MAY 29, 2012 6:23AM

Romney Sets Sept. 3rd for Moderate Pivot

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I've finally been able to put away the neck brace; the pivot from "character assassination" to "I'm with Corey Booker" having snapped more than baseline credibility.

Call it withdrawal from fresh programming at The Daily Show, but my mind has been tossing and twirling with the incongruities in our civic affairs. First among them is: since how long has it been that civic affairs have driven anything in our politics?

Rimshots aside, post-Citizen's United we find ourselves asking that nascent musical question: how many billionaires does it take to bend government more towards laissez-faire capitalism? (What I would call screwing we the poodle.)

As befits the paradigm under which these heavily funded, right wing attack machines operate, the correct answer is completely up for grabs. It all depends.

I, the unshrinking liberal, might say "one" only to find out the correct answer is "many more than one," accompanied by some perverse, no doubt Luntzspeakian show of populism.

A wingnut right winger might answer "one" and find that his correct answer produces "come in, Mr. Adelson."


There is that oft-predicted and totally expected 'moderate pivot' for the "severe conservative." (Pitching to BRAVO as we speak.)

But the paradigm I speak of, as practiced by the best of the persuaders, doesn't have any regard for what one has just said. There's no logic of from this to that. Theirs is the tumbling drum of talking points and snippy witticisms.

The results are as random as with any door prize drawing, sharing but one thing in common. You lose.

A policy or position of their own or a characterization of the other side's, a backhanded, passive-aggressive compliment or an unwarranted attack, it makes no difference. For what the Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie cohort has droning like mantra behind that practiced look of total confidence and superior knowledge is "you can't win."

Reasoned discourse is the least important aspect, compared with providing the 'topper' in each and every exchange. The more tortured the trail, the more straw men can make an appearance. Not just providing fallacious premises for the opponent's words, but building up themselves as somehow drinking from the chalice of  'the way it's supposed to be.'

In other words, it's just like high school.

You can't win.


The news in the Booker mess was how quickly and in such lockstep the messaging went from the straw man assassinates my character to the straw man comes down hard on off-message surrogates.

I would like to hear anything about the mechanics of that.

Investigative journalism costs more; I get it. So to make your work look more like reporting, and let's face it everybody just skims these days, you cram as many "facts" into the piece, regardless.

Case in point: on MSNBC, sometime last week, Thomas Roberts, news anchor, asked a guest: "Ed Rendell, Harold Ford and Corey Booker. Why have they gone off-script? They've been cast in certain roles, certainly the surrogates have. Why are they finding themselves off-message so frequently?"

Is bullshit listing on the mercantile exchange now?

When viewers/readers accept reporting about talking points, let alone producing talking points as facts, we declare a preference for rumor and mob.


Without pretending at reporting, though the Thomas Roberts quote is carefully transcribed, I believe Romney's moderate pivot to be set for Sept. 3rd, which is the anniversary of when, in 1967, Sweden switched from driving on the left to driving on the right.

More to the point, it's right after the base yahoos will have gone back home, placated with souvenir, auto-signed, three-cornered hats, and just before the Democrats arrive at their hotels. Sneak it in there like a Friday news dump and preempt prepared, angry speeches with softened positions in focus group tested language and with a more coached presentation.

One reason why this might not happen at all would be if Mitt Romney had been sacrificed on the altar of down-ticket extremism.

We should know by Sept. 3rd.


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Damn! Well-thought and well-wrought. Yes, the nattering nabobs of news really are over-priced high school hookers. Or more accurately a gaggle of cackling hens "Cluck, cluck, cluck" at whatever momentarily appears in their vision. There isn't a Murrow or a Cronkite among them -- let alone an Eric Sevareid. Maddow's the best we got, and tho good and earnest as she may be, that is sad to say, a measure of how far we've fallen.

As for Benedict Booker, he's easily (tho regrettably) explained -- he was the organ-grinder's monkey dancing to the Wall Street Waltz. To his everlasting shame, his "enlightened" self-interest fueled the fire-breathing Right's character assassination of Obama the Socialist. Booker knows better, just as Karl Rove knows better. Hell, even Rush knows better.

Nothing will change in DC -- or in America in general -- until those who know better do better. Don't hold your breath. In the meantime (which will be a very long time if ever), the sheeple will blindly follow their "shepherds" where they're led -- right over the cliff.
Great points, Tom. I tend to agree with Frank Rich that Booker was reaching for that can't we all get along thing and the rising above it all thing, without realizing the political hay that would be made.

I won't be holding my breath, true, but it's incumbent on what remains of a free press to dig deeper and forget about lavender ties or scarves, great hair, feathers in the cap and access. Don't you love how Rachel always lets her guests correct her if she's gotten any of the details wrong.

Thanks for the kind words and for looking in.
Forgive any perceived rudenesses, but I've closed comments to make this an un-swayable time capsule of punditry. Check you in the fall, y'all.
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