Krystal Ball advises that you check out this week’s piece from Buzz Feed Politics, “Making Mitt: The Myth Of George Romney.” Here’s an excerpt.
Everyone agrees: Mitt Romney is not like his father.
The late Michigan governor and 1968 presidential candidate George Romney is remembered as a principled man of spontaneity and candor. His example is regularly invoked by both admirers of his son’s disciplined campaign style and critics of Mitt’s back-and-forth pandering. George, it is said, told the truth about the Vietnam War before it was popular to do so, with an unfortunately worded comment about “brainwashing” by U.S. government officials that cost him the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. “Mitt learned at an impressionable age that in politics, authenticity kills,” historian Rick Perlstein wrote in Rolling Stone earlier this year. “Heeding the lesson of his father’s fall, he became a virtual parody of an inauthentic politician.”
This rejection of his father’s example, the thinking goes, is what has made Mitt a more successful presidential candidate — self-controlled but hard to pin down, flipping from moderate to conservative to moderate once again. It is observed that Mitt would never draw a line in the sand like his father did in 1964, when George dramatically “charged out of the 1964 Republican National Convention over the party’s foot-dragging on civil rights,” as the Boston Globe’s authoritative biography, “The Real Romney,” put it earlier this year. Outlets from the New York Times to the New Republic have recalled this story of the elder Romney’s stand against Goldwater’s hard-line conservatives. Frontline’s documentary “The Choice 2012” reported it as a formative event: “when Goldwater received the nomination, Mitt saw his father angrily storm out.” A Google search for the incident produces hundreds of pages of results. In August, Washington Postcolumnist E.J. Dionne cited the episode to write that Mitt “has seemed more a politician who would do whatever it took to close a deal than a leader driven by conviction and commitment. This is a problem George Romney never had.”
Only George Romney did not walk out of the 1964 Republican National Convention. He stayed until the very end, formally seconding Goldwater’s eventual nomination and later standing by while an actual walkout took place. He left the convention holding open the possibility of endorsing Goldwater and then, after a unity summit in Hershey, Pennsylvania, momentarily endorsed the Arizona senator. Then he changed his mind while his top aides polled “all-white and race-conscious” Michigan communities for a “secret” white backlash vote against LBJ’s civil rights advances — a backlash that might have made a Goldwater endorsement palatable at home. Finding the Republican label even more unpopular than civil rights in Michigan, Romney ultimately distanced himself from the entire party, including his own moderate Republican allies.
Exactly where the 1964 myth entered the public consciousness is difficult to pinpoint, but it has been promoted by Mitt, who made one of its earliest print mentions in an interview during his 1994 U.S. Senate campaign. (Romney’s longtime spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom did not respond to an inquiry about Mitt’s recollection of the incident.) “[My father] walked out of the Republican National Convention in 1964, when Barry Goldwater said, ‘Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,'” he told Bay Windows, a LGBT interest magazine in Boston.
The current issue of New York magazine features a terrific bio piece on contributing RP Krystal Ball’s unique trajectory from phony-scandal plagued congressional candidate to current media star. Here’s an excerpt:
Krystal Ball was talking to retirees in rural Virginia when her congressional campaign got weird.
She had just given her stump speech and completed a Q&A. “I looked at my phone, and I had a text message from my husband. And he said, ‘Everything’s fine. But after you’re done there, don’t talk to anyone, don’t check your e-mail, don’t call anyone, just call me immediately. And you may want to be alone. Like, not even with your staffers.’”
This did not sound to Ball like everything was fine. She wrapped up the event, went outside, and called her husband.
“He says, ‘Everything really is fine, but there’s some pictures that came out. Do you remember a party that you went to — ’ and he starts describing them.”
The photos showed Ball wearing a Santa hat with a black bustier at the age of 22.
In her hands were a festive Solo cup and a leash attached to a young man, who wore antlers on his head and a Rudolph-red dildo on his nose. In some of the especially hilarious photos, Ball and her companions fellated the dildo nose.
When her husband texted, the pictures were only on a local conservative blog, but it seemed unlikely they would stay there for long.
Ball’s campaign had always been a long shot: She was a 28-year-old Democrat running against a Republican incumbent in Virginia’s conservative-leaning first district. And if it hadn’t been for those “XXX-Mas” party photos, she might have remained a 2010 congressional also-ran, waiting in obscurity for the next election year. Instead, the photos made their way into the national media — and Ball responded forcefully, acknowledging the pictures anddenouncing sexual double standards. She ended up with regular guest spots on Fox News and MSNBC, and now, two years later, she’s one of four co-hosts on MSNBC’s new daytime show The Cycle.
Sex and scandals sell, particularly when the subjects are young and attractive — this is not news. But what makes Ball’s story interesting is that it demonstrates the power of transparency. She’s staked her career on the belief that personal disclosures aren’t incompatible with professional legitimacy.
“I find it so astonishing how poorly a lot of politicians handle negative whatever in the press,” she says. “You have to just get it all out there. You have to be totally, uncomfortably honest.”
RP Krystal Ball talks about the calls for Mitt Romney to release more tax returns saying the 2012 GOP presidential candidate “might be a genius at legal tax avoidance, leveraged buy-outs and financial engineering, but he isn’t the person to fix this rigged system – he’s part of the problem.”:
MSNBC’s newest show The Cycle is unlike any other political talk show on cable. That may sound like a PR cliché, but unlike your usual assortment of cable news veterans, old-school journalists, and suit-and-tie pundits, The Cycle resembles more a collection of Generation X-er political geeks talking about their passions. All four hosts represent a newer, younger generation of political pundits.
As the show’s executive producer Steve Friedman explains, that design was on purpose: “It’s basically a dinner party show, unlike any other ensemble on television.” A forty-year veteran of the business, Friedman has produced a slew of ensemble shows including ESPN2′sCold Pizza, The Early Show on CBS, and a little morning program called Today on NBC. “This is my computer,” he jokes, showing his college-ruled notebook and a pen. He may come from an older world of television, but he says that his goals with The Cycle don’t necessarily match that mentality.
The Cycle came about in the wake of Dylan Ratigan‘s abrupt departure from his MSNBC show. Friedman and executives decided to soft-launch an ensemble show with four distinct voices. “We wanted an ensemble show because we didn’t want the new person to be compared to Ratigan,” Friedman explains. “If we had just replaced him with a single host, reporters like you might’ve said ‘That’s who they replaced him with?’”
And so Friedman recruited a younger batch of frequent MSNBC guests to host the new show: controversial music journalist Touré, Salon‘s stat-obsessed political writer Steve Kornacki, former Democratic congressional candidate Krystal Ball, and outspoken conservative S.E. Cupp.
“It’s the personalities that set apart ensemble shows,” Friedman says, underscoring the network’s belief that these four are particularly unique host additions to a daytime landscape usually brimming with straight-reporting cable newsman types. Interestingly, their on-air dynamic is an accurate reflection of their off-air relationship.
Touré is the eldest of the group, probably the most talkative, and definitely no stranger to controversy. Within the show’s first week, he drew criticism for suggesting the death of U.S. soliderPat Tillman was an intentional silencing by the American government; another week, he drew the ire of small government advocates when he advocated for a variety of government mandates. “He just loves to argue,” Cupp says of her co-host, pointing out that even at group dinners a conversation can’t go on without Touré playing devil’s advocate.
Kornacki, by contrast, was enlisted by Friedman as the “anti-Touré” — not politically, but characteristically. Friedman sees his two male hosts as a perfect juxtaposition: Touré pushes buttons and invites controversy; Kornacki is measured and intellectual in demeanor. Off-air and on-air, the other three “Cyclists” openly tease Kornacki for his “nerdy” ability to rattle off obscure polling numbers at the drop of a hat. During one show, the cast created a compilation video of the most neurotic things Kornacki has said on the program, and all enjoyed a good laugh at the result.
Cupp was chosen because, as Friedman describes, “the show needed someone who is not a card-carrying liberal.” Among the network’s non-liberal personalities, Friedman says, Cupp is “the best one.” She jokes that she never dreamed of hosting a show on MSNBC beside all the network’s openly liberal personalities; but she has relished the opportunity: “This is a great opportunity for me to slay dragons in front of an unfriendly audience,” she says. Her conservative fans, however, have had mixed reviews for her new job: “I’ve gotten ‘you’re a traitor,’ to ‘you’re so courageous,’ to ‘I will never watch you on that network.’”
Much like the Touré-Kornacki pairing, Ball was selected as the “anti-Cupp,” in the political sense. Before her television career, she was a 29-year-old liberal congressional candidate in Virginia. Shortly thereafter, she made the rounds as a “Democratic strategist” on Fox News and MSNBC. She credits her on-air experiences with Touré during Ratigan’s “Mega Panel” as helping shape her comfortability with The Cycle‘s format. And even with the stresses of hosting a cable news program, Ball says “running for Congress was way harder,” especially in terms of having the time to spend with her young daughter.
Now that congressional candidate-turned political pundit Krystal Ball has a regular spot co-anchoring MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” we’ve been able to take a closer look at her. And while we may be overshooting here, we’re ready to say Ball looks very much like the beautiful Dutchess of Cambridge herself, Kate Middleton.
“Ha! Very flattering,” Middleton Ball told us. “I’ll take being compared to her any day!”
She told us we’re not the first to compare her to Middleton but that she is “more commonly” compared to a young Demi Moore. “Both are extremely flattering and a bit of a stretch,” she said.
If you’re wondering where she got the curious name, a 2011 WaPoprofile on Ball notes that her father, a physicist, wrote his doctoral dissertation on crystals.
OK, You decide. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.