The RPs Debate the GOP Mudfest: Jeff Smith Rebuts

Jeff Smith: Rebuttal #2

[Krystal Ball’s Provocation; Artur Davis’ Rebuttal #1]

I think Krystal pegs the psychology of Newt perfectly when she suggests that no one in the country will be happier with a Romney loss in November, with the possible exceptions of Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Bob McDonnell. As the old Janis Joplin song goes, Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose. And Mitt won’t be quite so enamored of the concept of “freedom” when he sees how Newt uses his in the the next few weeks. Rather, he’ll be urging his Jewish bundlers to call Adelson and beg him to stop (assuming he hasn’t already done so.)

I also agree with her smart observation that Newt has leveled much harsher critiques of Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital than Democrats would be able to pull off. Even more importantly than the attack is that Romney’s takeaway from the attacks will be, I think, that his response was effective. But I don’t think it will work in a general to proclaim, “I don’t apologize for my success” without expressing some empathy for all the people who lost jobs when companies went under after Bain sucked them dry.
Regarding Artur’s analysis, I’m not sure how Democratic losses in all of the states cited signify a victory of ideology over personality. Knowing both of the candidates in Missouri last cycle, for instance, I would say just the opposite: Republican Blunt was an affable, indefatigable campaigner who disarmed urban Democrats during intimate meetings while retaining his rural conservative base. Conversely, Democrat Robin Carnahan was widely seen even by  Democrats as inaccessible and icy, and even after ostentatiously moving towards the middle proved utterly incapable of connecting with center-right voters. I don’t think ’10  was an ideological election any more than ’06 or ’08 were ideological elections favoring progressives; it was merely one more lurch back by an unsettled, anxious electorate pounded by job losses and economic insecurity.
But I do agree with Artur’s big-picture assessment: this is a toss-up race. Sure, it’d be great for Dems if Newt stayed in till the convention, but Dems can’t win by counting on Newt savaging Romney through the summer; Sheldon Adelson didn’t become a billionaire by continue to pour money into dogs. Getting to 270 won’t be easy for the president, especially if the CBO is correct in its prediction that unemployment will drift back up towards 9% by Election Day. But at least the he’ll be blessed with an opponent who is destined to struggle connecting with the Appalachian white working class (that decides swing states like PA, OH, VA) at least as much as Obama himself struggled to connect in ’08.


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