With Rick Santorum dropping out of the GOP primary, it appears Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee for president this November. Romney, relying on his money and organization, destroyed his competition. The constant barrage of negative advertising on Gingrich and Santorum made it impossible for either candidate to maintain a message. Romney did have assistance from Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann taking out contenders Rick Perry and Tim Pawlenty. It strikes me as odd that Romney, who has been seen by some as the next Reagan, would violate Reagan’s 11th commandment; thou shall not speak ill of other Republicans. (It should be noted the phrase was first spoken by Gaylord Parkinson, the California GOP chairman in 1965.) I still believe that the negative attacks by the Romney campaign and his SuperPAC will have consequences come November. Romney is still not trusted by many conservatives and appears to continue to try to grasp conservative principles. I am not sure if anyone knows what Mitt Romney will do when/if he becomes president. Romney will be spending the next several months trying to win over his adversaries and the conservative base. Unfortunately for Romney, this will take away from postulating a positive and embracing message for the general election. It will be a tough balancing act to win over social conservatives while trying to woo the support of moderate women.
Romney’s opponent in November is Barack Obama. Obama is unable to run on his record. Outside of taking out bin Laden, Obama’s domestic and foreign policies have been a disaster. However, Obama has two cards left to play; political warfare and Rule 11. Rule 11 comes from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: “ Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” We have seen this in the attacks on Ann Romney. This was no accident, no slip of the tongue. I use the plural “ attacks” because it was not just a statement by Democratic operative Hillary Rosen. It was the after effect of Rosen’s statement when thousands echoed her comment except they used much coarser language. This is quite shameful. I am not much of a fan of the feckless Mitt Romney but from all appearances his wife Ann seems to be completely genuine. These kind of attacks are politically stupid. It also says a lot about the Democratic base if they need these kind of attacks keep up their enthusiasm for Obama.
However, Romney himself is more susceptible to rule 11. I can see attacks on Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, his record at Bain Capital, his wooden personality, his wealth, and even his Mormon religion is not out of bounds. Lawrence O’Donnell, the vitriolic and venomous MSNBC pundit has made it quite clear that Romney’s Mormon religion is very much germane as a campaign issue.
I am sure the Romney campaign will complain about these attacks but the media will be doing the vetting that the GOP and the GOP primary voters failed to do. This will be the same media that failed to vet Obama in 2008 and continues to be on his side. The Romney campaign will complain about fairness, but in light of their scurrilous attacks during the primaries, the complaints will fall on deaf ears.
Obama will also create various “ wars” to distract the electorate from his meager record. We have and will see wars against women, wars against the rich, wars against the poor, wars against conservatives, wars against Israel, and wars against the speculators. Most of these “ wars” are phony but unfortunately, Romney has a very bad habit of agreeing with Obama’s observations. This kind of “ me-tooism” will further erode Romney’s potential support. In the rush to make Romney the next Reagan, some people have forgotten not only Reagan’s 11th commandment but they have also forgotten Reagan’s clarion call of “ raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people”.
Some people see Romney as Reagan, I see him as another George H W Bush. We live in very interesting times.