Political Animal


October 09, 2012 11:23 AM Ann ‘n’ Tagg Reintroduce Moderate Mitt as Conservatives Cheer

By Ed Kilgore

You had to feel this was coming: with polls showing at least a momentary Romney surge, someone within the campaign had to get credit for engineering the big, “game-changing” shift in strategy that undergird Mitt’s debate strategy and saved the enterprise from oblivion. And it’s appropriate that the first “insider” narrative out of the box was an Allen-VandeHei piece in Politico, the MSM fortress of all things game-changey and event-and- personality driven in presidential politics.

According to Allen-VandeHei, there was a “family rebellion” within Team Romney led by Ann and Tagg, that toppled Stu Stevens’ economic-referendum doctrine and reintroduced Moderate Mitt From Massachusetts, the can-do man with the can-do plan for all of America’s problems:

When the history of this campaign is written, the family intervention will be among the most important turning points in the Romney saga. Until the weeks before the first presidential debate, the candidate sided with Stevens over his family’s skepticism, accepting the strategist’s view that the best way to win was to point out President Barack Obama’s flaws and articulate generic promises to do better.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, the Politico Pair argues that “the family” combined forces with restive conservatives wanting a “clear choice” message to topple the steady-as-you-go approach of Stevens. Here’s how they square that circle:

[O]ne big reason for hope inside the Romney campaign is that conservatives were so down on the campaign before the debate — and so rapturous during it — that they will give him a lot of maneuvering room to talk in more moderate ways.

As I’ve tried to demonstrate here and here, however, the Moderate Mitt Meme is mighty thin and based on an infrastructure of lies and evasions. Under sustained attack from the Obama campaign, how long is Romney going to be able to get mileage out of such brave defiance of the Right as admitting there might be some place in the world for regulation of business; how long can he get away with pretending his “health care plan” prevents discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions; how long can he brazen his way through the mendacious math of his tax plan, or avoid the many extremist positions that Obama did not bring up during the first debate? Remember, BTW, that the first time Romney (or Ryan) must engage seriously with criticism of his actual agenda, all that conservative tolerance for “moderation” will vanish.

It’s possible, of course, that Romney will be able to bob and weave his way to November 6 pretending to be a “moderate”—and pretending it’s the “real Mitt” his family forced into view over the cynical advice of the pros running his campaign—on sheer assertion and media reinforcement, without breaking a single one of his promises to movement conservatives.

If so, then Allen and VandeHei will indeed have written a first draft of the “history of this campaign,” whether or not they turn it into a insta-book that gets made into a premium cable movie: providing the dramatic back-story to the fable of “moderate Mitt” that is the latest in a trail of mendacious self-reinventions that makes Richard Nixon look like a paragon of honesty and principle.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on October 09, 2012 11:42 AM:

    All Mitt needs to do is bob and weave another month.

    In all fairness though, Mitt doesn't exactly have Mohammed Ali's footwork.
    Either that, or I must have missed it when Ali put his feet firmly in his mouth as part of his daily training regiment.

    Allen and VandeHei - for political analysis, they are equivalent to tofu:
    Smooth white lumps of protein, with absolutely zero taste.

    They will say and do anything to make this a close horse race - there's advertising money still out there to be had off the backs of the rubes!!!
    And people buy this "He's changed - he's now 'Mitt, the Man From the Middle,'" BS!

    P.T. Barnum was only off by about 59 seconds, when he said, "There's a sucker born every minute."

    Never underestimate the sheer number of rubes in this country, and you'll never be disappointed.

  • stormskies on October 09, 2012 11:43 AM:

    What a crock of fucking shit. Any one who 'believes' this piece of evil slim called Romney is anything but an automaton that simply acts out whatever program it put into by way of a microchip should turn consider being euthanized.

    Sadly, that would be about half of the American population who is able to vote.

    And that, indeed, is the true tragedy of our country. A population that is so stupid, and only focused on 'winning' at all costs, that anything this evil slim does is 'ok'.

  • Nick on October 09, 2012 12:02 PM:

    The 'story of this campaign' is Barack Obama's epic choke-job in Denver. This was in the bag until Mr. Nice Guy showed up to nod his head and try to stay awake.

    I'm so pissed at O I can't see straight.

    We lose this thing -- a definite possibility now -- and this country will be Third World within 2 years.

  • T2 on October 09, 2012 12:04 PM:

    Etch-A-Sketch in action. We were told what Mitt was going to do and he's doing it.

  • paul on October 09, 2012 12:05 PM:

    That instabook will have to come out pretty darn quick, because if Moderate Mitt wins the election, Crazy Wingnut Mitt is going to be right there on January 20.

  • Josef K on October 09, 2012 12:13 PM:

    Say he does manage to bob and weave his way to November 6th and actually squeak out a win. Say the GOP even manages to get another paper-thin majority in both chambers of Congress. What then?

    Besides the Ryan Budget and going to war with Iran, Romney offers nothing else. 'Moderate Mitt' has promised too much already, and the electorate is a good bit more energized (in a decidedly negative polarity) than usual now. Grassroots conservatives - the true believer ones - aren't likely to like the mess Ryan's budget makes of their lives, and the GOP's restive nature isn't likely to be satisfied with a half-baked bombing campaign against Iran. Imagine what happens if the election is such a squeaker that another round of voting irregularities are found favoring him.

    Mitt's going to find himself going from bobbing and weaving attack ads to riding a rabid bull without either a saddle or a bridle. I continue to wonder if the man isn't trying to throw this election entirely, knowing all this is waiting for him.

    But then again, its equally possible the man is so out to lunch none of this has occurred to him. I'm half-tempted to pity him, if not for all the damage he's about to do to my country.

  • potomacupstream on October 09, 2012 12:21 PM:

    "...the Moderate Mitt Meme is mighty thin and based on an infrastructure of lies and evasions."

    Na, und? Lies and evasions work in our postmodern political world. Why would Team Mitt not continue to lie and evade? I mean, it's not like the Leader of the Free World called him out on it in front of 70 million people last week after all. All the "but wait a minute" Obama campaign responses that have followed get lost in the tangled thickets of information inundation. There was a moment, and that moment passed. Consequences will be what they will be.

  • Sam Knight on October 09, 2012 12:25 PM:

    What obvious PR BS. The heroic family downing those mean old "advisors". Yet another blatant attempt to buff the Mitt.

    And do anything to keep the focus on the big "win" that the PR biggies and GOP cash cows really want.

    Another illustration too of the media loving the GOP narrative and ignoring the biggie in front of them - was any of the Romney stuff true?

  • Ron Byers on October 09, 2012 12:25 PM:

    If we could just get the MSM to report that Mitt is a world class snake oil salesman willing to say anything to make a sale the nation wouldn't be at risk.

    I am not in love with Obama right now, but the idea of the Ryan budget and the Bush er Romney tax plan being enacted turns my stomach.

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  • Josef K on October 09, 2012 12:29 PM:

    And to everyone still p.o.'d about Denver, please give it a rest. There's still time for the President to bury Romney (whichever one appears on a given day) both in debate and on-air. As Kilgore noted earlier, the fundamentals still trend towards the President, and the 'moderate Mitt' persona is so thin and fragile it might not last another day.

  • schtick on October 09, 2012 12:45 PM:

    Well, Ann stills wants us to see the real Willard when he unzips and shows his true self. Pervs.

  • Diane Rodriguez on October 09, 2012 1:23 PM:

    Lady Small Balls WILL have her practice ring on the front lawn of the White House. There will be no children, especially children of color, around the horses either.

  • TCinLA on October 09, 2012 1:33 PM:

    the latest in a trail of mendacious self-reinventions that makes Richard Nixon look like a paragon of honesty and principle.

    Perfect, E#d.

    Romney is the logical end of what Nixon began. We even have one of Nixon's own imps of Satan - Karl Rove - orchestrating things.

  • Tired Liberal on October 09, 2012 2:04 PM:

    Ironic that the ostentatiously religious and moral Romneys have based their entire campaign strategy on lying.

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