Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I'm saying the obvious, I realize, but when Peggy Noonan says Mitt Romney's campaign is politically incompetent, what she's really saying is that there's nothing wrong with the rest of the GOP -- it's all the fault of Mitt and his team.

If she believes that, she's in deep denial.

Now, I think the GOP is usually pretty good at pulling the wool over the public's eyes (or at least over enough of the public's eyes to win a hell of a lot of elections). Republican messaging is usually very effective and very disciplined. Republicans agree to push carefully crafted talking points (and, often, distortions of reality). It works much of the time -- because much of the time turnout is low and whoever has the largest number of motivated voters wins.

Unfortunately for Republicans, it doesn't work as well in presidential elections, which tend to have higher turnout -- and, as a result, Democrats have won the popular vote in four out of the last five presidential contests, and seem well on their way to making it five out of six.

Here's what Noonan says:
It's time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It's not big, it's not brave, it's not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It's always been too small for the moment....

When big, serious, thoughtful things must be said then big, serious, thoughtful speeches must be given. Mr. Romney is not good at press conferences....

He should stick to speeches, and they have to be big -- where America is now, what we must do, how we can do it.
But he can't do that. Republicans can't do that. They couldn't do it at their convention -- or at least they couldn't without lying or wallowing in generalities -- because everyone in America (except, perhaps, the GOP base) knows that we have to either collect more tax revenues or make draconian cuts in programs, and since Republicans categorically refuse to raise taxes on people who can well afford it, everyone (again, except the Republican base) knows that, under the GOP, the middle class and poor will get screwed on taxes or on benefits and other programs, or, most likely, both. The GOP can't say any of this, except to its base (which hears about cuts to programs and assumes other people will suffer), so the GOP can't go "big."

And, really, no one except the base likes all these supposed GOP superstars who make Noonan starry-eyed:
Romney should go out there every day surrounded with the most persuasive, interesting and articulate members of his party, the old ones, and I say this with pain as they're my age, like Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush, and the young ones, like Susana Martinez and Chris Christie and Marco Rubio -- and even Paul Ryan. I don't mean one of them should travel with him next Thursday, I mean he should be surrounded by a posse of them every day. Their presence will say, "This isn’t about one man, this is about a whole world of meaning, this is about a conservative political philosophy that can turn things around and make our country better."
Remember how right-wing pundits told us that Chris Christie would inspire the country? He gave a convention speech and it didn't happen. Remember how they told us that Paul Ryan would fire up the country? He's on the ticket and it isn't happening. Nobody likes these people all that much, apart from the Republican base (and, yes, the political media). Nobody really likes these people because they don't really offer any reason for Americans to feel optimistic about America -- they just utter banalities about "freedom" and "small government," which work with the middle-class suburban white men who decide midterm and down-ballot elections, but don't work when the whole country is paying attention, that is, when the presidency is on the line.

Assuming Obama wins, Noonan's view will be the conventional wisdom: Romney lost it, not the GOP. But the conventional wisdom will be wrong.


Danp said...

Republicans win congressional and gubernatorial elections because there is very little focus on them. Sunlight is deadly to these guys. Just ask Palin, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, Fred Thompson and Giuliani. The luckiest Republican is Ron Paul, who might well be the biggest joke of them all.

White Hat said...

Noonan begins her article by claiming Romney is losing a contest he almost couldn't lose. The only way that could be true is if the majority of voters don't notice that they've been harmed by longstanding GOP policies.

Noonan doesn't believe that relying on widespread voter ignorance is a poor party platform. She thinks it's only a weak campaign strategy. She's got it backwards.

Danp said...

The only way that could be true is if the majority of voters don't notice that they've been harmed by longstanding GOP policies.

I might well accept that premise. However, I think you could also ask how it is possible that Romney is losing when Republicans have unlimited funding, immunity from the media on lies and distortions, 20+ primary debates in which to articulate their message, and a congress where even Dems can't be counted on to support the President.

Victor said...

My favorite part of Nooners piece was when she said Romney needs to have a big rally in Brooklyn.


Has this skanky ancient twit ever even BEEN to Brooklyn?

Outside of the Heights, some random Cuban areas, and the Conservative Russkies in Brighton Beach, a large chunk of Brooklyn is part of the 47%.
Plus, a lot of brown and "blah" people.

So yes, Peg, please invite Mitt to Brooklyn to deliver this message.

Keep the engines running.

White Hat said...


The GOP's funding can only help them articulate a message. It doesn't help them create a viable message. As Romney has demonstrated by staying mum on details.

The GOP doesn't have an entirely free pass on lying. Romney has assumed so, but it appears that he has pushed the press too far with his entirely "post-truth" campaign. The press is an entertainment industry. Now that the Romney campaign is imploding, making them squirm has more entertainment value than "balanced" reporting.

In the primary debates, Mitt did little more than smile. Facing only losers, he patiently let them self-destruct. Not a winning strategy against a winner. When Romney faces Obama in debates, he won't win with nonsense. Proof: McCain tried that.

Dems don't always clump together like the GOP. They're a "big tent" with lots of competing agendas. First among those is to get re-elected. Dems with conservative electorates always do what's necessary. Baby needs new shoes. It's why Obama spent 3 years trying to get the GOP to cooperate on anything.