The campaign’s not about Romney.
Mitt Romney had a tough week. First, the absurd Supreme Court Obamacare ruling boxed Romney into a tough political corner; Romney could no longer rely on the distinction between federal unconstitutionality and state legality. Now, the legal distinction between Obamacare and Romneycare has been stripped away, leaving Romney in the unenviable position of trying to explain the difference between his smaller plan and Obama’s grander national plan.
Then, Romney got smacked with a coordinated smear job by the Obama campaign and the mainstream media surrounding his days at Bain Capital. This was hardly unexpected – political observers have known for months that Obama would hit Romney with false charges of outsourcing and offshore accounts. But Obama has built his entire campaign on it – now his bus tour features the slogan “Betting on America,” a rip-off from Bill Clinton’s re-election rhetoric. The implication: Romney doesn’t care about America enough to hire American.
Meanwhile, thanks to Romney’s inability to come to terms with either of these attacks, conservatives are growing restless. Rupert Murdoch and Jack Welch both tweeted that Romney needed to rejigger his staff. Conservative columnists have lamented Romney’s stagnation in terms of political adjustment.
Romney has remained quiet. And Barack Obama has surged to a four-point lead in the latest national polls.
So, where’s the good news for conservatives?
The good news is that unlike in 2008, conservatives are not willing to sit back and wait for their candidate to fight back. Conservatives recognize that in Mitt Romney, they have a default candidate – the Other Guy, the Not Obama. And they also recognize that because Romney doesn’t necessarily have the fight in him to do battle with the Obama campaign and its media surrogates, the conservative movement needs to take nt is taking matters into its own hands.
You can see it on Twitter. Every time Barack Obama tries to launch a meme – Julia (his attempt to paint women under Obama life rule as the luckiest of beings), or the Truth team, or Double My Rate – conservatives quickly take it over. Even liberals recognize conservative successes on Twitter. President Obama complains in his campaign speeches that Republican messages can be put in a tweet – as though liberalism were simply too sophisticated to fit in 140 characters (even though liberal bumper stickers are significantly more common than conservative ones). Comedy Central writers complain about conservative hashtag games.
The same is true of the internet more broadly. Whenever President Obama attempts to launch a campaign narrative – whether it be his “popular” campaign launch at a half-empty stadium, his attempt to claim credit for the Bin Laden kill despite a CYA memo setting up an admiral for a fall in case of mission failure, or his failed war on behalf of women – conservatives strike it down.
The fact is that conservatives will have to drag Mitt Romney’s campaign across the finish line if they hope to repeal Obamacare; Romney doesn’t have the wherewithal to fight that battle. Conservatives will have to ensure that the repeal itself is rammed through Congress, even if Republicans take back Congress – as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said, it will be an uphill battle to keep the Republican caucus together.
Faith in politicians has typically been the conservative undoing over the last forty years. Ronald Reagan was an incredible president, but he did sign elevated spending into law. George W. Bush was a big spender and an entitlement-grower who didn’t understand basic principles of capitalist economics. Yet we placed our undying faith in both of them, allowing them to take unpopular measures out of sheer loyalty.
No more. The era of trust in government – and our elected officials – is gone. Good riddance.
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