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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Kilgore: Mitt’s Message Floats Above the Cultural Fray

Ed Kilgore blogs at Political Animal on Mitt Romney’s messaging strategy, which allows him to parrot ad nauseum “the economy is tanking and it’s Obama’s fault” in response to just about any question that pops up, while the base and the GOP echo chamber handle the culture war dirty work. As Kilgore explains:

…Team Mitt wants to talk only about the economy, his party’s conservative activist “base” and its media affiliates keep wanting to talk about everything else. We saw this over and over again during the Republican primaries, and we saw it again yesterday when the Romney campaign had to quash the very idea of a Super-PAC ad campaign raising the culture-and-race-war spectre of Jeremiah Wright.
…Fortunately for Romney, a lot of non-economic itches can be scratched by incessantly claiming that Big Government caused the recession or is impeding the recovery. Maybe you support “entitlement reform” because you are furious at the looters who are living at the expense of the hard-earned tax dollars of the virtuously well-off. Mitt won’t often “go there,” but he’s for “entitlement reform” on ostensibly economic grounds, so you’re on his team. Maybe you hate “ObamaCare” because you think it’s encouraging the Second Holocaust of legalized abortion, or enabling young women to have sex, or robbing seniors of the Medicare benefits they earned to give health care coverage to shiftless minorities. Mitt won’t talk about that, but he’s promised to kill ObamaCare as fast as he can, so that’s enough. Maybe you are upset about environmentalism because you view it as a front for neo-pagan assaults on the God-given dominion over the earth you are supposed to enjoy. Mitt wouldn’t put it that way. But he will argue for scrapping environmental regulations tout court to free up the Great American Job-Creating Machine and bring down gas prices. And maybe you hate public education because you view “government schools” as satanic indoctrination centers for secularism, and colleges as places where elitist professors mock traditional values and let young women have sex. Mitt won’t come right out and talk about any of that, either, but he frowns on federal education programs because we just can’t afford them.

It’s sort of a ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine. As Kilgore concludes, “…in a certain sense, the entire Romney campaign is one big dog whistle aimed at appealing to persuadable voters on the single issue of the economy, while letting the restive “base” hear all sorts of other things involving cultural resentments and the desire to return to the good old days before the New Deal and the 60s began to ruin the Founders’ design and defy the Creator’s moral code.”
It’s probably a sound strategy, given all of the booby traps that come with engaging in cultural warfare. it also helps avoid Romney’s extraordinary proclivity for flip-floppage on controversial topics.

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