Posts Tagged ‘speeches’
“Mitt Romney oscillates between the low teens and single digits in national polls. He does better in Iowa and New Hampshire where he has spent a great deal of time and money in the hope that he can ride a wave of early momentum to victory. It won’t happen,” writes the estimable Peter Mulhern in a realclearpolitics.com article titled Why Fred Thompson Will Win, a claim we receive with skepticism, but we appreciate Mulhern’s analysis of Willard Milton Romney.
The only evidence that Romney can generate significant support comes from states where he has campaigned essentially unopposed by kicking his effort into high gear months before anyone else. In the last few weeks before the voting starts the political landscape will be very different and much more crowded.
Romney can’t sustain the support he currently shows in Iowa and New Hampshire unless he can make himself considerably more appealing that he has managed to be so far. Even his greatest admirers usually concede that he is too slick and too packaged to seem entirely trustworthy. As the polling data so far indicates, the great majority of Republican voters are going to choose somebody else when they judge him alongside their other choices.
Oddly, Mitt Romney gives me new insight into Bill Clinton’s career. I always used to wonder how much of Clinton’s appeal, such as it was, depended on his flaws rather than his strengths. Could Clinton have been so charming to so many without the selfishness, the total lack of self-discipline, the sexual incontinence, the dishonesty, the flabby physique and the swollen nose? Did he depend on his repulsive and dysfunctional traits to humanize him?
Romney’s struggle to connect with voters suggests that he did. Sorry Governor, the voters just don’t warm to guys who are classically handsome, athletic, rich, intelligent, decent, and also ambitious enough to be supple about their political principles. You could try taking a personal interest in some interns, but that probably won’t work for a Republican.
Romney would do better, despite his slippery persona, if he could only learn to communicate without dropping into MBA speak. Everything for Mitt is a PowerPoint presentation to potential investors. Consider his approach to the central problem facing our war planners – what to do about Iran? He has a five point plan:
Specifically, we must:
- First, continue to tighten economic sanctions.
- Second, impose diplomatic isolation on Iran’s Government.
- Third, have Arab states join this effort to prevent a nuclear Iran.
- Fourth, make it clear that while nuclear capabilities may be a source of pride, it can also be a source of peril. The military option remains on the table.
- Fifth, integrate our strategy into a broader approach to the broader Muslim world–including working with our NATO allies and with progressive Muslim communities and leaders to build a partnership for prosperity.
This is drivel.
The fourth point is supposed to be a threat, but it sounds pro forma. The rest of it is perfect nonsense which leaches away any impact the anemic threat might have had. There are no meaningful sanctions to tighten. We can’t impose diplomatic isolation on Iran and if we did the Iranian government wouldn’t care. Arab states can’t do anything to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions and even if they could they wouldn’t dare. As for number five, what is he talking about? Dumping money on an Arab world already awash in petrodollars?
If I were one of the mad mullahs I wouldn’t be losing any sleep for fear that Mitt Romney might be the next Commander-in-Chief. As a voter, I can’t see any reason to entrust my family’s safety to him. He plainly isn’t the guy to inspire a nation at war … more
For more on Romney’s off-the-wall rhetorical stylings, see:
Context: Romney issued his typically noisy stump-speech jeremaids and scolding op-eds on the issue of Ahmadinejad’s addresses to the UN and Columbia University.
The response?—predictable. Consider
“Voters expect a certain amount of malarkey in political ads designed to press emotional hot-buttons,” begins a section of a Boston Globe editorial subtitled Romney: I run, therefore Iran
But the recent campaign ad for Mitt Romney exploiting anxieties about Iran sets a new standard for cynicism. The radio ad lauds Romney for denying a State Police escort last September for the reformist former president of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, when he visited Harvard and MIT. The reality was that Khatami was escorted everywhere by the State Department’s special security force for foreign dignitaries. Romney insulted Harvard and MIT more than Khatami when he called their invitation to him “a disgrace.” Instead of showing that Romney can be tough on terrorism, the ad suggests that Romney has little idea who Khatami is or what his role had been in Iran. Toughness may be a desirable quality in a president; indifference to the complex realities of foreign hot spots is not … more [emphases ours]
“Another Republican contender, Mitt Romney, grandstanded even more shamelessly [about Ahmadinejad’s visit and address], proclaiming that the Iranian shouldn’t have received an entry visa in the first place,” argues Jesse Walker in a reasononline article titled Who’s Afraid of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? After all the trembling, the Iranian president got a bruising instead of a boost.
If you suspected that Silver and Hunter represent just a tiny sliver of the electorate, Romney’s statement should give you pause. Romney isn’t an ordinary flesh-and-blood candidate, after all; he’s a machine calibrated to say whatever is most likely to emerge from a focus group of Republican primary voters … more [emphasis ours]
For more on the evolving Romney-rhetoric, see:
- Romney’s inflection point—the strange rhetoric of a troubled campaign
- Romney’s language of blame indicates a personality that believes itself powerless and uncared for
“I’m not in this race for the next step in my political career. I don’t have a political career, to tell you the truth,” Romney said during a stop at Chapman University. “I’ve only been in politics four years as a governor. I loved the experience, but my life is my wife and my family. My career was building an enterprise, a business, with some other fellows”—so says Romney himself as quoted by Glen Johnson in a HuffPo transmission titled Romney touts his business experience
Note the litotes or deliberate understatement, a figure of ethos: “My career was building an enterprise, a business, with some other fellows.” This is the Romney ethos—the latest one, the one he wants you to accept now—epitomized—it is almost as if Romney is reading from a rhetoric textbook. Here he establishes—or attempts to establish—(a) his phronesis, or practical wisdom (“my career was building a business”), (b) his virtue, or his values (my life is my wife and family), and (c) his alleged disinterest (“I’m not in this for the next step in my political career. I don’t have a political career.”).
Here is the problem: nothing connects; inconsistency, everywhere, abounds. Here is why:
“In the battle to define his presidential candidacy, the former Massachusetts governor is trying to swat away charges that he has changed positions on hot-button issues such as abortion, immigration, gun ownership and gay rights to appeal to his party’s conservative base,” writes Mary Jacoby in an onlineWSJ.com article titled Romney Tries to Show Voters He ‘Gets It’; Republican Reframes Democrat-Owned Issues In Reach for the Middle.
Yet, even as he tries to distance himself from his moderate record, Mr. Romney also embraces it to reach voters in the middle — both Republicans uncomfortable with the direction of the party and independent voters he would need in a general election.
The result is that Mr. Romney’s stump speech can sound at times part Rush Limbaugh, part Bill Clinton, braiding red-meat conservative lines with feel-your-pain prescriptions for health care and retirement security … more
Romney seeks to capture the middle—OK., fine, whatever. Only Romney never captured the base. Conventional wisdom specifies that a candidate first capture the base of his or her party—or develop a base or a coalition—and only then pivot and attempt to occupy the center or as much of the center as the candidate can capture. Romney, as yet, has no base, has no coalition—Romney has nothing, and what little he has is slipping away. Yet here is Romney, all alone, pivoting and pirhouetting as he enlarges on center-left issues and concerns all the while insisting that he is not just a conservative, but a staunch conservative. (We, by the way, were conservative way back when Romney was voting for Paul Tsongas in a Democratic Primary. To be lectured to about conservatism by this obviously ill-informed newcomer—i.e. Romney—is somewhat galling.)
Further problem: Romney’s lurch to the right in the form of a caricatured and unreconstructed conservatism—a mock-conservatism that takes the form of scolding other candidates for their lack of conservatism, or of railing on largely symbolic and cultural issues—alienates moderates and independents, the very people that Romney is alleged by Jacoby and the Romneys themselves to be positioned to persuade into a broad-based coalition.
- Romney outflanks himself yet again!–poll indicates Romney’s pull to the right alienates independents, centrists, and moderates
- Newport and Carroll: Post-Ames, Romney’s unfavorables higher than ever
Here is a thought: if moderate and independent votes are Romney’s true object, why did he not start with them? Why did he not try to build a base on their support and only then reach out to conservatives once he had the numbers to argue his case? Was it Romney’s famous arrogance or alienation? Or did Romney truly believe that movement conservatives were gibbering idiots moved only by empty symbol and vain gesture?
So: Go ahead, Romney, rail at Ahmadinejad in your noisy stump-speech jeremaids or in your scolding op-eds. This only helps you appear reasonable, as any reasonable person should oppose a figure like Ahmadinejad. This does not help you appear conservative or leader-like.
We concur with Romney’s claim: he has “no political career.” His instincts and habits of mind are simply not those of a politician, or even those of one who is accustomed to being being challenged or disagreed with.
Read about it in a Teagan Goddard Political Wire post aptly titled Romney Bungles Response to Clinton.
In other healthcare related debate, DaveG of race42008.com argues that the Clinton Health Plan Requires [a] Real Republican Response, and further argues that Romney’s plan as it stands is not an adequate rejoinder. We concur.
- eye asks of Romney on healthcare: “Which is it going to be Mitt? Taxes or mandates? Or are you going to require that the states do one or the other?”
- Pipes: RomneyCare a spiraling fiscal disaster; does not deliver universal coverage or meaningful structure of cost controls
There is also this issue: RomneyCare and HillaryCare are both based on individual mandates. So: Romney’s plan concedes in advance the core issue of whether we will be free to choose to buy in or not to the Democrats, whether Hillary or Edwards, who also favours mandates—the only operational difference between the plans is size, scope, and, hence, price, as argued by eye of eyeon08.com in a post titled Romney’s Clinton Problem, a post that we would re-title The GOP’s Romney Problem.
“We recently poked fun at Mitt’s propensity to repeat others when delivering his stump speech. Today, we’ll poke fun at him repeating himself. Romney gave comments a year ago commemorating the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11. This year, it was more of the same — literally,” writes the estimable Greg Hambrick for the Charleston City Paper in a story titled Romney Phones In Sept. 11 Comments.
For Romney’s “propensity”—we would say proclivity—to repeat others see Romney ‘08: You’ve Heard it All Before, by the same estimable, precise, and affable Greg Hambrick. Hambrick provides the following as evidence:
On turning 60: “As that country song says, I’m not as young as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.”
On America’s future: “Someone has described our current condition as being almost a perfect storm, like that movie.”
On Muslim radicals: “They want to cause the collapse of all civilization, as Tony Blair has said.”
On an allegedly modest Edwards personal savings plan: “Someone yelled out from the audience that it wouldn’t even buy him a haircut.”
On family values: “Peggy Noonan, the speech writer for President Reagan, said our kids are swimming in an ocean of filth — pornography, sex, violence, perversions. It’s time to clean that up.”
On lifelong politicians: “I was with a fellow in New York named Ezra Zilkha. He said, ‘Do you know what’s wrong with America today? … Politics has become a profession, not a duty.’ For me politics is a duty.”
On bipartisanship: “As my aunt says, ‘Watching Washington is like watching two guys in a canoe in a fast-moving river, approaching a waterfall. And instead of paddling, they’re arguing.’”
On America in Iraq: “Shemom Perez … said America is unique in the history of the world. In the history of the world, whenever there’s been a war, the nation that wins take land from the nation that loses … One nation in history has been willing to lay down hundreds of thousands of lives and take no land for itself” … more