Mitt = Nixon

First of all, just let me say, damn John Cassidy can write.  I love this intro to his latest take on Mitt:

At 8:30 P.M. E.T. last night, barely half an hour after some polling stations in the Florida Panhandle had closed, a new, voter-friendly Romney took the stage in Tampa before a large, cheering crowd. Looking far more relaxed than the stuffed shirt we have seen on the campaign trail for the past few months, this Romney smiled in a way that appeared unforced, joked about how the five sons in the family “keep us humble,” and generally came across as a warm and genuine human being.

Unfortunately for all you folks hoping to make Barack Obama a one-term President, this was Ann Romney speaking, not Mitt.

Okay, that was just for fun.  Short version, Mitt Romney is stiff as ever.  What I really liked was the way Cassidy writes about Romney stoking the politics of cultural resentment in much the way Nixon did.  Though, of course this time we are not dealing with hippies:

Listening to this litany of platitudes, I was put in mind, for the second time, of Richard Nixon. In 1968 and in 1972, Tricky Dick effectively ran on a platform of defending Norman Rockwell’s America from assault by hippies, peaceniks, and Black Panthers. Spouting the same sort of nativist pablum that Romney used last night, he tied Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern to dopers, agitators, and proponents of free love.

Actually, Romney is taking the Nixon strategy a step further. In his telling, the enemy of the real (read white, suburban, Christian) America isn’t the latter-day descendants of Abbie Hoffman, or Jerry Rubin, or Huey Newton, but Barack Obama himself—a Barack Obama who “wants to grow government and continue to amass trillion-dollar deficits”; a Barack Obama who “demonizes and denigrates almost every sector of our economy”; a Barack Obama who “orders religious organizations to violate their conscience”; a Barack Obama who “has adopted a strategy of appeasement and apology.”

Watching Romney mouthing these attack lines, his strategy for this fall was patently clear. Embarrassingly short of his own distinctive policy proposals, he intends to make the election a referendum on Obama. Not the real Obama—the equivocating, eager-to-compromise moderate who has been inhabiting the White House for the past three years—but the crypto-socialist America-basher who lives in the minds of some Republican voters.

I participated in a little NCSU forum on the primaries today and the moderator asked what, if anything, would unite Republicans.  My response… their rabid opposition to the caricature of Barack Obama.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Mitt = Nixon

  1. Hopefully no one I know reads your blog but despite the puffed chest rhetoric Romney can spew with the best of them to denigrate the President, I gotta say, I kind of like the guy. I feel icky saying it, mostly due to his transparently obvious penchant for saying anything he thinks will get him elected, but with Romney I think it’s so obvious it’s an act because, unlike the wingnuts sharing the stage with him, he doesn’t believe a word of it.

    Romney doesn’t scare me either like Paul, who’d drive us back into the 1830s, Santorum who’d rewrite every civil liberty we hold dear, or Newt, who I’m certain would nuke Iran if he thought it would get him re-elected. Most likely his presidency would be the definition of uninspired, technocratic and downright boring. But at least it wouldn’t be an Ayn Rand dystopian nightmare and nobody would get nuked. It would just be a complete waste of 4 years.

  2. Steve Greene says:

    Understandable sentiments. Pretty much the same position as Jon Chait. I’m inclined to largely agree, but somewhat more persuaded by Drum’s argument that even once in office, Romney would pretty much say/do anything to keep the wingnuts happy. Not exactly Randian dystopia, but not technocratic and boring, either.

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