Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

[…] “Apparently the word is going around Team Romney that McCain will need 77 percent of the delegates remaining to win,” writes Romney sycophant Jim Geraghty in an NRO Campaign Spot blog burst titled Romney Fighting All The Way To The Convention?

(I’m pretty sure that’s wrong, if the numbers 720-256-194 are accurate. And if McCain, the guy in the 600-700s needs to win an extremely high percentage, doesn’t Romney, the guy in the 200s, have to win an even higher percentage?)

However, if Romney stays in, it’s very plausible to see a scenario in which he denies McCain the nomination on a straight delegate victory. This would result in some really, really rough coverage and criticism. I’m hearing some fans of Mitt talk about doing something like this to “keep McCain honest” and to broker concessions in St. Paul.

We’ll see. If the sense is that his campaign isn’t being run to win, but being run to make a point, I think you’ll see his support in subsequent states drop … I’m not sure the Romney campaign was built to be a protest candidacy […]

Um, we’re not so sure either. A protest candidate? Romney?

[…] “Al Cardenas, a member of Mr. Romney’s national finance team and his Florida chairman, said the campaign could still achieve certain goals, including pushing a conservative agenda, while hoping for the outside possibility of winning the nomination,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Losses Aside, Romney Puts Convention on Calendar

“You’ve got a chance to win the nomination based on either getting the required number of delegates in the first round,” Mr. Cardenas said, “or having a campaign that results in no one have the required number of delegates in the first round, which is maybe a more tangible goal.”

Mr. Romney’s advisers had said that if he reached only 300 delegates by Tuesday, a threshold he fell short of, he would essentially have to win every remaining contest, often by large margins because most of them allocate delegates proportionally.

Charlie Black, a senior strategist for Mr. McCain, put out a strategy memorandum on Wednesday that made a similar argument. McCain advisers said that, by conservative estimates, they expected to wrap up the nomination by early March.

“I will not say, in order to stay consistent with my boss’s superstition, which I share, that it’s impossible for these guys to get nominated,” said Mr. Black, referring to Mr. Romney and Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, “but it is virtually impossible just based on the arithmetic of the matter.”

But Mr. Romney’s advisers have been discussing three categories of delegates: those that have been already been awarded and bound to a candidate; those that have been promised but are not technically bound; and those that have not yet been allocated.

The goal would be to continue to battle, hoping that Mr. Romney starts to sweep up states, and then arrive at the convention with no clear winner and the momentum to wrest some of those promised but not officially bound delegates into his column.

Mr. Romney appeared to allude to this possibility in his speech on Tuesday night, promising to take the Republican race “all the way to the convention” […]

The emphases are ours, all ours.

We harp more on this string here:

Romney attempting to engineer a brokered convention, hints at plans to foment mutiny among promised but not officially bound delegates

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

Advertisements

[…] “In a measure of just how dire the situation is for the campaign, Mr. Romney’s advisers have been discussing the existence of three different categories of delegates: those that have been already been awarded and bound to a candidate; those that have been promised to someone but are not technically bound; and those that have not yet been allocated,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT The Caucus blog burst titled Romney Prepared to Keep On Going

They are mapping out a farfetched possibility premised on conservative fears continuing to fester against Mr. McCain, which they hope fuels a series of wins for Mr. Romney and then perhaps get him to a point where he has enough momentum to wrest some of those promised but not officially bound delegates into his column at a contested convention.

Mr. Romney appeared to even allude to this potential route in his speech on Tuesday night, promising to take the contest “all the way to the convention.”

“There’s a whole lot of scenarios that get us there,” Tagg Romney said […]

Yeahright. A lot of scenarios. More than ever. Possibilities everywhere. Options abound. But the scenario Tagg Romney suggests is singular, pointed, clear, and perilous. It consists in an attempt to nullify the expressed counsel of Republican primary voters—i.e. the returns of the primary contests themselves—by turning-around promised but technically not bound party delegates. It also consists in continuing to drive up Sen. John McCain’s negatives to undermine any claim the man has to being electable in November, as Luo indicates below:

[…] Tagg Romney also seemed to allude to his father’s continued willingness to pour his own money into his presidential bid, saying the campaigning hope is that conservative alarm about Mr. McCain continues to grow, allowing the campaign to still “fund-raise outside as well as from my dad and make this a real battle” […]

So, what should we call Romney’s newest and probably boldest yet hare-brained scheme? We haven’t decided yet. But think about it, friends, fans, and well-wishers. Romney is supposed to be a dispassionate android number-cruncher problem-solver, a man of facts, data, and detail, a man of argument and not affect, a man of reason and not rebellion. So why is Romney behaving like a desperate out-of-control wannabee Captain Ahab or Richard III, i.e. a drastic figure willing to sacrifice everything and everyone? What in this man’s past would have predicted this? And what else do we not know about Romney?

Who, we would ask again, is Willard Milton Romney?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“An interview with John McCutcheon, a state consultant for Mitt Romney, made clear why he is expected to win easily,” writes the estimable Michael Luo for the Caucus, The NYT Political blog, in a post titled Romney at the West Virginia Convention

[Credit: Kavon W. Nikrad]

“We have had the only organizational presence in West Virginia to speak of,” said John McCutcheon, a state consultant for Mr. Romney. “It’s all Romney all the time.”

Mr. McCutcheon, who has been working with Mr. Romney since 2006, when he had only a national political action committee. The campaign’s field director, Wendy McCuskey, was hired over the summer. In all, the campaign has three paid people in the state, along with hundreds of volunteers.

Early on, the campaign had believed West Virginia might be one of the early voting states before Feb. 5. Even after it became clear that would not happen, the campaign still poured out significant resources in the state.

Mr. McCutcheon described an ambitious county-by-county ground operation, complete with phone-banking, direct mail and radio advertisements, compared to only modest efforts made by all the other candidates.

“Any presence that has come in has been last minute and skeletal,” he said about the other campaigns […]

Yet Romney’s investment was all for naught. Romney got out-maneuvered by his under-funded rivals. Romney’s response? A burst of rage in the form of a press release:

Campaign Manager Beth Myers On The West Virginia Convention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kevin Madden (857) 288-****

Boston, MA – Today, Romney for President Campaign Manager Beth Myers issued the following statement regarding the outcome of West Virginia’s Republican Party convention:

“Unfortunately, this is what Senator McCain’s inside Washington ways look like: he cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney’s campaign of conservative change.

“Governor Romney had enough respect for the Republican voters of West Virginia to make an appeal to them about the future of the party based on issues. This is why he led on today’s first ballot. Sadly, Senator McCain cut a Washington backroom deal in a way that once again underscores his legacy of working against Republicans who are interested in championing conservative policies and rebuilding the party.”

Yuh-huh. Note the anger. Note the name-calling. Note to Romney: This is the price you pay for alienating the other candidates. See:

how friend and foe alike make careful note of Romney’s duplicity—on Santorum’s endorsement of Willard Milton Romney, where we discuss the “I hate Romney club”

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

ATLANTA — Mitt Romney is leading a citizen revolution, or at least that is what he has been telling people these last few days as he has tries to right his bid for the Republican nomination,” writes the estimable Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Meet the New Mitt Romney, the Anti-Insider Populist

It may seem an unlikely role for a PowerPoint-loving, buttoned-down multimillionaire, but there Mr. Romney was, on stage Monday here in his starched white shirt and tie, raising his voice to be heard above the crowd and portraying himself as the anti-establishment insurgent.

“It’s time for the politicians to go and the citizens to come into Washington!” he said, drawing a roar from the several hundred gathered at his feet […]

[…] It was in New Hampshire that he settled on a theme about Washington’s being broken and his ability to bring change.

But with Mr. McCain now threatening to run away with the nomination, Mr. Romney has melded the old with the new, lobbing conservative grenades once again while talking about change. His latest script is calculated to sound the alarm over the prospect of Mr. McCain as the Republican nominee.

“In our party right now, there’s a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” he said, addressing an enthusiastic audience on Sunday at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill., a rock-ribbed Republican suburb of Chicago. “Which way are we going to go? Are we going to take a sharp left turn in our party, get as close as we can to Hillary Clinton, without being Hillary Clinton?” […]

[…] Conservative commentators, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, have thrown their support behind him or sharply criticized Mr. McCain, something that Mr. Romney now regularly cites.

Their influence, he said, helped lead him to victory in the Maine caucuses over the weekend.

“All the power structure was behind him,” Mr. Romney said in Glen Ellyn, in reference to Mr. McCain. “But you know what? Conservative voices on talk radio and news magazines, they got behind me and said, ‘This guy Romney’s the guy’ ” […]

[…] Mr. Romney has been making more of an effort to cultivate the news media as part of his refashioned candidacy. When he sauntered back onto a flight on Saturday, he broke the ice with an unusual remark.

“What did they say in ‘Star Wars?’ ” he asked. “What’s that line? ‘There’s nothing happening here. These droids aren’t the droids you’re looking for.’ ”

Eric Fehrnstrom, his traveling press secretary, said it had actually been rendered: “These are not the droids you are looking for.”

“These are not the droids you’re looking for,” Mr. Romney said. “Sorry” […]

Smooth.

So why has Romney suddenly recast himself from android data-cruncher, problem-solver into an outraged everyman Howard Beale figure? Bryan Dumont, a guest contributer to Virtual Vantage Points offers us a clue. His conclusions are based on an APCO World Wide emotional factors analysis of the GOP and Democratic candidates. Says Dumont:

[…] On the Republican side, McCain has a stronger link with voters on all the nine emotional dimensions essential to building a strong brand relationship. However, he has a slightly weaker link on Approachability, relative to other key emotional factors. Compared to other emotional dimensions, Huckabee’s key emotional strength is building a sense of Identification with Republican voters. Meanwhile, the Emotional Factor tool indicates that Republican voters have yet to connect to Romney on an emotional level. He falls far behind all of the other Republican candidates on every emotional dimension […]

From the APCO study itself:

[…] Gov. Mitt Romney has the weakest emotional connection with GOP voters overall. Romney is also building weaker emotional links with his supporters than the other candidates are with their supporters. Our study indicates that Romney has a particular vulnerability on Warmth—described as a sense of personal admiration and fondness […]

[…] All of the nine emotional dimensions are fairly equal in their impact in driving voters’ candidate preferences. However, among both Democratic and Republican likely voters, Relevance is the most important emotional driver. Building a sense that the candidate “fits who I am” and “speaks to me” is the most important emotional link in driving voter choice; while Approachability and Familiarity are less decisive. Republican voters are slightly more driven by Pride in their candidates than Democratic voters as a deciding factor in how to vote […]

The emphases are ours, all ours.

Comment: Yuh-huh. So Romney’s “anti-insider populism” is Romney’s absurdist, fantasy-land solution to the problem of how to develop an emotional connection with voters. It is a play for Relevance, however misguided. This is beyond farce. This is risible on its face. This is vanity politics.

Oh, and by the way, according to Wonkosphere, Romney has dropped to less than half of Sen. John McCain’s buzz share on the very eve of super-duper apocalypse Tuesday.

Romney descends to 12; Sen. McCain remains steady at 30.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[…] “Operating in survival mode, Mr. Romney’s circle of advisers has come up with a detailed road map to try to salvage his campaign,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Romney Maps a Strategy for Survival

The plan is complete with a new infusion of cash from Mr. Romney, a long-term strategy intended to turn the campaign into a protracted delegate fight and a reframing of the race as a one-on-one battle for the future of the party that seeks to sound the alarm among conservatives about Mr. McCain.

The advisers have drawn up a list of states, dividing and ranking them into those considered relatively easy and inexpensive targets, along with a broader grouping of more costly battlegrounds where the advisers hope that Mr. Romney can be competitive.

Some states like Arizona and Arkansas, the home states of Mr. McCain and Mike Huckabee, respectively, are largely written off.

The question is whether the planning, along with the campaign’s one trump card, the candidate’s vast wealth, can overcome the growing sense of inevitability that has begun to attach itself to Mr. McCain.

Complicating the outlook, Mr. Romney’s campaign has been racked by infighting over advertising strategy between some senior advisers, including some consultants who joined the campaign after leaving Mr. McCain’s […]

[…] The most serious obstacle in many places is Mr. Huckabee, who continues to pull social conservative voters from Mr. Romney.

“The more the Romney strategy hinges on picking up red states, the bigger a factor Mike Huckabee is going to be,” Mr. Harris said […]

Only Romney precluded the possibility of ever reaching out to Gov. Huckabee voters when he went viciously negative against the candidate so many, many moons ago.

But here would be a positive development for Romney. Romney’s anger may have turned on Team Romney itself. Romney may finally be thinking over whether his own organization is the cause of many of his woes.

[…] “The day after Feb. 5, Mr. Romney said he anticipated he would begin reviewing with his campaign team what states to go to next, as well as the budget. Mr. Romney seemed to allude to the possibility of downsizing his staff after Feb. 5,” writes Michael Luo in another NYT article, this time titled Romney Vows to Push on Past Tuesday

Yes. Only Romney may be pushing on past Tuesday with fewer of his hirelings and hangers-on to attend him.

“I mean, we have a very substantial staff, as you know, not what’s here but back in Boston,” he said. “And we had a big staff in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire. That’s a much larger staff than you have as you go on to these subsequent primaries, so who are the people needed, where are we going to need them, what’s the campaign budget going to look like, all of those things.”

In typical Romney fashion the hapless candidate turned and flatly denied what he had just stated.

But then when pressed about the issue during a news conference in Minneapolis, he said there had been no discussions about downsizing […]

But note what Romney said: “There had been no discussions”—does Romney mean that no one among his staff had discussed the issue of downsizing?—so was Romney riffing with reporters about plans he is developing independent of the candidate’s spectacularly ineffective personnel? Recall: This is the same lavishly funded and superbly equipped organization that delivered Romney Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and other humiliating defeats.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[…] “Over in Michigan, the Republican voters clearly had the same thought on Tuesday when they went out and gave their primary win to a candidate absolutely no one would want to have a beer with,” writes Gail Collins in an NYT editorial titled The Anti-Charm Offensive

(Or in his case, a bracing lemonade.) Mitt Romney! Mitt Romney!Michigan voters are so frightened of falling into permanent economic collapse that they’ll grab onto almost anything. Romney, the native son who lived in Michigan in the Eisenhower era, played them for all they were worth. He was going to bring back the old-time auto industry and the rest of the 1950s with it. There was no lost job that could not be retrieved under Mitt’s skilled-businessman’s supervision. He’d bring them all home!

Human nature being what it is, you have to give politicians a pass for one pander per primary. (The Democrats have spent the last week in Nevada arguing about who is the most against a federal plan to store used nuclear fuel in Yucca Mountain as if it were a plot to tax air.) But in Michigan, Romney went way over quota.

He told the auto executives that they were being picked on when Congress required fuel efficiency to reach 35 m.p.g. by 2020. (Washington told Detroit to improve mileage in 1975, and just 32 years later, here’s Big Brother, harping again.) And he promised $20 billion in federally funded research and development to get the auto industry back on track.

Let’s see, $20 billion for Michigan, and 46 states left to go. We’re looking at nearly a trillion dollars in potential pander just to get Mitt to the conventions. We won’t have to worry about Congress doling out pork anymore — Romney will give the entire store away himself.

In his victory speech, Romney said his inspiration came from “Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.” I’m not sure how Reagan would have felt about that $20 billion, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time the words “George Herbert Walker Bush” and “inspiration” have appeared in the same sentence […]

Yuh-huh. And it suddenly occurs to York of the formerly conservative NRO—the knuckle-draggers who endorsed Romney for president—how Romney’s proposal to MI will play in the upcoming primary contests:

[…] “if Romney’s success in Michigan prompts more and more candidate attention to economic issues, the campaign will take on a new, decidedly post-war-on-terror feel,” writes Byron York of the National Review in a The Corner post titled Message: We Care

And if that happens, it will probably go in directions that few conservatives are happy with. When candidates start talking about easing voters’ pain, there’s no telling what they will promise – Romney’s $20 billion check to the auto industry might be just the beginning […]

Well, duh. We make the same case here:

[…] Not only does Romney’s plan to nationalize the US automobile industry reflect yet another complete ideological reversal for the hapless candidate—Not only is Romney’s proposal impracticable and nearly impossible on its face, just the worst possible public policy imaginable—Not only will Romney’s proposal issue into in a furious race to the bottom as Romney himself and the other candidates are forced to out-bid each other promising to bail-out, subsidize, or protect from competition other ailing industries and entire economic sectors—but Romney’s plan for MI is also based on a risibly inaccurate and historically flawed assessment of an already globalized and post-industrial US automobile “industry” […]

We conclude this sad blog burst with an excerpt from an editorial by the Washington Times:

[…] “No doubt [Romney] will soon saturate Florida’s airwaves the way he bombarded Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan,” write the crack editorialists of the Washington Times in an article titled Romney’s Michigan Win

Too bad Mr. Romney continues to refuse to tell voters how much of his personal wealth he spent during the fourth quarter even as he ratchets up his personal spending throughout the critical month of January.

… Mr. McCain told Michigan voters what they know in their hearts to be true. Those auto jobs are gone. But they chose to believe, at least for a day, Mr. Romney’s dubious optimism, which, if he is elected in November, will surely become one of the first campaign promises he will have to break […]

We can only hope he breaks it. Now that Romney could actually end up as our president, we need to hope and pray that his lies and duplicities work in our favor.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[…] “Meanwhile, the Republican prospects in the fall just got even dimmer,” writes David Brooks in an NYT Campaign Stops blog burst titled Republicans Brawl, Democrats Yawn

I say this not only because a weak general election candidate won a primary, but because Mitt Romney’s win pretty much guarantees a bitter fight for the nomination. If you doubt that, here is what Rush Limbaugh said about McCain and Huckabee on his program today: “I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it.” This week, Rush and his radio mimics have been on the rampage on the party’s modernizers, from Newt Gingrich on over.

Dear reader, were you aware that Romney’s Bain Capital recently acquired Clear Channel?

Rush Limbaugh is owned and operated by Romney.

Back to Brooks:

This thing will only get uglier.

Second, Mitt Romney found, as Hillary would say, his voice. I remember watching him campaign at a financial company about 6 months ago. He talked about business and was fantastic. The next event was at a senior citizen center. He was ideological and dreadful. In Michigan, the full corporate Mitt was on display.

His campaign was a reminder of how far corporate Republicans are from free market Republicans. He proposed $20 billion in new federal spending on research. He insisted that Washington had to get fully engaged in restoring the United States automotive industry. “Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner,” he said, “not a disinterested observer.” He vowed, “If I’m president of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership.”

This is how the British Tory party used to speak in the 1970s […]

Well, duh. What Romney describes is redolent of the “social market economies” of post-war Western Europe. Soziale Marktwirtschaft, in German. Here is an adequate description of the model:

[…] The social market economy seeks a middle path between socialism and capitalism (i.e. a mixed economy) and aims at maintaining a balance between a high rate of economic growth, low inflation, low levels of unemployment, good working conditions, social welfare, and public services, by using state intervention.

Basically respecting the free market, the social market economy is opposed to both a planned economy and laissez-faire capitalism. Erhard once told Friedrich Hayek that the free market economy did not need to be made social but was social in its origin.

In a social market economy, collective bargaining is often done on a national level not between one corporation and one union, but national employers’ organizations and national trade unions […]

In the 90s the model reappears in the less administrative-pragmatic-compromising, and more heatedly ideological form of “third way” speculation by Anthony Giddens et al.

U.S. self-funded outsider campaigns tend to articulate themselves in an intuitive, naive “third way,” “beyond right and left” rhetoric that describes a polity or a society, in weirdly medieval way, as an organic whole comprised of various components, e.g. towns, guilds, fueds, church, estates etc. Ross Perot and Romney both speak of “bringing together” government, labor, corporate interests, engineers, specialists, communities etc. to develop the consensus necessary to support policy solutions. Social problems become technical problems. Political questions become administrative tasks—e.g. Romney’s now infamous to-do list for Washington.

The rubes at the formerly conservative National Review who endorsed Willard Milton Romney because of his—snarf!—guffaw!—constant and steadfast commitment to conservative principles—cough!-cough!—are of course anxious to revise and redact the hapless candidate’s atavistic proposals.

Regard the following strained casuistical divisio to arrive at a mixed ruling:

[…] [Douthat] “thinks that conservatives are going too easy on Romney’s supposedly left-wing, “back-to-the-’70s, ‘D.C. will save the auto industry’ promises” and giving McCain too much grief over his “2000-2001 preference for a more progressive tax code,” complains Ramesh Ponnuru in an NRO The Corner post titled Douthat on Romney

Many of Romney’s policy specifics involved removing Washington-imposed burdens on the industry, such as the prospect of new regulations. You can think he exaggerated their impact—I do—but that’s not left-wing.

Rejoinder: Granted. Only this is not the claim or claims to which Douthat refers.

Convening industry reps and government officials to gab about the industry’s problems doesn’t strike me as all that alarming, either: It’s what comes out of the meeting that matters, and Romney didn’t commit to anything statist.

Rejoinder: We must assume that Romney wants his proposals to be received as meaningful and relevant. So does Ponnoru therefore argue that Romney’s proposal to convene government and industry actors to address the problems of the US automobile industry is at best a palliative exercise or at worst a cynical ploy?

And: does Ponnoru have no experience in political activism, community organizing, or politics in general? What Romney has proposed is called agenda setting, and political formations on the left and center-left use this technique to co-opt and corrupt actors and organizations on the right or otherwise uncommitted all the time. Organize a committee or convene a conference to investigate e.g. healthcare issues, invite lots of different stake holders etc., and everyone present will return a ruling in favor of reform at public expense. Why? Because the principal assumption governing whether you organize a committee or convene a conference is that you have a task, and that task is to address an issue—to attend at all is to assent to the proposition that there is an issue, that the issue resolves itself into a political question or quetions, and that all involved need to act to resolve it.

Romney’s proposal assumes in advance that the Government is committed to, and responsible for, the performance of the US automobile industry. The questions that remain are questions of degree—how much is the US government responsible, what is the US government expected to do, and how much is this going to cost us beyond the US$20 billion already committed.

Romney’s plan to quintuple research spending was pretty bad, in my view—but plenty of free-market folks are okay with such subsidies. The reason Romney got a “slap on the wrist” is that it’s all he deserved […]

Rejoinder: Granted, Ponnoru. This was bad, as you put it. Really, really bad. But this is still not what has people like Douthat, Brooks, and ourselves exercised. It is rather Romney’s explicit claim that “Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner,” combined with his subsidies etc.

Your eagerness to completely miss the point speaks volumes.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[…] “On the Republican side, my message is: Be not afraid. Some people are going to tell you that Mike Huckabee’s victory last night in Iowa represents a triumph for the creationist crusaders. Wrong,” writes David Brooks in a NYT editorial titled The Two Earthquakes

Consider Brooks’ editorial yet another rejoinder to Romney’s claim that Iowa decided against him because Iowans are religious bigots.

Romney: the voters of Iowa are hick-rube religious bigots

Back to Brooks:

Huckabee won because he tapped into realities that other Republicans have been slow to recognize. First, evangelicals have changed. Huckabee is the first ironic evangelical on the national stage. He’s funny, campy (see his Chuck Norris fixation) and he’s not at war with modern culture.

Second, Huckabee understands much better than Mitt Romney that we have a crisis of authority in this country. People have lost faith in their leaders’ ability to respond to problems. While Romney embodies the leadership class, Huckabee went after it. He criticized Wall Street and K Street. Most importantly, he sensed that conservatives do not believe their own movement is well led. He took on Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth and even President Bush. The old guard threw everything they had at him, and their diminished power is now exposed.

Third, Huckabee understands how middle-class anxiety is really lived. Democrats talk about wages. But real middle-class families have more to fear economically from divorce than from a free trade pact. A person’s lifetime prospects will be threatened more by single parenting than by outsourcing. Huckabee understands that economic well-being is fused with social and moral well-being, and he talks about the inter-relationship in a way no other candidate has.

In that sense, Huckabee’s victory is not a step into the past. It opens up the way for a new coalition.

A conservatism that recognizes stable families as the foundation of economic growth is not hard to imagine. A conservatism that loves capitalism but distrusts capitalists is not hard to imagine either. Adam Smith felt this way. A conservatism that pays attention to people making less than $50,000 a year is the only conservatism worth defending.

Will Huckabee move on and lead this new conservatism? Highly doubtful. The past few weeks have exposed his serious flaws as a presidential candidate. His foreign policy knowledge is minimal. His lapses into amateurishness simply won’t fly in a national campaign.

So the race will move on to New Hampshire. Mitt Romney is now grievously wounded. Romney represents what’s left of Republicanism 1.0. Huckabee and McCain represent half-formed iterations of Republicanism 2.0. My guess is Republicans will now swing behind McCain in order to stop Mike […]

Imagine a McCain-Huckabee GOP ticket. Dare we to dream? We still cherish in our hearts a profound affection for Hizzoner. But even so …

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[…] “Advisers to Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney said they believed that Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, was already weakened before Iowa and was now even more vulnerable,” write Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse for the NYT in an article titled McCain May Benefit From Huckabee’s Jolt to G.O.P.

Evidence of that could be seen in a furious exchange of attack advertisements between the two men Friday.

Complicating Mr. Romney’s life even more, Mr. Huckabee’s campaign manager, Ed Rollins, suggested he was entering something of a temporary alliance of interest with Mr. McCain against Mr. Romney. Mr. Rollins said Mr. Huckabee would be using the next several days to present what he said would be an unfavorable comparison of their records as governor.

“We’re going to see if we can’t take Romney out,” Mr. Rollins said. “We like John. Nobody likes Romney” […]

We long ago predicted that other candidates would concert their efforts against Romney.

Romney bravely—or unwittingly—faces the gathering storm, er, we mean swarm

We evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy here:

In show of solidarity and support. Gov. Huckabee defends Sen. McCain against Romney’s false, unfair, and highly personal attacks—also: how the concerted efforts of the McCain-Huckabee axis gets more for a more minimal investement

Romney’s new theme post-Iowa?—change, a theme Romney steals from Barack Obama’s Iowa message. Romney’s message post-Iowa? Romney is an agent of change; McCain is an agent of the status quo. Only here is the problem for Romney: once again Romney will advance a message that requires audiences to

(a) interpret facts as their opposites [Romney himself has praised Sen. McCain as an agent of change]

-and-

(b) construe events not on their face, but according to a tormented casuistry [Romney has spent a year depicting himself as an agent of continuity and social conservative orthodoxy]

Evidence? Nagourney and Hulse provide it:

[…] Mr. McCain may prove to be an elusive target, at least in this state.

Mr. Romney began seeking on Friday night to portray Mr. McCain as a Washington insider, a criticism that seemed to be intended to strip away from him independent voters who were critical to his victory in 2000. (Independent voters here are permitted to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary).

Several Republicans suggested that strategy might be difficult to pull off. “They are going to try to make him the Washington insider,” said Sara Taylor, a former White House political director. “He spent 10 years as the iconic guy in Washington fighting the status quo; so that is going to be hard” […]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

… “Romney was […] was queried about why he gave a sunny assessment of the war in Iraq after a visit in 2006, even though he now often says the aftermath of the invasion was not managed well,” writes Marc Santora in a NYT The Caucus blog post titled McCain on Experience

[Credit goes to eyeon08.com in a post titled Romney: Check with Lawyers and Notes ]

[Romney:] You could look at what I said at that time. I was encouraged at that time that there was a creation of a coalition government and believed that was a positive step and I continue to believe that that was a positive step. Let me make it very clear. Not everything that happened over the period of time following Saddam Hussein’s collapse was bad.

The establishment of a constitution, the election of a coalition and the creation of a coalition government. Those were positive developments but nonehtheless I felt in some respects the management of the post-Saddam Hussein conflict there was not as well managed as we would have hoped it would have been, and I think that was in part because we frankly did not have sufficient preparation and planning for what occurred.

Q: If you felt at that time, why didn’t you say something then?

Mr. Romney: I don’t recall all the things that I said at that time, so I’d just have to go back and look at my notes at that time.

Q: Wasn’t it important to take a stand?

Mr. Romney: I said what I knew at that time … etc.

Another profile in courage.

Conclusion: It is impossible to hold this man—his imperious holiness, Willard Milton Romney—to anything he has ever said, to any commitment he has ever made, to any position he has ever held, to any policy he has ever pursued. Romney—apparently—is, or believes that he is, a creature of pure will and imagination, a demigod-like figure who stands apart from the causal nexus, a creature unlimited by even his personal history, a story he feels himself free to revise on the fly: He is what he says he is, and his words mean only what he says that they mean, and he takes grim offense should a miserable quaking mortal stand and suggest otherwise.

Moral: There are no messages in the abstract. There are only the men and the women who emit them, who carry them, who must defend them, creatures of flesh and blood, historical entities who pass into this world, live, love and labor for a short time, construe their experiences of this world as stories, and then pass away again. All politics is therefore identity politics, because a message has meaning only to the degree that we can identify with a flesh-and-blood messenger, and that messenger’s motives, intentions, perceptions, reflections, history of good or bad fortune, hard sufferings, and costly successes.

Our question: Who identifies with Romney?

Who is Romney’s natural constituency? Just how many super-rich, super-privileged shape-shifters exist among us?

Who gapes upon the expertly groomed face or form of Romney and believes that he sees in it himself, or believes that she sees in it herself, or even detects in it something remotely human and familiar?

Who?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.