Visual source: Newseum
The plan to keep Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shielded from the press to prevent him from taking any firm position on a wide range of critical issues and the choice to instead pander with bland talking points to right-wing entertainment outlets like Drudge Report, Brietbart and Fox "News" in the hopes that an outsourcing vulture capitalist could waltz incognito into the White House under the assumed and ill-fitting identity of a compassionate fighter for the middle class has failed.
Who would have thought that trying to run your campaign like a business micro-targeted to two tiny and distinct consumer groups -- tricorne hat purchasers and sports team owners -- would hamper your prospects?
Elites in the GOP base are sounding the fire alarm.
The Associated Press analyzes the general discontent:
A chorus of prominent conservative voices is worrying aloud that Republican candidate Mitt Romney?s play-it-safe strategy is jeopardizing his chance to win the presidency.Brian Montpoli at CBS News:
As President Barack Obama?s campaign intensifies criticism of Romney?s background, influential Republicans ? right-leaning leaders in business and the media ? charge that Romney?s message on the economy and other issues is short on detail and muddled at best.
On Thursday, the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page ripped the Romney campaign for its fumbling of the debate over the health care law signed by President Obama includes a tax.Matt Viser at The Boston Globe:
"This latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign's insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity," the Journal wrote. "...Mr. Romney promised Republicans he was the best man to make the case against President Obama, whom they desperately want to defeat. So far Mr. Romney is letting them down."
Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor at the conservative National Review, told CBS News that the criticism and others like it is "reflective of real conservative unease about the Romney campaign strategy, and also about the campaign's at least perceived insularity."
The intraparty dissent has been simmering for several weeks, but the presumptive nominee?s struggle to articulate a response to last week?s Supreme Court ruling on health care inflamed critics. Specifically, the conservatives called on the campaign to start articulating a broader vision for what Romney would do as president, speak about something else besides the economy, and forcefully counter the Obama campaign?s attacks.So now, as Philip Rucker at The Washington Post reports, Romney may be changing course...sort of:
Mitt Romney is planning to fortify his communications and messaging team by adding seasoned operatives, advisers close to the campaign said Thursday, after withering criticism from prominent conservative voices that his insular team has fumbled recent opportunities.No matter how many new communications folks Romney brings on board, it will only mask -- not cure -- the flaw of his candidacy that Eugene Robinson sums up in three sentences:
Romney?s advisers insisted that he would keep his inner circle intact amid growing concerns about the Republican presidential candidate and his campaign. The tempest began with a weekend tweet from media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and burst Thursday onto the pages of his newspaper the Wall Street Journal, as its conservative editorial board opined that Romney?s advisers were ?slowly squandering an historic opportunity? to beat President Obama. [...] One GOP strategist not working for Romney said, ?The campaign needs to show the GOP elite world and the media a lot of competence going forward or this shake-up talk will only get louder and continue.?
There are no plans, however, to alter Romney?s core team of advisers, most of whom have worked for the former Massachusetts governor for years, and campaign officials said it was highly unlikely that Romney would demote or fire any of his senior staffers.
You can conduct byzantine transactions through opaque investment accounts and private corporations in offshore tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Or you can credibly run for president at a time of great economic distress.Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post:
I don?t think you can do both.
Mitt Romney clinched the Republican nomination on May 29. Yet he is still trying to convince conservatives that he is one of them. [...] Romney will accept his party?s nomination for president in Tampa in 55 days. That?s nearly eight weeks to convince conservatives he can be trusted. But at the rate things are going, I?m convinced there?s not enough time in the world to make that happen.The New York Times editorial board:
As he has on so many issues, Mr. Romney caved to Republican conservatives who want him to campaign on the falsehood that the mandate is a vast tax increase on the middle class. The Supreme Court?s decision that the law is constitutional was disastrous to their cause, so they distorted its basic reasoning. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote that the mandate is legal under the Congressional taxing power, which Republicans took a step further, saying the mandate must now be a tax. And not just a tax, but a huge, oppressive tax, one of the largest in history.Paul Krugman at The New York Times:
It is, of course, no such thing.
Two weeks ago, The Washington Post reported that Bain had invested in companies whose specialty was helping other companies move jobs overseas. The Romney campaign went ballistic, demanding ? unsuccessfully ? that The Post retract the report on the basis of an unconvincing ?fact sheet? consisting largely of executive testimonials.
What was more interesting was the campaign?s insistence that The Post had misled readers by failing to distinguish between ?offshoring? ? moving jobs abroad ? and ?outsourcing,? which simply means having an external contractor perform services that could have been performed in-house.
Now, if the Romney campaign really believed in its own alleged free-market principles, it would have defended the right of corporations to do whatever maximizes their profits, even if that means shipping jobs overseas. Instead, however, the campaign effectively conceded that offshoring is bad but insisted that outsourcing is O.K. as long as the contractor is another American firm.
That is, however, a very dubious assertion.