Romney’s Chickens Coming Home To Roost
Back in April, after Romney had pulled ahead of his GOP presidential competitors for good, I wrote about Romney’s penchant, a la Donald Trump and other mega millionaires, to reframe his life accomplishments in the kind of heroic terms and clearly defined story arcs that often ignored the facts.
Romney’s problem with the telling the truth is exacerbated by three things. He is enabled by the national media. His assertions are accepted at face value by a political base willing to suspend their powers of disbelief for anyone who will tell them that he, and by extension, his supporters, are superior to President Obama. Combine these elements with our national tendency to accept the blandishments, distortions and fabrications CEO’s routinely use to publicly describe the state of their companies, and you get a candidate who is willing to lie with enthusiasm, as if the capacity to replay videotaped recordings of his public statements does not exist.
Now the chickens have begun to come home to roost for Mr. Romney, aided by the efforts of the Obama re-election campaign, as we begin to see the inner workings of Bain Capital, the metaphorical private capital goose that laid Mitt Romney's golden eggs. One of the byproducts of the hyper-intensive scrutiny of President Obama’s election campaign and his last three and a half years in office is the lack of any type of surprise revelations for any of his political challengers to unleash on an unsuspecting public. This means there will be very few new revelations about President Obama and his administration over the coming months for Republicans to use to tip the scales back in their favor.
Candidate Barack Obama essentially got Roto-rootered during the 2008 elections. I and the rest of the general public know more about him and his personal history and his family than we know about some of our own relatives. Even though I thought Mitt Romney was the best presidential candidate the GOP had to offer, I never believed that he had what it took to withstand the kind of onslaught week after week that the original Obama campaign weathered. Despite my criticisms of Team Obama, they did figure out how to get a black man elected president of the United States. I would imagine that the Romney campaign needs to get ready to be pummeled mercilessly by David Plouffe and Company for the next three and a half months. Making Mitt Romney eat his own words, as we’ve seen the past two weeks, is probably only the beginning.
It's clear that the Obama campaign's strategy is to hit Romney hard early, define and diminish him in the public imagination with cartoon clarity, and send him into the Republican convention with a Dan Quayle deer-in-the-headlights look that conveys the unbearable lightness of completely lost.
Despite the several hundred million dollar advantage Romney is likely to have, there are still weaknesses he has that make this a classic David and Goliath matchup. Mitt Romney is delusional if he thinks he can simply refuse to release any more of his tax returns, especially since he was willing to show the John McCain team 20 years worth back in 2008. Mitt Romney’s SuperPAC’s will collect the most outside money on behalf of a presidential candidate in history, yet there are very few avenues to spend these dollars quickly and effectively outside of TV advertising, which will soon reach a saturation point in the handful of competitive swings states whose electoral outcome can go either way. And Mitt Romney’s signature achievement as governor of Massachusetts, the universal healthcare mandate his administration implemented, will become a bigger and bigger negative to his campaign with each new explanation of how his mandate is fundamentally different form the Affordable Healthcare Act mandate.
The real question the Republican Party needs to ask itself right now is this: how many more weeks can the public take of a whiny Mitt Romney on the defensive before they begin to write his candidacy off as a lost cause?
Political activism may get people invested in politics, and affect urgently needed change, but it comes at the expense of tolerance and healthy democratic norms.