January 15, 2008

Perception differs from reality....

Never fails. Just when I've decided to give the orders to have the entire management of the NYT shipped off for a little vacation..."To Guantanamo Bay, Where the flying fishes play, Towsay Mongalay, my dear, Towsey Mongalay..." then they go and print something decent.

I recommend Driving Mr. Romney, by Dean Barnett. (Besides being a writer and blogger, Dean was a volunteer driver for Mitt during his senate race...)

....As a longtime admirer of Mr. Romney’s, it pains me that many Americans believe these things. Even worse, Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign has given them cause to feel this way. As a result, in the Michigan primary today, he is fighting for his political life.

I often marvel at how the public perception of Mr. Romney differs so radically from the man I know. The blame for this lies in the campaign he has run.

Early in the presidential race, Mr. Romney perceived a tactical advantage in becoming the campaign’s social conservative. Religious conservatives and other Republicans with socially conservative views found the two early front-runners, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, unacceptable. As someone who shares the beliefs of social conservatives, Mr. Romney saw an opportunity that he could exploit. He made social issues the heart of his candidacy.

This tack rang false with the public because it was false. The problem wasn’t so much the perception of widespread “flip-flopping” on issues like abortion. The public allows its politicians a measure of flexibility. But the public correctly sensed something disingenuous about Mr. Romney’s campaign.

Voters perceived the cynicism of a campaign that tried to exploit wedge issues rather than focus on the issues that in truth most interested the candidate. They sensed phoniness. As a consequence, many have grown to feel that Mitt Romney can’t be trusted. This lack of trust is now the dominant and perhaps insurmountable obstacle that the Romney campaign faces.....

...Mr. Romney cares passionately about social issues, but he knows his Republican competitors can appoint strict constructionist judges as well as he can. The real value of a Romney presidency would lie in the talents, honed in the business world, that he would bring to the White House.

Because Mr. Romney chose to make this argument a secondary matter compared to his stands on social issues, he mounted a campaign that was, at its most basic level, insincere. Now, parts of the voting public have come to view everything Mr. Romney says through jaundiced eyes....
Posted by John Weidner at January 15, 2008 12:32 PM
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