Monday, August 27, 2012

Dark Clouds Over Tampa Not All Weather-Related

The Sunday New York Times, as close as we have to a national paper of record's leading edition, featured yesterday a troubling disclosure and analysis of the Romney-Ryan campaign's decision to stir the racial pot in search of a winning recipe.

Said The Times, in part:

TAMPA, Fla. — Mitt Romney is heading into his nominating convention with his advisers convinced he needs a more combative footing against President Obama in order to appeal to white, working-class voters and to persuade them that he is the best answer to their economic frustrations.
Having survived a summer of attacks but still trailing the president narrowly in most national polls, Mr. Romney’s campaign remains focused intently on the economy as the issue that can defeat Mr. Obama. But in a marked change, Mr. Romney has added a harder edge to a message that for most of this year was focused on his business and job-creation credentials, injecting volatile cultural themes into the race...

The strategic shift in the campaign message that has been unfolding in recent weeks reflects a conclusion among Mr. Romney’s advisers that disappointment with Mr. Obama’s economic stewardship is not sufficient to propel Mr. Romney to victory on its own.

This is dangerous righty talk radio territory - - playing to an angry base, appealing to fear and victimization - - reminiscent of other intentionally divisive presidential campaign race cards - - Ronald Reagan's "welfare queens" rhetoric, or Richard Nixon's southern strategy - -  with the way paved by the overtly segregationist George Wallace.
[Monday morning update: Chris Matthews nails Reince Priebus about this on live TV.]
Team Romney is willing to unearth the worst in the country's body politic and embrace our original and historical cultural sin.

And employed as the ugly, final, tactical phase of four years of far-right race-baiting to discredit the country's first African-American President by continually painting Barack Obama as an illegitimate outsider who somehow seized the country that needs to be taken back.

The Times story is especially noteworthy because it flatly calls false an allegation in a new, inflammatory Romney ad without citing an independent analyst or third-party vetting service - - essentially challenging the rest of the media to condemn the ad and the tactics behind it before the strategy gains a toe-hold:

Many of those voters are economically disaffected, and the Romney campaign has been trying to reach them with appeals built around an assertion that Mr. Obama is making it easier for welfare recipients to avoid work. The Romney campaign is airing an advertisement falsely charging that Mr. Obama has “quietly announced” plans to eliminate work and job training requirements for welfare beneficiaries, a message Mr. Romney’s aides said resonates with working-class voters who see government as doing nothing for them.

It will be interesting to see if the Journal Sentinel amplifies the Times' analysis, given that Paul Ryan, the GOP Vice-Presidential candidate is from Wisconsin.

And by being on the ticket grants his blessing to a strategy which could propel him to the Vice-Presidency and beyond.

Cross-posted at Purple Wisconsin.

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