It appears that Mitt has Arizona’s primary locked up, but if he wins Michigan today, it will happen despite an astonishing array of opposition. Those trying to derail his candidacy attack him from the right as well as from the left, the latter because they want him defeated so their candidate can face a weaker opponent in November. Mitt has expected opposition from the right on religious grounds since he entered the race, and that opposition has been mostly silenced but is still present. Former Senator Robert Bennett recently said that religion plays an unfortunate part in the challenges Mitt faces. He quoted a political contact of his, “If Mitt Romney were Presbyterian, he would be the Republican nominee.”
As disappointing as that is with respect to the opposition Mitt faces, that is a story for another day. The focus here, today, is the sources of opposition that Mitt is facing from the right and the left, a list far too extensive to detail here. Nevertheless, we can come up with an easy summary by saying that the list includes people from across the political spectrum and from all quarters of those who comment on or report the happenings within the country’s political landscape. An overview of a few examples is enlightening.
Up first is the lede from a piece on Politico yesterday:
ALBION, Mich. – Stumbling to what looks like a win here, Mitt Romney predicted victory and attacked Rick Santorum on the economy in the final day of campaigning before results are tallied.
Stumbling? Of course the reigning narrative is that Michigan is Mitt’s home state. Sure, he has roots there, but he left home for college at age 18 and has only been back there for brief periods since. Yes, his dad was president of a major automobile manufacturer and governor of the state, but the last 47 of all of Mitt’s 65 years have seen him living in California, France, Utah, and Massachusetts. As I said at the top of this piece and given the negative polls that Mitt faced two weeks ago, I have to very objectively conclude that his winning will be an accomplishment, not a stumble!
Mirroring the tone of Politico’s piece, Mitt’s opposition during this election cycle does indeed run the gamut. Rush Limbaugh has not been able to bring himself to say much of anything positive about Mitt this time around, despite having endorsed him in 2008. Rush’s flip-flop is obvious from HotAir.com, which provides the audio from 2008 of Rush declaring that Mitt was the only Republican candidate who could claim “all three legs of the conservative stool.”
While Rush has been happy to simply point out the positives of Gingrich and Santorum, throwing in minor critiques here and there, Mark Levin has been boisterously vocal in his declarations that Mitt is not a conservative, spouting innumerable slurs in the process. Not limiting himself to attacking Mitt, he goes on to slam conservatives who have endorsed our friend such as Nikki Haley and Chris Christie. Those attacks are enthusiastically reported by the conservative Web site, The RightScoop, which follows the real time Twitter feeds of Levin and Michelle Malkin. For her part, Malkin has over and over again accused Mitt of supporting the auto bailouts, which by now everyone knows was not the case. I am sure that no one is holding their breath waiting for her correction.
In a Tweet and on her Facebook page just this morning, Laura Ingraham equates Santorum’s robocalls that ask Democrats to come out to vote for him in opposition to Romney with Mitt’s soliciting of votes from people in New Hampshire, “Santorum on his robocall: So its OK when 53% of the voters in NH who are not Republicans are encouraged to vote by Mitt Romney but when I reach out to Reagan Democrats it isn’t.”
Despite trying to keep a long story short, I have to mention the “Romney Death Star” references such as one by Allah Pundit at HotAir.com here and another by BuzzFeed here. “Death Star” is their less than affectionate allusion to Mitt’s Super PAC. How ironic is it to complain about this when Gingrich’s Super Pac flaunted a 27 minute “documentary” about Mitt’s work at Bain and that is demonstrably untrue. Among other falsehoods, it contains stories about people who, when asked about their experience, said just the opposite from what they were quoted as saying in the video. To leave such attacks unanswered would be downright stupid! But what happens? Mitt’s negative ads draw fire from all quarters, without demonstrating how they are false!
Other really smart folks voice complaints that are petty, even silly, about such things as Mitt’s various speeches around the country in which he uses the same stump stories. Cynics of all stripes highlight minor verbal gaffes and mock his singing “America the Beautiful.” A major part of the current narrative, again discussed by way too many commentators and whined about by Senator Santorum, is the supposed collusion between Mitt and Ron Paul, which Congressman Paul and his staff have categorically denied.
The cherry on the sundae comes from the fact that too many conservatives choose to join with notorious lefties such as ThinkProgress. The most fun they have had in that regard turned out to be a real “field day” (pun absolutely intended!) for their amusement and provided them with opportunities for witticisms on their Twitter feeds. Friday I wrote about the Ford Field event in Detroit (variously referred to as a “fiasco” or “flop”) which involved a Tweeted photo from Byron York of the empty stadium. ThinkProgress picked up on York’s photo and posted it alongside 2008 rallies of Barack Obama that showed of course thousands of people. (Note: If you have any idea whose side these folks are on, make a mistake when typing the URL and type “.com” rather than “.org”, which will take you straight to a page that solicits donations for Barack Obama!)
In the same vein as that sort of collusion is California Governor Jerry Brown agreeing with Sarah Palin’s current mantra that she keeps exclaiming in her paid commentator role at Fox News. She endorsed Gingrich in South Carolina and Nevada, in order, as she says, to “keep it going!” The only difference between her admonition and Brown’s comment is that he calls the candidates “reckless.” By my estimation this is a more accurate description of what is happening, and it also makes more sense than anything she has said in a long time. It is no wonder that a study of Fox News coverage shows a “63% negative Bias against Mitt Romney.”
Winding this down, the Sacramento Bee reported yesterday that Mitt is the victim of “political text message spam” in Michigan, so dirty tricks abound with Mitt the target. Doing their portion of the dirty work to be done, the Washington Post reports that Mitt has people who work for him, and they receive salaries for their work. Gasp!
However, the media couldn’t predict how bad a candidate Romney would be. His off-hand comments on wealth and inequality are cringe-worthy, and his debate performances, campaign speeches, grassroots efforts, and singing ability are serviceable at best.
While the rest of the candidates have dialed up the antics as though they were the cast of Jersey Shore, Romney is playing Survivor: Outwit, outplay, outlast. Once everyone else gets voted off the island, Romney thinks he will be the last one standing. It’s not a strategy to fire up the base a la Obama 2008, but Romney will never be the fiercest candidate. He’s the GOP’s safe bet, and he knows it.
But the best (read the “worst”) is a quote from a piece by George Neumayr at the conservative publication, The American Spectator. Yes, you read that correctly, “conservative!” Neumayr opens his piece, The Mittens Come Off in Mesa, with this:
Mitt Romney’s campaign is essentially plastic and dishonest, an insuperable problem Wednesday’s debate in Mesa, Arizona, underscored yet again for disenchanted primary voters. Romney bested a rattled Rick Santorum in it, but this victory, like his others, looked hollow and dispiriting.
And he closes:
The cheapness and inauthenticity of his campaign is too depressing for words. One small example of this dismal charade came early in the debate when Romney made an utterly random reference to “George Costanza.” Apparently, one of Romney’s oh-so-clever strategists told him to dispel his image as a nerd trapped in the 1950s by spicing up his answers with “hip” references. So what does Romney do? He cites, for no apparent reason, a character from a sitcom that went off NBC’s schedule over a decade ago.
Wow, “too depressing for words?” Those are exactly the right words, but they fit much better as a description of the trajectory all this has followed. The one focus by a large part of the media, whether rightwing bloggers, most conservative pundits, or mainstream media is easily summarized: Diminish Mitt Romney!
The sort of goings on we see here prompted Ann Coulter, one of the lone voices speaking out for Mitt’s candidacy, to ask, “What’s Their Problem with Romney?” The only quibble I have with her article is that she says that Fox News remains neutral. My objection is based on the coverage they give to Mitt’s opponents, moving from one to the other as things progress. That said, I love her summary, as I do most all that she writes:
Similarly, if reducing contraception use, lobbying for Freddie Mac and promoting huge government programs such as moon colonies and No Child Left Behind are the best ways to create jobs, then it could be true that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are our strongest candidates in a general election.
Of course, it might also be true that dousing yourself in fairy dust does not guarantee that you will find the perfect mate and get the perfect job.
We’re being asked to hand Obama another four years in the White House in order to “send a message.” To whom? And what message? That we’re morons? Message received!
Meanwhile, Romney cheerfully campaigns on, the biggest outsider and most conservative candidate we’ve run for president since Reagan, while being denounced by the Establishment as “too Establishment.”
Yay Ann! I believe in miracles!