Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels have said that Mitt Romney needs a message stronger than "I'm not Obama." Jeb Bush has criticized the ideological inflexibility of Romney and other Republicans.
And now Politico gets around to noticing that, why, yes, there is a vague resemblance between this and message conflicts Barack Obama has had with other Democrats. You remember -- the ones that led to endless stories about Democrats in disarray!!!, at Politico and elsewhere?
But Politico would like to assure you that -- don't worry -- the Republican situation is nothing like that embarrassing Democratic situation:
It turns out Democrats are not the only ones with a surrogate problem.So if it's a truthful statement, it doesn't count? Hunh? Bill Clinton and Cory Booker are actually closet Marxists, but they were lying about their admiration for Mitt Romney's business career and private equity, because they hate Obama?
When Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels and Scott Walker all lobbed rhetorical explosive devices of varying sizes in Mitt Romney's direction, Democrats were gleeful that Republicans now had their own version of a Bain family feud.
But unlike Bill Clinton -- who has caused the Obama campaign major headaches -- those close to these Republican heavyweights say that they are simply telling the truth about what they see as weaknesses in the modern-day GOP and with its standard-bearer's message....
Oh, and Jeb wasn't criticizing Republicans -- he was criticizing Democrats! He just criticized Republicans to ... um, be polite! Or something like that:
"I think that he was particularly struck -- and he shared this with me -- when he came up to Washington about a week and a half ago to testify ... at the tone and tenor of some of the questions he got from the Democrats on the panel," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told reporters at a breakfast hosted by Bloomberg News on Wednesday....My problem with all this is that when Democratic surrogates said things that conflicted with the Obama campaign's messages, we had story after story about how bad this looked for Democrats, and only then did we get stories spun by Obama operatives saying everything's fine.
Rubio ... added: "The Republicans are guilty of that, too, and I think he was trying to say that -- that in the Republican Party, there are elements of that as well."
With Romney, we jump straight to spinners saying everything's fine. We get a story denying disarray, but we never got stories talking about disarray in the first place.
Admittedly, there's a suggestion in the Politico story that what's happening to Romney is a sign of weakness (although, naturally, it's not as bad as Obama's weakness):
The dilemma is in some ways a mirror image of President Barack Obama's, albeit a more understandable problem for Romney since he is the challenger: The presumptive GOP nominee is simply not a fearsome figure to those in the party right now....Ooooh! Ooooh! Does that mean, if he wins, Sally Quinn is going to write articles about how he came into politics and trashed the place, and it's not his place?
"Of course no one fears [the campaign]," said one Republican operative, declining to be named.
That lack of fear is partly a product of Boston's [i.e., the Romney campaign's] insular nature -- and partly a product of Romney's status, for all his political pedigree, as a GOP establishment outsider. He has not been fighting in the GOP trenches with other Republicans nationally or in Washington for decades. He is not inherently considered "one of us."
Ahh, but even this is spun to Romney's advantage:
And stylistically, it is simply not Romney's tendency to play the hard-liner (even if that's an approach that some of his aides prefer).So, in Romney's case, being smacked around by party elders is actually a good thing!
"It doesn't make him scary within his own party, but the good news is it doesn't make him scary across the 50-yard line with Democrats either," said Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist who worked on Romney's 2008 race. "I think you can make a perfect case that the country's looking for that kind of strength right now."
Right, got it.