THIS IS MITT'S GENERAL-ELECTION PIVOT? HE STILL SEEMS TO BE ADDRESSING THE BASE.
Mitt Romney said a lot of negative things about Barack Obama in the speech he gave yesterday to the American Society of News Editors, but it's obvious what his campaign wanted reporters to take away from it. The Wall Street Journal headline is "Romney Accuses Obama of Masking Agenda"; in The Washington Post, the headline is "Romney Sharpens His Attack, Says Obama Is Running a 'Hide-and Seek Campaign.'"
"With all the challenges the nation faces, this is not the time for President Obama's hide-and-seek campaign," Mr. Romney told a gathering of newspaper editors and reporters in the ballroom of a Washington, D.C., hotel....
"He is intent on hiding," Mr. Romney told the crowd of journalists. "You and I will have to do the seeking."
This is supposed to be the moment when Romney is pivoting to the general election. But is this really how you sell yourself to voters in the middle when you're running against a guy who's been on our TVs every night as president for three and a half years? It seems to me that this is the kind of thing you say if you want to rally the GOP base, or if you think the people in the middle are just like the GOP base.
The GOP base listens to talk radio, watches Fox News, and concludes that there's an unceasing torrent of ghastly things emanating from the Oval Office, but the liberal media won't tell you about any of them. To the right, Obama's freedom-destroying socialist evil is glaringly obvious -- but only if you watch Fox or listen to Limbaugh. The masses, who do neither of these things, have no idea how horrible everything is, and thus are just oblivious sheeple.
The problem with saying this if you're a candidate going into general election mode is that you're basically telling Americans in the middle, "Who are you going to believe -- me or your lying eyes?" It's true that swing voters are notorious for paying very little attention to politics, but Romney is saying to them, "If you think Obama seems like a guy you want to vote for this time around, if you're feeling better about the economy and the state of the union in general, YOU'RE LABORING UNDER A DELUSION! YOU'RE A DUPE! YOU'RE GULLIBLE! YOU'RE NAIVE!" Is that really a way to win hearts and minds?
The right-wing base also believes that Obama's second term will be full of initiatives that are even more unspeakably horrible than what he's done so far. The coming atrocities are almost impossible for the human mind to conceive (though they'll almost certainly include one-world government and the confiscation of all guns). Does Romney hope to induce this level of paranoia in swing voters? I don't think that's going to work, either. If you were inclined to that level of paranoia, you'd be a crazy wingnut already, wouldn't you?