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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Kilgore: Anything Goes with Romney’s Chief Strategist

TDS Managing Editor Ed Kilgore has a post up at Washington Monthly’s ‘Political Animal’ about Romney’s chief strategist Stuart Stevens, more specifically what was revealed in Noam Scheiber’s TNR profile of Stevens. Here’s Kilgore:

..Stevens comes across as the rare Republican operative that a progressive might like: literate, funny (or so Scheiber says), and not taking himself or even politics all that seriously. He dislikes life in Washington, as most sane non-natives do, and doesn’t much “get” the right-wing ideology of his party.
But on another level, his very insouciance seems sinister. He wrote a memoir of his experiences in Bush’s 2000 campaign that apparently treats the whole Florida saga like a series of fraternity pranks….

Kilgore references a much-ridiculed Romney ad which was ‘creatively’ edited to make it look like President Obama made a gaffe, when really the President was quoting a McCain adviser. Kilgore quotes Scheiber: “Stevens could hardly believe the blowback–it was an ad, after all, a mere act of propaganda. What was the big deal?,” and adds:

This amorality about politics helps explain why Stevens–who is described as remarkably in synch with the ostensibly very different Mitt Romney–treated the ideological concessions his candidate had to make to secure the GOP nomination as sort of the cost of doing business. Cynicism is hardly a rare trait among campaign consultants, but when yoked to a candidate like Romney who has never taken a single policy position he would not cheerfully abandon the moment it inconvenienced him, Stevens is hardly a reassuring figure to anyone at any spot on the ideological spectrum who takes governing and its consequences seriously….
…I feel about Stevens sort of like I feel about Mitt’s vice presidential choice: if America is about to lurch off into a fateful right-wing direction, I’d sort of like the people leading it to tell me what they want to do and why, and not hide behind inanities, or worse yet, treat the country’s future as a trifle or a plot line in their personal stories. And if Mitt Romney wants to be the hero of that story, I’m afraid Stuart Stevens will be perfectly happy to write it up and then write if off as another cool experience.

All in all, Stevens doesn’t sound like a political strategist who cares much about ethics — or about helping Romney find the ‘common touch’ he seems to lack.

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