Mitt Romney's Seduction of America  

Posted by Big Gav in

Guy Rundle really must have done something terrible to be sentenced to cover the entire American presidential campaign, starting with the Iowa caucuses. No doubt he'll be utterly depressed and his writing will devolve into stream of consciousness rambling in a few months, but for the time being he is relatively lucid and capable of turning out the occasional witty phrase, including this little effort on Mitt Romney's appeal to the average Republican voter - New Hampshire is Romney country, but not impressively .

Yet for all the hoopla, seasoned observers noted that it has been one of the quietest NH primaries in recent memory, and one of the least interesting. "Live free and die of boredom" the New Republic remarked, punning on the state's motto, while others noted that the campaigns had opened only a fraction of the offices they would hitherto have run.

The crews in the breakfast room of the (blank) Hotel agreed, breaking off from grousing about the accom ("I'm going to spend a day on websites denouncing this hotel," one said) to agree. "In '08 they all had offices in Nashua, Rochester, Claremont, all the towns," a grizzled camera veteran (he was about 33) said.

Now each team has an office in Manchester, and Ron Paul has one in Concord as well, and that's about it. Though Romney has been the clear front runner throughout, the paucity of on-the-street campaigning has not been due to any lack of competitiveness, with Paul and Huntsman pulling all stops out to gain ground, and Gingrich settling into a campaign of deep and abiding hatred towards Romney.

Instead, 2012 marks the first year in which Tweeting, Facebooking and other social media political work has become as occupying of volunteers' time as actually working the footpath. True? Who knows. It may simply be that, Ron Paul aside, the candidates can't rock out a significant volunteer force because they are simply unable to body forth a genuine political vision, for all the talk of "greatest country in the world, etc".

For the truth is that, after the tumultuous rise, and then very ordinary presidency of Barack Obama, there is no great premium on messianic politics on any side -- merely a growing realisation that any return to better economic days will be a slow and partial process, and that the country is on the lee side of global economic domination. The sentiment has favoured Romney, who has hustled the state like a dull man wearing down an exciting woman, to be rewarded, through sheer hateful persistence with the music to every average seducer's ears: "Oh, all right then."

Yeah. All right. Air punch.

Rundle also notes that Romney found the New Hampshire campaign something of a grind, due to the "Paulite" army supporting Ron Paul - Romney fails to impress in New Hampshire.
In New Hampshire he’s been pushed to a deeper and longer campaign that would otherwise be required by the manic energy of the Ron Paul campaign, a now wholly insurgent force on the right, with additional foot soldiers drawn substantially from the anti-war left, and thus outnumbering every other campaign by about three-to-one. Across the granite state, the Paulites are everywhere. Other campaigns have festooned the state with road signs and yard signs; the Paul campaign seems to have people at every traffic light and roundabout waving with a degree of genuine enthusiasm that Romney could do with a measure more of, and the Paulites a decided amount less. Northern New Englanders, in their horse blankets and dad jeans, look like the cast of Gossip Girl compared to the Paulites, who favour downmarket Trot style.

Through immense hard work, they’ve pushed Ron Paul — a man who sounds like Chomsky, when he doesn’t sound like Ayn Rand — into second place, running at 20-21%, against Romney’s 40% rating, with Santorum a distant third at about 10%. Romney must see them occasionally, from his motorcade, and grind his teeth to nubbins. Had he left them to run wild, who knows where his rating would be now? So he’s been grinding out appearances ever since, to nail down a victory he could already count on, and it shows in his demeanour. ...

“I’ve spoken to 10 people, I’ve got one New Hampshire supporter — and he’s leaning towards [John] Huntsman,” one told another. ”Oh where?” she said, and ran off.

Camera crews were queued up two and three deep on the actual voters who were there. Those leaving, into the raw wind, and past the white clapboard houses surrounding the school found themselves yelled at by the Paulites, accusing them of being dupes of shadowy powers.

“Wall Street candidate bought and sold,” they yelled, confusing those for whom, as far as the Republican Party went, that was rather the point.

Rundle also notes Romney's debate performances in South Carolina haven't exactly been inspiring wither - Gingrich on points in latest debate, but Paul lit the room up.
Mitt Romney has sailed about as close to defeat in South Carolina as he is likely to, with a disastrous performance in the first of two South Carolina debates.

Repeatedly pummelled by Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum on matters as diverse as his Massachusetts governors’ record, his conduct at private equity firm Bain Capital, his refusal to release his tax returns, and more besides.

Romney was nervous and scatty in response, unable to project authority. Gingrich, by contrast, ran the room, clearly establishing his own authority and gaining that rare thing, a standing ovation, putting his nearest conservative rival, Santorum, in the shade. ...

That’s what Gingrich has been saying all along, as part of his claim that the selection of Romney is a false hope. By his confidence, force and authority Gingrich confirmed a lot of that. By bringing his battiness — he is the Jack Donaghy of the GOP, always muttering about Ronald Reagan and “lean six sigma” — he reminded people that he can’t be trusted to not shake the rivets loose entirely by August. That was in evidence when he was brought back to his suggestion that school janitors could be sacked, and replaced by children.

That has led to much fun, but such needling only makes Newt stick to it all the more. If you have five high-paid janitors in an NYC school — by high-paid, Gingrich means about $65,000, from a man who took $2 million in consultancies from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — Newt argues, you could get rid of three of them, and replace them with 20 poor children doing part-time chores, which would encourage them to come to school, learn responsibility, etc, etc. Yeah cos kids love chores. And the best way to lift families out of poverty is to employ the children first. Who all just love chores. And can be ably co-ordinated by two adults. And will not raise public liability issues by frying themselves on bad wiring, heating systems, etc.

God, where to stop? Gingrich was lucky in a way that the topic had been raised by Fox presenter Juan Williams (ex-NPR), in order to quiz on race-baiting — Gingrich had raised all this by saying that he was going to go to the NAACP and tell them this “to help them out” — in an era of a president who “created more food stamps than pay cheques”. The whole shtick is pure dog-whistling for a southern crowd (though there is every chance that Georgia-raised Newt believes it all), but Gingrich managed to turn it around for the Fox audience saying that it was politically correctness “and I will keep on telling people how to get a job, get a better job, own the job”. Applause. Standing ovation.

Gingrich on points, but a win also for Ron Paul, though many will see it as a loss. Repeated questioning on foreign policy had Paul enunciating an entirely moderate line — that bin Laden should have been arrested (“they arrested Eichmann”), that there should be a “golden rule” in international law, and that if you keep bombing people,they get murderously angry at you. These all elicited booing from the audience — and Paul, getting older and more tired these days, wasn’t as focused as he could have been — but it pushed the GOP to a sort of crisis. Everyone else sounded pretty literally fascist — defend the constitution through the NDAA, kill our enemies anywhere*.

The sight of someone saying this stuff from a Republican platform is driving them mad — indeed, today Bill Kristol called for Paul to be expelled from the party. Paul couldn’t be happier. Asked if he thought that the campaign had got too negative, he responded that the only problem with his Santorum ad was that he couldn’t get all the dirt in. I don’t share the leftish enthusiasm for Paul in many quarters, but he runs 40,000 volts through events like these, and is unflinchingly direct.


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