Much of what you read about Mitt Romney that actually delves into his record as Governor of Massachusetts indicates that, as a politician, he’s a hyper-rational problem solver. This is how passed health care reform, after all, by applying his experience as a consultant.
The Nicholas Lemann feature in The New Yorker a while back, about how Mormonism has influenced his leadership style, backed this up. “He saw his major initiatives as exercises in problem-solving, not as expressions of lifelong convictions,” writes Lemann. “Or one could say that the process itself — identify the problem, analyze the data, kick around solutions until the best one emerges, lead — is his conviction, not the principle involved.”
It was a sympathetic portrayal of the man, one that is hard to reconcile with the utter shittiness of his campaign. The Washington Post ran an op-ed today accusing the campaign of being exactly what it is: insulting to the electorate. “Mr. Romney…seems to be betting that voters have no memories, poor arithmetic skills and a general inability to look behind the curtain.”
Well, let’s get into the maybe-dumb part of this Tumbl:
What would a man with a consulting background, who already has plenty of experience losing campaigns, think about the process? Isn’t it best to be able to wiggle around and change your positions as need be? Isn’t this is how he trounced Obama in the first debate: by being slippery on issues where he might have upset anyone, but also leveraging Obama’s (true) accusations about his positions to his advantage? He was only correcting for the hard right swing he took during the primaries, after all, which he arguably had to take in order to win the nomination from a party that has gone totally batshit.
Can’t you picture him, well aware of the battle he was facing early on, having his campaign managers take a look at how badly politicians in the past have been damaged by changing positions during a campaign? He might have looked at the data and concluded: it probably doesn’t matter. Either the electorate is dumb, or is made dumb by the way political reporting happens, and his best bet is to be as cynical as humanly possible?
It’s not incredibly argumentative, but what I’m saying is: maybe Mitt Romney’s not just unprincipled, but more specifically, he’s looked at the data and decided it’s wise to be unprincipled.
Is it an effective way to campaign? We’ll find out Tuesday night.