Posts Tagged ‘morons’
“Bottom line: the Romney campaign made their bed with the early state primary strategy and got short-sheeted,” writes Justin Hart in a race42008.com blog burst titled, strangely, Autopsy of a Great GREAT Campaign
The momentum that Huckabee gained through his stunning Iowa win together with the victory that McCain edged out in New Hampshire seriously maimed the Romney narrative […]
Hart refers to Romney’s ill-starred von Schlieffen plan, a plan that we criticized early and often. Romney’s von Schleiffen plan was an electoral-map fantasia so over-the-top preposterous that we always assumed that it was a cover for a more rational undertaking, an undertaking that required secrecy to pursue. We were wrong about that, and about a lot else besides.
John Ellis has a different take on the “Team Romney mounted a GREAT campaign” theme, one more consonant with our experience:
[…] The sad thing about the Romney campaign’s demise is that Mitt Romney is an exceptional person; highly intelligent, enormously hard-working, a man of great integrity and grit and executive ability. Given the dearth of talent in both parties — the seemingly endless parade of mediocrity and venality — we’re lucky to have people like Mitt Romney who are willing to get in the game. But he was terribly served by his campaign staff and advisors. I would argue that they win the worst campaign team of 2008. Good riddance to them. They had everything they needed to make a good run and they made a complete hash of it […]
The problem: to explain just went wrong is surpassingly difficult as it requires the observer to interpret the data of the world differently than is otherwise the case. Byron York attempts such an explanation on personal and narrative grounds in an NRO article titled Why Romney Failed
[…] Romney made a lot of mistakes that didn’t seem like mistakes at the time. Drawing on his enormous success as a business consultant, he put together an impressively well-organized and professional campaign. That was good. But he never fully understood that the voters were looking for some spark in a candidate that connects him to them. Instead, Romney placed his faith in his magnificent organization and his PowerPoint analyses.
He hired a lot of people, spent millions to build organizations in key states, and then spent millions more for television and radio advertisements. The day after the Iowa caucuses, I dropped by WHO radio in Des Moines, and a top station official told me that Romney had been WHO’s second-biggest advertiser in 2007. (First was Monsanto farm chemicals.) In all, Romney pumped $1 million into WHO’s bank account. In South Carolina recently, a local politico marveled at how much money Romney’s in-state consultants made from the campaign. “Those guys made a mint out of him,” the politico told me. “It’s sinful how much they made.”
Yuh-huh. How much of the Romney phenomenon is the story of a super-rich ingenue getting bilked—just mercilessly fleeced—by a corrupt and cash-starved GOP party establishment?
Back to York:
As a result of all that spending, Romney ran a campaign on a deficit, deeply in debt. Of course, it was in debt to Romney himself, who put $35 million of his own money into the campaign as of December 31, and likely a lot more since. All that money freed Romney and his team from making some of the tough decisions that other campaigns had to make every day. You could argue either way whether that was good or bad.
Just before the Iowa caucuses, I was at a corporate headquarters outside Des Moines, asking a few questions of Eric Fehrnstrom, the press secretary who usually traveled with Romney. Fehrnstrom looked at Mike Huckabee’s campaign and saw a ragtag lot. “We’re going up against a loose confederation of fair taxers, and home schoolers, and Bible study members, and so this will be a test to see who can generate the most bodies on caucus day,” Fehrnstrom said.
I interrupted for a moment. “Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those groups?” I asked.
“Not that there’s anything wrong, but that’s just a fact,” Fehrnstrom continued. “That’s just where he has found his support. I have a theory about why Mike Huckabee holds public events in Iowa like getting a haircut or going jogging, or actually leaving Iowa and going to California to appear on the Jay Leno show. It’s because he doesn’t have the infrastructure to plan events for him. And when he does do events in Iowa, he goes to the Pizza Ranch, where you have a built-in crowd, so you don’t have to make calls to turn people out. We’re very proud of the organization we have built in Iowa.”
They had reason to be proud; it was a good organization. But in a bigger sense, they just didn’t understand what was going on. Fehrnstrom, like his boss, placed a lot of faith in Romney, Inc. How could a bunch of seat-of-the-pantsers like the Huckabee campaign possibly beat the Romney machine? Well, they could, in Iowa, and McCain could in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and then in Florida and on Super Tuesday. The race was never about the imposing infrastructure Romney had built. It was about that ineffable something that voters look for in candidates. With Huckabee, some of those voters saw an intriguing and refreshing figure. With McCain, a larger number saw someone who wanted, above all, to defend the United States. And with Romney — well, they didn’t quite know what to think […]
This is the problem with positive feedback, say, success. Success often passes into a crisis of perception as people and organizations optimize for successful activities at the expense of a more thorough review of changing conditions etc. It is the very definition of the learning or the experience curve. Failure and tragedy are excellent teachers; but what works for us—our triumphs, our successes—affirms us in what we are already doing, and recedes into the half-consciousness of habit and routine.
But here the problem for the Romney campaign was always this: their success itself was never real. For example: Their highly professional organization was the best that money could buy, but that money was not a reliable indicator of the candidate’s success as a fund-raiser or fitness as a candidate. It was only ever an indicator of the candidate’s personal worth.
ROI, people. ROI. There is no more effective metric for the success of a message or a message campaign than the your Return on Investment, and Romney’s was always preposterously low.
Rubin: “The talk-show conservatives who were so successful in riling the conservative opposition to immigration reform in 2007 proved to be the flimsiest of paper tigers—-Their shouted directions to the conservative foot soldiers, and their warnings of the dangers of a McCain presidency, were ignored”
[…] “Following John McCain’s victory in Florida last week the chorus of McCain-hatred grew louder on talk radio shows and on many conservative blogs,” writes Jennifer Rubin in a New York Observer article titled Voters Reject Romney … and Limbaugh and Coulter and Dobson
Rush Limbaugh declared that McCain was not conservative and unacceptable as a candidate. Formerly respectable conservative figures took delight in criticizing McCain’s war record—yes, his war record—by tallying up the number of planes he had lost in combat. Ann Coulter and James Dobson, a social conservative leader and head of the Focus on the Family organization, declared McCain so indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton, the featured villainess in any conservative drama, that they would vote for her or stay home.
In short the McCain villifiers doubled down on their bet that they could derail McCain and lift their favored alternative, Mitt Romney, to victory.
Then the voters had their say. McCain racked up victories from California to New York to Missouri. Romney was pretty much relegated to Utah and Massachusetts, two more home states to go along with his Michigan win. Mike Huckabee, also the object of talk show and blogger derision (for, among other grave offenses, raising taxes to build schools and allowing children of illegal immigrants access to college scholarships) had a fine night, taking a batch of southern states.
The talk-show conservatives who were so successful in riling the conservative opposition to immigration reform in 2007 proved to be the flimsiest of paper tigers. Their shouted directions to the conservative foot soldiers, and their warnings of the dangers of a McCain presidency, were ignored.
They did their best to boost Romney, who had striven mightily to endear himself to this crowd, but the voters shrugged and rejected him overwhelmingly. Had Romney not changed residences so often he might have been shut out of the primaries entirely […]
[…] [Limbaugh, Coulter, Dobson et al] might threaten to withhold support for McCain, but does it even matter at this point? Will voters listen to that marching order when they did not follow previous voting advice?
McCain cannot, in what will likely be a close election, entirely ignore the possibility. But something has clearly changed. The façade of influence, the illusion of electoral importance that these conservative pundits previously held, is gone. They can raise issues, jam the White House switchboard and scare timid politicians. When the chips are down, though, they cannot determine elections. Voters, who base their decisions more on common sense than extreme ideology, get to do that […]
We concur. Well, for those most part. But, sadly, there is evidence to suggest that the radio talkers and conservative celebrities were beginning to affect attitudes about Sen. McCain. Here be evidence for our claim, as provided by the estimable John Dickerson in a slate.com article titled McCain Not Stopped; But Romney is not seen as a true conservative:
[…] Exit polls nevertheless show that McCain’s problems with conservatives run deep. He lost among conservatives in almost every state except Connecticut and New Jersey, where he split them evenly with Romney. McCain also lost conservatives even in the states he won. Conservatives went for Romney in New York and Illinois. “Hard to do well with conservatives when everyone with a microphone is beating hell out of us,” says a top McCain aide. While the conservative voices weren’t enough to stop McCain, or to elect their guy, tonight they were enough to bruise him […]
Now with Romney promising to hold out and fight until the convention, and even attempt to turn around promised but not-officially-bound delegates, we can expect the voices of Limbaugh, Coulter, Dobson et al to grow louder, more dire, and more shrill. See:
[…] “But it’s true”—i.e. true that the presumptive GOP nominee is Sen. John McCain, writes the sniveling and asinine Michael Graham in a TheCorner blog burst titled, despairingly, It’s All Over
When the campaign comes here to Massachusetts on February 5th, I’ll proudly cast my vote for any option on the GOP ballot other than You-Know-Who. But it will be a futile gesture. Mr. “1/3rd Of The GOP Primary Vote” is going to be the nominee.
He’s going to win the big, left-leaning states on Tuesday. Huckabee will stay in and deny Romney a one-on-one contest for GOP voters that Captain Amnesty would almost certainly lose. The result: More wins for He Who Must Not Be Named, and fewer wins for Romney—regardless of delegate count.
Florida has launched the one ship that Romney’s money and Rush Limbaugh cannot stop: The U.S.S. Inevitable. It’s gonna happen. Even if there were a realistic pathway to stop him, the media have seized control of the process now and are declaring him inevitable. He is, after all, the favorite son of the New York Times.
So it is over. Finished. In November, we’ll be sending out our most liberal, least trustworthy candidate vs. to take on Hillary Clinton—perhaps not more liberal than Barack Obama, but certainly far less trustworthy.
And the worst part for the Right is that McCain will have won the nomination while ignoring, insulting and, as of this weekend, shamelessly lying about conservatives and conservatism.
You think he supported amnesty six months ago? You think he was squishy on tax cuts and judicial nominees before? Wait until he has the power to anger every conservative in America, and feel good about it.
Every day, he dreams of a world filled with happy Democrats and insulted Republicans. And he is, thanks to Florida, the presidential nominee of the Republican party […]
Note the bitterness. Note the spite. You think Sen. McCain was bad before, you Florida swamp-bunnies who allowed this to happen? You just wait. But what is worse for Graham is that he feels slighted by both Sen. McCain and Florida: “the worst part for the Right is that McCain will have won the nomination while ignoring, insulting and, as of this weekend, shamelessly lying about conservatives and conservatism.”
Translation: The voters have returned a decision that undermines the premises of the National Review itself. Further, these morons endorsed Willard Milton Romney.
Victor David Hanson pleads with his colleagues to not retail rumor without foundation and write responsibly
“At the risk of offending some in the Corner, I make the following observation about the recent posts-especially concerning those second-hand reports about what McCain purportedly said in Senate cloak rooms, or what is reported through anonymous sources about interviews he gave, or the legion of his other noted supposed sins,” writes Victor Davis Hanson in an NRO TheCorner post titled A Simple Warning
Note how the writer suddenly cannot a compose a clear or concise sentence.
Translation: This may offend some of you, but I need to comment on the rumors of what Sen. McCain is alleged to have said at this or that point in the past.
Back to Graham:
It is clear that the animus toward McCain shown by Romney supporters is growing far greater than any distaste those who support McCain feel for Romney. I am sympathetic to the McCain effort, but would of course, like most, support Romney should he get the nomination, given his experience, intelligence and positions on the war and the economy. I would worry about his ability to win independents and cross-overs, and note that his present positions are sometimes antithetical to his past ones, but also note that such concerns would be balanced by the recognition that it is hard for conservatives to get elected to anything in Massachusetts, that McCain in turn would have commensurate problems stirring the conservative base, and that McCain too has ‘adjusted’ on things like immigration et alia.
This is so unclear.
Translation: The animus of Romney supporters toward Sen. McCain is out of all proportion to the animus of Sen. McCain supporters for Romney. I support Sen. McCain. But I would support Romney were he to get the GOP nomination. I would still worry about how Romney polarizes people and his present inconsistency with positions he has taken in the past. But I would balance these concerns against how hard it is for conservatives in MA to get elected to anything. Sen. McCain, too, is going to face challenges because of his past positions.
Back to Graham:
[…] But all that said, at some point there should be recognition that some are becoming so polarized-and polarizing-that we are reaching the point that should a McCain win (and there is a good chance he will), and should he grant the necessary concessions to the base (chose someone like Thompson as his VP, take firm pledges on tax cuts, closing the border, etc), go on Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. for some mea culpas, all that still seemingly would not be enough. And if that were true, the result would vastly increase the chances of the Presidents Clinton, under whom there would be a vastly different Supreme Court, some chance of forfeiting what has been achieved in Iraq, and surely greater growth in government and earmarks […]
[…] Some here have become so polarized that should Sen. McCain win and grant all the necessary concessions to the base, that would still not be enough. The sad result of that would be a President Clinton or Obama […]
[…] Keeping all that in mind seems far more important than tracing down the anonymous source who claims McCain said something to someone at sometime […]
Translation: You NRO writers need to be responsible for what you write. Do not just reproduce rumors or issue a single candidate’s spin. Instead: pursue your sources, and cite your sources. Right now, colleagues, you are poisoning your own well; you are fouling your own nest.
[…] “Most observers thought that debate was won by former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but Mr. Romney handed back whatever advantage he might have won with some clumsiness of his own,” writes Jack Kelly in a realclearpolitics.com article titled Only Hillary Can Reunite Republican Party
Mr. Romney received a modest bump in the polls immediately after the debate, but it dissipated when Florida’s popular governor, Charlie Crist, and Sen. Mel Martinez, popular with Cuban-Americans, endorsed Sen. McCain. Both likely would have remained neutral were it not for the heavy handed tactics of Mr. Romney’s operatives, said the American Spectator’s “Prowler.”
The Prowler reported Monday he’d been told by a consultant who’s worked for both Gov. Crist and Sen. Martinez that: “It finally got to the point for the both of them that they just got fed up with the constant harassment. They weren’t going to endorse Romney, and under the right circumstances, one or both of them might have chosen to sit the primary out, but the Romney people just made it intolerable.”
Aggressive, obnoxious stupidity. None of the other candidates like Mitt Romney. This is an indication why […]
[…] Both Sen. McCain and Gov. Romney are too flawed to reunite and reinvigorate a dispirited Republican party. There is only one candidate who can do that. And she might lose to Barack Obama […]
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
From the Prowler release that Kelly references:
[…] “In the past week both Florida Sen. Mel Martinez and Gov. Charlie Crist wavered on their promised endorsements for Sen. John McCain, before finally having their fill of the heavy-handed arm-twisting of the Mitt Romney campaign,” writes the Prowler for the American Spectator in a Washington Prowler column titled Heavy-Handedness Backfires
“It finally got to the point for both of them that they just got fed up with the constant harassment,” says a source close to both men who has worked for them as a political consultant. “They weren’t going to endorse Romney and under the right circumstances, one or both of them might have chosen to sit the primary out, but the Romney people just made it intolerable.”
In the middle of last week, it appeared that both Martinez and Crist would sit out what has become the battleground state for the Republican nomination for President.
It is believed that the Romney campaign has been able to use its candidate’s unfettered wealth to run a successful absentee ballot program, something the other campaigns have not been able to do as well. Those absentee ballots may swing Romney to victory, and keeping Martinez and Crist on the sidelines was part of the strategy for victory […]
Apparently the strategy included arrogant threats:
[…] If Sen. John McCain was anticipating endorsements from Sen. Mel Martinez and Gov. Charlie Crist in the Florida primary, he’s in for a disappointing surprise, according to Romney campaign aides.
“If those guys want a political future in this state, they will sit on the sidelines,” says one Romney adviser. “We have some of the biggest Florida fundraisers with us right now, and if Mel or Charlie went with McCain, we’d make them both pay when it came time for them to get donor dollars for another race.” […]
A dream is a wish your heart makes. And Romney operatives are thugs.
“WASHINGTON (CNN) — Two negative ads recently launched by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has spent more on advertising than any other candidate, either misrepresent his rival’s records or include distortions, according to a CNN analysis of the commercials,” writes Howard Kurtz in a CNN.com release titled Analysis: Romney attack ad misrepresents facts
The ads come as the Republican air war has erupted into a series of attacks ads, just days before the Iowa caucuses on January 3, Wyoming caucuses on January 5, and the New Hampshire primary on January 8.
In one Romney television ad running in New Hampshire, the announcer calls rival Sen. John McCain “an honorable man” then goes on to ask “but is he the right Republican for the future?”
“McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently…” the announcer charges. “Even voted to allow illegals to collect Social Security.”
But the ad distorts the position of the Arizona Republican, who has narrowed Romney’s lead in New Hampshire. McCain’s compromise legislation introduced last summer, which was backed by President Bush, would have required illegal immigrants to return to their home countries and pay a fine for breaking the law before applying for legal status … more, so much more
Would an honorable man like Romney distort the records and positions of his rivals!?
- Palmetto Scoop: “Top Romney advisor tied to anonymous attacks of previous presidential primary”
- Associated Press: Romney has candor issues
- Kilmer: “[Huckabee] on [Russert’s Meet the Press], Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee covered a list of what he said were Romney mischaracterizations of him and his records—[Huckabee] was effective here, and he did not slip when defending his foreign policy or his faith.”
- Romney’s bitter and personal attacks on other candidates tearing the GOP apart
- Romney’s negative campaigning: is Romney willing to take the party down with him?
“It isn’t surprising, really, that the NRO has decided to annoint Romney as the next Bush (and what a compliment!),” writes John Cole for Balloon Juice in a post titled Romney, The Establishment Candidate
“Mitt Romney’s pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination has followed a time-tested route with an unorthodox twist,” writes Dan Balz in a WaPo release titled Fighting Head Winds
His path reprises that of others who began their campaigns overshadowed by better-known opponents. The strategy is built on the belief that winning begets winning and that early victories produce inevitable, even unstoppable, momentum.This would be true if e.g. Romney had been a governor of Texas or California. The sad truth is that Romney’s path is without precedent.
What is unusual about Romney’s White House quest is that he is neither true dark horse nor formidable front-runner. He is neither the candidate poised to spring a surprise in Iowa or New Hampshire, nor the candidate judged by his fellow Republicans nationally as the top choice for the nomination — or even the second or third.
He has become burdened by a front-runner’s expectations without many of the traditional assets. Losses in any of the early states could significantly set back his hopes of winning — and that is what he faces in Iowa from a surging Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas …
… Some Republican strategists consider Romney’s campaign to be the most effective and skilled of any of the candidates. The man who built a fortune as a management consultant and venture capitalist and who turned around the scandal-ridden 2002 Winter Olympics has applied those skills to put himself into the thick of a race against better-known opponents such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Romney’s wake-up call to the rest of the party began Jan. 8, when he staged a national fundraising telethon in Boston that collected more than $6 million in pledges — a stunning accomplishment for someone who had served but one term as governor and had ended the previous year with a 5 percent approval rating in national polls.
He led the GOP field in fundraising in the first quarter of the year — and has shown since then both a capacity to continue raising money and a willingness to dig deep into his personal fortune. He stood out in the early debates — handsome and photogenic on stage and nimble enough to impress party activists who otherwise knew little about him.
And his team took an early gamble, putting Romney ads on television in Iowa and New Hampshire last spring — earlier than any candidate in history — and keeping them running through the year. The costly investment paid off: By summer, he topped polls in those states and forced his better-known opponents onto the defensive.
Yuh-huh. Only here’s the thing: the costly investment never paid off. If the costly investment had paid off Romney would not be in peril right now. And Romney has organized and funded the most spectacularly unsuccessful campaign in the history of the Republican primaries.
(1) Here is one problem with the claim that Romney’s “costly investment paid off”: competitive activity requires a competitor, and Romney was advertising all by himself for months and months. When you compete without a competitor you have no way to register performance, whether good or bad or whatever—i.e. your learning opportunities are null bordering on void. Regard: If you run alone you can run against your best time and try to surpass it. But if you have only ever run alone then “best time” has objective ground only as an index of your own development as a runner, nor do you have any objective ground against which to rate your “development.” Yet the Romney campaign—with no objective grounds whatsoever—incredibly, unbelievably, interpreted their rising numbers as progress, even as their marginal rate of return crashed and kept crashing! (This means that they were paying more and more for less and less.)
(2) Because (1) the Romney campaign—and Dan Balz—incorrectly interpreted their rising numbers in the early primary states as success, Team Romney optimized to exploit their non-success, i.e. they narrowed their focus to what activities seemed to return a yield at the expense of other activities or functions. In business research literature this is called the Icarus Effect (Miller 1993, if memory serves). Since what returned success for Team Romney reduced to spending lots and lots of money, Team Romney continued to do so, only harder, faster, and more recklessly. Elsewhere we referred to this as The Madden Doctrine, what some would call the “sunk cost effect … manifested in a greater tendency to continue an endeavor once an investment in money, effort, or time has been made.”
(3) Also: Losers learn—why everyone forgets this primary lesson of any goal-oriented, competitive activity is a mystery to us. The other campaigns observed Romney’s imprudent, borderline irrational antics and developed strategies and lines of argument to compensate—e.g. Mayor Giuliani, in a move worthy of Hannibal or Sun Tzu, simply wrote off Iowa completely to deny Romney the opportunity of an unequivocal victory, a low-cost but low-gain decision that earned Hizzoner lots of ridicule and abuse. But in the paradoxical logic of strategy, the worst possible route from ‘a’ to ‘b’ can be the most effective route. Hizzoner gained nothing, but he didn’t lose a lot either, and he denied Romney a decisive victory despite all the many millions that Romney squandered. Only now is it becoming clear to others the wisdom of Hizzoner’s tactical withdrawal.
(4) Distinct competencies deprecate with every passing moment—every mail room clerk with a BA in business or out-of-work freak with an online MBA knows this—it is a wonder to us that Team Romney doesn’t. Romney’s only distinct competency is his vast personal fortune which he can call upon at any time—otherwise Romney’s has considered it his task to render himself non-distinct by reversing himself on every policy position he has ever had and adopting a crude, caricatured, and unreconstructed conservative line, and by trying to pretend to be an Evangelical (Christ, apparently, is Romney’s personal savior, a formula unfamiliar to the Mormon confession). To negate Romney’s only distinct competency would only require that a high ROI campaign like Gov. Huckabee’s or Mayor Giuliani make an issue of Romney’s self-funding and exceedingly low ROI (as Gov. Huckabee delights in doing).
Note to Balz et al: To combine (1) through (4) returns defeat, disaster, and complete humiliation, not success. Try, Mr. Balz, to look beyond the motorcades, the sparkly-glossy campaign media products, the candidate’s insipid powerpoints, the entourage of hirelings, the sniveling court eunuchs in handsome suits who hover about the imperious person of Romney himself etc. What is Romney’s RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI) should be the decisive question.
Back to Balz:
Despite those successes, Romney’s candidacy has fought head winds from the start. Beyond the issue of his Mormon faith, he has been dogged by the charge that he is a flip-flopper who ran as a pro-choice moderate when he tried to unseat Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 1994 and then became an ardent abortion opponent in his presidential campaign.
Well, duh. What idiot told Romney that this would be a winning strategy?
Back to Balz:
The challenge from Huckabee in Iowa has become an unexpected obstacle to Romney’s strategy. He could face equally vigorous opposition from Giuliani and McCain in New Hampshire. And when the Republican field moves South to states with a high numbers of evangelical Christians, the issue of his religion will face its ultimate test.
Yes. We predicted this outcome. Because Romney telegraphed his punches in the early primary states, and because Romney made a great noise about his strategy and “inevitability,” and because of the popular perception that Romney has failed to respect the rules of the game, Romney now faces a divided field united only in their bitter opposition to Romney.
Also: we would argue that Gov. Huckabee’s rise is an artifact of Romney’s frantic spending. Here is our argument.
(1) Consider the concept of the breakout population—say that whale stocks crash and orcas begin consuming sea otters—this is an actual example—what is the result?—kelp forests disappear as sea urchin populations, a prey species of the sea otter, explode—this is an example of a breakout population. Moral: to disturb a critical node—in this case, a keystone predator—can cause breakouts elsewhere in the network.
(2) Romney by virtue of his vast personal fortune has suppressed the activities of the top tier candidates, the keystone predators who regulate the system. So Gov. Huckabee despite—or almost because of—his second tier status and lack of funds or organization suddenly, and powerfully, breaks out, which is the best possible outcome for Mayor Giuliani and Sen. McCain, both of whom can now sit quietly by and allow Romney to destroy himself as he tries to dislodge Gov. Huckabee.
(3) Elsewhere we discussed how Romney’s activities have distorted perceptions of the primary race in the same sense that subsidies or bailouts undermine the efficiency of a market to return prices that are an index of value:
Back to Balz:
Having bet on doing well in the early states, he will now live or die by the results … etc., etc.
Yes, we too used to agree that Romney would live or die according to the tests of Iowa and New Hampshire. But now we would argue otherwise. We predict that Romney will fight right up to, and on the floor of, a bitterly contested GOP convention. Romney has simply spent too much money—recall the “sunk cost effect“—besides: anything less than the GOP nomination would be too great a humiliation for him to bear. Besides: Romney honestly believes that he deserves the nomination and he is willing to defend his claim.
“John McCain must be causing Mitt Romney some serious heartburn in New Hampshire,” writes Jay Carney in a Time-Blog Swampland post titled Romney Blames…McCain??
How else to explain Romney’s magnificently absurd claim that the recently-reported push polls attacking Romney’s Mormonism are somehow the fault of…that’s right, John McCain — more specifically, the campaign finance reform law known as McCain-Feingold, which passed in 2002. Politico’s Jonathan Martin has the story here. Of course, push polling existed long before McCain-Feingold became law, as Mark Salter, McCain’s senior aide, alter ego and co-author points out in this lacerating riposte:
It is appalling, but not surprising, that Mitt Romney would seek to take advantage of this disturbing incident to launch yet another hypocritical attack. It’s the hallmark of his campaign.
Back when Governor Romney was calling for public financing and taxing political donations, and before McCain-Feingold was passed, push polling was, regrettably, alive and well in American politics. Anyone who spent a day in South Carolina in 2000 can testify to that. It is not a surprise that Governor Romney would use even an attack on him to make yet another hypocritical statement. It is the hallmark of his campaign … etc., etc.
Liz Mair offers her take on why Romney wants to blame the victim in a post titled Romney and the religion bashing calls
… I’ve been less impressed with the Romney camp’s swift move to tie all of this to McCain-Feingold. The issue here is one of religious bigotry being shopped to voters– not of the utility of campaign finance reform, of which I personally am no great fan. And, it’s interesting that the Romney camp has moved in this direction so quickly. Sure, they never miss an opportunity to beat up on McCain, so it’s not surprising that they’re doing it here. Still, it seems as though this whole incident has thus far proved pretty beneficial to Romney. He is now in the victim/underdog role that one of his campaign aides indicated a couple months back could prove helpful to his campaign. He’s also been given another prime opportunity to denounce an initiative that has been widely unpopular with conservatives, and make himself out to be the anti-McCain (something that still has a lot of appeal with some members of the GOP base). Despite the fact that it’s Romney’s religion that’s been beat up on here, he’s looking like the overall winner from the whole episode … etc.
We were wondering how Romney would botch his response to these events.
Romney!—dude—your negatives are soaring!—a more effective response strategy to the push-poll revelation would have been to:
(a) Praise Sen. McCain for his integrity; infer your confidence that neither the Senator nor any of his people were involved. If later events undermine that confidence you can express surprise etc.
(b) Praise the Attorney General for his swift response; infer your confidence in the US justice system etc.
(c) Praise the American people—in particular, the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire—for their tolerance; infer your confidence in their wisdom, temperance, moderation, and sense of fair play, then segue into your own commitments to those values by means of a personal story.
Then, and only then, and without naming any names, decry dirty tricks, dishonest campaigners, and the laws and loopholes that enable them. This way, Romney, you would appear larger than you are, as opposed to smaller—and you still get to say everything that you want to say. This is how you affect to appear statesmanlike, even presidential, as opposed to, say, affecting the pose of an angry department of motor vehicles clerk (Romney’s usual pose). This, Boy Romney, is how you address the world when your own negatives are somewhere in the stratosphere.
Otherwise, you get responsa like Carney’s, Mair’s et al.—which is precisely what you got, and precisely what you will continue to get until you dismiss your entire communications staff down to the last unpaid-intern fetcher of coffee. Speaking of which, is there anyone in Team Romney that has any actual experience in, or any actual training or study in, rhetoric or communications?—we’re just wondering. So far, Team Romney has provided us with between 12 and, we think, 15 separate case studies for how not to develop and manage a message campaign.
Our students will be grateful to Romney for years to come.
“Your friendly neighborhood campaign spot correspondent, yesterday: ‘This reminds me of Romney’s constant touting of that state police program regarding illegal immigration as an accomplishment, even though his successor, Democrat Deval Patrick, rescinded it before it went into effect'”—writes Jim Geraghty in an NRO Campaign Spot post titled Team Romney Objects; I Object to Their Objection
Each time Romney cites it, I’m muttering to anyone in earshot, why are you doing this? Why?”
Romney campaign helper-money Kevin Madden then issues a hair-splitting instance of casuistry that Geraghty calls an “objection,” the text of which Geraghty provides etc., etc.
Yet again the Romneys get into a spitting contest with friend and ally, Jim Geraghty.
Note to the Romneys: the man is trying to help you. Please believe us: you need all the help you can get.