By Ben Cohen: If you wondered how nasty Mitt Romney was going to get in this Presidential election, the news that he is going to a fundraiser at Dick Cheney’s house today should give you ample understanding of the type of campaign it will be going forward. From CBSNews:
In one of a series of high-profile Thursday political events, Mitt Romney will head to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where former Vice President Dick Cheney will open his home for a fundraiser for the candidate.
Cheney, an influential if controversial figure in the Republican party, has yet to appear with Romney in public. And while the two are not known to be close confidants, the joint event is a signal that Cheney and his allies in the GOP are willing to lend their influence in the interest of getting Romney elected – and that Romney is willing to accept the help.
In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who had a rocky relationship with Cheney, made an effort to keep his distance from him. But in doing so, he likely missed out on substantial fundraising opportunities. The Thursday event is expected to raise more than $2 million for Romney, according to the Washington Post.
It’s not as if Romney has been taking it easy on Obama thus far – his campaign strategy has been based on disagreeing with Obama on literally everything regardless of whether he supported it in the first place (Obamacare being the most glaring example of this). Romney has accepted support from the idiotic Donald Trump and has made overtures to the Tea Party, but saddling up to Dick Cheney takes it to a whole new level.
Cheney represents a far nastier approach to politics – he’s the overlord of the neocon movement and an advocate of hard power at all costs. To Cheney, there is never room to negotiate with the other side. He’s right and everyone else is wrong, and he has no qualms telling everyone exactly how he feels. Dick Cheney appeals to the base of the Republican party, the establishment right wingers who instinctively hate everything about liberals. Romney was once a moderate Republican, but once reaching the national level, he realized he had no hope of winning a Presidential election being nice to liberals.
Conventional wisdom dictates that candidates move to the center during Presidential campaigns. The Democrats do this instinctively, but Republicans in recent times have done the opposite. George Bush and John McCain ran way to the right of their opponents – a tactic that has had mixed results.
Romney’s dalliance with Cheney is also an indicator that his team have a limited amount of ideas for this campaign. The Republicans haven’t changed policy position on anything in decades – it’s tax cuts, spending cuts, deregulation and banning gay marriage, all of which appeal to Republicans, and Republicans only. Unless he tabs Marco Rubio for VP, Romney will probably give up completely on going for minority votes as Obama has beaten him to the punch on Latino voters, and his ratings with African Americans are beyond pathetic (his speech at the NAACP will show you why). That means he needs to get the base out in droves.
This is a typical Rovian strategy and it may be the only one that makes sense for Romney. Cheney provides money and contacts deep inside the base, but association with him does come at a cost. When you think Cheney, you think Bush, and the left has not forgotten the decade he presided over that saw two horrific wars, the dismantling of government, spiraling inequality and a massive economic crash.
Romney’s inability to connect with voters on a human level is a big problem and the only way to counter it is to get as nasty as possible. No one will buy into a positive image of Romney, mostly because he’s so unlikeable but also because he doesn’t have any positive ideas. He’s not bad at being nasty, but figures like Cheney do it better so Romney will be bringing them on board to make this campaign as vicious as possible.
It’s not exactly inspiring, but negative campaigns can work. At least that’s what team Romney is hoping.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.