Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who Is the Establishment?

I’ve been puzzled by the constant insistence that an expensive barrage of Romney attack ads are decimating his opponents. They complain it’s unfair and harms the process. I’ve had to look for those attack ads; they’re nonexistent here in Texas so far. (For various reasons, the Texas primary is still up in the air. We only know it won’t be on the originally scheduled April 3rd, and may be all the way into June. So no need to campaign here right now.)

What we do get is a constant barrage of anti-Romney ads. This past couple of weeks, during every commercial break on just about every talk radio station, enough times to practically memorize it, we have heard this ad from Time to Choose, a pro-Gingrich PAC [proviso: I did not do an exact transcript, so this is what I remember, based on the wording at the Time toChoose website]:
The Republican Party is at a Crossroads. There’s a battle going on between the establishment minority, and the conservative majority. Between the GOP establishment that wants to protect its own power at all costs, and the conservative majority that wants power returned to the people.
The establishment minority wants us to hold our noses and vote for the Massachusetts moderate. They tell us he is the best man to beat President Obama. They tell us he is the best we can do.
We’ve been down this road before. They gave us Gerald Ford. We got [crashing noise]. They gave us Bob Dole. We got [crashing noise].  They gave us John McCain. We got Barak Obama.
Now they’re trying to give us a Massachusetts moderate. Don’t let them. Not this time….
So the question at hand is, who is the GOP establishment? And how do they control so many voters in so many states?
It seems to me that if someone served in Congress for two decades, including a stint as Speaker of the House, and then stayed in the DC area to push for various causes, one might consider that person part of “the establishment.” Quite often, Gingrich teardowns of opponents are only true if you substitute his name in, in place of the opponent.
I googled the anti-Gingrich ads, since we haven’t seen them here. There’s a collection here. Only those listing Romney as approving the message are from the Romney campaign. Any others are by a Romney PAC, which can by law have no contact with the campaign. There may be some technical details that aren’t true, but I can’t find any. In fact they seem scrupulously true, and where it is opinion, those opinions are expressed with clear rationale. Hardly something to follow up with untrue attack ads, as Gingrich has done.
What about anti-Santorum ads? There are some of these credited to Romney that are actually done by Ron Paul people. But Restore the Future, a pro-Romney PAC, did this one:

Again, it’s scrupulously true. It may be that each and every point can be answered with reason by Santorum, but except for some painful minutes during the last debate (answering mainly Ron Paul), Santorum hasn’t spent the time explaining.

Is this so unfair that Santorum’s response should be to do robocalls recruiting Michigan Democrats to mess up the GOP primary vote? I think not. And apparently even that underhanded tactic didn’t work.

That question, then, comes up again: Who is this GOP establishment? The RNC has been all about fundraising, but every time they call, it’s absolutely all about defeating Barak Obama, not about pushing a candidate. And if they were pushing a candidate, what is the likelihood that they would choose a governor from a very blue state who never cozied up to them in DC? For that matter, how would a Massachusetts former governor become part of the establishment, or even acceptable to such an entity?
Becoming acceptable consisted of spending millions of his own money on a first campaign, going up against a much-disliked but chosen “establishment” candidate, and then stepped out of that race gracefully, and instead of going back home to enjoy his wealth with his family, he continued to campaign—for others. Rick Perry was a beneficiary of that. So were countless other candidates for governor, senate, congress, and also for John McCain for president. Because, as Romney articulated then and now, the important thing is to keep the liberals like Obama from taking away our freedoms and making America worse.
He worked tirelessly and selflessly, not even certain it would ever be worth running for president again. But his selflessness did indeed ingratiate him to many who got elected. So, among current Congress and Senate, yes, there are far more endorsements for Romney than for Gingrich and Santorum, who were their colleagues in those august bodies. Because he’s been an inside-the-beltway pal for so long? No. Because he worked so hard to put forward conservative ideas and promote conservative candidates wherever he could.
What I see happening is that the negative press (72% negative on main stream media, nearly 60% negative on Fox, plus some vitriol from Mark Levin and a fair amount of negative from Rush Limbaugh) tends to convince people that Romney is not a reliable conservative. Then, when it’s nearer time for a state to vote, they start seeing Romney in person, and hearing more of his own words. And, despite what pundits say, he is believable and engaging, and able to connect with people. Plus there’s the fact that everything he says, and everything he reveals about his record, shows a consistent conservative.
So it isn’t some far-off “establishment” that is making Romney’s nomination look likely; it is many people, across many demographics, looking for the best alternative to Obama. We may have found him and just don’t all know it yet.

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