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SHAPING THE CAMPAIGN September 21, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.

Polling tends to follow leading stories, so it is yet to be assessed as to what might be the short term and long term impact of the 47% video.

It seems that President Obama and the Democrats had a lead over the Republicans, including surprisingly in the Senate races. It could be expected that the PR consultants behind the Republican Campaign would have been seeking to construct a positive image of Mitt Romney based on his business background. Maybe there is much to be said for candour given the contrived nature of the modern political campaigning that is directed at television viewers. Mitt Romney notably commented on those he alleged did not pay taxes and on the Palestinians.

There are several different takes.

Steve Kates at Catallaxy suggests “the media as arbiter may be disappearing before our eyes”. I suppose it is the nature of commentary, and now there is more dispersed commentary

. . . with Romney’s 47% moment that was unanimously described across the media as the end of the Romney campaign, there has been an uprising on the right side of politics to argue that we here do not accept the media’s verdict and that the only problem with what Romney said was that he doesn’t say it often enough.

Brad DeLong is not in agreement. He provides a point by point commentary on what Mitt Romney statements. It is, he says, the case of the con artist conned, and concludes:

There should have been people to deprogram Mitt Romney when he began to fall victim to this AEI cult. Wall Street Journal editorialists should have warned him not to confuse the “prolefeed” they distribute with the way the world actually works. Economic advisors like Eddie Lazear ought to have straightened him out about the state of the labor market, while Harvey Rosen and Greg Mankiw ought to have convinced him that you would not expect Social Security recipients to pay income taxes. Somebody should have told Mitt Romney that roughly half of those who are currently paying no income taxes will vote for him in November.

Does Romney spend so little time talking to real policy advisors that these issues never came up?

Does Romney suffer from CEO disease to such an extent that pointing out that he believes something that is not true is such a career-limiting view that nobody dares do it?

Whatever: in this case one of the con artists has managed to get himself conned.

Still, this has made me unhappy. This episode has raised the chances of an Obama administration, and that is good. But this episode has also greatly lowered my expectations of what a Romney administration would be like, and we still might well have a Romney administration.

That seems to me an important issue, and one that voters might take up. How a presidential candidate runs his campaign can be taken as an illustration as how he will run his administration. Mitt Romney does not seem to take heed of his advisers.

Kevin Drum, at Mother Jones, fills in background on the 47%, who include potential Romney voters.

If some “Conservatives” were not persuaded by the potential on offer previously recent events are unlikely to change their assessment. For example:

If Romney hoped well-heeled conservative advocates would come running to his rescue after his remarks about the poor and middle class sent his campaign into a tailspin, he’ll have to look elsewhere.

His right-leaning campaign hasn’t convinced conservatives that he’s one of them, according to Club for Growth president Chris Chocola.

“This may sound strange, but we’re doing nothing to improve his odds,” Chocola said Thursday in Washington at a breakfast roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “We’re not really involved in the presidential race. … We didn’t make an endorsement in the Republican primary process, not because we didn’t want to but because there wasn’t a candidate that we thought we could recommend to our members.”

Club for Growth — perhaps more than any other organization on the right — has agggressively supported conservative candidates against incumbent Republicans in an effort to push the GOP toward it’s pro-business, libertarian brand of conservatism. The group’s dissatisfaction with Romney has been well documented.

On Thursday, Chocola told reporters again that Romney troubles conservatives, citing in particular his rhetorical opposition to lax trade rules with China.

Jon Stewart (via Truthdig) has an opinion.

EJ Dionne, at The Washington Post gives the straight dope:

The most incisive reaction to Mitt Romney’s disparaging comments about 47 percent of us came from a conservative friend who emailed: “If I were you, I’d wonder why Romney hates America so much.”

A bit strong, perhaps. But the more you think about what Romney said, the more you wonder how he really feels about the country he wants to lead.

What kind of nation are we if nearly half of us are lazy, self-indulgent moochers who will never be persuaded to mend our ways? “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney said, thus writing off a huge share of our citizenry.

From his perch high atop the class structure, Romney offered an analysis of political motivations that even Marxists would regard as excessively materialistic. He speaks as if hardworking parents who seek government help to provide health care for their kids are irresponsible, that students who get government aid to attend community colleges are not trying to “care for their lives.” Has he never spoken with busboys and waitresses, hospital workers and janitors who make too little to pay income taxes but work their hearts out to “take personal responsibility”?

In defending himself on Fox News on Tuesday, Romney only deepened his difficulty. “I think a society based upon a government-centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that’s the wrong course for America,” he said.

Robert Reich succinctly observes:

Some of us thought Romney was without core or principle, an empty suit that would say anything to be elected. But here, evidently, is the real Mitt — a man whose core principle is clearly on display, and articulated with deep conviction: social Darwinism — survival of the richest, the hell with those who need a helping hand.

In a subsequent news conference he attempted to make it sound as if he was talking here about political strategy, not social conviction.

So who is the mysterious person who was the source of the video? Monika Bauerlein, co-editor of Mother Jones, provides some of the interesting back story interviewed by the WSJ.

All is not lost for Mitt Romney, after all he has Karl Rove, master of the political dark arts and voter restriction, working in the background. When over the next seven weeks will the Rove Moment occur?


Mitt Romney might have the answer to the energy crisis (although the ecological/climate crisis goes unmentioned) by evoking an solution from another place and time.



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