Posts Tagged ‘redstate.com’

“MINNEAPOLIS — Republican hopeful Mitt Romney said Sunday he was counting on the ‘voices of conservatism’ and a non-binding caucus in Maine to propel him to within fighting distance of frontrunner Sen. John McCain, who has opened a double-digit lead in polls before Tuesday’s pivotal votes,” writes Andrea Stone in a USA Today article titled Romney courts ‘voices of conservatism’

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Romney said his win in Maine “shocked” McCain, who had been endorsed by the state’s senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both widely viewed as moderate Republicans. The results showed Republicans were “staying in the house that Reagan built,” Romney said.Romney reiterated a litany of McCain positions he says are out of the mainstream of their party, including votes against drilling for oil in the Arctic preserve and President Bush’s tax cuts and for campaign finance bills and “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

Asked about the McCain campaign accusations that he has changed positions on issues such as a 50-cents-a-gallon gas tax that Romney now rails against at campaign stops, the former Massachusetts governor rejected what have now become familiar charges of flip-slopping.

“They have stretched, twisted and completely walked away from the truth,” Romney said […]

Truth? Just what is the truth to a person like Romney?

Here is the problem for Romney: Romney’s icy-cold persona and ultra-high negatives cannot support a negative message. Romney’s own poll numbers crash whenever he does so. Yet here is, again, in person, attempting to slime McCain at the expense of whatever slim chances the GOP may have had in November against Senators Clinton or Obama.

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

Say for the sake of argument that Romney succeeds in driving up Sen. McCain’s negatives to the point that Sen. McCain is no longer viable. History would predict that the result would be equally disastrous for Romney. This is because whenever Romney lurches to the right, he alienates the very moderates and independents that comprise Sen. McCain’s coalition of voters. Yet Romney will need those very voters—voters Romney has ridiculed for not being real Republicans—in the general election. See:

Romney outflanks himself yet again!–poll indicates Romney’s pull to the right alienates independents, centrists, and moderates

In other words Romney’s fight is not with Sen. McCain. Romney’s fight is with the GOP itself.

[…] While McCain has racked up endorsements from governors and other high-profile Republicans on a wholesale basis since his Florida victory, the conservative commentariat of radio and TV have rallied to Romney. Long-time fan Rush Limbaugh was joined this week by Fox News personality Sean Hannity and right-leaning radio talkers Laura Ingraham and Lars Larson. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter went so far this week to say that if McCain, who has angered conservatives with his stands on immigration, taxes and other issues, were the GOP nominee, she would vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton.

” I don’t think you can buy as much advertising” as radio talk show hosts have provided for free, he said […]

Not entirely for free. Romney’s Bain Capital acquired Clear Channel—the carrier of conservative “voices” like Rush Limbaugh—over a year ago.

The price tag was more like US$26.7 billion.

And the effectiveness of the sale is, at least to date, still in doubt. See:

Here is yet another take on Romney’s sudden bout of Tourette’s syndrome

[…] “ROMNEY ON TW. Mitt Romney came out with guns blazing, accusing John McCain of trying to characterize his positions while he characterized McCain’s,” writes Mark Kilmer in a http://www.redstate.com blog burst titled The Sunday Morning Talk Shows—The Review

Romney said he was winning the “battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” the “house Reagan built.” (He’s still invoking Reagan.) Romney boasted of the conservative commentators “coming out for me in record numbers.” Which begs the question, what is the old record which he claims to be breaking? Also, how many of these commentators are supporting him and how many are trying to flex their muscles concerning McCain?

Romney pointed out that McCain’s positions on ANWR, BCRA, immigration, and global warming “cause many conservatives to rally to my camp.” Is this a big Romney rally or a STOP MCCAIN fest?

Romney did allow that he and McCain agree on Iraq. (But he moved to McCain’s position, not v/v.)

Wallace asked Romney about his support for a cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions, and Romney accused McCain of twisting his position around. Yes, though, he said that he did support cap and trade.

Romney launched waves of attacks into McCain and McCain’s positions as characterized by Romney.

This was Romney knowing that the numbers do not look good for him right now trying to draw sharp distinctions between his rival and himself. It would have worked better, I think, if he could have focused on a few areas at a time, rather than a general broadside, but time is short. We’ll see how this plays on Tuesday […]

[…] ROMNEY ON CNN. Mitt Romney was Wolf Blitzer’s first guest on CNN’s Late Edition this morning; Romney was in Minnesota. Blitzer pointed out that McCain blames Romney for the nastiness in this campaign. Romney said that he attacks only on issues, while McCain got personal in Florida. He said that he was not going to talk about that. (Romney’s stance vis-à-vis the surge is oriented toward an issue. Romney promised that he would keep mentioning that John McCain had repeated reports that Romney had talked of a timetable for withdrawal.)

Romney said that McCain’s “lack of understanding of the economy” was bad for the country, adding that we have to have someone who has had a real job in the private sector in the Oval Office. (That is a personal attack on the former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.)

Romney belittled “reaching across the aisle” and “making political deals.” He said that he is a man of action, of getting things done.

Comment: Say what!? How does one “get things done” if one sorely lacks the political skill necessary to build coalitions? For more on this melancholy theme see:

Why do only 3 out 22 Republican governors support Romney?—yet more evidence of Romney’s incompetence and lack of political skill

Back to Kilmer:

Romney said that McCain-Feingold hurt the Republican Party (it didn’t) and McCain-Kennedy granted amnesty to oodles of illegals (it didn’t even pass). He said that the Florida primary was close, “only a few points.” (Five points is a big win.) He said that conservatives were rallying behind him as a way to stop John McCain, which is why he won the uncontested caucuses in Maine at which no delegates were awarded. (Maine is a bastion of conservatism, electing Senators Collins and Snowe, both of whom endorsed John McCain after co-chairing his exploratory committee last year.)

Blitzer pointed out that polls show McCain beating Hillary and Obama with Romney losing. Romney claimed that the polls swing wildly.

Romney repeated that with our economy “struggling,” we need to elect someone who has held a “real job.” He compared himself again to Ronald Reagan […]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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[…] “NPR reports that Mitt Romney is shaking up his staff today and taking more control himself,” writes Erick of Redstate.com in a blog burst titled Sources Say

Also, I hear from multiple sources that he has shifted some staff around, pulling people from Florida and sending them to Michigan […]

Loses learn. This is one of the uses of adversity. Not so Team Romney, we used to argue, because Romney’s vast personal fortune insulates Team Romney from the costs of its failures.

But now there is evidence that the Romney is attempting to rationalize its organization and its operations. This could allow them to, you know, develop a message that connects with voters.

Regard:

“Mitt Romney hasn’t extended his television presence into next week in South Carolina and Florida, an aide confirms,” writes Jonathan Martin of the politico.com in a blog burst titled Mitt not re-upping his S.C. and Fla. TV time

Romney has been on TV for months in both states, owning the airwaves long before his GOP rivals purchased their first spots.

But his multimillion-dollar investment in the two key states that may ultimately decide the GOP nominee has not paid off as he continues to lag behind rivals there.

Spokesman Kevin Madden declined to say whether their decision was based upon strategy or money […]

[…] Ten days before South Carolina and 20 before Florida it’s difficult to see why he’d go dark in either crucial state, unless he’s decided to limit how much of his own cash he’s using on what has so far been a disappointing campaign.

UPDATE: Another indication that Romney is easing back on the self-funding — an adviser tells AP’s Glen Johnson that they recognize that their ad campaign wasn’t terribly effective and that now they’re going to focus on earned media. Also known as free media […]

Martin interprets this move as weakness.

We interpret it as strength, amazing strength, strength combined with a stern resolve. Viz.: Romney has the money. So this is not the voice of grim necessity. Rather: This is a rational choice, a sober choice, and the correct choice.

These corrections suggest a more accurate interpretation of the upcoming contests and the players involved. These corrections also suggest a more accurate assessment of what is achievable and for what cost. Here is the money quote from the Glen Jonhson AP article that Martin links to:

[…] Conceding Romney had been hurt by a backlash against the hard-hitting television commercials the former Massachusetts governor ran against Huckabee and McCain, the adviser said the campaign hoped to “get away from the paid media and get more of the earned media.”

The shift would suggest a greater emphasis on generating newspaper, Internet and television coverage, especially in Michigan, where Romney was born and which is next on the primary calendar on Jan. 15. Romney flies to Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday after a fundraiser in Boston […]

A targeted, earned-media strategy will allow Team Romney to correctly assess the effectiveness of their messages. The data and experience that accrues from their efforts can help them increase their ROI and develop more effective messages. They will have at last organized themselves into a learning loop more closely coupled to their audiences and sources of support. They will in the very least be be spending less which will improve their image. In other words, they will have caught up with the other campaigns.

However: In the same article, Johnson also reports this:

[…] Nonetheless, Romney chided McCain and Huckabee for cherry-picking contests, with Huckabee having focused on Iowa while McCain focused on New Hampshire. Romney spent more than $7 million on advertising in each state, and held as many, if not more, events in both places than any of his GOP rivals […]

But reports are that Romney is withdrawing staff from SC and FL to invest in MI. Also: reports indicate that Romney is scaling back his ad buys in SC and FL. In other words, Romney too has learned to cherry-pick. As we have argued elsewhere, what Romney calls “cherry-picking” is the most rational strategy in an election cycle with no clear coalition. Politics specifies itself in space—demography, geography, and ideology all intertwine and pass into one another—to build a coalition from the ground up you need to first establish a regional base.

The other candidates have staked out the parts of the map they want to contest. (The first candidate to recognize and act on the new reality was Mayor Giuliani. His strategy has yet to encounter its first real contest.)

Romney has yet to do that.

But: Evidence indicates that he now moves in that direction.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. Hypothetical questions: What if Romney were to campaign on who he is instead of an invented Romney? What if Romney were to organize a rational and ethical campaign? What if Romney were to cease his grimly negative campaigning?

Answer: the governing assumptions of this web log would be all, and in an instant, overturned. And we would be forced to admit that this was the case or risk being accused of being irrational ourselves. At that moment we truly would become a Blog for Mitt as we would no longer have a case against a Romney presidency.

Question: Is such an outcome even possible?

Go Mitt!—i.e. stop lying, stop shape-shifting, stop sliming other candidates, and stop spending money that you did not raise through your own hard efforts, and go and be our President.

[…] On TW, Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said that he erred in calling the McCain immigration plan “amnesty” even though it was “amnesty.” You see, he said, though it was not “amnesty” by the dictionary definition, it was “amnesty” by the “normal, colloquial definition.” (Would he know it if he saw it, under the alternate definition of “saw”?) Steph argued that after Saturday night’s debate, it seems the term “flip-flop” had stuck to Romney. Romney blamed McCain […] writes Mark Kilmer in a RedState.com blog burst titled The Sunday Morning Talk Shows – The Review

[…] Wallace asked Romney about his false claim that John McCain’s proposed legislation would have granted amnesty to illegals. Romney said that McCain would have offered a “form of amnesty.” Wallace asked Romney about his false assertion that McCain would have granted Social Security to illegal immigrants. Romney argued that he had read in newspapers that this is what McCain’s measure did. He further argued that the McCain bill he had called “reasonable, quite different from amnesty,” was not the same as the one which passed. Romney said that he has opposed McCain’s bill “from the outset.” He reiterated that he thinks McCain’s bill offered a “form of amnesty, though technically it is not.” [NOTE: See the notes on Romney’s TW interview, below.]

Wallace asked Romney how much of his personal fortunate he had spent to try to secure the nomination. Romney answered that he’d spent “more than I’d like, but not as much as I’m willing” to spend to get the nomination. Wallace asked him if there were a limit on what he is willing to spend, and Romney replied that while he had no limit, his wife did […]

[…] MITT ROMNEY ON TW. Steph asked Romney about his use of the term “amnesty” to describe John McCain’s immigration plan. Romney admitted that he “was incorrect,” then he made the case for why he was correct.

“You’re going to have to define the word for me,” Romney said regarding amnesty. (There you go again.) He said that under the dictionary definition, it wasn’t amnesty, but it was amnesty under the “normal, colloquial definition.” Well, “is” is what? Would we know it if we saw it, under the alternative definition of “saw”?

Steph played a few clips from last night’s debate, some of the various jabs at Romney for his position-changes, and proclaimed: “It seems ‘flip-flop’ has stuck.” (It certainly was underscored at Saturday night’s debate.) Romney blamed McCain […]

Remarks:

In Goffman’s terms, Romney’s line that Sen. McCain does not support amnesty only he does support it, requires

(a) heroic face-work as the candidate must labor to clarify and defend his position against all encounters with common sense meanings of the relevant terms

-and-

(b) casuistry in the form of strained distinctions, i.e. the distinction between dictionary and colloquial definitions

Here is the problem for Romney—and it is a dynamic and evolving problem—(a) Romney’s face work, and (b) Romney’s casuistry, together complete a causal loop. It goes like this. Romney issues a flat contradiction. This requires face work to repair, i.e. Romney must justify his claim to save his reputation. So Romney issues distinctions that strain credulity. This further damages Romney’s face. This requires face work to repair etc., etc.

The last time Romney caught himself in one of his death-spiral causal loops was on the question of whether, or in what sense, Romney “saw” his father (may his name be for a blessing) march with MLK.

Parker: “casualness with the truth [by figures like Romney] is what has alienated good citizens across the country from the elites who are running our political machinery”—and: was Mike Allen Romney’s unwitting dupe, or was he complicit in Team Romney’s campaign of lies and obfuscations?

The effect is cumulative. It supports the fixed point that Romney is cynical, dishonest, and that he simply cannot let things go.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

Consistent with David Brody’s point that Romney’s attacks open up opportunities for Romney’s rivals to respond using earned media, Tim Russert of Meet the Press turned the microphone over to Gov. Huckabee this morning and allowed the Governor to answer each of Romney’s false and baseless charges one after the other. This is an excerpt from Kilmer of Redstate’s account, available in post titled The Sunday Morning Talk Shows—The Review:

Russert asked if Mitt Romney had said anything about Huckabee which was untrue. Huckabee started the list.

  • Mitt claimed that Huckabee had reduced Meth sentences in Arkansas when the truth is that he signed a bill in 1999 which doubled Meth sentences, which are four times greater than those in Romney’s Massachusetts.
  • Huckabee said that Romney accused him of giving “special breaks” to illegal immigrants. Actually, it was a bill concerning the children of such people who had “earned” scholarships, and it never made the legislature.
  • Romney accused Huckabee of increasing spending “by some ridiculous amount,” and even the New York Times “took him apart” on this false claim.
  • Huckabee said that Romney’s claim about tax increases was wrong because the tax increases in Arkansas were either court ordered or approved by the voters, such as the one to improve roads.
  • Huckabee said that he left Arkansas with good roads, while Romney’s “were a mess” in Massachusetts.
  • Romney claims that he did not raise taxes, when actually he did raise taxes in the form of fees by a half-billion dollars. [Huckabee] said that he raised taxes for “educational purposes” and for roads. (I take it, then, that he opposes abolishing the Department of Education.)

The formatting is ours, all ours.

Kilmer issues this coda to his account of Gov. Huckabee’s performance: … “It went on for a while. Russert’s questions, while not softballs, were not as tough as some of the questions I’ve seen asked here at RedState. Huckabee did not implode, by any stretch, and handled himself well” …

Our conclusion: What is happening in Iowa to Gov. Huckabee would offend anyone’s sense of fair play, even Russert’s. Hence Russert’s performance this morning. This is a part of the price Romney pays for his viciously negative campaign—others are coming to the defense of Romney’s rivals.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[The GOP elites] “are panicking because a) Huckabee is a wild card who could lose massively in the general election; b) Huckabee doesn’t owe any of them anything; and c) Huckabee’s rise shows how badly, perhaps irretrievably, the fusionist settlement (uniting social and economic conservatives) has broken down, leaving the GOP in a shambles,” writes Rod Dreher in a belief.net Conservative Blog post titled Why Does the Establishment fear Huck?

It’s funny, but when it looked like Rudy Giuliani, a social liberal, was going to be the nominee, we didn’t see many, if any, establishment Republican opinion leaders freaking out over what kind of danger to the future of the party and the nation he represented, even though as Ross points out, Giuliani hasn’t exactly been deep on policy (I had to research Giuliani for our Dallas Morning News editorial board debate on which candidate to endorse, and I was genuinely startled by how vague he was on many things). I think it’s fair to say that it was assumed that Giuliani would be a sound representative of the Republican Party, and that the social and religious conservatives would do like they always do and get in line. Pat Robertson sure did.

But lo, it turns out that the candidate who’s caught fire comes straight out of the religious/social conservative wing of the coalition, and he is unsound on issues most important to the fiscal wing. It’s not supposed to work that way. Nobody at the elite level seems to expect the economic conservatives to suck it up for the sake of party unity. What does that say about the place of social conservatives in the party all these years? … etc.

We have no brief for Gov. Mike Huckabee. We are for whoever is opposed to Willard Milton Romney—this is our editorial position for as long as there is a Romney in the race. (To be honest, we tend to like Mayor Giuliani because we once lived under his rule and witnessed first hand how he transformed NYC.) But the more we study the figure of Gov. Mike Huckabee, the more compelling he becomes. Besides: He has all the right enemies.

Erick of Redstate.com opines:

… The other day I said all the attacks on Huckabee come across as so anti-evangelical, so anti-southern, and so anti-social conservative that the attacks are doing nothing but helping Mike Huckabee.

I expect him to go up in the polls even further as a result of the establishment New York-Washington Corridor of Mainstream IntelligentsiaTM and parts of the New York-Washington Corridor of Conservative IntelligentsiaTM attack his Christmas ad.

Jesus Christ! Seriously. Jesus Christ — that’s what people are hung up on him saying. And there’s the floating cross segment of a book shelf in the background that the truly paranoid saw immediately (I only noticed it as something extra after all the cries from people — most of whom I suspect were just upset that their candidate didn’t think of doing such an ad first) … etc.

Comment: We’re Jewish and felt no sense of threat in Gov. Huckabee’s sectarian salute. But Erick makes an interesting point: Romney and his surrogates are now on public record not simply as non-Evangelical despite Romney’s many attempts to identify himself with the Evangelical movement, but as anti-Evangelical by virtue of their vicious attacks on the character and person of Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Or: At least that is the perception.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ today that he wept with relief when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormon church, announced a 1978 revelation that the priesthood would no longer be denied to persons of African descent,” writes Mike Allen for the Politico in a post titled Mitt wept when church ended discrimination

Romney’s eyes appeared to fill with tears as he discussed the emotional subject during a high-stakes appearance that he handled with no major blunders …… Moderator Tim Russert asked if “it was wrong for your faith to exclude them for as long as it did.”

“I told you exactly where I stand,” Romney said. “My view is that there’s no discrimination in the eyes of God. And I could not have been more pleased than to see the change that occurred” … etc.

A typical Romney-dodge. Note the bold assertion of intention—articulated in the past tense, as if the question had been asked and answered—followed by a flat non-sequitor in the form of an inarguable truism.

Question: What is Romney afraid of? Why can he not simply admit that his church was in error? Does the Mormon confession forbid critical reflection?

Also:

… Russert brought up an old issue of Sunstone magazine, a Mormon publication, which said that Romney discussed his possible Presidential run with the ‘man he admires most in the world: Mormon president Gordon Bitner Hinckley.’

Russert asked if voters should be concerned that he was seeking advice from the leader of the Mormon Church. Romney said he made the decision to run by himself and his family. He talked about our nation’s problems and how he had experience outside government, but that he’s happy to get as much advice as he can from anyone he can. He never mentioned the man he most admires …

Romney needs to release his notes from this interview. Note the assonance between the names Willard Milton Romney and Gordon Bitner Hinckley.

And:

“Maybe it was the pressure of the moment. Being under the Tim Russert spotlight can get to anyone,” writes Michael D. Shear in a Wapo The Trail post titled Romney Claims NRA Endorsement He Didn’t Receive

Comment: Russert broke Romney? How odd. He never broke Mayor Giuliani.

Under Russert’s grilling about guns on this morning’s “Meet the Press,” former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney claimed an endorsement he’d never won.

In answer to questions about whether he would sign an assault weapons ban, Romney said: “Just as the president said, he would have, he would have signed that bill if it came to his desk, and so would have I. And, and, and yet I also was pleased to have the support of the NRA when I ran for governor. I sought it, I seek it now. I’d love to have their support.”

Later in the interview, he added the following:

“I just talked about, about guns. I told you what my position was, and what I, what I did as governor; the fact that I received the endorsement of the NRA.”

The problem?

He was never endorsed by the NRA, and didn’t have their official support during his 2002 gubernatorial campaign. The NRA declined to endorse in that race, as was acknowledged by Romney’s spokesman this morning … etc.

Yuh-huh. But the big lie is Romney himself, Romney2.0, as argued by Amspec’s Jen Rubin:

… “One exchange stands out. He was asked about running as a moderate against [Ted] Kennedy. The sequence is long but you can read it for yourself. He repeatedly rejects the ‘premise’ that he ran in 1994 or in 2002 as anything other than a rock ribbed conservative. If you have spent any time studying those races, watching the debates or reading press accounts you know that’s just hooey. Not even Romney claimed at the time to be a conservative…Given the voluminous public record nicely preserved for all of us via Google and YouTube, it’s unclear why he hasn’t been more candid on all of this and just come right out and said: ‘I was trying to get elected in Massachusetts for goodness sakes’ or ‘I really have changed on a bunch of issues in the last few years.’ It is the pretense of consistency that is so unsettling. Does he not remember or he thinks we’re too dim to ‘look it up’?” …

The governing assumption—and essential premise—of Romney’s candidacy is that conservatives are knuckle-dragging rubes.

We hope to prove him wrong.

yours &c
dr. g.d.

… “Frankly this type of article–don’t want to “surprise” people– exemplifies my objection to the roll out and giving of The Speech,” writes Jennifer Rubin in an AmSpec blog post titled, mysteriously, Re: Specifically

By giving into the howls of the mob he has unleashed a ridiculous exploration of the details of his religion (which seems bizarre in a presidential race- did I miss this with Joe Lieberman?), assured 24/7 Mormon coverage( which let’s face it will make some uncomfortable) and ultimately will make The Speech, I think, seem either disappointing or like he was “pulling a fast one” when The Speech itself doesn’t march through Mormon theology.

[Romney] had to market it as the Mormon speech people have been demanding (to satisfy some pundit group and frankly to get the attention he wants) but indications are from him and others that it will be a rather banal discussion generically of faith in America.

I find the whole effort odd in the extreme and irrelevant to the real issues which concern people about Romney, –not his “faith” but his lack of political conviction and the sense that he will say virtually anything to get elected. As to the latter, there is, unfortunately, no speech to cure that ailment” … etc.

The paragraphing is ours. We’re a little baffled by “the whole effort” too. Here is one explanation:

“… So let’s get to the heart of this,” writes of Erick of redstate.com in a post titled Allow me to express my cynicism about “The Speech”

Why is Romney doing it? Here is my cynical nutshell opinion: Huckabee talking about faith is working. Romney is incapable of doing it. We saw how he reacted to the Bible question in the YouTube debate. How odd it is that Huckabee is starting to be accused of mixing church and state in a Republican primary. A Republican primary. Good grief. Anyone ever hear of George W. Bush? I do believe he once said his favorite philosopher is one Jesus Christ. You might have heard of him. His birthday is coming up.

Unfortunately for Romney, George Bush’s religion talk worked. And Huckabee’s is too. Look again at the RCP Poll average for Iowa. Notice that precipitous fall in Romney’s support corresponding to the rise in Huckabee’s support? I can’t see it either. Huckabee isn’t taking votes from Romney totally. He’s taking them from everybody and he’s pulling in people who think the rest of them, well, not to repeat myself, but they all suck.

So, the super predictable strategy? Try now to take religion off the table. Romney failed to capture those voters, so now we’re hearing hints of bigotry and suggestions that Huckabee is too much of a Jesus freak for American politics … etc.

Contra Rubin, Erick argues that Romney’s speech issues a clear message in response to obvious stimuli. However: the message—that Romney is a naive and inexperienced campaign ingenue supported by a tight-circle flak-claque of political primitives—is not the message Romney intended.

yours &c.
dr. g.d

“Romney is right in that the winner of this nomination will need the full support of the diverse conservative base,” writes GOP84 in a redstate.com post titled Objectives for the Romney Campaign

He will need evangelicals, fiscal conservatives, moderates, and everyone else that the Republican party appeals to in order to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2008. Personally, I think Romney has just as good a shot as Giuliani if he will follow these objectives …

… So, what does Mitt Romney need to do to solidify his support and win the nomination? Here’s some ideas that I have:

1. Settle the religion issue once and for all …
2. Keep picking up evangelical endorsements …
3. Keep picking up political endorsements …
4. Campaign in the Southeast …
5. Tout the business experience …
6. Tout the political experience …
7. Increase publicity …
8. Appeal to fiscal conservatives … etc., etc.

GOP84’s “objectives” endorse Team Romney’s current goals almost point for point. In Team Romney’s typically confused, desultory, disorganized, halting, and half-stepping way, they are already pursuing objectives 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8. As for Objective 4 Romney has visited SC many times. As for Objective 1 the Romneys have debated among themselves for months now how, or whether, to address the issue of Romney’s faith tradition. Expect no decision any time soon. This is one instance where Romney’s confusion, indecision, inaction, and mis-estimations of the primary field may work in his favor.

(Aside: So what does it mean when commentators—e.g. GOP84, Ruffini—issue you objectives that you are already aggressively pursuing?—say that everyone keeps telling you that you need to do (x), yet you’re already doing (x); in fact, (x) is all you’re doing. What would this indicate about your performance at (x)?—answer: you would have strong but defeasible grounds on which to conclude that you really, really suck at (x).)

GOP84’s objectives assume that Romney has yet to make his case to the conservative base. Yet Romney himself assumes otherwise. Hence, the so-called “2-man race” theme, where Romney posits that the race, as it stands, and despite all evidence to the contrary, is really a choice between a conservative Romney and a moderate Giuliani. In response to Romney’s 2-man race theme we had this to say:

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

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

What interests us is GOP84’s exercise itself, i.e. to enumerate the objectives necessary to consolidate the conservative base of the GOP. It is redolent of another list getting some degree of play, a list that is the opposite-compliment of GOP84’s list. Where GOP84 lists objectives for the Romney’s to gather and consolidate the conservative base, this other list’s author enumerates the values and describes the character of the conservative base so that the candidate who wants to reach it can understand it.

“… First and foremost, he needs to understand that, by the tens of millions, true conservatives do exist in our country,” writes former White House and Pentagon Official and author of the novel, America’s Last Days, Douglas MacKinnon, in a townhall.com post titled Ten Things the Republican Nominee Must Understand to Earn the True Conservative Vote

Here is our problem: To understand a thing commits you to no course of action. You can understand that e.g. “tens of millions of true conservatives exist in our country” and still work against their interests. What we need, however, is data. Tens of millions?—how did you arrive at that figure? Who are these people? Where are these people? What is their demographic profile? How does their True Conservatism manifest itself in social or political behaviors? What are their goals, norms, values etc.? Here is our point: evidence commits people; data motivates people; argument persuades people. Lists, however, bore people. Or at least they bore us.

MacKinnon continues:

  1. He needs to understand that they have a deep and abiding belief in God …
  2. He needs to understand that true conservatives believe we live in a sovereign nation with clearly defined borders that must be protected … etc., etc.

The details are unimportant. What interests us is the repeated clause starter, he needs to understand … What MacKinnon wants, apparently, is to be understood.

MacKinnon wants an emotional bond, a sense of empathy articulated in terms of identity, i.e. MacKinnon’s identity as a conservative, a conservatism that he wants others to understand. This is the plea of one who wants to be led, of one who wants to identify with a master, only he wants safety and security in that identification. In other words, MacKinnon wants not so much a president as he wants a father, which is the absolute worst caricature of the conservative stance, the same caricature Lakoff proposes in his Don’t think of an Elephant; know your values and frame the debate, a thoroughly wretched little book. Lakoff is a passable scholar—e.g. we like his Metaphors We Live By, although his whole method reduces to taking metaphors too literally—but his political speculations are risible bordering on irrational. So it pains us when people who call themselves conservatives—e.g. MacKinnon, GOP84, or Romney himself—play into the misconceptions of a clown like Lakoff and do it with a straight face.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.