Afternoon Open Thread: Nobody Likes Mitt ShadyPosted: July 18, 2012
Howard Fineman posted a scathing piece about Mitt Romney this afternoon. Fineman is always telling the MSNBC hosts that he talks to Romney’s staff all the time. I wonder if they’ll still be talking to him after this?
Fineman says that the reason so many Republicans are hounding Mitt Shady to release his tax returnsis that most of them can’t stand the guy. They’ll probably enjoy seeing Mitt embarrassed.
“The fact is, no one likes the guy or believes in him,” said the campaign manager for a former Romney rival, who declined to be quoted by name because his former boss is on record supporting Romney’s campaign against incumbent President Barack Obama.
“Look back at our 2008 primaries,” he said. “Who did all the other candidates dislike? Romney. Look at this year. Who did all the other candidates dislike? Romney. No one wants Obama to win, but no one likes the guy who is running against him.”
Republican leaders, especially conservatives, see Romney as a malleable, cynical power-grabber without principle or compass. They warned voters that Romney would be unable to take the fight to Obama on health care because he had fostered a similar program as governor of Massachusetts, and they argued that a wealthy, well-connected son of privilege was not a good spokesman for selling free-market ideas to the middle-class.
Over the last week, a disparate array of Republican and conservative leaders have called on Romney to do what he is clearly loathe to do: release several years if not a decade or more of his federal tax returns. It is an unspoken form of payback.
The list is not only a veritable who’s who of the party, but a not-so-subtle roster of people who opposed Romney for the presidential nomination. That they have not fallen in line behind Romney’s stonewalling is a telling sign.
If the party leaders hate Mitt that much, how are voters going to feel about him once they start paying closer attention the race? The more they see Mitt, the less they’ll like him. To know him is to dislike him.
This could happen sooner rather than later now that Romney and his sidekick Eric Fehrnstrom have announced that “the gloves are off.” According to Buzzfeed,
Romney has always been careful to hedge his tough digs at Obama with a civil nod toward the president’s moral character: “He’s a nice guy,” the Republican has often said. “He just has no idea how the private economy works.” But Tuesday’s speech included no such hedge — and one campaign adviser said there’s a reason for that.
“[Romney] has said Obama’s a nice fellow, he’s just in over his head,” the adviser said. “But I think the governor himself believes this latest round of attacks that have impugned his integrity and accused him of being a felon go so far beyond that pale that he’s really disappointed. He believes it’s time to vet the president. He really hasn’t been vetted; McCain didn’t do it.”
Indeed, facing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney’s finances and business record, the Republican’s campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisal, said two Romney advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the next chapter of Boston’s pushback — which began last week when they began labeling Obama a “liar” — very little will be off-limits, from the president’s youthful drug habit, to his ties to disgraced Chicago politicians.
Romney has unleashed his inner bully on President Obama. This could get really nasty, ugly, and petty; but I’ll bet it’s not going to help Mitt with the independent voters he needs to attract.
The attacks began yesterday morning with creepy John Sununu implying that Obama isn’t a real American and then a little later with Romney himself saying that “Obama’s course is extraordinarily foreign.” I guess we can assume now that Romney has been hanging around with Donald Trump because he actually has no problem with using the birther issue. We’ll probably see Trump mouthing off about it again soon.
Let’s see what an expert on both Romney and Fehrnstrom has to say about this, shall we? Charles Pierce:
Well, this certainly ought to be fun.
There are, of course, a few problems here. The first one is that, when you start borrowing talking points — the president wasn’t “vetted” in 2008 — from Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods, you’re already running a few lengths below the intellectual Mendoza line. The second is logical; we already know far more about the president’s relationship with both Tony Rezko and cocaine than we do about Willard Romney’s relationship to the U.S. tax code for the years, say, 1999-2008. The third is strategic; if you have to remind people that you’re preparing to get tough, you’ve pulled your own punch before throwing it. And the last one is perceptual; Willard Romney — and most of his surrogates — look utterly ridiculous in the role of political hatchetmen.
This is the new, tougher Willard Romney, who is so damned rugged that he’s afraid of what the president’s people might do with the information in his tax returns. This is the saloon brawler who won’t shut up about all the mean things the president’s “opposition research” might do to him. This is Willard Freaking Romney, for pity’s sake, of whom an “adviser” warns the president:
“Obama has always benefited from being able to shape the argument such that he avoided harsh negative attacks,” the adviser said. “That served him well. He made other pay a price for going negative. These past couple weeks have completely squandered that positioning. They are now taunting how tough they are. OK, but once you cross that line, there is no going back.
Well, he’s certainly thrown down the well-tailored gauntlet there, hasn’t he? Remember, Mr. President, this is the stone killer who ended the political career of Shannon O’Brien. Gaze upon his mighty might and despair.
Somehow I don’t think this is going to scare either Obama or Axelrod that much. But as Pierce says, it’ going to be fun to watch.