Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Utile Plast Candidate

Mitt Romney has proven he can be both plasticy and malleable.  These two qualities are what makes Mitt Mitt.  They are also the qualities which will propel him close, but not quite to the Presidency.

When Buzz and I were in South Carolina doing a pro bono scouting trip for the Chicago Sun at the University of Charleston this past January, we stumbled upon a Mitt Romney rally and decided to stick around. It was a day before the South Carolina primary, and the crowd was excited to see the former Massachusetts Governor.

In a rally highlighted by the appearances of Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Governor Bob McDonald of Virginia, we were able to observe Romney up close and personal.  We came away with one overriding impression:  This guy exudes plastic.

From his smile to his freshly pressed jeans to his automaton wave to his sculpted on hair, he just didn't seem real.  He was, as some commentators have noted, an almost alien or robotic presence. 

And don't think this is just the usual OVC anti-Republican bias, because Buzz and I also met Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Buddy Roemer all up close and personal this past year.  None of them had the same qualities, in fact, Santorum and Roemer both struck these two middle aged former hippies as two real genuine dudes.

But, perhaps plastic is not the most descriptive term would could use, because whereas plastic is quite rigid, Romney the candidate is quite malleable, but in a plastic sort of way.  We turned to the Google to see if both qualities could co-exist in the same product.  We found it.

There is an Australian product which is described as a non-toxic, biodegradable plastic that can be shaped in minutes, is re-useable and is virtually indestructible.  This product is call Utile Plast.

Romney campaigned in the Republican primary as the "severely conservative" former Governor of Massachusetts, but in the past month he has become the Governor of compromise, a Republican Governor of a state with an 87 percent Democratic legislature.  Apparently, just like Utile Plast, both of these qualities did exist in the Governorship of Romney.

He could be considered "severely conservative" in the fact that he vetoed 800 bills during his four years as Governor, but he can also be considered a real "aisle crosser" in the fact that he passed a healthcare reform package with the overwhelming support of Democrats.  (The healthcare reform plan which, by the way, is the model for Obamacare.)

Romney would have been the perfect candidate for the pre-internet, pre-television, per-youtube days, because he caters his message to the crowd before whom he speaks. 

Back in that Golden Age of politics, a politician could cater his message to a particular crowd, because there weren't thousands of people with iphones recording your every spoken word.  This subtlety seems to have been lost on the Romney team.

The most blatant example of this is in Ohio, where Romney must rue the day he penned that infamous "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" editorial.  (Yes, we did read the editorial, and we know that Romney did not pick the title.) Today he says that he is the auto industry's best friend.

The Utile Plast candidate also has the advantage, because of the Republican answer to any criticism of "that's just the liberal media."  So when Romney changes his position on a major issue and the media calls him on it, he just says, "well that's the liberal media."

Romney reaped the benefits of his malleablity after the first debate.  He closed the gap and even passed Barack Obama in a number of national polls.  That momentum and surge has now peaked, and recent polls, particularly in the battleground states, have edged back in Obama's favor.

The Utile Plast candidate just doesn't seem to have enough to push him across the finish line.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Romney gets trapped inside the right wing bubble

Mitt Romney thought he "had him" last night in the second Presidential debate, but he ended up being smacked down by a woman named Candy (one of Buzz's fantasies, but that's another story.)  We're talking about the question of whether or not Obama referred to the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens as an act of "terror" the day after the attack in Barack Obama's Rose Garden press statement.

Romney said that Obama failed to mention that the attack on the Libyan consulate in Benghazi was an act of terrorism the day after the attack.  After Obama said he said it was an act of terrorism in his Rose Garden speech on September 12th, Romney thought he caught the President in a lie.  Debate moderator Candy Crowley instantly fact checked Romney and told him that the President had indeed referred to the September 11th attack as an act of terror.

Romney is new to the right wing bubble, after all, he was "Moderate Mitt" when he ran against Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994 and when he ran for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002.  He failed to recognize one of the most important rules of the right wing bubble:  don't make statements outside the bubble if there's somebody there to fact check you.

Some of the reasons right wing talk radio is so successful is because the radio host controls his or her callers, can drone on for hours unchallenged, and most importantly, controls the microphone.  Rush Limbaugh doesn't have a Candy Crowley instantly fact checking him.

The right wing has been relentless in its attacks on the Obama administration for the Libyan attack on September 11, 2012.  Republican Congressman Darryl Issa (Chair of the House Government Oversight Committee) has even taken to conducting hearings while the rest of Congress is home campaigning for their jobs.  The conclusion they reached before the hearings started was that Obama lied to the American people and engaged in some sort of cover up to hide his foreign policy failures.

Our advice to Governor Romney is to read our primer on right wing talk radio.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Here's why Romney will lose in November

Mitt Romney will lose in November and the reason is simple.  The powers that be in the current Republican party do not understand a majority of the American people, in general, and the persuadable middle, in specific.  They are locked in a political bubble powered by talk radio and the conservative blogosphere.

The Romney campaign is locked in this same bubble, and they have lost their ability to appeal to the voters who will decide this election.  (Whether they ever had that ability it the subject of another post.)

Sometimes our best understanding of politics is through satire.

On February 14, 2009, less than a month after Obama took office, comedic legend Dan Aykroyd made a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live.  He appeared in the opening sketch entitled "Republican meeting."

Aykroyd played then House Minority Leader John Boehner. He led a strategy session with Republican Congressional leaders discussing how they could bring down newly inaugurated President Barack Obama and regain the majorities in the House and Senate.

All of the leaders were convinced that Obama was already a failure, and that the American people were just waiting for the Republicans to pounce on him.  Among the ideas they discussed was impeachment (too early, wait until at least April,) who is the smartest person in America (Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity,) Obama's first Press Conference ("the single most embarrassing appearance by an American President in US history,") and "bringing down" the Obama girls "a notch" (their sleepovers were costing too much money.)

All of these ideas were greeted with unanimous support of the Republican leaders.

Of course the sketch was over the top, but it does illustrate the disconnect between many of the shakers and movers in the Republican party today, particularly Mitt Romney and his campaign.

A majority of Americans personally like President Obama.  A majority of Americans don't believe that the economic troubles we are experiencing in 2012 were caused by Obama.  A majority of Americans generally believe that Obama has tried to fix the awful mess he inherited from President George W. Bush.  And, a majority of Americans don't sit on the edge of their seats waiting for Limbaugh or Hannity to impart them with words of wisdom.

Romney is losing in almost every poll on a national level and doing even worse in the 10 or so battleground states which will decide this election.  And don't believe those who tell you the pollsters are in the tank for Obama.  Pollsters want to be as accurate as possible (that's how they get work in the future,) and, believe it or not, some of the pollsters are Republicans.

The polls remained relatively stagnant until around Labor Day, but Romney was generally behind.  Since Labor Day, Romney's polling numbers have not been good.  There has been a general trend towards Obama, particularly in the battleground states.

The shift in the battleground states should be particularly troubling to Romney, because that's where the Romney campaign and its allies having been spending time, money, and effort.  The non-battleground states have been ignored by both sides, and those numbers appear to be stagnant.  Where Romney is getting out his message (as well as Obama getting out his,) Obama is moving ahead.

Romney's message is not resonating with voters.  His message, may in fact, be turning voters off. 

Romney did have some truth in his now infamous "47 percent" comments.  He is correct, give or take a few points, that at least 47 percent of Americans cannot be persuaded and will vote for Obama, but 47 percent of Americans, give or take a few points, cannot be persuaded, and will vote for him.  The $64,000 question is "For whom will that 6 to 8 percent of persuadable voters cast their ballot."

The over the top and visceral anti-Obama rhetoric of the Romney campaign will not persuade the persuadables.

The first Presidential debate is tomorrow night.  For our Republican friends, let's hope Romney tones it down a bit.  For our Democratic friends, let's hope he keeps it up.  And finally, for our "persuadable friends," we hope you enjoy a few new episodes of "Storage Wars."