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March 21, 2012

A Method To His Mildness? Romney's "Nice Guy" Ploy Might Be A Sound Attack

Geraghty notes what I've said a lot: People don't like changing their mind or admitting they were wrong.

Those looking for Obama voters to prostrate themselves and beg forgiveness are not going to get that. Maybe they deserve scorn, but they're not going to scourge themselves.

It is probably helpful (I honestly have said this twenty times) to offer them some kind of face-saving, ego-sparing way out. A way they can now vote against Obama, but without having to confess they're idiots and simpletons. (Which they won't do anyway.)

Is "naivete" the way out for them?

Monday I spoke to a smart political mind who had been watching focus groups of wavering Obama voters in swing states, and he said that one word that those voters kept coming back to, again and again, was “naďve.” (The term was to describe the president, not themselves.) Those who voted for Obama won’t call him stupid, and certainly don’t accept that he’s evil. But they have seen grandiose promises on the stimulus fail to materialize, Obamacare touted as the answer to all their health care needs and turn out to be nothing of the sort, pledges of amazing imminent advances in alternative energy, and so on. He seemed to think that reaching out to the Iranians would lead to a change in the regime’s behavior and attitudes. He was surprised to learn that shovel-ready projects were not, in fact, shovel-ready. He was surprised to learn that large-scale investment in infrastructure and clean-energy projects wouldn’t great enormous numbers of new jobs. He’s surprised that his past housing policies haven’t helped struggling homeowners like he promised. He’s surprised that his signature health-care policy has become as controversial as it has. The “recession turned out to be a lot deeper than any of us realized.” When a woman says her semiconductor engineer husband can’t find a job, Obama says he’s surprised to hear it, because “he often hears business leaders in that field talk of a scarcity of skilled workers.”

The poor guy. He’s always getting blindsided.

Geraghty notes that 69 million voted for Obama in 2008, and around 59 million for McCain. Using that as a baseline, we need something close to half of that ten million excess to switch.


Taranto wonders if Romney's "nice guy" strategy isn't aimed at that 10 million of possible switchers.

Monday night Romney was crisscrossing Ohio, when he spoke about the President and opened up a can of . . . friendliness: "This is a failed presidency," Romney was quoted as saying. "He's a nice guy, but he's in over his head." Though we'll never know if Romney actually believes any part of that unsult, we do know that "Nice guy" has become the candidate's favorite setup when taking a dig at his rivals.

"He's a nice guy, but . . ." is exquisitely condescending. It's probably not true: Obama strikes us as a petulant narcissist. But calling someone a "nice guy" is rarely a genuine compliment, and it never is when conjoined by "but." As any man who has ever been rejected by a woman knows, describing someone as "a nice guy, but . . ." is another way of saying he's ineffectual. That is exactly the point Romney is making about Obama.

I'd like it a little sharper than that, but I see the strategy, at least.

You know, there is another out, for the Obama-voters:

It's not that you were foolish. It's that he and the media lied to you.


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posted by Ace at 05:05 PM

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