Can the Republican nominee beat Obama if he doesn’t attack Obama?
Here’s another thing about Romney—he shares the establishment belief that ANY significant criticism of Obama is out of bounds, and if he is the nominee he will run a “positive” campaign—and will get crushed.
It’s hard to talk about—heck, it’s hard to THINK about—but Obama loyalty is basically tribal. Everybody knows about his extraordinary reach in the “black community,” but his white liberal supporters also engage in tribal behavior. In fact, the DNC blueprint for victory presupposes that voters will behave tribally.
In a system of majority wins voting, with a universal franchise, THIS IS VERY EFFECTIVE.
The George Will / David Frum wing of the GOP establishment recoils from tribalism; they believe that if the election cannot be won with “positive themes,” better it should be lost.
The candidate who can beat Obama will be the one who can rally enough of the white tribe (SWPL folk excepted) to use the demographic advantage that whites still possess.
I don’t think that Romney is obligated to call Obama a socialist. That is a problematic term that is not literally true. Yes, since the Clinton health care plan in ‘93, I, like others, have used the term in a broader sense, to mean government control of the economy, not just (which is the literal and correct meaning) government ownership of large part of the economy. But we can’t blame Romney for declining to use the term in that imprecise sense.
What we can blame him for is that he just wants to call Obama a failure. Ok, he doesn’t want to call Obama a socialist. But isn’t there something stronger he can call him than merely a failure? He starts off saying Obama is a liberal who wants to turn us into a European type country; that’s good, that’s correct. But then, contradicting himself, he takes that away and says that Obama is only a failure.
Romney is unable to express himself in a consistent way. He’s always playing these games. Those games are his political essence.
Also he’s soft. He has no strong core. That was evident about him in his debate with Kennedy in ‘94 and it’s still the case. He got strong for one moment: when Perry was the front-runner, and Romney went after him very aggressively in one of the debates last summer. I was impressed at the time and said that Romney was coming across as an alpha male, it was a new Romney. But it didn’t last. In last Thursday’s debate, when he needed to be going after Gingrich, he let others do the job and he had reverted to his basically weak self. So I think his alpha male persona when he went after Perry was a one time thing; we will not see it again.
By the way, another reader wrote to me two days ago about what he called the true, tribal nature of American politics. I hadn’t posted it yet, but maybe I’ll combine it with yours.
James N. replies:
I believe relentless attack is going to be required to defeat Obama. The GOP leadership disagrees.
These are people who say (and may even think) that Obama’s inaugural filled them with pride in their country.
In contrast, it made me want to vomit.
No one who took pride in Obama’s inauguration (because it vindicated America) is going to beat him. I suspect that Romney isn’t prepared to dish out enough negativity to get the job done.
Just as no political movement that lauds, adores, and extols Christopher Hitchens is going to beat the liberals in the long run.
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James P. writes:
You wrote about Romney,
Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 21, 2011 11:16 AM | Send
He has no strong core. That was evident about him in his debate with Kennedy in ‘94 and it’s still the case. He got strong for one moment: when Perry was the front-runner, and Romney went after him very aggressively in one of the debates last summer. I was impressed at the time and said that Romney was coming across as an alpha male, it was a new Romney. But it didn’t last.
This is precisely analogous to McCain in 2008. The only time McCain showed any teeth was when he was fighting other Republicans—and especially Romney. McCain savaged Romney for putting profit over patriotism, and Romney just sat there grinning like a fool. But McCain’s show of strength didn’t last. As soon as he got the nomination, he became a flaccid beta male who refused to attack Obama.
I don’t think it’s an accident that liberal Republicans only attack conservative Republicans (even if those “conservative” Republicans are merely slightly less liberal than the liberal Republicans) and never attack Democrats.