Monday, September 10, 2012

Elsewhere: Ryan, Bouncing

Over the weekend, my Salon column argued that Paul Ryan is really the flip side of Sarah Palin: he's the faux wonk for a party who is happy enough with a Palin, but would like to think of itself as not completely outclassed on substance.

Then today at PP, I talked about how the lessons of this year's conventions might play out. My serious point is that whatever are thought to be the lessons of the conventions will matter but that those lessons may have little or nothing to do with what actually caused Romney to get no bump and Obama to get one, but I framed it around a wish that everyone will conclude it was the Republicans' lazy mendacity that was the problem.

Speaking of which, have I mentioned my totally screwy and almost certainly wrong theory of why the GOP convention flopped? The GOP convention featured a whole string of successful businesspeople explaining how successful they were. Their main complaint about Obama wasn't that he ruined their businesses; it was that he didn't properly respect their success. Perhaps some people watched that and concluded that business in the US was actually doing really well?

(One exception that I remember: there was a guy from Nevada, if I recall correctly, whose government-had-nothing-to-do-with-my-success business was selling something -- road signs, I think? -- to government, and his complaint was that under Obama the government wasn't buying enough of whatever it was. Ah -- here's the story).

As I said, probably wrong, but I'm having fun semi-believing it.

12 comments:

  1. I like this, Jonathan. It's another wonderful example of the type of projection we so often see in the Republican party now. They've been horribly disrespectful of President Obama, and so, of course, see that he's disrespectful of them.

    Thank you for the day's political amusement.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think you are wrong. Understated factor: How much Ann Romney looks like a very very rich woman. As my GF said, you can see it in her skin tone.

    Michelle oBama also looks fab, but I'd guess that far more people are turned off by AR than a MO these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the spirit of fun, I have to ask, Charlie: who do you think has the closest shave, Elizabeth Warren's husband or Scott Brown?

      Delete
  3. I completely agree that I hope "lazy mendacity" wins the spin war. I also think "We built that" was so stupid that even GOP operatives might come to see this in retrospect. Leaving aside that it was all based on a truncated quote, who exactly was it appealing to? Small-business owners? But even some of them probably understand the importance of government to their businesses. (Presumably not everyone who makes road signs is as staggeringly clueless as the Nevada guy.) And what about everyone else? These guys are dealing with, among other things, an enormous gender gap. I'm imagining a single mom, one of the "disappointed with Obama" voters they were hoping to reach, watching the convention in between worrying about health coverage and worrying about affordable child care. She's asking, "We built what? What does that mean for my life?" It's probably too much to hope for, but the larger lesson that I hope would be drawn is that political campaigns fail if they're mainly about striking poses of cultural resentment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We built that is actually kind of awkward to say, I think. It's really awful.

      Delete
    2. I like to think that it represents coded racial messaging. We (privileged rich white people) built America and we will take it back, thank you very much. You can see this in the discrepancy between Clint Eastwood's remarks and Barack Obama's speech. Eastwood said "WE OWN THIS COUNTRY". Definitely not subtle. Barack Obama replied that it wasn't he who freed the sick from the wages of uninsurance--you did that, by forcing your will upon the American political system. Organic instead of feudal.

      Delete
    3. I like to think that it represents coded racial messaging. We (privileged rich white people) built America and we will take it back, thank you very much. You can see this in the discrepancy between Clint Eastwood's remarks and Barack Obama's speech. Eastwood said "WE OWN THIS COUNTRY". Definitely not subtle. Barack Obama replied that it wasn't he who freed the sick from the wages of uninsurance--you did that, by forcing your will upon the American political system. Organic instead of feudal.

      Delete
    4. It's our old friend epistemic closure at work, isn't it? The whole "You didn't build that" flap circulated heavily in the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh orbit, but anyone who wasn't paying attention to right-wing media in the weeks preceding the convention probably had no idea what "We built that" referred to.

      Delete
  4. Not only did Mr. Archuletta get government contracts, he received over $700,000 dollars in government loan guarantees as a minority businessperson- in other words, he's a beneficiary of a federal affirmative action program.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It would certainly be poetic justice if the public saw a display of Ayn Rand-style arrogance and self-absorption, and was turned off by it. Or at least definitely not turned on.

    But (alas!) the most likely reason for the RNC fizzle is that the GOP is already maxed out. Everyone open to voting for Romney was already rounded up.

    Romney's only hope is that Obama underperforms. This makes 'breaking up' ads salient, and vote suppression salient (though I suspect its effectiveness is over-hyped). But the RNC was not a useful vehicle for convincing potential Obama supporters to simply stay home. So it became a mere feel-good rally for already-zealous Republicans.

    Which, in fact, explains the 'we built that' theme. It had no strategic purpose, but was feel-good for the faithful.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like your theory. But isn't most of the explanation that Romney let Chicago define him as the out-of-touch rich guy all summer long, and thus almost no one who wasn't already in the bag for him watched that thing in Tampa? No bounce for a staged event no one cares to watch. Weren't the ratings terrible even by convention standards--worse for Romney than Obama.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think it is becoming more and more obvious that "we built it" actually means "we own it" -- and the investment of workers, communities and taxpayers means nothing to us.

    ReplyDelete

Who links to my website?