Mitt Will Play the Hand He’s Been Dealt

In case any Republicans are talking themselves to sleep at night with the hope that no matter what happens in the next few weeks, Team Romney will sail to victory on a sea of Super-PAc New Yorker‘s John Cassidy offers a good reminder of past moneybags that eventually poured vast sums down the rathole of bitter defeat:

Rove and Stuart Stevens, the sometime novelist and bon vivant who is Romney’s campaign manager, may be hoping that they can spend their way to victory, burying President Obama under an avalanche of negative ads, but in their heart of hearts they know they can’t. In today’s politics, money is a necessary condition for success, but it’s by no means sufficient. From Steve Forbes in 1996 to Meg Whitman in 2010 and Rick Perry last year, the political landscape is littered with the detritus of well-funded campaigns that self-destructed because the candidate wasn’t up to it, the opposition was too strong, or the objective conditions were unfavorable.

That’s even more to the point given the political-science consensus that paid media probably have less impact on presidential general elections than most any other contests (thanks to the vast quantity of “earned media” on the table, and the universal name recognition already achieved by any major-party nominee).

After recommending some highly unlikely game-changing running-mates, Cassidy argues it all boils down to Mitt finding some way to “establish some sort of bond with the public.” Consider all the unusual aspects of Romney’s life and personality, and the rather alarming fact that he doesn’t want to talk about his own record of governing or his agenda for the future, and you have to say: Good luck with that! It’s all the more reason we can count on Romney and his moneyed backers to go negative with a true vengeance down the stretch.
They don’t have much of a positive story to tell, even with the best and most expensive ads. The fact that history shows that usually doesn’t work doesn’t much matter: you play the hand you are dealt.

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.