Posts Tagged ‘alibis’

Jason Bonham quotes Romney in a blog burst titled Romney on Good Morning America

[Romney] “I think there will be a movement within the Republican party to coalesce around a conservative candidate. Mike Huckabee, of course, might stay in, and that might be one of the reasons he does so – is to try and split that conservative vote.”

Is this a wish? Is this a prayer? Media pressure will soon begin to mount against the hapless candidate, so is this the rationale—the reasoning, the alibi—for sticking it out after Florida decided for the now “presumptive GOP nominee, the honorable Sen. John McCain?

Note that this new talking point represents no fresh thinking, no new analysis, no current assessment of the situation or its many factors. Precisely the opposite is the case: this is the same argument for Romney’s fitness as a candidate that Romney has retailed for months and months, the so-called two-man-race theme that dates back at least to Iowa. See:

Romney’s 2-man race theme; an alibi for collapsing poll numbers?—this is from way back in October

Michael Scherer elaborates on the 2-man-race theme from Petersburg FL in a article titled Is Romney Fighting the Last War?

[…] The Romney campaign, humbled by recent defeats, now hopes to rebrand his insider strategy as an outsider one. As the candidate soldiers on to the 21 states that will vote on February 5, the campaign holds out hope that the old coalition can be reborn anew. “We feel as though the conservatives are beginning to rally around Mitt,” said Ann Romney, after her husband delivered an upbeat concession speech Tuesday night, in a downtown St. Petersburg theater.

A few minutes earlier, and a couple dozen feet away, Jay Sekulow, a senior advisor to the campaign, put it this way. “Conservatives have a choice now, and it’s a clear choice,” he said. “You have got a conservative and you have got John McCain, who does not take conservative positions on a lot of issues.”

Downstairs, in the theater’s press filing room, Al Cardenas, a Washington lobbyist who chaired Romney’s Florida campaign, continued in the same frame of reference. “We think that the conservative movement activists are now beginning to panic about losing their grip on the Republican Party,” Cardenas said. “They better start working hard, and they have told us they are going to have to start working hard.”

The new Romney strategy has two clear components.

  1. First, the campaign is determined to marginalize Huckabee, who continues to poll well in many southern states, bleeding off votes from the vital socially conservative leg of the Romney’s stool. “Huckabee has proven he can’t win in the south,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s spokesman. “People are going to realize that this is a two person race right now,” said Sekulow.
  2. Second, Romney will spend much of the next week trying to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain, who leaves Florida with considerable momentum and already-high poll numbers in many of the states that vote on February 5. Though McCain has been hammered by some conservative voices, such as the radio host Rush Limbaugh, he has so far escaped the full ideological revolt that greeted him in 2000, when he lost the nomination to George W. Bush.

[Emphases and formatting are ours]

This final Romney gambit is likely to determine more than just the fate of one, well-heeled candidate. It could set the course for the Republican Party. In the old days, those who supported tax cuts for the wealthy worked closely with those who wanted to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage. Those who wanted to grow the size of the military made common cause with those who saw global warming as an environmentalist scare-tactic meant to interfere with free markets. Those who wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade also wanted to overturn campaign finance reform […]

On its face the claim that conservatives will suddenly awaken to the grim reality of a Sen. McCain candidacy and turn to Romney is plausible but requires argument. The most urgent question this suggests is simply why haven’t conservatives turned to Romney before now? Is it not also plausible—in fact, demonstrable—in fact, part of Romney’s own argument—that the so-called Reagan coalition is dead? And if Romney were the one who could truly pull the sword from the stone, or breathe life into the dead coalition, why hasn’t he done it yet?—we’re all waiting, Romney; don’t tell us what conservatives should do or shouldn’t do, instead: show us what you can do.

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.

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.

In other words, Romney is perfectly willing to take the party down with him. So, let Romney unleash if he can the “full ideological revolt that greeted [Sen. McCain] in 2000.” Recent history—Iowa, New Hampshire—would predict that the gotterdammerung that Romney plans for Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain will rebound upon himself. See:

Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates

yours &c.
dr. g.d.


“Now, here is where those pesky things we call ‘facts’ come into play,” writes John Cronin for in a post titled I’ll Thank You Not To Cloud This Debate With Facts

John is true to his word. He never tries to “cloud [the] debate with facts.” Here is what he is responding to:

forget the winter olympics that no one remembers anyway: “[Romney] presided over the opening of the most corrupt and most expensive public works project in U.S. history”

Here is John’s limp rejoinder:

… The project was first conceived in the early ’70’s. Fact: Mitt Romney was in France in the early seventies, working as a Mormon missionary. Fact: Mitt Romney had nothing to do with the planning of the project. Fact: The project was considered too expensive by President Reagan and he vetoed the bill, which Congress promptly over rode. The initial work on the project began in 1983, a time when Mitt Romney was in the private sector and would not begin his public service for more than a decade. Fact: By the time MR became the Governor of Massachusetts, the “Big Dig” and been a work in progress for 20 years …

Correction: These are not facts, John. These are alibis—e.g. : Officer, my client was proselytizing among the French when this project was conceived. And my client was in the private sector when Reagan tried to kill the project and when the project began etc., etc.

Here is the problem, John. Your alibis contradict the Romney-as-leader, Romney-as-problem-solver topos that the Romney campaign retails, because it is also a “fact”—as you yourself concede—that Romney was governor of MA when the Big Dig began to return its grim dividends of death and disaster. Yet Romney did nothing. Where, John, was your (in)famous “turn-around manager” Romney then?! That’s the question, John, not who conceived of, or initiated, the Big Dig.

So Gregg Jackson answers in advance your counter-argument in his initial argument when he writes:

… Mitt went on TV and said he would get to the bottom of this dangerous, deadly project. But he didn’t. Here was a public safety issue a conservative could have made a presidential-run-reputation on, exposing the Democrat corruption and fixing the problems. But he ignored it, preserving the public health menace for future victims. Instead, he took campaign contributions from international Big Dig contractors … etc., etc.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

The Romney campaign emits noise that sounds like someone who has a plan, a detailed plan. Only when you—you e.g. voters and participators—behave in ways that Team Romney’s plan would not predict, Team Romney responds not by reviewing and perhaps revising The Plan; rather, they respond by lecturing you about why you should respect and follow The Plan. In other words, the Romneys consistently confuse their map (their plan) for the terrain (which is you and the judgments you make about the candidates and their messages).

For example, their 2-man race theme that we vary and elaborate on here:

The Romneys decided early on that they could win against Giuliani by occupying ground to the right of him—hence, the 2-man Race theme. But they encountered 2 problems.

1. Romney never completed the task of consolidating his right flank—despite surging ever further to the right, Romney could never make the case that he (a) deserves the votes of conservatives, or (b) that he is a conservative at all. Conservatives, whether Evangelicals, security firsters, fair-trade nativists, fiscal conservatives etc., etc. remain divided and dispersed among the candidates. See:

2. The other candidates—principally Sen. McCain and Gov. Huckabee—stubbornly refuse to allow to Romney to position himself as the only alternative to former Mayor Giuliani. They persist; they continue to pursue their own agendas. And Gov. Huckabee has driven Romney to last place in the national polls.

Rather than adapting their map to the new and evolving terrain, the Romneys would rather you, the terrain, pay better attention to their map. This explains why Team Romney and their noisy surrogates bellow at us about a “2-man race” when the facts on the ground support other interpretations. Another attempt by Team Romney to account for their map-terrian disconnect is the “Romney is a victim of religious prejudice” theme, which we will refer to as (R).

Our editorial policy is this: we have nothing but respect for the Mormon tradition. We happen to be Jews. We wear a kippah, tzitzit, and we believe that separating milk and meat draws us closer to Hashem. In the morning we wrap our left arm in a leather strap, wear a box on our head, and enfold ourselves in a four-cornered bedouin garment that we use when we pray—this gives our daughter great delight, BTW. In a few weeks when our son enters this world (Baruch Hashem), a Rabbi is going to cut him where no man wants to be cut and then we will all eat and celebrate. So whatever our Mormon brothers and sisters believe—we really don’t know, nor do we really care—it could not possibly be as strange to the wider world as that which we hold to. Hence: We are interested in (R) only to the degree that it has become a theme—an argument, an alibi, a rationale—for the Romney campaign’s non-performance.

Here is (R) as articulated by Martin Frost in a FoxNews opinion piece titled Romney Falling Victim to Voters’ Religious Discrimination

I thought that the concept of a religious test for public office in our country was put to bed once and for all when John Kennedy, a Catholic, was elected president in 1960 and Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, was nominated for vice president in 2000.

Now we have a candidate with a record of accomplishment, Mitt Romney, who is consistently lagging in the polls with the most credible reason being that significant numbers of Republican primary voters will not support him because of his Mormon religion.

When voters, particularly in the South, are asked to identify candidates that they would not support for president under any circumstances, Romney leads the list. Romney is rejected as a potential presidential candidate in this type polling more often than other polarizing figures such as Rudy Giuliani. It has become increasingly clear that many conservative voters will not support an otherwise qualified candidate who happens to be a Mormon … etc., etc.

Frost evaluates the problem in absolute terms: Romney is a Mormon. Southern Christians will not support even a richly qualified Mormon. Hence, Romney is a victim of religious prejudice. Nichols and Stern, however, in an article titled Romney Shouldn’t Equate Mormons, Christians, Evangelicals Say offer a more nuanced account:

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) — As Mitt Romney scours the South for endorsements from evangelical leaders, he is getting some unusual advice on how to explain his Mormon faith: Don’t try to be one of us.

“I told him, you cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, `I am a Christian just like you,”’ said Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina, which is scheduled to hold the first primary among the Southern states. “If he does that, every Baptist preacher in the South is going to have to go to the pulpit on Sunday and explain the differences” …

Rep. Inglis is a wise counselor.

Related case: We have no problem with Christians. We will happily vote for Christians, Hindus, or even, hypothetically, Muslims, depending on their views, opinions, positions, policies etc. But: When e.g. so-called Jews for Jesus claim that they are Jews, or that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, or when Christians lecture us about how Jesus is the fulfillment of our law and our prophets, or when millennialists (or pre- or post-millennialists) lecture us about how Jews must return to Israel for Jesus to return, then we take exception—then we insist on drawing distinctions, explaining the differences etc.

Omnis determinatio est negatio—all determination is negation—is a fact of social life—we define ourselves not so much by what we are as by what we are not, and we guard our sense of identity jealously. You do not threaten us to the degree that you are different from us, or that you tell us that we are different from you—we are respecters of difference and appreciators of diversity; rather: you threaten us to the degree that you tell us that we are the same.

This has been our problem with Romney all along. He not only wants to tell us that he is now a conservative; he wants to lecture us on what it means to be a conservative. “This is a habit of Romney’s,” writes Ryan Lizza for The New Yorker’s column, The Political Scene, titled The Mission; Mitt Romney’s strategies for success

… Politicians tend to pander, especially during the primary season. Romney’s chief opponent, Rudy Giuliani, also has a history as a pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights Republican. But while Giuliani simply downplays his record on those issues, Romney sells himself as a true convert. He not only shifts positions; he often claims to be the most passionate advocate of his new stances. It’s one of the reasons that his metamorphosis from liberal Republican to committed right-winger seems so jarring. In 1994, in his race for the Senate, he didn’t simply argue that he was a defender of gay rights; he claimed to be a stronger advocate than his opponent, Edward Kennedy.

Today, he’s not just a faithful conservative but the only Republican candidate who represents “the Republican wing of the Republican Party.” He brings a salesman’s bravado and certainty to issues. At a debate in May, when asked how he would respond to a hypothetical situation involving the interrogation of a terrorist at Guantánamo Bay, he said, “Some people have said we ought to close Guantánamo. My view is that we ought to double Guantánamo. Elected as a pro-choice governor in 2002—YouTube is flooded with his passionate advocacy of abortion rights—he now presents himself as the most resolute anti-abortion candidate in the Republican field. A Mormon, he sometimes adopts the religious language of Evangelicals when he is addressing conservative Christian groups. To economic conservatives, he pitches himself as the candidate most strongly committed to slashing spending and taxes. (He’s the only major G.O.P. candidate to have signed a formal anti-tax pledge, the sort of move that his spokesman dismissed as “government by gimmickry” in Romney’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign.) … etc., etc.

Hence: we would argue that Romney’s (R) problem—to the degree that he has one—is consistent with Romney’s larger problem. Romney’s larger problem is his patent lack of respect for the intelligence of those whose support he covets. You cannot put on blackface and tell our African-American brothers and sisters that you are blacker than they are. You cannot prance about in fishnet stockings and stiletto heels and tell women that you are more of a woman then they are. Likewise: you cannot suddenly issue fifty meaningless policy proposals of an allegedly conservative character and proudly announce to Republicans that you represent the “Republican wing of the Republican Party”—riffing on Howard Dean, no less—when you have spent over a decade campaigning and governing from the left. Yet the Romneys overlook this simple explanation; instead: they would rather issue one more insult to the very people they need to help them win our highest office. Team Romney wants to argue that voters—Republican voters—are a dangerous mob of slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging, rube-bastard hick-bigots.

In other words, rather than review the accuracy of their map, Team Romney would rather rail at the terrain for its narrow mindedness.

What interests us is this: the primaries have yet to begin and the Romneys and their entourage of grovelers are already assigning blame for their many failures. What are their internal polls telling them, we wonder?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.