing more on bolstering his credentials as a conservative champion as he fended off vigorous criticism for his more moderate past. Romney advisers believe they have succeeded in establishing his conservative bona fides, even though lingering questions about his authenticity persist, and are able now to move on to focusing on the next layer of voters.

“If you look now and you ask, ‘Is Mitt Romney a conservative?’ People would say, ‘Yes,’” said Russ Schriefer, one of the campaign’s media strategists.

“Now as we get closer to the election,” Mr. Schriefer said, “I think we need to be focusing more on his experience. What is it about Mitt Romney that makes him unique? What is it that makes him uniquely qualified? He has the experience. He has the experience to manage big things. He’s done it before.”

Remarks:

Note Schriefer’s precise language. To the question whether is Romney a conservative, most would answer yes. Well, Romney is now, anyway. (Or, wait—is he a pragmatic business person?) But will Romney be a conservative tomorrow?

All that Schriefer and Romney’s other hirelings have accomplished is a degree of ideological recognition. They failed to develop an issues coalition that could serve as a base. Yet with time having run out—and after months and months of arguing that Romney is the same as the other candidates on ideological grounds with only limited success—Romney’s flaks face the urgent problem of how to differentiate their candidate. (Or so they think.)

Memo to Schriefer: Keep up the good work, dude! 

Back to Luo:

Ever since Mr. Romney began his presidential bid, his campaign has oscillated between two distinct, some would say contradictory, themes: Mr. Romney as a conservative standard-bearer and him as a pragmatic problem-solving businessman.

Precisely.

His campaign advisers argue that the themes are complementary, but Mr. Romney’s critics say that the businessman theme comes much more naturally to him and that he seized on the staunch conservative message only for political purposes.

We concur with the critics.

“These two messages don’t necessarily fit under the same strategic umbrella,” said John Weaver, who ran Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign until the summer. “They’re completely different. I think the governor has struggled to carry those two messages” …

… In Iowa, Mr. Romney’s advisers said it would be difficult for him, at this late stage, to peel off staunch Christian conservatives from Mr. Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, but they said they thought Mr. Romney could win over others who placed more importance on fiscal issues, the economy and immigration. It is one reason Mr. Romney last week unveiled a spiffy new PowerPoint presentation designed more to showcase his corporate competence than to help anyone in the audience follow his points.

Translation: Romney failed—despite tremendous effort—to reach out to Christian conservatives. A few examples: Gov. Huckabee’s breakout rise, “the speech,” and the Value Voters Summmit:

But Mr. Weaver argued that the dual images the Romney campaign had tried to establish were one reason it had struggled to produce a consistent message. In contrast, Mr. McCain’s candidacy immediately evokes the Iraq war and his foreign policy credentials; Rudolph W. Giuliani’s, his handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and his theme of staying on offense against Islamic terrorism.

“They’re having a hard time having both feet planted on either side of the seesaw,” Mr. Weaver said of the Romney campaign.

Mr. Romney’s aides conceded they had struggled at times to inculcate their broader message in voters, in part because they were so busy parrying attacks early on from their opponents, including Mr. McCain’s campaign and, later, Senator Sam Brownback’s campaign in Iowa.

“It took us a while to get other things put to bed so we could stick to a theme,” said Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire attorney general and senior adviser.

To combat attacks from the right, Mr. Romney introduced a message in May centered on what he called the “three legs of the conservative stool” — meant to unite social, fiscal and foreign policy conservatives behind him — and spent much of the summer leading into the Iowa Straw Poll expounding on the idea, bringing up his private sector experience only in passing. He also presented a much harder line on immigration as the issue leapt to the forefront of the Republican race and swooped on the issue of same-sex marriage in August when a judge in Iowa ruled unconstitutional the state’s ban on the practice.

The question at this point is whether Mr. Romney jerked the wheel too hard to the right as he now tries to pick up a broader cross-section of voters. In September, the Romney campaign rolled out a new theme of Mr. Romney as a leader capable of bringing change to Washington. But it is a message that the Romney camp has found difficult to stick to amid the daily fluctuations of the campaign.

“It has been hard to get to the essential, the core,” said Alex Gage, the campaign’s strategy director.

Now Mr. Romney is trying to get down to it before he runs out of time.

The emphases are ours, all ours.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“‘The other nations of the world are working very hard to open up markets for themselves,’ he said. ‘I want to make sure the negotiations benefit America. Signing agreements doesn’t mean anything for our workers if they’re not enforced.’—so says Romney as reported by someone named Jennifer Colton for the Greenwood Index-Journal, reproduced on http://www.mittromney.com in a post titled, strangely, Romney calls for “Ideology of Strength”

“Romney’s solution to the trade dilemma is creating what he called the ‘Reagan Zone of Economic Freedom.’

“‘The Reagan Zone is a group of nations engaging in trade and living by higher regulations and safety standards,’ he said. ‘Let’s create a global zone of economic freedom to create the large free-trade area in the world. We can promote American goods and services on a global scale if it is fair.’

“The zones would create a ‘true level playing field’ for trade, he said, and involve enforcement of regulations and currency exchange.” … etc., etc.

This is not free trade, dear readers. What Romney proposes is the antithesis of free trade, the precise antithesis of free trade. What Romney proposes is some species of so-called fair trade, which requires a “true level playing field” that takes the form of trade, regulatory, wage, and, yes, tax harmonization. Here is the problem: to administrate a boundary-spanning trade regime will require a boundary-spanning tax, labour, and regulatory regime—it will also require a budget and a governing, adjudicating, and deliberative assembly of its own. Think: WTO or NAFTA, only writ large, very large, with the same power to override local ordnances, statutes, laws etc.

If we read Romney by way of Colton correctly, what Romney proposes is to eliminate regulatory competition—and tax competition too, otherwise how can our trade be fair trade if our producers and exporters are unfairly burdened?—on the model of e.g. the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

MITT ROMNEY’S CHEST IS NOT TRANSPARENT, argues Sam Boyd on The American Prospect’s TAPPED.

At the end of an otherwise compelling analysis of last night’s Republican presidential debate on TNR’s new campaign blog, Noam Scheiber has this to say about Mitt Romney:

There are obvious tactical reasons for Romney to run as a conservative. But sometimes you can’t help wishing he’d run more authentically — as the moderate technocrat he is at heart.

The context is a discussion of McCain, Romney, Thompson and Giuliani’s attempts to deal with their embarrassingly non-crazy policy histories. But why should we assume that Romney’s moderate record is in any way more representative of his true beliefs (if he has any) than his current support for Conservative orthodoxy? Maybe he saw his middle of the road policies in Massachusetts as the best he could do in a deeply liberal state. Primarily, this points to opportunism, but, if we actually believe, as Scheiber does, that there is in fact some moral belief about the true best government deep in Romney’s heart, I have no idea how we are supposed to figure out what that is based on the available information about him … etc., etc.

The emphasis is ours.

Boyd articulates our own concerns. Our position as it has evolved on this blog is consonant with Scheiber’s: we tend to believe that Romney is a center-left technocrat attempting to position himself as some species of conservative. We base this less on Romney’s history of governing from the center-left and more on Romney’s so-called conservative positions, positions that are strangely naive, caricatured, or unreconstructed, the sorts of positions you would expect someone who is not a conservative to assume that a conservative would accept. Here are but a few of the examples that we have chronicled here:

But Boyd is right. We enjoy no privileged access to the dark heart and troubled soul of Willard Milton Romney. So we are forced to concede that “we have no idea how we are supposed to figure out what [Romney's true beliefs are] based on the available information about him.”

For us this is in itself is a sufficient argument against a Romney presidency.

Even so, Romney still wants to insist that he is a “consistent conservative.”

latest Romney whopper: “I’m the consistent conservative”—folks, you can’t make this stuff up

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“CHARLESTON, S.C. – Like every great sales pitch, Mitt Romney’s case for Mitt Romney is low on the hard sell,” writes David Segal in a Wapo transmission titled Romney’s gyrations mystify observers.

At the Sheraton Hotel one recent morning, the boasting is handled by a former governor of South Carolina, who opens this “Ask Mitt Anything” session with a precis of the candidate’s career. This includes academic achievements (Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School “in four years!”) and election as governor of Massachusetts in 2002, which is described in a tone befitting a miracle …

… It’s smooth, folksy and winningly sincere. But it doesn’t sound much like the man who won that vote in Massachusetts. That Romney positioned himself as a moderate: in favor of abortion rights, courting gay voters and crusading on environmental matters.

He now says his pro-choice leanings were a mistake. He has become one of the country’s highest-profile opponents of gay marriage, and he warns against taking Al Gore’s side regarding action on global warming.

Which has prompted more than a few people to ask: Who is this guy?

The search for an Overarching Theory of Mitt has been a preoccupation in Massachusetts. Fans say he simply evolved; detractors call him a flip-flopper. But talk to those who’ve watched him longest, and some who were personally wooed during his run for governor, and you’ll hear something else. The man is a born salesman, they say, and he has taken the modus operandi of selling to a whole different level in the world of politics.

What earned him the job in Massachusetts is an idea that he doesn’t mention much any longer. Back in 2002, he emphasized one promise, time and again: He would be the state’s No. 1 salesman.

At that time, Romney deflected many of the social-conservative issues that he now embraces, and he charmed a handful of left-leaning interest groups who might otherwise have been enemies. A few of them say they wound up with the political version of buyer’s remorse. Romney made enemies with abortion-rights advocates, gay Republicans and environmentalists after gaining their trust during his campaign.

“We felt completely played,” recalled Melissa Kogut, former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “We just couldn’t believe it, given what he’d said to our faces”more

We wonder if it is any consolation to Romney’s former friends and associates—those who got played in Romney’s former incarnation—that he’s now busily playing us, i.e. those who stand to the right of center.

Willard Milton Romney has but one loyalty: Willard Milton Romney.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Many candidates change. Romney seems to have given himself a makeover. Which has prompted more than a few people to ask: Who is this guy?”—writes Washington Post Staff Writer David Segal in a transmission titled A Changed Man; Mitt Romney’s Ideological Turnabout Has Critics Wondering: Who Is This Guy?

The search for an Overarching Theory of Mitt has been a preoccupation in Massachusetts, where his journey rightward played out in a highly public way. His fans say he simply evolved; his detractors call him a flip-flopper. But talk to those who’ve watched him longest, and some who were personally wooed during his run for governor, and you’ll hear something else. The man is a born salesman, they say, and he has taken the modus operandi of selling to a whole different level in the world of politics.

“To Mitt Romney, politics is just another product,” says Jeffrey Berry, a professor of politics at Tufts University and longtime Romney watcher. “Products can be recast, reshaped and remarketed in endless ways. Now, that might sound cynical, but Mitt isn’t a charlatan. He’s simply had so much success in the business world that his approach in that realm seems like the natural way of doing things.”
Venturing Into Capital

All politicians must sell, of course, but none is steeped in the art of the sale quite like Romney. It’s a talent he inherited from his father, a three-term governor of Michigan who once ran American Motors Corp. and logged thousands of miles to push its compact cars. A Time magazine cover story in 1959 recounted his visits to women’s clubs, where his patter included the line, “Ladies! Why do you drive such big cars?”

After the younger Romney collected those Harvard degrees, he spent more than a dozen years as a venture capitalist, a job that requires you to pitch to companies (so they will let you acquire them) and to banks (so they will issue loans) and to investors (so they will invest)more

Segal’s exposition is consonant with McLaughlin of Redstate; see: McLaughlin of Redstate on Romney: Americans hate phonies

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“This is admittedly subjective, but Jonah Goldberg aptly summarized the way Romney often comes off in public by describing [Romney's] demeanor as, ‘What Do I Have to Do To Put You In This BMW Today?’” writes the estimable Dan McLaughlin in a not-to-be-missed Redstate post titled The Trouble With Mitt Romney (Part 1 of 5)

I’ll discuss the specifics in more detail later, but the broader issue is that Romney seems unconvincing as the conservative he is running as; his calculations seem too close to the surface.

When the race kicked off, with Rudy and McCain as the frontrunners and the second tier filled with unknowns and/or candidates with their own issues with the base (e.g., Huckabee on taxes, Brownback to some extent on immigration), there was an opportunity for a candidate to build a market niche as the sane, electable conservative. Romney, to the credit of his business instincts, jumped on that opportunity like a starving man on a sandwich. The problem is that that posture is just not consistent with Romney’s history of campaigning and governing as a moderate, pragmatic, non-ideological Northeastern Republican, and specifically with numerous stands he has taken in the very recent past. Now, a good businessman, or even a candidate running principally as a competent technocrat, can get away with running on what the public wants today rather than on principles. But Romney is running a fundamentally ideological campaign, and he is doing so all too transparently as a businessman pursuing an underserved market rather than as a true believer.

Romney’s air of slickness and phoniness manifests itself in a number of specific ways I will get into later in this series, but the overall effect is an even more pronounced than usual (for a politician) tendency to leave people feeling like he will say anything to get elected. Democrats have, justly, suffered for that perception in the last two presidential elections, and they are almost certainly nominating a candidate who is legendarily calculating (Bill Clinton, by contrast, was a master at faking sincerity; but Romney, like so many others in politics, lacks Clinton’s talents in this regard and would do well not to try to imitate him). Republicans, having successfully and appropriately attacked Gore and Kerry and most likely Hillary as well on this basis, cannot afford to run a candidate who comes off as a phonymore [Emphasis ours]

Question: Does anyone like phonies?

Excellent metaphor: Romney as a “businessman pursuing an underserved market.”

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“One of President Bush’s closest advisers has a brutally candid analysis of the Republican nomination battle: Fred Thompson is the campaign’s “biggest dud,” Mitt Romney has “a real problem in the South” because people will not vote for a Mormon, Mike Huckabee’s last name is too hick and John McCain could end up repeating 2000 by winning New Hampshire but losing the nomination,” writes the estimable Peter Baker in a post to Wapo’s The Trail titled Bartlett on the GOP Field: A Hick, a “Dud” and a “Flip-Flopper”

[Bartlett's] judgment of Romney was only somewhat less negative [than his judgment of Fred Thompson]. While crediting the former Massachusetts governor with the “best strategy and organization” born out of his “business acumen,” Bartlett said “the flip-flopping on positions” stemmed from a miscalculation that the primary field would be more conservative than it proved to be. “They were trying to solidify his conservative credentials.” Bartlett added: “He’s getting a narrative in the national media as somebody that is too much trying to position himself, trying to hedge himself, almost too mechanical about the issues. Authenticity is going to be a very important principle in this campaign. And right now that?s their biggest danger” more

You don’t have to be Dan Bartlett to figure this one out. We have harped upon the string of Romney’s ridiculous “miscalculation of the primary field” for weeks now:

Back to Bartlett:

The flip-flopping issue, Bartlett added, provides an outlet for another big reason why Republican voters will not back Romney — his religion. “The Mormon issue is a real problem in the South, it’s a real problem in other parts of the country,” he said. “But people are not going to say it. People are not going to step out and say, ‘I have a problem with Romney because he’s Mormon.’ What they’re going to say is he’s a flip-flopper. … It’s a fact, it’s reality. I don’t know if it’s one that will keep him from becoming the nominee for the party but it’s something they clearly understand they’ve got to deal with.”

The only top-tier candidate Bartlett did not criticize was Rudy Giuliani, whom he credited with the “best message,” particularly because the former New York mayor has kept his focus on attacking Democrats, not fellow Republicans, which serves as an effective distraction from his own liberal positions on guns, gays and abortion. “He’s doing it particularly with Hillary,” Bartlett said. “There’s headlines the other day. He wants to engage in this debate. And there’s a very practical aspect of it because if he’s engaged with the Democrats, he’s not engaged on … his own positions, whatever those that would not be very receptive in a typical Republican primary”more

This is yet another string upon which we harp: Romney has no message. What he emits is often very angry noise. See:

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

Context: A “friend of Mitt” suffers the online version of a brain aneurysm that causes him to behave in a manner he affects to condenm in a cry-for-help of a post titled Hey, Jim Geraghty, how about some context?

… I’m sick and tiredcomplains the exasperated “friend of Mitt”of people who make charges and don’t give any details. Jim says “Neither man has a perfect record” but he gives no examples of why they weren’t perfect. I understand that no one is perfect, but Jim makes it sound like he has a specific complaint, but he keeps that to his smug self, and lets us guess, or just assume that he has actual examples of their shortcomings. So, according to Jim, who has a perfect record? Romney balanced a 3 billion dollar deficit without raising taxes. What more does Jim want? … more

The dialog develops along these lines:

Geraghty responds: “I’m going to ignore the typically charming comments about my disappointing intellectual rigor, the suggestion that candidates declare Reagan was perfect, my smugness, etc. I’ll just note that with persuasive friends like this, Mitt Romney could use a few more enemies,” responds the flustered and flummoxed Geraghty, who then issues a point-for-point rejoinder in the form of a clarification and statement of facts titled So What Did Romney Mean When He Said, “I Was an Independent During Reagan-Bush”?

(Question: why do so many questions about Romney and his campaign reduce to “So what did Romney really mean … ?—conclusion: Romney has a serious communication problem among his other image issues.)

In response to Geraghty’s response, the so-called “Friend of Mitt” gibbers, pants, barks, and spits: “Jim is not engaging in a debate of ideas. He is trying to avoid the issues by talking about us vs. them. I stick by the logical soundness of everything I said in my post. Jim did not respond to a single point I made. Fine. Points don’t matter if you don’t have your facts right. But I have all my facts correct now, and I re-assert every single one of my arguments,” writes the Friend-of-Mitt in a horrendously tedious, digressive, whining, defensive, often fallacious, nit-picking, and convoluted rejoinder titled According to Jim Geraghty … and redolent of a USENET flame riposte or instance of Fisking.

What was it that Henry Kissinger once said of the Iran-Iraq war?—It’s a shame they can’t both lose, in this case Geraghty and the “Friend of Mitt.” But this much we appreciate: Geraghty did not roll over this time. This gave the Romney flak the opportunity to demonstrate in prose the campaign’s true character and intentions. Consider: “Jim is not engaging in a debate of ideas. He is trying to avoid the issues by talking about us vs them”—huh!?—this attempt to reframe the question of the propositional content of Romeny’s own claim into a “debate of ideas” is as sad as it is transparent. But what really provokes laughter is how this “friend of Mitt” draws his gassy screed to a close:

  1. I stick by the LOGICAL SOUNDNESS of everything I said in my post
  2. Jim did not respond to a single POINT I made
  3. Fine. POINTS don’t matter if you don’t have your FACTS right (Comment: say what?)
  4. But I have all my FACTS correct now, and I re-assert every single one of my ARGUMENTS”

<translation> What I wrote is logically sound. Jim did not respond to any of my points. Fine, because points don’t matter if you have your facts right. Only the my facts weren’t right, as I admit when I concede that Kennedy was talking about policy, not deficits, so by my own admission

  • my points mattered

and

  • they were logically unsound

But I have all my facts correct now—well, yes, um, thanks to Geraghty, who apparently was able to correct my point without responding to a single one of my, um, points. Anyway, I am now in a position to reassert every one of my arguments, which does not follow from the conclusions that I wish to draw from the relations that obtain between facts and points because as far as I am concerned this is a “debate” and my goal, apparently, is to score points. Got it? </translation>

Does this sound incoherent to you? It sure does to us.

Also: who does the the Romney flak think is his audience? Does he or she really believe that it is wise to so bitterly and resolutely attack someone whose very profession—whose job, whose task, whose purpose in life—it is to write about politics, particularly center-right politics, when it is a primary goal of your ill-fated candidate to affect the pose of a center-right candidate after many years of describing himself as a social progressive?

What a moron!

Dear Romney people: You can whine about the “press” or the “bias” of the “media” in exceedingly general terms even as you maintain good relations with media elites etc. Republicans do this all the time, especially the weaker candidates. This will make you appear a little like a loser, and criticizing the media is a fairly reliable index of the ill-health of a campaign, but it is generally not fatal in itself.

But you never want to attack anyone in the media by name or institution. Never. Never. Never We repeat: You never attack anyone in the media. You may offer to help them get their facts straight even as you praise them for their meticulous attention to detail, or ask them to help you correct a oversight even as you acknowledge their tireless devotion to the development of an informed electorate, but you never, ever, attack them. Does anyone remember when President Clinton attacked radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh? Or Vice President Quayle criticized a television character named Murphy Brown? Only at least President Clinton and Vice President Quayle had the good sense to attack political-ideological opponents. This so-called “friend of Mitt” has turned about to charge his own flank, his own right flank, a flank the Romneys have left perilously exposed despite all their great noise about how suddenly “conservative” they are.

Who in the Romney campaign approved this so-called “friend of Mitt’s” cry-for-help getting posted on an official campaign website?—it hardly matters. The problem reaches beyond any one particular non-professional. So: Please, Romney people, consider firing your entire communications staff—right down to the last unpaid interns or fetchers-of-warm-coffee-beverages—and hiring all new ones, immediately.

Conclusion: The Romneys are not nice people. Their lack-wit supporters are not nice people. And: They do not tolerate dissent. And as Geraghty has learned, no amount of sucking-up can insulate you from their rage.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





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