|The Private Intellectual
Ecclesiastes-Based Real Estate Advice
Thursday, August 11, 2011 Alternatively, You Could Try to Win by Succeeding in Office
Ross Douthat's reaction to some blind quotes about the "Destroy Romney" strategy supposedly being hatched at the White House is something liberals (and conservatives) should probably heed:
His Mormonism, in this sense, may turn out to be a lot like Barack Obama’s connections to Bill Ayers and the Chicago left, which conservatives tried to make hay from in the waning days of the ‘08 election: In a different kind of race, it might be a serious liability, but in a campaign focused on jobs, debt and growth, trying to sow doubts about Romney’s faith will just make the Democrats look out of touch.
I'm not as confident at Ross that "weirdness" will be a stalking-horse for anti-Mormon messaging (not that I'd put it past anyone). But either way, does anyone think that Mitt Romney is actually going to be kept out of the White House because he took a road trip with the dog carrier strapped to the top of the family car? Or even, for that matter, because he used to be pro-choice and now he's not? The idea that you're going to lean meaningfully on the tiller of an election fourteen months in the future by hawking this stuff is just depressing.
My preferred approach would be to keep David Axelrod and his Blackberry in a locked room somewhere while every other person associated with the administration works on the sort of unilateral expansionary measures that are available, getting Fed vacancies filled, whatever--but stuff that has an impact on facts on the ground. Obviously the policy horizons are a lot more constrained than they were two years ago, but to concede policy defeat because of mean old John Boehner and mean old Mitch McConnell and put everything in the hands of the consultants is insane. Surely some things can be done, and even if their impact is marginal, it's a margin bigger than any messaging, optics, narrative-generating, or other diversions of the political class will make. Their apparent conviction that they can pull a unicorn out of this economic manure pile is without any basis that I can see. Ask Jimmy Carter or George H.W. Bush if being the adult in the room works out when the economy is in the ditch.
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