Friday, December 30, 2011

The Beginning of the Anointment of Mitt Romney Continues – Nate Silver Talks About the Inevitability

And the New York Times Tries Mightily to have Its Puff Piece on What a Nice Guy Mitt Is

Nate Silver is the preeminent practitioner of quantitative analysis of political issues and elections, and several years ago the New York Times acquired publication rights to his Forum, Five Thirty Eight.  Mr. Silver is probably the most objective and accurate of any one who prognosticates and comments on electoral matters.

As the inevitability of the nomination of Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for President in 2012 continues, Mr. Silver weighs in with an essay whose title goes to the very heart of the matter.  That title, How Can Romney Lose?

In the span of just two weeks, Mitt Romney has gone from seeming quite vulnerable to the near-inevitable Republican nominee. The odds attributed to Mr. Romney winning the nomination at the betting marketIntrade, which closed at a low of 42 percent on Dec. 13, had shot up to 72 percent as of Monday night.

I don’t know that Mr. Romney’s stock is mispriced — if anything, it might be a little cheap. It’s not that Mr. Romney is all that strong a candidate. But for him to fail to win the nomination, someone else has to, and it’s hard to see who that is.

He goes on to quote a Romney aide who in an unexpected moment of candor states the position of the Romney campaign, and correctly so.

Meanwhile, expectations seem to have gotten a little ahead of themselves. “I don’t see any scenario where we’re not the nominee,” one of Mr. Romney’s strategists told New York magazine’s John Heilemann.

Now Mr. Silver does go on to qualify his conclusions and talk about how Mr. Romney could lose, in part by not meeting expectations and in part through an unexpected upset by one candidate.

But looking at Mr. Romney’s campaign through Iowa this time as opposed to 2008, where he has learned that in some cases less is more, it seems clear that the main thing Mr. Romney has going for him are the lessons learned from 2008, something no other candidate can bring to the party.

Further evidence of the inevitability of Mr. Romney’s elevation to the nomination is the traditional puff piece in a major newspaper describing what a regular person, what a nice guy and what a wonderful personality a candidate has.  The New York Times now has published this type of article.

Mr. Romney has plenty of moments when he wins positive reactions and some when he seems to make a genuine link, undercutting his caricature as robotic. And he is hardly giving up on mastering the art of the soft sell: he personally insisted on spending more hours talking to voters this election and fewer sequestered in his Boston headquarters. The calculation may prove crucial in a year when a procession of rivals — Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich — has roused the Republican base with colorful personalities and dynamic speaking styles.

The informal, humanizing interactions are so essential to the campaign’s image that Mr. Romney has scheduled back-to-back bus tours in New Hampshire and Iowa, the latest of which began here in Davenport on Tuesday, crammed with events like Coffee with Mitt, Pizza with Mitt and Spaghetti with Mitt.  [Editor’s note:  Frequently to be followed by Vomiting with Mitt.]

But note the undercurrent in the comments.  It is clear that the article is suggesting that far from being a sincere and natural effort, this new congenial Romney is just another planned political move.  Treating his candidacy like selling soap, Mr. Romney has adopted a persona that is not him, but one that he feels will help connect him with voters.

Mr. Romney’s bid for president this year is a carefully crafted do-over, a chance to revise and retool a campaign that quickly fizzled out four years ago. He has lost the tie, overhauled his stump speech and hired far fewer campaign consultants.

So who is the real Romney?  No one knows.  Like the character Gollum in the Lord of the Rings saga, whose obsession with the ring completely obliterated whatever was the original person, so has Mr. Romney’s obsession with becoming President completely obliterated whatever was the original person.  The U. S. may find out what that was if Mr. Romney is elected, and if so it may not be a particularly pleasant unveiling.  Your grandparents can always remember the “New Nixon”, which was in many ways a baser version of the old Nixon.

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