ROMNEY'S CHIEF STRATEGIST IS SARAH PALIN
(and other takeaways from that BuzzFeed article)
You've probably seen this BuzzFeed article by McKay Coppins:
After a day spent waging bi-coastal combat with the Obama campaign, Mitt Romney's team in Boston earned the highest compliment Rush Limbaugh has ever paid them Thursday afternoon: "I'm telling you," he said. "This is not the McCain campaign."
Once-skeptical conservatives knew exactly what he meant. In the eyes of many on the right, John McCain's 2008 presidential bid was a disaster not because he lost, but because he refused to fight. Conservatives believe McCain bought into a liberal media narrative that personal attacks on Barack Obama were unseemly and even racist....
But if the Vietnam veteran disappointed conservatives with his gun-shy campaign in 2008, Romney is uniting the right by playing the role of the bomb-thrower....
First of all, wasn't "taking the gloves off" and making clear you don't give a damn what the damn dirty liberals think the strategy of Sarah Palin? How'd that work out? Base-motivating, to be sure, but also opponent-motivating, as I recall.
Ahh, but we're told that Romney is trying to be a bomb-thrower without being a real right-winger:
...his new appeal to the right marks a recognition that he can court conservatives without, in any traditional sense, "tacking right." His aggressive tactics stand in for the sort of policy compromises that could damage him in November; better, his advisers argue, to court conservatives with a press conference shouting match than with a high-profile fight over abortion or gay marriage. What's more, they say, the media obsession with Romney “pandering” to the right represents a misunderstanding of conservatives, who can live with Romney's moderate record – as long as he's a fighting moderate.
Is Romney really a moderate? As Ed Kilgore reminds us, the answer to that is hell, no:
It should be enough for anyone that Romney has endorsed two large and violently immoderate measures: the Ryan budget, and Jim DeMint's Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge, those twin substantive litmus tests for a candidate's commitment to a long-term agenda focused on a radically reduced government at all levels supported by a more regressive tax system. He's also promised to try to make abortion and same-sex marriage illegal through federal policy if possible and judicial appointments if necessary; there is nothing "moderate" about reversing 40 years of legalized abortion. And don't get me started on Romney’s foreign policy views, which seem to combine the worst features of Dick Cheney and John Bolton.
But his campaign has now very deftly injected this meme into the narrative: for the right, Mitt-as-fighter; for the left and center, Mitt-fighting-with-fingers-crossed. A lot of people on the left and center actually believe Romney would govern as a moderate -- and this story reinforces that dangerous deception, which will be repeated in even more stories as the campaign progresses. Well played, Team Romney.
Another point I'd make is that, while Romney may have been pretty far to the right for a long time, the right-wing base didn't think he was, so they didn't like him. Now he's fighting, however, and they do like him -- even though he's no further to the right than he was a month or two ago. This suggests to me that these folks really don't give a crap about governance or ideology -- they just have an infantile desire to see the people they hate (us) get beaten up.
One final takeaway: it's about the money.
"There were a lot of folks who didn't think he’d have the edge to really take on the president," a Romney advisor, who outlined the campaign strategy on the condition of anonymity, told BuzzFeed, refrring to "the Santorum people and conservatives who have been off the bandwagon."
"They've been pretty surprised and impressed at how willing Boston has been to push back," the advisor said. "We're raising money, and I'm getting calls from people saying, 'This is amazing... I didn't think this would happen."
You throw a coin in Mitt's cup, he'll dance however you want him to.
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)