Is Romney flip-floppery just impossible to square with the GOP brand? TPM Reader CL says yes …
I think JR is right that the essence of the attack on Kerry was that he was inconsistent, flip-flopper, whatever. But I disagree that this is unimportant in the current election.
Constancy has become a key plank of who the GOP is: consistent, “resolute” as Mitt said hopefully in the debate, and decided, regardless of data that comes along. I think this is the thing that kills Mitt among some of the tea party - is that he is none of these things. The constant gaffes clearly stem in part from having no political or governing philosophy. It’s oddly disjointed, and whatever seems to be a useful jab comes to the surface, even if it entirely contradicts what the campaign has been about. It’s just been flailing attack after attack. I think in some ways, Mitt thinks he is being strong in the bald-face lies he perpetuates about Obama being anti-military, pro-welfare, etc. If Obama can exaggerate, well then, watch this incredible distortion. He’s not going to take that!
In some ways, I thought Romney would be more ideal for Obama to run against, especially after the NASCAR-owner and “not concerned about the poor” gaffes. No one was paying attention, but I thought video especially of the latter would end up hurting him. Then, it seemed he might be able to right the ship, but it just keeps coming. Even from his staff, who should be more disciplined, but they can’t be more disciplined than they have been directed from the top. If Romney can’t tell them what he stands for, then everyone pivots on what might make sense.
Do this enough, and a lot of people just kind of give up, and some GOP-leaning voters stay home. Maybe not hard core anti-Obama tea partiers, but not everyone is so dedicated. Add the Bain attacks. Then maybe the most important piece of all is for the debates to show that Obama is not the sinister guy who wants to keep people on welfare indefinitely, raise the price of your pizza 14 cents for no reason, get government in your face, and stall the economic recovery. The juxtaposition of what the GOP says Obama wants to do, compared with what he has done, is huge.
I also have been thinking about the liability of Romney to name his VP pick from someone in the current congress. Such a pick could be a scapegoat Obama and Biden need to attack the GOP’s obstructionism, deliberately blocking relatively mild Dem proposals for economic growth. I haven’t heard much about a nonpolitical, businessperson being named as VP pick, other than some references to Bloomberg (which are out after his gun control comments), but I think he will pick the VP he thinks is safest. This could be someone who really is not much different from him, some CEO, (not as wealthy) that doubles down on his business-oriented approach to fixing our economy and does not have the liability of the GOP in congress. Since you can’t imagine Boehner or Cantor being a possible pick, what’s better about Ryan or Portman?
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.