Friday, September 21, 2012


Dave Weigel asks a question about the Romney campaign's obsession with finding real and trumped-up Obama gotchas, however trivial, specious, or contradictory:
Does this stuff work for Romney? The randomness of the "gaffe" obsessions suggests that it doesn't. The Obama campaign seizes on Romney statements, like the ones in the "47 percent" tape, to build its argument that Romney's an out-of-touch rich jerk who'll make you pay higher taxes so he can pay less. The Romney campaign's approach is more random. One day, Obama is a stealthy socialist. The next day, he's an incompetent Washington politician. A few days before that, his vice president was making coded appeals to black racism.
It's not working for the Romney campaign -- but maybe the Romney campaign keeps expecting it to work because it works for Fox News and talk radio; it also worked for the GOP as a turnout motivator in the 2010 midterms. The Obama administration is a merciless, relentless, America-destroying juggernaut that's unstoppable unless all True Patriots rise up! Obama is a lazy bum who plays golf all the time and can't talk without a teleprompter! This contradictory nonsense absolutely works if all you need to do is appeal to the base. That's all the right-wing media needs. That's all the GOP needed in the last midterms, because midterms are traditionally low-turnout.

But it doesn't work in presidential elections. Republicans got lulled in the '00s because Bush became president once while losing by half a million votes and became president again when tough-on-the-enemy fearmongering connected with the national mood after 9/11. But it doesn't really work under present circumstances -- certainly not in a high-turnout presidential election.


Related to this is what Ron Brownstein says (hat tip: Ed Kilgore):
Of all Romney's primary-season decisions, the most damaging was his choice to repel the challenges from Perry and Gingrich by attacking them from the right -- and using immigration as his cudgel. That process led Romney to embrace a succession of edgy, conservative positions anathema to many Hispanics...

... a second early decision has greatly compounded that challenge. Through the primaries, Romney embraced an unreservedly conservative social agenda.... That positioning helps explain why polls consistently show Obama drawing a majority of college-educated white women....
Kevin Drum reads this and concludes that "the tea party killed Mitt Romney." But it's really the entire wingnut infrastructure, which predates the tea party by decades. Romney's immigration stance is that of the rank-of-file righties who wouldn't even let their 9/11 hero George W. Bush pass an immigration bill; Romney's stance on social issues echoes the old 1980s Moral Majority and its successors, as well as Rush Limbaugh's decades of feminism-bashing.

None of these folks will let Romney run any kind of campaign other than the one he's running, or so it appears. Ask Jon Huntsman what happens when you try to buck them. So of course he's doing all this.


Greg said...

When you factor in the Dems' current electoral advantages (demographics, a recent GOP track record of failure) and the Republicans' (big money, media infrastructure), it seems the Republicans would still have the edge, if they could find a personally likable candidate. (Doesn't have to be a Reagan -- in this current economy, even "compassionate conservative" Dubya, circa 2000, might've sufficed.)

Just why the Republicans have had such a hard time finding some adequately likable, is partly due to Obama, who sets a high bar to top, and partly due to letting the Tea Party-influence dictate candidate personality as well as policy. It's kind of hard for them to put that cat back in the bag, after spending the '00s in full-out demonization mode of the traitorous libtards. But I bet the fanatics at Plutocrat Labs won't rest until they can build a new "pleasing alternative" to whatever the Dems throw out there (Hillary Clinton? Andrew Cuomo?) in the future.

Steve M. said...

That's exactly right -- they would reject anyone who refrained from demonizing enemies, or force that non-demonizer to use their approach.

I bet Jeb Bush faces the same convert-or-die pressure four years from now if he wants to beat Christie, Ryan, Allen West, etc., etc.