Romney’s strategic faux pas

posted at 3:15 pm on June 11, 2011 by J.E. Dyer

Most conservative-establishment pundits formulate Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy as Charles Krauthammer does: Romney aspires to be the last man standing when the major primaries have rendered their verdict next spring.  He’s not interested in head-to-head competition with other candidates in the early going.  He wants to let them duke it out for the next 8 or 9 months, pumping rounds into their own feet, landing punches on each other’s jawbones, and slicing their own jugulars.

But I’m increasingly convinced that this is a flawed strategy.  Romney’s choice to forego the Iowa straw poll is the clearest indication yet that he does intend to wait out as much of the early politicking as possible.  And the signal that sends in June 2011 is exactly the wrong one.

It’s a mechanically calculating, “politics as usual” kind of move that comes at the worst possible time.  It suggests that Romney, as a presidential candidate in the most peculiar political conditions any American adult can remember, sees no need to talk that over with the people, in a venue in which votes for him are at stake.  Americans are worried about where America is headed; Republican and conservative Americans are gravely worried.  Alignments within the Republican Party are shifting.  Conservatives, registered Republicans, libertarians, Tea Party members, recently-mugged liberals, former low-information independents – all are starting to look around and ask themselves what’s going on.

The American electorate has never, in my lifetime, been this much in the mood for a serious discussion of political ideas and principles.  More and more of the people are cottoning to the fact that politics-as-usual is what has gotten us to where we are today.  A big element of that is the rote crowning of “obvious” candidates by the GOP (something the Democrats do less of).  I don’t see this dynamic as the “knives being out” for establishment candidates.  But in the run-up to 2012, even establishment candidates will have to prove themselves.

It’s something more than that, however.  In the circumstances of 2011 and 2012, Republican leadership will consist not in waiting around, watching numbers and deciding when to pounce in the primaries, but in engaging the people and giving shape and substance to their concerns.  There is not a consensus for a “coronation candidate” to tap into.  The divisions, and more importantly, the uncertainties, of some voters about the philosophical future of the GOP – and the USA – are too great this time around.  A candidate who wants to win all the marbles is going to have to build his own consensus – and in the process, write the philosophical narrative with which the GOP will approach November 2012.

Romney can’t do that by ignoring the early debates and waiting for New Hampshire.  What concerns me about him is that he doesn’t seem to have the political sense to recognize that.  There is a disengaged, even high-handed politics-by-rules sclerosis in his approach – and it just doesn’t resonate.  He won’t be able to get away with toting all his “issue” baggage – RomneyCare, anthropogenic global warming, flip-flops and ambiguity on abortion and gay marriage – while also declining to submit himself to the hard work of face-to-face politicking and actual votes.

Clever campaign design isn’t what Republican voters are looking for now.  2012 won’t be about that.  Fewer GOP voters than ever before are content to project the narratives in their own minds onto the candidates vying for their approval.  They want to hear candidates acknowledge their very basic concerns about the future of American liberty and republican government.  They want to know that candidates “roger” those concerns and have concrete philosophical ideas – not necessarily or always programmatic ideas or policy soundbites – about what needs to change, in order to foster the future Republicans want.  Romney isn’t giving them that, and apparently has no plans to.  At this point, I’m not sure he can.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Weekly Standard online, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Comment pages: 1 2

I’m not demonizing Palin pseudobrain! I was making a point about the HYPOCRISY of you idiots attacking Mitt because God forbid his father was successful. Think about it(if you can manage to find 2 pseudobraincells to rub together).

Buy Danish on June 12, 2011 at 12:52 AM

What’s the hypocrisy in pointing out that Mitt Romney is not a “self made man”, Butt Relish?

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:55 AM

No, saying that that in itself qualifies them for the presidency is where the elitism comes in.
pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:53 AM

Building straw men now? Nice to see that while you lack brain cells, you are at least capable of manual labor that even a monkey could do.

Buy Danish on June 12, 2011 at 12:56 AM

^ And by the way, Butt Fetish, point out where I said NOT being “self-made” is a disqualifier. Go ahead.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:57 AM

Buy Danish on June 12, 2011 at 12:54 AM

And if Bristol will get a joint MBA/JD from Harvard with honors in both and starts a business from scratch, and turns it into a global power and make hundreds of millions… it will all be because she is Sarah’s daughter. Bristol is just rich, spoiled, scion brat of a millionaire like Mitt.

swamp_yankee on June 12, 2011 at 12:58 AM

No, saying that that in itself qualifies them for the presidency is where the elitism comes in.
pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:53 AM

Building straw men now? Nice to see that while you lack brain cells, you are at least capable of manual labor that even a monkey could do.

Buy Danish on June 12, 2011 at 12:56 AM

So what are Mitt’s qualifications for office? Why should we vote for him?

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:58 AM

What’s the hypocrisy in pointing out that Mitt Romney is not a “self made man”, Butt Relish?
pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:55 AM

You didn’t point out that he is not a self made man, you scorned him for it.

And with that I say goodnight. Parting is such sweet sorrow blissful.

Buy Danish on June 12, 2011 at 12:59 AM

And if Bristol will get a joint MBA/JD from Harvard with honors in both and starts a business from scratch, and turns it into a global power and make hundreds of millions… it will all be because she is Sarah’s daughter. Bristol is just rich, spoiled, scion brat of a millionaire like Mitt.

swamp_yankee on June 12, 2011 at 12:58 AM

Strawman. I never said “spoiled brat”. I never used any sort of value judgement, in fact. Mitt is about as “self-made” as FDR was. That’s not evil in itself.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:00 AM

swamp_yankee on June 12, 2011 at 12:58 AM

You got it!! And I am going to remind certain Hot Air commenters of this from here until election day.

g/nite.

Buy Danish on June 12, 2011 at 1:01 AM

You didn’t point out that he is not a self made man, you scorned him for it.

Buy Danish on June 12, 2011 at 12:59 AM

“Scorned him for it”? Where, Butt Relish?

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:01 AM

My exact “scornful” words, Butt Fetish:

^ Romney though, much as you’d like to believe it, is not self-made. His father became CEO of AMC when Mitt was just a kid.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:16 AM

You lose.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:03 AM

Strawman. I never said “spoiled brat”. I never used any sort of value judgement, in fact. Mitt is about as “self-made” as FDR was. That’s not evil in itself.
pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:00 AM

You need to work on your vocabulary. You don’t know what “lecture” means and you don’t know what a “straw man argument” is. Hint: Your use of the word “evil” is another straw man. You also are too fracking stupid to know what a metaphor is. In short, you’re hopeless.

Toodles.

Buy Danish on June 12, 2011 at 1:04 AM

And if Bristol will get a joint MBA/JD from Harvard with honors in both and starts a business from scratch, and turns it into a global power and make hundreds of millions… it will all be because she is Sarah’s daughter. Bristol is just rich, spoiled, scion brat of a millionaire like Mitt.

swamp_yankee on June 12, 2011 at 12:58 AM

By the way, ask yourself is Bristol Palin four or five years from now with a joint business and law degree from Harvard could ever be said to do ANYthing “from scratch”. Then you might get the meaning.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:06 AM

You need to work on your vocabulary. You don’t know what “lecture” means and you don’t know what a “straw man argument” is.

Perhaps you do too, Butt Relish. UI’m quite famliar with straw man arguments. They’re your stock-on-trade.

Hint: Your use of the word “evil” is another straw man.

Butt Fetish on June 12, 2011 at 1:04 AM

Ummmm, no, Butty. That is merely a word to denote the presumed hatred on my part for the priveleged background of one Mitt Romney. A case of forestalling, perhaps. Get it, Butt Holish?

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:10 AM

In other words, he wants the nomination without earning it. How progressive.

mizflame98 on June 11, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Ah, he wants the affirmative action route to the nom…gutsy call.

I’ll never vote for this turd.

Ever.

SuperCool on June 12, 2011 at 1:28 AM

Mitt will appoint judges in the mold of Roberts and Alito. He’s strong on defense, strong on fiscal responsibility, and on our side for social issues (Reagan changed his own mind too). Not the hallmarks of a RINO.

scotash on June 12, 2011 at 3:23 AM

IF Mitt believes in fiscal responsibility why doesn’t he speak out on how the dems in MA took Romneycare and blew it up, fiscally speaking? RINO, maybe not. CINO, yep…

Gohawgs on June 12, 2011 at 3:59 AM

scotash: “Mitt will appoint judges in the mold of Roberts and Alito. He’s strong on defense, strong on fiscal responsibility, and on our side for social issues (Reagan changed his own mind too). Not the hallmarks of a RINO.”

And he gets a D from NumbersUSA, whereas Tim Pawlenty gets a C+. Of course Barack Obama gets an F-.

Nobody running for election now is like Ronald Reagan. They can’t be. The demographics in California have changed, such that Ronald Reagan, super-conservative star of California, could not exist.

In the long run, if the demographic slide continues, real conservatives won’t be able to win anywhere. That’s why I think the NumbersUSA ratings are so important. Giving up on immigration limitation means giving up on everything in a generation or three.

Of course Mitt Romney would be a great improvement on what America has now. But I don’t think he’s very good, and I think he’s far from the best candidate available.

David Blue on June 12, 2011 at 5:50 AM

Sounds like a sure way to guarantee there will be a third party bid, to me. It’s worth the try. And the quick Obama death to the country would get the pain over with quicker than the slow Romney death.

{^_^}

herself on June 12, 2011 at 6:17 AM

And csd, Sarah Palin’s parents were as middle class as you can get. Romney’s dad was CEO of a car company and RICH. When you don’t grow up in a middle class family where the budget might not match the expenses in a few months each year, you just don’t understand what the vast majority of Americans experience in their lives. Romney NEVER EVER had to worry about a car payment, mortgage payment, paying for college for his kids, putting food on the table, the BASICS.

karenhasfreedom on June 11, 2011 at 8:57 PM

His father was raised in very humble circumstances and by the late 40’s was very successful. By your logic Palins kids will be snobish dirtbags now that their mom has been governor of a state. Puuuulleaze!

Romney went to public school until 7th grade. In prep school he was the only LDS student. He did not use his dads name to gain favor. He had regular chores around the house, he held jobs in the summer and was even a lowly security guard at a Chrysler plant. He lived in a basement apartment while in college.

And that is just the beginning. In the future you ought to pick up a book before speaking.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Should we scorn her children throughout their lives because their mother achieved political and financial success?

Buy Danish on June 12, 2011 at 12:34 AM

It can be proven though a through study of Mitt’s life that he made his way on his own.

Lets apply the Palin supporters standards to Sarah Palin’s family…….

If it wasn’t for Palin, her daughter Bristol would just be another out of wedlock single parent. But Bristol has traded on her moms name to become famous and even appeared on a TV show and Dancing with the Stars. Yeah, they actually billed Bristol Palin as a STAR! She owns a public relations and political consulting firm. She has no college education in the field. She has traded in on her moms name to do this also.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 9:21 AM

If it wasn’t for Palin, her daughter Bristol would just be another out of wedlock single parent. But Bristol has traded on her moms name to become famous and even appeared on a TV show and Dancing with the Stars. Yeah, they actually billed Bristol Palin as a STAR! She owns a public relations and political consulting firm. She has no college education in the field. She has traded in on her moms name to do this also.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 9:21 AM

You be sure to point that out the next time I say “Bristol Palin’s totally self-made”. OK? OK.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Lets apply the Palin supporters standards to Sarah Palin’s family…….

If it wasn’t for Palin, her daughter Bristol would just be another out of wedlock single parent. But Bristol has traded on her moms name to become famous and even appeared on a TV show and Dancing with the Stars. Yeah, they actually billed Bristol Palin as a STAR! She owns a public relations and political consulting firm. She has no college education in the field. She has traded in on her moms name to do this also.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 9:21 AM

I’ll be sure to remember this whenever Bristol runs for office.

singer on June 12, 2011 at 9:58 AM

The hypocrisy on this board couldn’t be more thicker.

Mitt Romney who earned a JD/MBA from Harvard at the top of his class, started a successful venture capital business from scratch and became wealthy as a result of his efforts is EVIL. Why because he was born of privilege, from a man who worked his way to the top of an auto company and achieved the American dream. Therefore, Mitt Romney can only be an arrogant spoil brat snob.

Bristol Palin, a girl who brought about every teenage parent’s worst nightmare by getting pregnant out-of-wedlock but then goes on to profit from it, dances on Dancing with the Stars is pure as the wind driven snow. WHY? Because her mother is Sarah Palin, the Goddess of conservatism, the Virgin Mary of the Republican Party, not because of ANYTHING Bristol did not her very own. But Bristol, by being the daughter of Sarah Palin and rode completely on Sarah Palin’s pigtails to reach the level the success she has to today is virtuous, charitable, and not undeserving the riches she enjoys today.

The constant trashing of Romney over his abundant personal successes while praising Bristol’s “successes” cannot get anymore hypocritical. In fact, it’s flat out nauseating!

FredrickB on June 12, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Bristol Palin, a girl who brought about every teenage parent’s worst nightmare by getting pregnant out-of-wedlock but then goes on to profit from it, dances on Dancing with the Stars is pure as the wind driven snow.

FredrickB on June 12, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Straw man. Who’s saying she’s as pure as the wind-driven snow? But hey, she’s making lots of money apparently. She has “skill”, like Romney. So maybe some day she can run for president based on that obvious qualification.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 11:50 AM

^ By the way, isn’t comparing Bristol Palin with Romney just a little weird? Bristol’s not running for anything that I know of.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Has nothing to do with running for President. Just the hypocrisy of Palin supporters praising Bristol for her successes, which would never had happened had Palin not run for VP while slamming Romney for his successes that came about partly because he was born in a privileged family.

FredrickB on June 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Has nothing to do with running for President. Just the hypocrisy of Palin supporters praising Bristol for her successes, which would never had happened had Palin not run for VP while slamming Romney for his successes that came about partly because he was born in a privileged family.

FredrickB on June 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Who did that?

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:21 PM

He had regular chores around the house, he held jobs in the summer and was even a lowly security guard at a Chrysler plant. He lived in a basement apartment while in college.

And that is just the beginning. In the future you ought to pick up a book before speaking.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Oh, come on. Yeah, that kind of thing is admirable. But I think it’s safe to say that Mitt always knew deep down that he would never be allowed to hit rock-bottom.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:24 PM

You be sure to point that out the next time I say “Bristol Palin’s totally self-made”. OK? OK.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 9:47 AM

So you are admitting that Bristol has rode her moms skirt tails. Good.

Now provide the proof that Romney rode his dads coattails.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 12:54 PM

But I think it’s safe to say that Mitt always knew deep down that he would never be allowed to hit rock-bottom.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 12:24 PM

That is irresponsible and counter intuitive. Mitt did work his 8utt off and earned everything he got. Whether he knew he would not be allowed to hit rock bottom or not, he still did the work himself. He was the one who put himself in the position to fail. And he did fail at times, but he overcame those failures by working hard.

The real lesson to take away from the life of Mitt Romney is that he did not rely on others even when he could have. He succeeded on his own even when he didn’t have to. Your attempt to demean him for his success is mean and anti conservative.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 1:04 PM

That is irresponsible and counter intuitive. Mitt did work his 8utt off and earned everything he got. Whether he knew he would not be allowed to hit rock bottom or not, he still did the work himself. He was the one who put himself in the position to fail. And he did fail at times, but he overcame those failures by working hard.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Would “failure” for Mitt ever have meant a homeless shelter?

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:35 PM

So you are admitting that Bristol has rode her moms skirt tails. Good.

Comparing Bristol Palin with Mitt Romney. When is Bristol going to appear on the ballot? Why don’t you compare Sarah Palin with Mitt Romney?

Now provide the proof that Romney rode his dads coattails.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 12:54 PM

LOL…you can’t be serious.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:37 PM

you can’t be serious.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Yes I am. Prove it.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Would “failure” for Mitt ever have meant a homeless shelter?

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Why does that matter?

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 1:46 PM

you can’t be serious.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Yes I am. Prove it.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 1:45 PM

OK. First, prove that being Ted Kennedy’s son had absolutely nothing to do with Patrick Kennedy’s winning a House seat.

Why does that matter?

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 1:46 PM

There are different degrees and consequences of “failure”.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Romney is arrogant. He believes Republicans will only be able to vote for him therefore he can do and say what he likes.

davod on June 12, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Now provide the proof that Romney rode his dads coattails.

csdeven on June 12, 2011 at 12:54 PM

When Mitt decided to run for governor, George helped lead the charge. He began by serving as an emissary to Republican power-brokers and as Mitt’s de facto communications director: “He’s better than the chip off the old block because he’s had better preparation than I,” George would tell audiences. And, once Mitt got his party’s nomination, George moved in with Mitt and his family for six months. When it was time to hit the road, George and Ann would go off campaigning in one direction, while Mitt went off in another. Then they would return to confer some more over strategy. “We didn’t disagree,” Mitt recalls. “We saw issues in a very similar way.”

Source.

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 2:08 PM

I don’t really think this strategy is a mistake, as such. It’s probably the only reasonable approach to take, given that Romney has very few supporters who actually want to vote for him, specifically. Most are just looking for someone “electable.” Romney, in short, is taking the John Kerry route to winning the primary: Be everyone’s second –r third, or fourth — choice, the guy that everyone can settle on as “electable.”

I know he was not my first choice in 2008, but when the field was boiled down to Huckabee, McCain, or Romney, I was reluctantly ready to vote for Romney as the least bad option.

So he has some reason to try to replicate that strategy this time.

But I would have to point out that it was not a winning strategy in 2008, and I doubt it will work in 2012. Pawlenty, for example, is already a “less bad” option than Romney.

What we want are actual conservative candidates. Mitt is further left than Bush 41 or Bush 43, neither of which were exactly acclaimed by conservatives.

I doubt conservatives are willing to settle … again.

There Goes The Neighborhood on June 12, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Mitt Romney, A chip off the old “I was brain washed” block. This guy has flip flopped on every issue. Not my choice for dog catcher!

jainphx on June 12, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Romney is trying to serve up a bunch of RINO/DINO mush to the voters. He’ll find them having an appetite for something much more substantial!!!

landlines on June 12, 2011 at 8:23 PM

pseudoforce on June 12, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Hahahahaha!!! Mitt had already graduated Harvard, been hired by Bain, and saved the 2002 Olympics. He had already made a name for himself and did not use his dads name to get himself elected. His dad helped him with his campaign.

Jealous much?

csdeven on June 13, 2011 at 6:45 AM

did not use his dads name to get himself elected. His dad helped him with his campaign.

csdeven on June 13, 2011 at 6:45 AM

ROFL…it’s the same damn thing. You lose. Try the Google sometime.

He began by serving as an emissary to Republican power-brokers and as Mitt’s de facto communications director

Uh-huh. See, a Sarah Palin doesn’t have that luxury. She did it more on her own, ya know? QED.

pseudoforce on June 13, 2011 at 8:09 AM

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