Friday, February 3, 2012

What’s Getting Sold Here?

Guest post by Carl Dorsch.
Note: each contributor at 3BP has their own favorite in the GOP race. One opinion for or against a certain candidate is not necessarily shared by other contributors.

I keep thinking about Mitt Romney, reflecting on his positive qualities, but wondering about him as
a candidate.

Regardless of who you might prefer, you have to concede, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the eventual Republican nominee was a charming, tall, smooth, confidant, good-lucking, family man. But of course, those same qualities apply to Barack Obama – and most of us here would prefer a repulsive, short, fat, stammering, pug-ugly skirt-chaser - if we were sure he’d beat Obama and do the right things in office.

So we don’t hold Romney’s obvious graces against him. The problem is, what more is he? We know he’s smart and can make a buck. But that doesn’t help us much. We also know he says he’s a different guy than the one who ran as a liberal in Massachusetts for the U.S Senate and for Governor. But that’s tough to swallow, since it wasn’t all that long ago. Most of us sorted out the controversial social positions back in our twenties, if not earlier. What are we to make of a politically ambitious guy who claims he didn’t do that until his fifties – well after he’s run for major office twice?

But here’s what’s really bugging me. Romney is again the favorite to win the Republican nomination because he won the Florida primary, in what was essentially a two man race with Newt Gingrich. But according to Ralph Reed on the Corner, Romney beat Gingrich 46% to 32% after having outspend him $17 million to $4 million on television ads – with, according to ABC News, only one of Romney’s television ads being positive (and in Spanish). Moreover, Red State’s Erick Erickson points to a report that Romney aired 65 times as many total ads, radio and television, as Gingrich. Meanwhile, less than 0.1% percent of all the Florida ads were positive Romney ones (again, according to ABC News).

Since practically none of these ads had anything to do with promoting Romney, it means the Florida voters didn’t go on record as saying much more than that the advertised failings of Newt Gingrich were rather troubling – by a 14% margin. Now, that isn’t an insignificant pronouncement. But what does it tell us about Romney? Do the Florida voters know anything more about Romney than they did a month ago? Shouldn’t we wonder why he spent so little of his money promoting his positive message? Which was… what again?

It just seems we’re being asked to embrace the enigma of Romney in the hope that he’s a better guy than someone he’s been attacking. And isn’t that the same rationale people were given to vote for Obama in 2008?

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