Steve Kornacki has about as good a read of the Mitt Romney campaign as any I’ve read:
“We’ll look at that– we’ll look at that setting as we– as we reach that,” Romney assured him.
This really is the definition of talking without saying anything. And in a way, it’s totally consistent with Romney’s general election strategy, which relies on speaking in broad, platitudinous terms and avoiding policy specifics and culture war traps as much as possible. He wants to be the generic vehicle for swing voters who are motivated by their economic anxiety to seek an alternative to President Obama – nothing more, nothing less.
The strategy is a non-issue. I don’t mean that campaign strategy is not important — that would just be silly. Rather, Romney’s strategy is wholly reliant on non-issues. If any issue arises that requires a definitive statement of policy, Romney declines to say anything. Instead, he creates non-issues related to positions Obama has never really taken in order to foment anxiety among the small sliver of independent voters (mostly white working-class) who will decide the election. Another term for the strategic non-issue is simply “lying.”
Nevertheless, the strategy is not so terribly different from the one devised by the Obama campaign in 2008. In that election candidate Obama found greatest success in presenting himself as a cipher. That the George W. Bush presidency was disastrous was patently obvious, such that independent-voter anxiety was naturally inclined to support the opposition. In that context Obama proffered himself up as the figure of “Hope,” to be filled up with any version of “Hope” different blocs of voters were desirous of obtaining. The down-side, after the election, is that the cipher could also be filled with anger, hatred, obstinacy, and any other social pathology imaginable. Once he actually had to take concrete positions on policy, Obama became a Pandora’s Box in reverse, getting filled first with hope and then with all other forms of human evil.
Come to think of it, it is the same strategy of non-issue utilized by John Roberts to sail through Congressional confirmation on his way to the Supreme Court. What of stare decisis? This was an issue that Roberts stated was an issue raised in legal theory of which he agreed was a theory of the law. As to what stand he would take on cases before the court? One cannot speak of hypotheticals. The real non-issue is to serve as an umpire making up-or-down calls… on complex cases for which there is no up-or-down decision, because if there were an up-or-down decision to be made you wouldn’t have to take the damn case to the Supreme Court in the first place!
Come to think of it, strategic non-issues are an excellent way to advertise soft drinks. Or gasoline. Or health insurance. Or…
Come to think of it, presidential campaigns in the U.S. are perfectly suited for the election of presidents who are perfectly suited for advertisements that are perfectly suited to market the products of multinational corporations. Corporations who are perfectly suited to control the government run by politicians who are perfectly suited to wear perfect suits perfectly suited to present an image perfectly suited to the interests of global corporate capitalism, come to think of it.