Sunday, January 8, 2012
Tell Me A Story
OK, we can be pretty sure Mitt Romney will be the nominee after, once again, all the other Not Mitts spent another debate attacking each other rather than the putative front runner.
Politics. How does it work?
If even Newt can't summon up an attack on Romney, then no Republican can. Is it Reagan's Eleventh Commandment? Some sort of force field? We may never know.
So, the only open question is whether the Not Mitt vote will resign itself to voting for the Mormon Cyborg or coalesce unexpectedly around one of the few remaining figures. Gary Bauer is trying to rally people around Santorum. Some billionaire has just dumped a ton of money into Newt's PAC.
But the broader question is whether Romney can win the general election. After all, given the supporting cast of crazies around him, he has always been the most electable (aside from Huntsman who has too much pride to pander as shamelessly as Mitt.)
One of the guys at Booman says it won't matter that the press has come to hate Mitt the way they once hated Al Gore. (Shorter version: Mitt's phoniness and hauteur have everyone who spends time with him - ie the press - hating him.) He also used Mitt's statement this morning that only people who don't need a government paycheck should run for office. He says it's not a disqualifying statement in the GOP (true) and won't work in the general (false, I think).
He's right that it's not a bumpersticker, but I think people come to view people a certain way. They construct shorthands in their mind. And Mitt is definitely, subtly and consistently defining himself as a phony rich guy.
Once you get defined by people, nothing you can do can undefine yourself. Al Gore, perhaps the living embodiment of stolid, boring public servant became a serial liar and nothing he could do could change that. John Kerry, a genuine war hero who spoke out against a war he fought in, became a two-faced panderer.
People have defined Obama and they generally like him personally. The GOP efforts to define him as a Socialist have only worked with their base. Ineffectual is a much more damaging label for him, but if the economy turns around... Plus, bin Laden's dead.
All that's missing for an easy Obama victory is a revolt by conservatives and a renegade third party challenge.
UPDATE: Anne Laurie makes the same point: http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/01/08/open-thread-romney-the-uncanny/