Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Romney Campaign

I think we should take stock of the presumptive Republican nominee for President and his campaign over the previous couple weeks.

He went on a foreign trip in which he insulted his British hosts, alienated millions of Palestinian and Arabs with a declaration that he will reverse decades of American policy on the status of Jerusalem, and managed to make it through Poland with the endorsement of an aging and unpopular former President.  In a year in which the single biggest issue voters care about is the economy, one would have thought such a trip might have been far more low key.  Instead, he managed to display a kind of ineptitude that was both glorious and appalling at the same time.

He returned home and, almost immediately, opened up two attacks upon President Obama that are demonstrably false.  First there was the whole Ohio voting suit.  The past couple days have seen him go after waivers the Obama Administration has granted to states on the administration of welfare funds and programs, waivers for which he applied when governor of Massachusetts.  Both stories, resulting in vigorous pushback from the parties involved, the press, and the Obama campaign, demonstrate - if any more demonstration was needed - how beholden Romney feels himself to the crazy wing of the Republican Party.

At the same time all this has been going on, his increased visibility has certainly changed the poll numbers.  Now, I have said in the past that I'm not a big fan of polling.  I'm not.  Recently participating in a phone poll conducted by Rasmussen, I can testify to the odd nature of contemporary polling practice and procedure, while I wonder at the statistical methods such companies use to evaluate the rather odd results that must flow from such a stilted way of conducting public surveys.  In any case, with all these caveats and warnings, the evidence from polling data, taken with as many grains of salt as one might think necessary, is clear: The more folks hear and see Romney, the less they like him.  His negatives have hit record highs, his personal approval numbers are in George W. Bush territory, and President Obama has taken a lead not only in those "swing states" that are so dearly loved by political reporters.  The President has a near-statistically significant lead nationally, with a huge majority in potential Electoral College votes.

With the Republican National Convention shaping up to highlight some of the most unpopular Republican elected officials - Nikki Hailey from South Carolina, Rick Scott from Florida, and John Kasich from Ohio - Party chair Reince Priebus (I had to check Google on the spelling) has made it clear he wants the single least popular Republican celebrity, Sarah Palin, to speak, something many of us would endorse.  Nothing would demonstrate the total disconnect from reality that effects the Republican Party like having Palin in a primetime speaking spot.  I read somewhere yesterday the Republicans are gearing up for a repeat of 1992, when they gave Pat Buchanan primetime and it destroyed the Bush campaign.

There is a whole lot of chatter about the effect outside money will have on the Presidential race, and it is true enough that the Republicans have a clear lead on this front.  All the same, while this might effect down-ballot races, I'm puzzled as to how Romney, so beholden to that part of the electorate that believes Pres. Obama is a socialist born in Kenya, raised by Marxist tutors and paling around with domestic terrorists, recovers from a display of their florid psychosis.

None of this should be taken as an attack upon those voters who call themselves Republican but are not ready for their dose of Thorazine.  It is, however, a warning.  There might well be many attractive Republican candidates for any number of offices, from US Congress to county coroner that deserve election.  At the national level, however, the Republican Party has become less a body uniting a coalition of groups in order to govern the nation by developing particular policies, and more a conglomerate of wealthy, powerful individuals who exploit fear and social and economic unease to ensure their continued wealth and power.  While the Democrats are beholden to many of these same groups, the money trail this year is pretty clear; the folks who write the big checks think the Republicans are stupid enough to ignore the many ways they will be screwed by Republican policies.

Romney cannot escape this reality.  That's why, as people learn more about him, Obama takes a clear lead.  The stars just aren't in their courses for the guy this year, I guess.

Virtual Tin Cup

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