There are no big secrets, you can’t believe what you read

In a few months, establishment media will cease all serious criticism of Mitt Romney. He will be seen as a serious, resolute, Burkean moderate and anyone who disagrees will be cast as a highly partisan liberal. So let’s enjoy this while we can:

The most consistent note in Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign is attacking his rivals for their ideological inconsistency. It’s a nervy strategy for a candidate whose own greatest vulnerability is the sense, especially among conservatives, that he has serially reconsidered his positions for political advantage on issues from abortion to gay rights to immigration.

[….]

In 2004, Republican strategist Karl Rove made famous the tactic of attacking an opponent’s greatest strength by directly assaulting Democrat John Kerry’s credentials on national security. Romney seems to be taking that idea one step further by attacking his opponents on a front that is perceived to be his own greatest weakness. Or maybe Romney is just validating the old belief that the best defense is a good offense.

Greg Sargent asks the obvious question:

Fun thought experiment: Imagine the wall-to-wall media mockery that John Kerry or Al Gore would have endured if they’d tried even a fraction of the shenanigans Romney has resorted to so far.

55 replies
  1. 1
    Samara Morgan says:

    Romney is a MORMON.
    its not happening.

  2. 2
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    “Fun” thought experiment? “Sad” is more like it. Sad because we all know the answer.

    When I read that the WaPo’s profits dropped, I applauded. The sooner their scam for-profit “university” stops being profitable, they can stop supporting their non-profit newspaper.

  3. 3
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Not sure about the shut off, the Media has it’s narrative and it’s not like the Right is going to form a shield wall around him. Mitt’s real problem is his own side sees him as a flip flopper.

    Personally I think Mitt’s attacks on Santorum are trying to bring Santorum down to Mitt’s weaselly level of lack of ideology.

  4. 4
    Brachiator says:

    I hate the Village and all their little political smoke signals. Fer example,

    In 2004, Republican strategist Karl Rove made famous the tactic of attacking an opponent’s greatest strength by directly assaulting Democrat John Kerry’s credentials on national security…. “One of the things that stung us the last time was this [charge of] inconsistency and flip-flopping,” one senior Romney adviser said.

    I don’t give a rat’s ass about Karl Rove, or what he thought or did in 2004. I’m curious as to who this “senior Romney adviser” might be.

    A google search shows a guy named Stuart Stevens to be Romney’s chief strategist.

    So, I want to know who is on Team Mittens, officially and unofficially. The ghosts of advisers past is a lazy dodge.

    ETA: Mitts is pushing his Mr Businessman expertise, not playing who flips the most flops.

  5. 5
    Hunter Gathers says:

    I seem to recall John McCain receiving the same treatment. Except Mittens won’t serve them BBQ while they take turns on the tire swing.

  6. 6
    Mark S. says:

    Eh, I don’t think the media is really going to get behind Romney.

    I do find some of these ideological purity tests amusing, such as supporting Paul Tsongas 20 years ago or voting for some huge spending bill where 0.0000001% of it included funds to Planned Parenthood.

  7. 7
    Culture of Truth says:

    You know things are getting weird when Rick Santorum leaps to Arlen Specter’s defense in a prime time debate and the next day Arlen call Rick a dangerously unhinged nut who should not be allowed anywhere near the White House.

  8. 8
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    Negative ads work. It’s the easiest path; the course of least resistance. I don’t think Romney deserves much credit for the Tea Party’s extremism.

    from the Brownstein piece;

    “Romney’s success at discouraging conservatives from coalescing behind one alternative candidate has been a key to his resilience in the tumultuous GOP contest. For all of the volatility in the Republican presidential race, the two central dynamics have mostly remained stable.”

    This Primary season has been Romney’s to lose.

  9. 9
    Egg Berry says:

    I, for one, will be soooooo glad when this campaign is over so we can focus on the next GOP flavor of the month that doesn’t taste like fecal matter and semen.

  10. 10

    @Benjamin Franklin:

    This Primary season has been Romney’s to lose.

    I agree. And he’s trying HARD.

  11. 11
    jibeaux says:

    @Mark S.: It’s why, if you’ve ever actually served in a legislative body, there’s all kinds of oppo ammo there. Once you’re done applying all the different tests for Fitness For Republican Nominee, there’s no one left.

  12. 12
    TooManyJens says:

    I don’t remember Romney being as staggeringly incompetent at campaigning in 2008 as he has been in this cycle. Am I remembering wrong?

  13. 13
    Violet says:

    @Egg Berry:
    I hope this primary campaign goes on without a winner all the way until the convention. The more infighting the better.

  14. 14
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    It’s been gratifying for the 99% having to settle for the same ‘choice’ the other 1% deals with everyday….

    “Paper, or plastic, sir?”

  15. 15
    Catsy says:

    I just don’t see it happening. The hardcore Villagers and other assorted hacks will try, but the basic fact is that no one really likes Romney. George Bush had the “have a beer with him” appeal and could at least relate to regular folk as a jocular human being. McCain was the media’s buddy until he started shutting them out and fucking with them, at which point they started turning on him.

    Romney has most of his predecessors’ negatives and none of the mitigating “likeability” circumstances that allowed them to overcome their lies, hypocrisies and records of incompetence.

    He’d at least get his 27%. He’d probably get more; at least 35-40% of the popular vote.

    But that’s it.

    He has a fundamental credibility and likeability gap that not even Mark “Good News for John McCain” Halperin will be able to paper over. His base hates him worse than they hated McCain. If the GOP nominates him, he’s going to get destroyed in a landslide.

  16. 16
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Mark S.:

    Eh, I don’t think the media is really going to get behind Romney.

    It’s not a question of “getting behind” but applying the same amount of blowback they applied to Gore and Kerry.

    Yeah, you can read some hints of them finally treating Mittens the same way but only hints, again, they’re corporate masters are far too afraid of the right wing noise machine to allow reporters free reign to actually write what they observe.

  17. 17
    Brachiator says:

    According to the WSJ, Mittens economic advisers are former Bushies, straight from the GOP money mainstream. No Tea Party types.

    Among the economists advising the campaign are Columbia University’s R. Glenn Hubbard and Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw, who both served as chairmen of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers in George W. Bush’s administration.
    __
    Messrs. Hubbard and Mankiw are proponents of lower tax rates and argue that lower rates can spur enough economic growth to make up for some of the lost tax revenue. But they don’t contend tax cuts pay for themselves—as do more ardent backers of supply-side economics….
    __
    At the center of Mr. Romney’s economic team is Lanhee Chen, the campaign’s policy director, who handles day-to-day campaign responsibilities. Mr. Chen was domestic policy director in Mr. Romney’s failed bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, and he worked on health policy in 2008 in the George W. Bush administration.
    __
    While he holds four degrees from Harvard, Mr. Chen points out he is a political scientist, not an economist, by training. His most recent research focused on how Mr. Obama’s health overhaul affected states.

    So, Mittens is promising a return to Bush administration policies? If the Democrats can’t knock this one out of the ballpark, there ain’t no justice in the world.

  18. 18
    Culture of Truth says:

    Has mittens the give beat reporters stupid childish nicknames yet?

    He’s gonna want to get on that.

  19. 19
    pragmatism says:

    @Egg Berry: speculative tastes:
    christie tastes like a deep fried krispy kreme chicken sandwich. http://www.ocregister.com/arti.....rispy.html it appears to people like the components are good ideas but mashed together it is just a fat mess that tastes like dick.

    jeb tastes like a reheated KFC famous bowl. patton oswalt described it thusly: a failure pile in a sadness bowl.

    rubio tastes like a taco bell seven layer burrito bought in utah. one of the hidden layers is magic underwear. it actually sets back the latino culture but can plausibly claim “i’m latino”.

  20. 20
    lamh35 says:

    So not only was the speech overshadowed by the empty stadium seats, but he ends it with this?? I mean dude should never go off script.

    Ann Romney Drives ‘a Couple of Cadillacs,’ Says Mitt

    …Reporters have immediately jumped on the latter half of the comment as another example of Romney appearing “tone deaf” when making oblique references to his wealth among voters. (Think “I like being able to fire people” or “corporations are people, my friend.”) “Politically, I don’t there’s anything wrong with mentioning your wife drives a Cadillac. But it’s a little riskier if you mention she drives ‘a couple,'” writes The Hill’s Christian Heinze. “For the love of Pete,” tweets Politico’s Ben White. “… It would be better for that campaign if he didn’t speak.” “PROBLEM” adds Politico’s Dylan Byers. But let’s all take a step back. It could have been worse! Something like, “Ann used to drive two Cadillacs but that was years before we hired her a private driver.” Still, expect to hear the political hay over this little flap for at least a news cycle or ten…

  21. 21
    Zifnab says:

    Imagine the wall-to-wall media mockery that John Kerry or Al Gore would have endured if they’d tried even a fraction of the shenanigans Romney has resorted to so far.

    Would Gore/Kerry have an assortment of billionaire buddies and hyper-liberal think tanks and pundits ready to work the refs every second of every day? Would they be throwing kick-ass cocktail parties and dis-inviting their critics? :-p

    What makes me more curious is how Democrats would respond to such a pack of failures and hucksters running for the Dem nod. Would a liberal Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum have made it past a liberal Jon Huntsman? I think the Dems just do a better job of screening out the crazy than their Republican colleagues, in part because they know the rest of the political environment is so adversarial. And I honestly don’t envy Republicans their Yes-Man culture.

    We went through John Kerry once and learned our lesson. Republicans had to suffer through Romney twice now. Will 2016 really be any better for them?

    You can keep your political failures and your media sycophants both. I’m sticking with Obama.

  22. 22
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Catsy:

    He’d at least get his 27%. He’d probably get more; at least 35-40% of the popular vote.

    Nobody would deny the usual 27% Crazification Factor vote but, you could run Chauncy Gardner for president, put an “R” after his name and he’ll get at least 45% of the popular vote.

    McCain got 45.7%. Sure, Bob Dole only pulled in 40.7% but at he lost at least 5% of his popular vote to Perot (who pulled in 8.4%).

    Anything in the 35-40% range, now you’re down into McGovern 72 (37.5%) or Goldwater 64 (38.5%). Sure, if the Frothy Mixture or the Pillsbury Dough Boy get the nomination, then we’re in McGovern/Goldwater territory.

    Mittens will still get enough of a coast from the Corporate Stenographers to get above 40% and most likely around the basement McCain level of 45%.

  23. 23
    Egg Berry says:

    @pragmatism: ugh. I am actually sorry I brought it up.

  24. 24
    Steve says:

    Romney has, in fact, gotten mocked an awful lot in the media.

    Apropos of nothing, by the way, I cannot believe the Arlen Specter issue still has legs. They are actually running ads attacking Santorum for supporting Arlen Specter in 2008. Does anyone seriously think voters care about that?

  25. 25
    Tonal Crow says:

    @lamh35: The more the RomneyTron tries to show that it’s not a robot, the more it seems like a robot. C’mon ‘tron, the uncanny valley beckons! ETA: also too, nice echoes of McCain’s I-don’t-know-how-many-houses-I-own-check-with-my-advisors mistake.

  26. 26
    pragmatism says:

    @Egg Berry: on the plus side, you helped me avoid actual doing actual work.

  27. 27
    RD says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    A Mormon could win. They’d just have to come up one who could pass a Turing test.

  28. 28
    Catsy says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    McCain got 45.7%

    And the GOP base hates Romney even more than they hated McCain. The depth and breadth of their loathing cannot be overstated. What’s more, Americans in general do not much like Romney–and the more they’re exposed to him, the less they like him. McCain had his “senior moments” and was subject to a lot of jokes, but he was still widely regarded as a moderate with integrity by people who aren’t political junkies.

    I agree that 35% is optimistic, but I would be shocked if Romney breaks 45%, and I think somewhere on the lower end of that range is more likely.

    If Romney is the nominee, I think what it’s really going to come down to is who he taps as VP. If he picks another Palin, or has to pick someone like Santorum in order to appease the base, it’s going to be a rout.

  29. 29
    Chris says:

    @Zifnab:

    I think the Dems just do a better job of screening out the crazy than their Republican colleagues, in part because they know the rest of the political environment is so adversarial. And I honestly don’t envy Republicans their Yes-Man culture.

    And also partly because, you know, our base cares somewhat more about things like “facts” and “reality” than theirs does. No 9/11 denialist could even have gotten as far as Donald Trump did in a Democratic primary, for example.

  30. 30
    Donut says:

    Yeah, I don’t agree that the media will automatically shift out if the current perceptions “out there” (in the Cokie Roberts sense).

    There was no narrative about Kerry before he got the nod. With Gore a strong narrative ready existed.

    I’m thinking Romney has a Gore-type problem rather than a Kerry-type problem.

  31. 31
    gene108 says:

    @Steve:

    Arlen Specter is the sort of traitor Republicans have been working hard to purge from the Party.

    Lindsey Graham is on many people’s list as the next traitor that needs to go.

    Only the true conservatives should be Republicans.

    None of the namby-pamby compromisers, who want to govern need to apply.

  32. 32
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Samara Morgan:
    You keep saying that. At this stage, the nomination is still Romney’s to lose, and could still go to him; the election proper is not until November, and no one, even among Democrats, is assuming that re-election is already in the bag for Obama.

    Aside from being a MORMON, a bigger problem for him with Republican voters than with the wider electorate, Romney is also a TRANSPARENT PHONY. That too is a big problem for him, n’est-ce pas? Yet again and again you insist, absent any real evidence, that the former alone is what kills his chances.

  33. 33
    Chris says:

    @Catsy:

    If Romney is the nominee, I think what it’s really going to come down to is who he taps as VP. If he picks another Palin, or has to pick someone like Santorum in order to appease the base, it’s going to be a rout.

    He HAS to pick someone like that, though. It’s a Catch 22, the exact same one as McCain: with a reputation for being a borderline liberal, he’ll need someone with Palin/Santorum-esque credentials to appease the base. But that same person who turns on their base is going to turn off the moderates and centrists, and if those guys are turned off, they won’t stay home. They’ll vote Obama.

  34. 34
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Chris: I agree, but I think Romney’s “stealth lib’ral” problem is substantially worse than McCain’s. McCain never tried to out-liberal Ted Kennedy, nor did he enact ObamaRomneyCare.

  35. 35
    merrinc says:

    Okay, this is rich. The Sargent article linked to another by Byron York on the Washington Examiner and I made what is usually a mistake – reading the Comments section. But today I found a real pearlknee-slapper:

    Since George Soros bought News Corp stock, he’s been increasingly calling the shots over there–and Fox is definitely moving to the left (that’s why they got rid of Napolitano & Co. over on the business side).

    I’m trying to imagine Faux News as part of the liberal media but it’s just not working.

  36. 36
    Tonal Crow says:

    @merrinc: The Fox has gone lib’ral! Roll out ze Guillotines!

  37. 37
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    forget it Jake. It’s Utah

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/201.....-Q.twitter

  38. 38
    Chris says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Oh, I agree that it’s even worse for Romney.

    And like you said, there’s a good reason for it. To be fair, Obamacare was still a Republican idea at the time he enacted it, not that it’ll matter to his base. But the bottom line is the Republican base knows he threw out all “his” old values in order to pander to them, and they’re afraid that once in the White House, he’ll do the same thing again in a heartbeat if he thinks there’s something in it for him. For once, they’re right on the money.

    (That’s also the reason Chris Christie just vetoed gay marriage – shoring up his SoCon cred so he doesn’t become the next Romney. If I ever had any doubts that the bastard’s after the White House, that veto cured them).

  39. 39

    Call him Rmoney early and often.

  40. 40
    RD says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    absent any real evidence

    It’s already happening on places like Hot Air.

    It was displayed overtly on Morning Joe during the Franklin Graham interview.

  41. 41
    The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    Why the need for the thought experiment? Look at the Global Warming issue. Global Warming/Climate Change feels like it’s literally a dead issue in this country solely because of the hate-on they have for Al Gore.

  42. 42
    Catsy says:

    @merrinc: Soros really does control everything! Who knew?

  43. 43
    moderateindy says:

    Romney seems to be taking that idea one step further by attacking his opponents on a front that is perceived to be his own greatest weakness. Or maybe Romney is just validating the old belief that the best defense is a good offense.

    Really this is a new tactic? it’s called projecting, and nobody does it like the Republicans. Cry about activist judges, while conservative judges gives us Bush v Gore and citizens united. Talk about liberals being victims, then go on and on about how oppressed conservatives and christians are. Oh…. the government is making the Catholic Church’s business arm act like other businesses, also, war on Christmas! Spend time talking about fiscal irresponsibility of Dems while ignoring historical debt and deficits run up every time Rep are in power. Who said what we learned from Reagan was that deficits don’t matter? that must have been a quote from Obama. Whine about big intrusive government while passing the Patriot Act and trying to get legislation through forcing women to have stuff unwillingly crammed up their hoo-ha ( wait….is hoo ha supposed to be hyphenated? perhaps it should be hymenated) Anyway, the list goes on and on. Projection isn’t something new for cons it’s a fracking lifestyle, ingrained as tax cuts and their own personal Jeebus, who kindly averts his eyes when they are having sex with other men in airport restrooms.

  44. 44
    Brachiator says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik:

    Why the need for the thought experiment? Look at the Global Warming issue. Global Warming/Climate Change feels like it’s literally a dead issue in this country solely because of the hate-on they have for Al Gore.

    No, this just gives deniers a convenient punching bag on which they can focus their energy.

  45. 45

    @Steve:

    Romney has, in fact, gotten mocked an awful lot in the media.
    __
    Apropos of nothing, by the way, I cannot believe the Arlen Specter issue still has legs. They are actually running ads attacking Santorum for supporting Arlen Specter in 2008. Does anyone seriously think voters care about that?

    We are all Arlen Specter now.

  46. 46
    Tonal Crow says:

    @moderateindy: It is not “projection”. It is The Big Lie.

  47. 47
    cmorenc says:

    @DougJarvus Green-Ellis (quoting Ron Brownstein):

    Or maybe Romney is just validating the old belief that the best defense is a good offense.

    Romney’s problem is that he’s mangled this strategy in his typical tone-deaf fashion: the best defense is to be offensive

  48. 48
    Violet says:

    @Benjamin Franklin:
    From that link:

    “We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest,” Wright said in defense of the bill.

    Pretty much sums it up. Sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is something you have to sneak around to do. You’re “getting away with it” if you do.

    What a bunch of sickos.

  49. 49
    cmorenc says:

    @Chris:

    (That’s also the reason Chris Christie just vetoed gay marriage – shoring up his SoCon cred so he doesn’t become the next Romney. If I ever had any doubts that the bastard’s after the White House, that veto cured them).

    Christie’s also smart enough to not try to reach for the brass ring of the GOP nomination this time around, knowing that there’s far too much blood and shit in the water to be healthy for his prospects if he did jump in at this point. It might have been different had he decided to get in at a much earlier point, but by the time it became definitely apparent that not only was the Romney juggernaut not nearly so inevitable as it had earlier appeared, but the entire existing field’s prospects for the general election were growing dimmer by the day, it was already too late to jump in without extraordinary risk of ruinously bruising failure. Better to sit this one out and not have to run against an incumbent President in 2016, when presumably Obama’s absence on the ticket will also result in a lower tide of minority turnout to have to overcome.

  50. 50
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    @Violet:

    What a bunch of sickos.

    Being sick, is sometimes, excusable. Rank hypocrisy; not so much…

  51. 51
    roc says:

    Romney isn’t taking Rove’s strategy one step further, it’s the *same* strategy. The only difference is that each prime contender, in turn, has had as their greatest strength: I am not Mitt Romney.

    So if you can paint the alternative as just-as-bad on flip-flopping and having a record of deeds that don’t match the campaign rhetoric, you’ve destroyed their primary strength.

    All that remains is to judge them based on their own skeletons in their own closets.

    And tissue-thin as Mitt’s facade is, he *is* a trivially more-electable candidate than Cain, or Perry, or Newt or Santorum. Not that those are particularly high bars to cross.

    It’s almost a shame Huntsman dropped out when he did. The party’s flailing for an alternative is absolutely *desperate* for a non-Santorum challenger. He couldn’t help but take Rick’s place. And one way or the other, the question of whether Mormonism is a sticking point would be resolved.

  52. 52
    Violet says:

    @roc:
    No way Huntsman would become a Not Mitt. Pawlenty might have had a better shot, but they’re all considered liberals by wingnuts.

  53. 53
    jake the snake says:

    My personal conspiracy theory is that Mittbot2K12 is actually a cyborg “Manchurian candidate” from the Ferengi Alliance. I am also concerned that the frothy one is Nehemiah Scudder. If Rih is not a “true believer” he
    must be too dumb to realize that his rhetoric will kill
    him in the general.

  54. 54
    The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    @Brachiator:

    Except the deniers are WINNING, and WINNING MASSIVELY, because they’ve successfully made the public image of Climate Change as some massive global Al Gore-led conspiracy so not only does fuck all gets done anywhere at any level of gov’t, but we’re probably gonna end up losing the EPA and other environmental groups as sacrifice to business and as a giant fuck you to the ‘Warmists’ and the Gore-specter.

  55. 55
    LanceThruster says:

    @Chris:

    I’m a truther and am saddened by anyone’s leadership buying into the official narrative. As far as prostituting themselves to powerful gatekeepers, see Tom Hayden’s “I was Israel’s Dupe” – http://www.counterpunch.org/20.....el-s-dupe/

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