Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Well, now is as good a time as any to post a few positive words on behalf of my 3d favorite GOP candidate (he's just concluded his Florida victory speech). I was a strong supporter of Romney vs McLame in 2008, but I've been consistently skeptical of him in 2011-2012. But there is no point in being spiteful, so herewith a few lines of honest credit for Gov. Romney:

1) He avoids mistakes, or "beating himself." This has really been the heart of his success this go-round, as one GOP opponent after another has shot themselves in the foot, or both feet, and crippled their own campaigns. It is interesting to note that Gingrich's one big victory in South Carolina was achieved only after Mitt himself made a damaging tactical blunder, in dithering over his tax returns. If he had avoided that eminently predictable problem, it is conceivable that Mitt could have won in SC, too.

2) His campaign is flexible, in a good way. After South Carolina, Romney's team took a hard, fast look at their position, and adjusted with a series of new tactics and fast decisions that led to the thumping Florida victory. In the meantime, my man Newt has been mired in a sour dialectic divided between complaining about Romney's dishonesty and complaining about his big advertising spending. This was a winning approach?

3) Mitt Romney obviously is humble enough to prepare for his big moments. As Ace of Spades commented sometime ago, we've been imbued for decades with a kind of "Stripes" mythology, whereby some raw but talented people goof off for a semester, but pull an all-nighter before the big test and dramatically ace it. Well, as we all know there is no tooth fairy, and there is no substitute for (nor excuse for lack of) preparation. Quite apart from his smooth, almost error-free debate performances, Mr. Romney has spent the better part of 4 years PREPARING for these primaries by recruiting and convincing supporters, hiring reliable campaign staff, and cultivating right-leaning journalists in the legacy and internet media. Looking at the 2 Florida debates, it was apparent that Gov. Romney had prepared thoroughly, while Speaker Gingrich was winging it.

4) Related to #3, Mr. Romney is also humble enough to be disciplined. He is excellent at staying on-message, and he does not take the bait to get distracted into unproductive or damaging dialogues. Discipline is perhaps the pre-eminent quality for a successful campaign, and it has been Newt's biggest weakness thus far. Should Romney win the nomination, I foresee a scenario wherein a panicking Obama leaps from failing issue to failing issue, while a disciplined Romney presses his advantage, much as George Bush I whipped Dukakis.

5) Mr. Romney has surrounded himself with competent staff. How can it be that a serious presidential candidate should be blocked from a state ballot because he collected too few valid signatures? Are you kidding me? How can you buy ad time and then remove the ad because your opponent complains? As Casey Stengel asked, "Can't anybody here play this game?" Mr. Romney's people have got him onto all the ballots, produced effective ads and purchased the airtime to deploy them, got him to his appearances and appointments on time, and helped him to avoid any truly self-damaging statements. It's so simple and obvious, and easy to take for granted, but can we say the same for his rivals' staff?

6) Mr. Romney has remained, personally, a happy warrior, while his surrogates and PAC people have carried out the real dirty work of "negative campaigning," innuendo and brazen lying. (Yes, claiming Newt Gingrich was anything but a leading Reaganite of the highest order is obviously a brazen lie). Speaker Gingrich has complained about this, but guess what? That is classical political strategy, "Politics 202," and why the heck Newt was purportedly surprised by it (and failed to resort to it himself) is beyond me. Newt the Happy Warrior is such a superior campaigner to Newt the Complainer that he needs to cling to the positive personal approach for dear life...but let his surrogates napalm Mr. Romney to a crisp.

These are the larger strengths that Gov. Romney has shown. Add to them the gorgeous family, his own good looks and cheery demeanor, personal wealth, and golden fundraising touch, and campaigner Romney might just cruise to a victory over the liberal Democrat this year.

Just like George Bush I did in 1988. Let's just hope a President Romney has no desire to emulate that smug, clueless Presidency, though.