Many election cycles ago, the late great Kam Kuwata patiently explained to us that every political campaign consists of three basic, alliterative elements: money, mechanics and message.
Applying Kuwata’s First Law to the Republican presidential race, we see that Mitt Romney dominates the first two categories, and that his delegate lead is due primarily to his huge advantages in fundraising and organization.
What is equally clear, as we’ve previously argued, is that Romney’s campaign messaging is fully bereft of, well, message, in that he has utterly failed to articulate a clear and compelling rationale for why he should be president. Given his massive money and mechanics edge, that is the reason that second-raters Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are still hanging around.
As Mittens looks more and more each day like the 2012 version of Bob Dole, NBC’s “First Read” did a nifty job of summarizing the problem:
What is his campaign about? He says he wants to “restore America’s greatness,” but what does that mean? (Go back to the ‘50s? The ‘60s? The ‘80s? The Bush years?) He says he’ll be able to turn around the economy, but what if it’s already slowly improving as the evidence currently suggests? And the campaign makes it clear that Romney is the inevitable nominee, but what happens if that inevitable nominee loses? Team Romney has had a message problem since this campaign began, and when you make your candidacy about electability and process, you’re going to pay a BIG price for losing to candidates. Why does Romney want to be president, an office he’s been running for the past six years? Has he really answered this basic question?
Fighting Illini: Despite Romney’s constant political revisions, personal reinventions and downright lies, not to mention the endless awkward panders, non sequitur jokes and oddball comments to voters, however, all is not lost yet.
As the brilliant Thought Leaders of the MSM point us to next week’s Illinois primary as Romney’s absolute, for sure, dead certain, this time we really mean it, ne plus ultra chance to a) “close the deal” (6,980 Google news search results); b) “seal the deal” (1,310); c) “close the sale” (1,010), the Calbuzz corporate Office of Communication, Public Misinformation, Humbug, Shuck and Jive has drafted a list of the Top 10 specially tailored messages he can peddle to Prairie State voters:
1-I love Chicago — the Sears Tower is just the right height for a building.
2-Who among us does not love stockyards?
3-I love Springfield — Abe Lincoln was just the right height for a president.
4-Brats and beer — that’s what I call real Mormon food!
5-A little Mitt Gel and Rod Blagojevich would be a free man today.
6-I love Michael Jordan – he’s just the right height for a hoops participant.
7-I remember our summer car trips Downstate – mom and dad in front and me strapped to the roof.
8-Ann and I love Carbondale — we plan to buy our next house here!
9-Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win!
10-How ‘bout those White Sox?
Hot air on gas: The hands-down top item on this week’s presidential Pander Meter was the price of gas. For cars, not speeches.
While Obama made approximately 316 defensive statements on the subject, Gingrich kept up a drumbeat of demagoguery blaming him for not embracing Newt’s magical thinking plan to cap the cost at $2.50 a gallon, while Santorum spent election night in Louisiana blaming soaring prices on the president’s evil plot to stop offshore drilling because of his Islamic-inspired hatred for Gulf Coast residents and nonsensical belief in the possibility of oil spills, which are mentioned exactly nowhere in the Bible, by the way.
As far as Actual Facts are concerned, the best piece we’ve seen on the subject, or heard, to be precise, is a Q&A discussion by NPR economics correspondent John Ydstie, who noted that:
1-For the first time in 60 years, the U.S. has become a net exporter of gasoline, primarily due to cost savings in refining made possible by an abundance of natural gas.
2-At the same time, oil companies have reduced U.S. gasoline production by 5 percent by closing down unprofitable refineries.
3-Because the rest of the world wants to buy cheap U.S. gas, prices are being driven up by increased demand for a smaller domestic supply, resulting in higher prices at the pump at home:
Q: So wouldn’t it make sense to keep more of that gasoline in the United States, not export as much and try to keep prices lower here? Is that possible?
A: Well, it’s not really possible because it’s a free market…
Quote of the week: Sadly, Santorum’s simple-mindedness on gas prices makes him seem like Albert Einstein, compared to his most recent comment about climate change:
“The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is.”
Tell it to a plant? Really? (Why didn’t Charles Darwin just ask birds about their heritage, anyway?) Over at America Blog, this drove John Aravosis into a head-exploding rant:
Under the same theory, if we locked one of the Santorum children in an airtight room filled with only carbon dioxide, then they’d flourish just like a pretty little rose, wouldn’t they?
What a ridiculous argument.
And I guess they keep a lot of cyanide available in the Santorum household because cyanide is made up of carbon and nitrogen, and ask any barbecue fan how dangerous charcoal is, and ask any plant how dangerous nitrogen is.
All jokes aside, this is a sign of how extreme, and dangerous, the Republican Party has become. They’re anti-science, and anti-facts. In Santorum’s case, you almost believe that he believes what he’s saying. That he’s too dumb to even see the logical fallacy in what he’s asserting. And it’s something the Republican Party does a lot. They enjoy talking to their voters like they’re idiots — it’s the same thing Fox News does, pandering to the gullibility of their audience. The thing is, it’s not bias, it’s far worse than that. You can be biased and still make a reasonable argument. They’re not interested in reason.
Read of the week: Terrific Tim Egan essay on the presidential race and public lands.
Final word on Palin: We’re not normally fans of Richard Cohen, but he nailed it in his WashPost column on “Game Change.” And Ana Marie Cox, who was way funnier at Wonkette before joining the Elite Media, nonetheless had some pretty good lines in Guardian US:
By choosing to focus on the psychodrama behind and following John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, the makers of the movie picked out 2008’s second most compelling narrative (the major one having something to do the history of race in America, whatever) – but by far its most intimate one. Not many people can really identify with the story of a man attempting to fulfill the destiny of an entire people; almost everyone has a story about a blind date gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Only 235 shopping days until the election!