Mitt About to Get Some Media Love?

From “The Coming Romney Comeback Narrative,” Robert Wright, The Atlantic:

“If there’s one thing the media won’t tolerate for long, it’s an unchanging media narrative. So the current story of the presidential campaign — Obama sits on a lead that is modest but increasingly comfortable, thanks to a hapless Romney and a hapless Romney campaign — should be yielding any moment to something fresher. The essential property of the new narrative is that it inject new drama into the race, which means it has to be in some sense pro-Romney. This can in turn mean finding previously unappreciated assets in Romney or his campaign, previously undetected vulnerabilities in the Obama campaign, etc. The big question is whether the new narrative then becomes self-fulfilling, altering the focus of coverage in a way that actually increases Romney’s chances of a victory.”  Emphasis added.

Mitt Gives Away the Election Because His Eyes Give Him Away

As you’d expect, Politico‘s article yesterday about the steaming mess that is Mitt’s campaign has generated a ton of media reaction and finger-pointing.  Plus today Mitt’s campaign itself, led by senior adviser, Ed Gillespie, promised that the campaign will change its message and strategy, with more emphasis on specific policy, although not, God forbid, new policy.

Of course, every day spent talking about your campaign is one not spent talking about your opponent, so today is another lost day for Mitt, another day of ‘splaining, of which he’s already had far too many.

Mitt has run an abysmal campaign, and I don’t see that changing.   The people in charge aren’t going to change, and neither are the clashing personalities and flawed vision of those people.  They’ve failed Mitt so far and will fail him till November 6.

But to me, the bottom line isn’t that he won’t offer policy specifics or tax returns, that’s he’s a flip-flopper, that’s he’s an out-of-touch rich guy, that he’s not someone you want to have a beer with.

The bottom line is that he looks so damn frightened all the time, and that makes us uncomfortable, rightly so.  What some polls measure as likeability, I think is discomfort, our gut sense that he can’t handle the stress of the job.  If he can’t face Bret Baier or David Gregory without looking absolutely terrified, how will he deal with Putin or Ahmadinejad?

Mitt will lose because of his eyes and that anxious, fearful look we see on TV, the most consistent thing about him in both 2008 and 2012.  Mitt has a strong physical resemblance to his dad, but go back and look at clips of George Romney.  Look in his eyes.  No fear.

At the upcoming debates, Obama will look commander in chiefish, and Mitt will look like the guy in the hostage video.  You don’t have to be Marshall McLuhan to figure out how it’s going to go.

Mitt’s Campaign May Be in the North End, But It’s Going South Fast

If you’ve been wondering why Mitt’s campaign is such a disaster, Politico has an interesting, insider-y article* that basically gangs up on Stuart Stevens, the campaign’s top strategist, and Mitt himself.

Everyone agrees that the convention speech was the important speech of Mitt’s life, yet Stevens decided not to use the campaign’s speechwriters, but to have Peter Wehner write it.  Fine, except that Stevens decided not to use any of Wehner’s draft, which at least talked about Afghanistan.  A week before the convention, when Mitt should have been practicing the thing, Stevens told John McConnell and Matthew Scully, who were writing Paul Ryan’s speech, to hurry up and finish, so they could write Mitt’s speech.  They too wrote a speech for Mitt, which Stevens ignored, except for the part about Mitt’s father bringing his mother a rose every morning.  With just a few days to go, Stuart Stevens and Mitt wrote the speech.  In their rush, they forgot to mention Al Qaeda or Afghanistan or thank our troops.

I encourage you to read the whole Politico piece, but here are some excerpts:

“To pin recent stumbles on Stevens would be to overlook Romney’s role in all this.  As the man atop the enterprise — in effect, the CEO of a $1 billion start-up — Romney ultimately bears responsibility for the decisions he personally oversaw, such as the muffling of running mate Paul Ryan’s strict budget message and his own convention performance.

“In what many in the campaign now consider a fundamental design flaw, Stevens is doing three major jobs:  chief strategist, chief ad make and chief speechwriter.

“Stevens enjoys little of the internal affection that surrounded the brain trusts of the Bush and Obama campaigns. ‘I always have the impression Stuart must save his best stuff for meetings I’m not important enough to attend,’ said one Romney campaign insider.  ‘The campaign is filled with people who spend a lot of their time either avoiding him or resisting him.

“A mad-professor aura, combined with post-midnight calls to sleeping senior staffers, have led some colleagues to express increasing concern about what the campaign is doing to Stevens — and what Stevens is doing to the campaign.

But whatever Stevens’s shortcomings, presidential candidates get the campaigns they want.  And Romney…has take a very active role running his own campaign.

“In a way, that’s the problem.  Romney associates are baffled that such a successful corporate leader has created a team with so few lines of authority or accountability.

Romney has allowed seven distinct power centers to flourish inside his campaign, with the strategy pod, headed by Stevens and [Russ] Schriefer, handling the most essential ingredient — the candidate’s public message and image.

“Then there is the conventional staff, led by campaign manager Matt Rhoades, who functions as an air-traffic controller.  For months, Republicans inside and out of the campaign have said the structure is problematic.  Rhoades, for instance, is as disciplined and methodical as Stevens is improvisational and disorganized.

“Add to those the old Boston hands — Beth Myers, Peter Flaherty and Eric Fehrnstrom; longtime friends and advisers — Mike Leavitt, Bob White and Ron Kaufman; newcomers with juice, especially Ed Gillespie; the family, with his sons and Ann Romney involved in many decisions; and the money folks, headed by a longtime Romney friend and helper, Spencer Zwick.

“[Spencer] is not particularly ideological, and has a big-city, Hollywood aura that grates on movement conservatives.

“A Romney official explained:  ‘Mitt is a sticker — he stays with you.  He had a reputation at Bain for sticking with people.  They made a bad investment, he hung with them. … None of this is going to be fixed.  This is the organization, and this is who Mitt is betting on to win.  There aren’t going to be further changes.’

“A growing number of conservatives are blaming Stevens for advocating a campaign of caution, one that puts all the emphasis not on how good Romney could be but how bad Obama is.

“Stevens was a big, early, advocate of a bland vice presidential candidate, privately talking up former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty….  But Stevens is hardly to blame for what many conservatives consider a campaign that is specifics-free and lame.  That blame goes straight to the man running his own campaign:  Romney himself, according to a number of people in and out of the campaign.”  Emphasis added.

How can you win if you have a terrible economy?  Run against an opponent with an even more terrible campaign.
* “Inside the campaign:  How Mitt Romney stumbled,” Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei

Shameful and Shameless, Simultaneously

“But I suspect Romney won’t do so well in the debates for the same reason that he didn’t do so well on Meet the Press. It’s hard to be effective when you’re biting your tongue and swallowing your pride at the same time. Romney has dumbed himself down to fit a Republican Party that has become anachronistic, hateful and foolish. He has never once stood up to the party’s extremist base in this campaign–not even when asked whether he would accept a deficit deal with $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenues, not even on immigration and contraception, issues that sent women and Latinos scurrying toward the exits. His has been a shameful, shameless campaign. The public will occasionally turn out an incumbent President, but only when offered a real alternative. Mitt Romney has offered them only a mirage.”  Emphasis added.

Joe Klein, “The Mitt Mirage,” Time

When you come down to it, it’s really the crazies in the GOP who are going to get Obama re-elected.  They scare the country even more than the bad economy.  Thank you, crazy people!

An Eerie Similarity to ’08

Almost exactly four years ago, the McCain campaign pretty much collapsed right when Lehman Brothers did.  John McCain insisted on suspending his campaign and having a meeting at the White House, where he proceeded to sit there like a potted plant, while Barack Obama dominated the meeting.  McCain himself admitted that he didn’t know much about the economy, he was really a foreign policy and defense kind of guy.  He had expected the campaign to be mostly about Iraq and Afghanistan, and suddenly it was about an economic collapse.

The 2012 election was supposed to be about the economy.  But now we see foreign affairs take center stage, and Mitt emulating McCain, both in his over-the-top reaction and in his watching the campaign shift to an area where he lacks experience and expertise.

McCain never recovered from his mid-September misstep.  Will Mittens?

Obama’s Clinton Problem

Mitt doesn’t want Bush 43 to be part of his campaign because he’s unpopular, and Bush respects that.  President Obama shouldn’t want Bill Clinton to be part of his campaign because he’s undisciplined, and Clinton should respect that.

This election should be about the contrast between Obama and Mitt, not the relationship between Obama and Clinton, which is a distraction they’re loving in Boston and gnashing their teeth over in Chicago.

Hillary will understand — she, of all people, knows Bill can’t be trusted.

From “Clinton aides:  Bill screwed up,” John F. Harris and Alexander Burns, Politico:

“Bill Clinton’s off-message musings in recent days on Mitt Romney, taxes and the state of the economy prompted a series of urgent and agitated calls between senior aides to both Clinton and President Barack Obama.

“In the past, these kinds of complaints have often prompted Clinton lieutenants to kindly suggest that the Obama team can go to hell:  a former president can, should and will say what he wants.

“This time was different:  Clinton’s team was as aghast as Obama’s as how the boss had wandered blithely into remarks that left even sympathetic listeners wondering what exactly he was getting at.  He also gave gleeful Republicans an opening to skewer Obama with a popular Democrat’s own words.”  Emphasis added.

Both Obama and Mitt Face “Friendly Fire”

When you’re running for president, you focus on winning each day by getting your message out and trying to knock your opponent off his message.  If you win enough days, you win the election.  Every distraction is a day (or days) lost.

It’s one thing to take hits from your opponent, that’s going to happen, but it’s inexcusable to take hits from your own side, and we’re seeing that with both candidates.

President Obama has had to waste valuable time dealing with pundit Hilary Rosen’s reigniting of the “mommy wars” when she said Ann Romney hadn’t worked a day in her life.  Rosen is an obnoxious  loudmouth, a slightly more refined version of Rosie O’Donnell.  Obama has had to waste valuable time dealing with Newark Mayor Corey Booker’s defense of Bain and private equity, Booker’s effort to feather his own nest for a statewide run with Wall Street money.

Now Mitt is going through the same thing with Donald Trump and his birtherism, which takes the spotlight off of Mitt and puts it on the Donald, which is all Trump really cares about.  Every day wasted talking about where Obama was born is a day Mitt loses lying talking about how Obama is handling the economy.  Like Booker, Trump is out for himself, he is not a team player.

If you lose control of your message, you lose control of your campaign.  If you lose control of your campaign, you lose the election.

If they hope to win, both Obama and Mitt need to lose the surrogates who are sabotaging them.

Shame on Mitt

Back in 2008, when some woman at a McCain rally said that Obama was an Arab and she didn’t trust him, McCain took the microphone from her and told her she was wrong.

Today, at a Romney campaign event in Ohio, a woman told Mitt that she thought President Obama should be tried for treason.

Nothing but shameful silence from Mitt.  What a despicable coward he is.

The Only Numbers That Matter

I thought we’d check in on the Electoral College.  Real Clear Politics is showing President Obama with 227 votes and Mitt with 170.

That leaves 141 toss-up votes in 11 states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  If you live in one of those states, you’ll be having a presidential campaign.  The rest of us will just watch.

 

Nothing To Be Proud Of

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer is congratulating himself for helping to hound Ric Grenell, who is gay, out of his job as foreign policy spokesman for Mitt, two weeks after he was hired.

Boasted Fischer on his right-wing talk radio show:  “It’s very clear from the Washington Post that he resigned because of pressure that was put on the Romney campaign by the pro-family community.  So, ladies and gentlemen, this is a huge win, and it’s a huge win for us in regard to Mitt Romney, because Mitt Romney has been forced to say, ‘Look, I overstepped my bounds here, I went outside my parameters here, I went off the reservation with this hire, the pro-family community has called me back to the table here, called me back inside the borders of the reservation.'”

This is just disgusting.  Grenell was the openly-gay spokesman for our U. N. mission under Bush 43, and no one questioned his qualifications for this job with the Romney campaign.  It was all about his being gay.

If Mitt can’t stand up to a sick little Nazi like Bryan Fischer, how is he going to do against Iran or North Korea or China or Russia?

And if Fischer thinks his fellow Americans should be denied work because they are gay, what is he proposing they do?  Should they just starve to death?

Americans are fighting and dying against this kind of thinking among Islamic extremists.  When and how are we going to deal with our own extremists?

Mitt Romney and Bryan Fischer deserve each other.  The American people deserve better.