Shake It Up and Restart It

So say you’re Mitt Romney, and you are trying very hard to convice stubborn conservatives to give up their resistance and entrust you with the GOP presidential nomination. They really, really don’t want to; they had hoped this year would become another 1964, and that they could gleefully dispense with pols like you and nominate someone who just comes right out and speaks the truth about lazy welfare bums and thieving immigrants and feminazis and baby-killers and so forth. But they’ll put away their hopes and dreams and loyally support you to kick the socialist Muslim out of the White House so long as you give them no reason to think that the moment you clinch the nomination you’ll take them for granted and “move to the center” and start billing and cooing about “bipartisanship” and “being a maverick” like that damned John McCain did in 2008 which is why he lost to Obama!

That’s where you are, and even as you are doing everything you can think of to coax “the base” out of its sullen corner, you switch on CNN and hear your communications director say this:

HOST: Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election.

FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of [it] over again.

So of course there’s an immediate media firestorm because it reinforces every single negative stereotype about you held by both Republicans and Democrats. How tempted are you to pick up the phone and track down Fehrnstrom and tell him you’ve decided to shake up the campaign and restart it without his services?

I for one am making a note to check and see when this whole cycle is over and the insider reminiscences come out, if this particular moment produced some TVs thrown across rooms. It should have.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.