Posts Tagged ‘NRO’
[...] “When Romney tried to present himself as the most conservative of conservative candidates — remember when he said, playing on Paul Wellstone’s old line, that he represented “the Republican wing of the Republican party”? — a lot of conservatives in Iowa and South Carolina and beyond didn’t quite know what to think,” writes Byron York in an NRO article titled Why Romney Failed; Where was he coming from? Voters never really knew
When they saw video of him in the fall of 2002 — not that long ago, during a debate in his run for Massachusetts governor — vowing to “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose” five times in a relatively brief period of time, they didn’t quite know what to think. When they saw video of him almost indignantly saying that “I wasn’t a Ronald Reagan conservative” and “Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan/Bush; I am not trying to return to Reagan/Bush” — they didn’t quite know what to think. And when they read the letter he wrote saying he would “seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens” even more than Ted Kennedy, they didn’t quite know what to think.
Romney’s run from his past left a lot of voters asking: Who is this guy? He says he believes certain things deeply now, but he believed other things deeply not that long ago. And each time, it seems, his deeply-held beliefs jibed with what was most advantageous politically.
And now that he has left the Republican race, the question remains. What was Romney thinking? No one outside a very, very tight circle knows. He is an extraordinarily disciplined man, and during the campaign he applied that discipline to making sure that he never said anything too revealing or that might be taken the wrong way. So if you were a reporter, or a supporter, or anyone other than his wife and perhaps his children, and you thought that Romney revealed something special and private to you, you were most likely wrong.
Given that, no one knew what meant the most to Romney. What were the core values that lay deep inside him, things that meant so much that he would give up everything for them? Voters want to know that about a president; they piece together an answer by watching a candidate over time. With Romney it was hard to tell, so they were left to guess. For what it’s worth, my guess is that at the core of Romney’s being is his church and his family; if Romney were asked to surrender all his worldly success for them, he would [...]
Church and family?—where does wanting to be our president come in?
Anyway, we harped on this weary string for months.
And yet the National Review endorsed this inscrutible non-entity.
“A few moments ago, I spoke to someone in the Romney camp,” writes Byron York of NRO’s The Corner in a blog burst titled Romney Pulling Out? Campaign Doesn’t Want “To Look Destructive At What Might Be The End.”
Would I be crazy to read that into the email traffic? “You would not be crazy to read that into it,” he said. “There have been a lot of discussions going on about whether there is a path to victory, and not wanting to look destructive at what might be the end. You are reading the right thing into it.”
Update: It’s official, Gov. Romney to withdraw.
[...] “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:
[...] “Lots of talk in the media about McCain vs. The Mighty Wombats of Talk Radio,” writes the insipid Richelieu in an insipid Campaign Standard blog burst titled Richelieu: Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene
Ask President Tancredo about that one. The talkers can raise an issue to prominence, they can entertain, but they do not really deliver actual votes. Sorry Rush [...]
That should be “Sorry Romney.“
Still, however, Romney wants to capitalize on the new love radiating from talk radio
[...] “It might be preaching to the choir, but the members of this choir are precisely the people Mitt Romney needs to stop John McCain from getting a stranglehold on the Republican nomination on Super Tuesday,” writes the estimable Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor, ina http://www.boston.com blog burst titled Romney puts ad on Limbaugh show
Romney aired an ad today on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show that excoriates McCain’s record on taxes and immigration.
“John McCain, he’s been in Washington a long time,” the announcer says, before the ad cites conservative commentators and the National Review.
Limbaugh, while not explicitly endorsing Romney, has been warning his listeners for weeks that McCain’s nomination would destroy the Republican Party. He repeated those warnings again today. Romney and McCain have been sparring over who is the true conservative [...]
The always a little baffled and befuddled Ed Morrissey laments what he foresees as a growing rift between the media figure of the right-wing shock jock and the Republican Party:
[...] But this showdown isn’t just about the media. It looks like the first really open GOP primary in decades will test a couple of widespread assumptions. First, does conservative talk radio have the influence that many presume to impact an election? Second, if it does not, what will that say about the future of conservative talk radio?
The answer to the first question will, I think, demonstrate that listeners have never been the monolithic, Clone Army style force that its critics presume. While they appreciate and enjoy the programs, listeners think for themselves. Anyone who spends any time at all listening knows the diversity of opinion unleashed through the call-in lines. Having spent time behind the mike as Hugh’s replacement on occasion, I can tell you that the callers are smart, informed, and sometimes have a much different opinion than me or Hugh.
So the answer to the second question follows from there. People will continue to listen to talk radio as they always have — for entertainment, information, and debate. The hosts will influence the opinions of the listeners, but they’re independent and will go their own way.
I expect that the hosts will change some minds before Tuesday. I expect the endorsements of the party’s establishment figures to do the same. In the end, most of the voters will make their decision based on their own logic, as they usually do. However, there will be one part of the showdown that may not survive, and that is the affinity of the conservative hosts for the Republican Party as an entity for conservative values. For that, High Noon has been a long time coming, and a McCain win may have some activists feeling very forsaken [...]
We grieve for those forsaken activists. We truly do.
Morrissey does understand the distinction between the activities of corporate content providers and the task of political parties, right?—the one is not the propaganda arm of the other. And if the one—or elements among the one—elect to promote a faction within the GOP at the expense of a governing coalition, then it deserves whatever it gets. The party is not the movement; the movement is not the party. And talk radio is neither party nor movement; it is information, entertainment, and opinion provided by organizations whose business is business.
Our prediction: our brothers and sisters in talk radio will soon learn why journalists and other media figures cherish the integrity that a sense of independence confers on them.
Meanwhile, Michael Graham of the NRO muses on the Sen. John McCain nomination that hasn’t happened yet, and answers the question that Morissey never posed but should have:
[...] John McCain didn’t win this nomination. Everyone else lost it. Mitt Romney had every chance — and then some — to win this nomination. He campaigned hard, and with lots of money, in every key primary state. And in every key state where his father never served as governor, he lost. He came, he saw (and was seen), and he got 31% of the vote. He wasn’t defeated by McCain. He’s just a mediocre candidate” [...]
This isn’t about talk radio. Nor should it ever have been. This is not even about the conservative movement. Note to Morrissey: Romney is not the conservative movement. The conservative movement is not Romney. Conservatism is for Romney a means to an end and that end is power.
This is, and has always been, about Romney, a surpassingly mediocre candidate.
“Last summer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani took time out of a GOP debate to defend John McCain: ‘I happen to be a very big admirer of Senator McCain and I can tell you quite honestly that if I weren’t running for President I would be here supporting him,’” writes the estimable Ana Marie Cox in a http://www.time.com article titled The ‘I Hate Romney’ Club
Pundits speculated that the praise was simply a kind word for the man whose campaign had recently exploded, plagued by debt and defections. Privately, McCain advisers wondered if Giuliani was playing nice in order to secure McCain’s endorsement after he dropped out of the race.
But this week it was Giuliani who dropped out of the race and endorsed McCain, praising him as an “American hero.”
The endorsement was a reflection of the authentic respect McCain and Giuliani have for each other. But that’s not all the two candidates share. The endorsement deal was solidifed when both campaigns stayed at the Deerfield Hilton in Florida, following the Republican debate in Boca Raton on January 24. The two campaigns’ staff mingled easily over drinks. Acknowledging that his candidate was not likely to survive a defeat in Florida, a Giuliani aide approached one of the McCain senior staffers. Come Wednesday, he said, “Just tell us what want us to do — we’ve got to stop him.”
“Him,” of course, is Mitt Romney, the candidate who seems to be uniting his Republican rivals almost as much as Hillary Clinton. “The degree to which campaigns’ personal dislike for Mitt Romney has played a part in this campaign cannot be underestimated,” says an adviser to one of those rival campaigns. While sharp words have been exchanged between practically every Republican candidate at one point or another on the campaign trail, the aversion to Romney seems to go beyond mere policy disagreements. It’s also a suspicion of what they see is his hypocrisy and essential phoniness — what one former staffer for Fred Thompson called Romney’s “wholesale reinvention” [...]
We predicted long ago that the other candidates would concert their efforts against Romney.
Back to Cox:
[...] But such jibes mask more substantive complaints that many of the candidates have about Romney. “What Romney has done,” says a Huckabee adviser, “he’s attacked people for positions he once held. That annoys people. And he uses his own money to do it, which rubs it in.” He’s gone after McCain on campaign finance reform (which he once supported), Huckabee on tax increases (Huckabee countered that Romney’s raised “fees” amounted to the same thing), and nearly all the candidates on immigration [...]
Romney’s duplicity and shameless ideological cross-dressing offends the other candidates—this is a persistant theme in the accumulating Romney literature. What is less persistent is the theme of Romney’s duplicity among those who support him. Yet former Sen. Rick Santorum—who now supports the hapless candidate, Romney—also notes Romney’s duplicity.
Here is Santorum himself as interviewed by Mark Hemingway in an NRO article titled Romney-Santorum 2008; The former senator makes his choice
[...] “I think Romney, when he decided to run, he’s a smart business guy, and he sort of got his team together and said, ‘What do I need to do to be the conservative candidate?’ and give me the checklist and see if I can check them off,” Santorum said. “And I think over the course of this campaign, you know, I saw the migration from the checklist to his head and from his head into his heart and I really believe that’s where he is today” [...]
Santorum’s account of Romney’s duplicity is, um, well, unique. Apparently, for Santorum, Romney is authentic precisely because of his cynical duplicity.
Yes, concedes Santorum, Romney began as a social progressive. But Romney could not win the GOP nomination as a social progressive. So, in advance of a national election, Romney developed a checklist of what it means to be a conservative and ran on it. This may seem cynical. And it is. But, insists Santorum, sometime during Romney’s hard campaigning the candidate’s newly adopted principles “migrated” from his “head” to his “heart.”
Over the course of Romney’scampaign? So Romney began his campaign flatly lying. But as he listened to himself campaigning hard for conservative issues, principles, and causes, he convinced himself? Does Santorum really mean to argue that somehow Romney managed to persuade himself even if many of the rest of us remain unconvinced?
Remember: it isn’t a lie if you truly believe it.
As for Santorum himself, Stephen F. Hayes of the weekly standard has this to say in an article titled Enemies to the right of him
[...] Although many others have been as critical of McCain, perhaps no one has been as hypocritical. In 2006, when Santorum was running for reelection, he asked McCain to come to Pennsylvania to campaign on his behalf. When McCain obliged, Santorum put the video on his campaign website, listing it first among “key events” of the year. That’s gratitude, Santorum-style [...]
“I predict we’re going to hear a growing conversation on the right about whether it’s better for America, conservatism, etc to have a president who feels he has to placate the conservative base versus having a president who claims to be a member of it,” writes Jonah Goldberg in a National Review TheCorner Blogburst titled One of Us Vs. One Who Owes Us
Goldberg issues a safe prediction.
Every candidate proposes a theory of representation whether explicitly or otherwise, i.e. an account of not just how the candidate as an elected official will advance the issues of his or her constituencies, but an explanation of why he or she would want to do so consonant with the candidate’s values, biography etc.—e.g. I am one of you, I believe as you believe etc.
Romney’s theory of representation is a unique one in our experience. Romney proposes to represent you by becoming you. See:
WSJ: “Plenty of politicians attune their positions to new constituencies—The larger danger is that Mr. Romney’s conversions are not motivated by expediency or mere pandering but may represent his real governing philosophy”
Back to Goldberg
President Bush won enormous good faith — no pun intended — from evangelicals and other social conservatives by saying, in effect, “I’m one of you.” A case could be made that some of Bush’s problems stem from the fact that the White House was internally confused about whether conservatives were simply another constituency or if they were more like a loyal army. I don’t think the distinctions are clean and neat, since there isn’t a monolithic conservative base and the Bush White House has been itself divided between Nixonians (i.e. the Poppa Bush crowd) and Reaganites. But I think we’ll see the conversation emerge as candidates like Giuliani and McCain make “transactional” overtures to the conservative base, saying something like “Support me and I’ll support what you care about” rather than “support me because I am one of you.”
National Review had a similar conversation over Richard Nixon. That didn’t turn out great.
In other news from the frantic flunkies of the GOP establishment, Hugh Hewitt announces a talk-radio counter-strike against Sen John McCain as he attempts to consolidate his gains.
[...] Expect the talkers, led by Rush but seconded by Ingraham, Bennett, Prager, Beck, Hannity, Levin and me to spend the next few days putting down a marker: McCain is a very weak general election candidate, and if he was to win, would not govern as a conservative in any significant way. Our audiences are not, as MSMers like to imply, not only shrinking but mindless. They are growing, but they are incredibly independent of thought. They also take in and respond to good information, and now the information will be focused on John McCain and the choice before them.
MSM will of course be sending a very different set of talking points into the general population, one that obscures McCain’s record and which refuses to remind voters of the immigration fiasco etc. MSM will focus on Rudy and Arnold and leave the impression of a coalescing around McCain. Romney will battle to keep the issues out front, McCain the process.
But the new media is at work. We’ll see how it plays out [...]
So far this hasn’t played out well either. See:
- the air-war over Iowa: Rush Limbaugh savages Gov. Huckabee; Romney gets eviscerated by Iowa’s Jan Mickelson
- Rush Limbaugh shills for Romney, continues Romney’s viciously negative campaign against Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain AND against those who support them—BTW: Bain Capital recently acquired Clear Channel Communications
Our question: What possible theory of representation justifies Limbaugh, Ingraham, Bennett, Prager, Beck, Hannity, Levin, and Hewitt himself, denouncing Sen. John McCain and advocating for Willard Milton Romney? Also: what is Hewitt’s object? It is this: To persuade Gov. Mike Huckabee voters to vote for Romney.
[...] If the Huckabee supporters are conservatives, they will recognize the peril to their party’s core beliefs and abandon their favorite who has no chance of winning in favor of Mitt Romney who does [...]
Based on analysis by Patrick Ruffini, we discuss why this will not be a simple proposition here:
[...] “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.
“‘Tim Russert said on MSNBC today that Mitt Romney ‘could buy the (GOP) nomination,’” writes Doug Perry in an Elections blog post for the Oregonian titled Romney Trying to ‘Buy’ Nomination While Clinton Turns to Delegate-Free Sunshine State
How? He’s got the money and John McCain doesn’t. And because, unlike the weeks of retail politics required of candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, Florida and Super-Duper Tuesday are largely about TV ads.
This all bodes well for the former Massachusetts governor, who is spending millions of his own dollars on this presidential quest. On the stump and at coffeeklatsches, Romney is clearly a robot. A likeable one, sure, but who can trust robots? [...]
We discuss and criticize the Russert “Romney can now buy the nomination” fixed point here:
The Russert’s “Romney can now buy the nomination” fixed point is confirmed by Romney’s hugely expensive loss in Louisiana, a contest where F2F and retail politics were decisive (a contest that Romney could not buy), and a contest in which Romney spent the most to get the least ROI.
[...] In addition to the uncommitted delegates and McCain and Paul supporters, Governor Mitt Romney appears to have won a handful of state convention delegates,” writes the shameless Romney sycophant Jim Geraghty in an NRO Campaign Spot post titled Louisiana’s Results, Clarified
“Governor Romney and his team have worked hard for over a year in Louisiana to build a strong organization,” Villere said. “The Governor has been to Louisiana more than any other GOP candidate, including one trip specifically to appear at a state party fundraising dinner,” he said. “Governor Romney has shown a commitment to Louisiana that is second to none and the strong support he has here is an indication that Louisiana Republicans are excited about his candidacy,” Villere said [...]
Our conclusion: The other candidates had until now to take out Romney. They failed.
We had predicted
(a) that the other candidates would organize around regional strongholds and contest single states
(b) that the other candidates would concert themselves against Romney
(a) and (b) raised the costs of Romney’s operations tremendously. But the other candidates could never concert or coordinate their efforts against Romney with the intensity or consistency necessary to stop him.
The task of stopping Romney now passes to the Democrats.
“Romney leads in the delegate count, but I think this weekend’s results show astounding weakness in the candidate who was supposed to be the most electable conservative in the race,” writes Jonahtan Andler in an NRO The Corner blog burst titled Is Romney Viable?
Consider two things: 1) Romney spent $4 million and 22 days in South Carolina, and still finished behind Fred. 2) Romney has not one any seriously contested constest. Nevada? Wyoming? Please. Where Romney has made a major investment (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina) he has failed. Michigan? No other candidate made a comparable investment or effort to winning the state, so I’m not sure that helps the case.What’s Romney’s problem? For many folks (my self included), it is a perceived insincerity. I too often get the sense that Romney is saying what he thinks folks want to hear instead of what he believes. It isn’t just the “evolution” of his views, it is also the small things: The small, subtle exaggerations that arise when Romney is trying to ingratiate himself with various groups. (Remember Romney the life-long hunter?) The blatant pandering to the auto industry in Michigan in a way that suggests some very unconservative views. Romney’s MBA style does not help much here, as it reinforces the perception of Romney as someone who solves problems without much regard to underlying ideological principle [...]
Yuh-huh. We concur. However: what impresses us are the numbers: US$4 million and 22 days, numbers consistent with every other contest that Romney has participated in, win or lose. Romney always-always draws the most pitiable ROI for his massive expenditures.
When Adler generalizes from his own perceptions we are sympathetic but less impressed. Yes, Romney excites our gag reflex too. But so did Pres. Clinton and he served two full terms. Our gag reflex is an unrealiable predictor. And so, we assume, is Adler’s.
The non-Evangelicals at the astroturfing flak-claque fraud-blog preposterously titled Evangelicals for Mitt issue this painfully honest rejoinder:
“Governor Romney did best in Michigan, the biggest and most urbanized of the major early states,” writes Charles Mitchell in a blog burst titled THE GOOD PROFESSOR MISFIRES
Now, ask yourself this question: Which of those states most closely resembles the battles to come? Unquestionably it’s Michigan. If you compare the size (big) and demographics (diverse) of Florida to any of these other places, Michigan’s the only reasonable answer. And then after Florida we have February 5th — where there are numerous contests across the country.
Florida, California, New York etc., resemble Michigan to the degree that they are big and urban? This is the point?
In both cases — Florida and February 5th — the candidates simply are not going to be able to reach most voters one-on-one (Senator McCain’s specialty) or prevail by appealing to a select set of religious believers (Governor Huckabee’s only recourse). They are going to have to do a lot of TV and use messages that resonate with a lot of people. That’s Governor Romney’s strength, and Michigan is the proof. He didn’t win there on account of his dad — if you look at the exit polls, he actually lost among the older voters who’d actually remember George Romney’s 1960s governorship. He won because he reached a huge number of voters on a topic they care about (the economy) with a message that was both conservative and forward looking (a.k.a. non-Huckabeean).
Retail (F2F) politics—as in the early primaries—is no longer possible let alone practicable, argues Mitchell. Targeting select demographics or communities of interest—Evangelicals, home-schoolers—is no longer as feasible, nor will it be as effective, he continues. In other words, expect less dialog (with voters and voter groups in shared spaces or various fora), and more dissemination (to the masses through media channels).
So: broadcast media become dominant in these later primaries, e.g. television.
This line is reasonable on its face.
This is the argument that interests us, yet another variation on the dejected, and despairing theme of “the voters will default to Romney!”
Those who — like Professor Adler — don’t think Governor Romney can connect with primary voters are misjudging this race. This isn’t 2000, 1996, 1992, or any of the other recent campaigns — where you won by doing well in a large number of diners early on. That happened, but it didn’t prove decisive. Given that, we’re now in a different type of campaign — one where the primary weapons are broad-based, public appeals. And we’re also now at the stage of the campaign where the options available to conservatives who don’t want to find themselves making a choice in November between two people who might have been on the Democratic ticket in 2004 — Senators Clinton and McCain — are narrowing. As things start to settle, I think they’ll like what they see — mainly on TV, and addressing the range of issues we care about — from Governor Romney [...]
Follow the argument—we have paraphrased it, and enumerated the points, for clarity:
(1) Those who think Romney cannot connect with primary voters have misjudged this race.
(2) This is not like earlier races where you win by visiting lots of diners—Romney did this, but it did not prove decisive
(3) Given that we’re not in one of these earlier races, we’re now in a different kind of campaign (?)
(4) In this new kind of campaign the weapons are broad-based, public appeals
(5) And we’re at a stage in this new kind of campaign where the options for conservatives are growing fewer.
(6) As things start to settle [become more coherent? intelligible?] people will like what they see on television, and what they will see on television is Romney addressing the issues that they care about.
Mitchell’s conclusion as we understand it: Whether Romney can connect with voters or not will not decide the primaries. (Mitchell clearly assumes that Romney cannot connect with voters, otherwise we presume he would argue the point and provide evidence, but he doesn’t.) Other factors obtain: the size of the states, the sprawling urban battlegrounds, the nationally dispersed scope of the contests. So Romney need not connect with anyone in the concrete; he need only do so in the abstract. He need only connect with a television camera and say what people want to hear, as in Michigan.
Romney will prevail as he passes into the distributed and abstracted form of a talking-head, available only behind the prophylactic of a glowing screen.
Is the converse also true?—i.e. As a flesh-and-blood creature Romney loses. We would answer yes, and here is where we agree most heartily with Mitchell’s grim and despairing reasoning.
Problems with Mitchell’s line of argument:
(a) Romney’s use of television has delivered a wildly low ROI even where Romney has won. And Romney’s saturation tactics have more often than not backfired on the candidate. Question: Has Romney learned how to use the medium effectively in so short a time? Was Michigan a special case? Perhaps, perhaps not. See:
Zogby: “Iowan Republicans may have long ago grown tired of Mr. Romney’s ubiquitous presence. ‘You can advertise too much,’ he said. ‘People get tired of seeing the same old face, and he went negative. Iowans didn’t like it’”
(b) Romney’s message to Michigan was clearly and distinctly not just non-conservative, but counter-conservative. See:
- Romney in MI champions big business and big government partnership for the purpose of economic nationalism even as he funds Club for Growth attacks on Gov. Huckabee—oh, the cynicism
- in MI Romney spends more on paid media than both his rivals combined, but the real cost of Romney’s MI campaign will be paid by the US taxpayer
Will Romney follow or develop this model? And: how much will it cost the US treasury if he does?
(c) And isn’t it odd that the chief argument emitted by Romney supporters is always “When Republicans have no choices, Republicans will choose Romney!” Here would be our favorite example:
(d) What about the South? What does SC predict for Romney in the South?
What Mitchell leaves unsaid is that Romney is a fabulously wealthy self-funder who has already squandered upwards of US$20 million on his own campaign: he is on the only candidate disposed to take full advantage of the new terrain as Mitchell describes it, as he is the only candidate with the money—his own—to pay for the expensive television ad buys. This is yet another aspect of Romneyism.
For the record: We predict that Romney wins the GOP nomination, but at tremendous cost to himself and, especially, the GOP. Our conclusion: Romney is viable only because the GOP is not. Think of Romney like a carrion beetle. A healthy organism only need crush it like a bug. A sick organism, on the other hand …
[...] “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.