published Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Barrett: Romney essential to media's Obama re-election campaign

Mittens Alistair Devereaux Bouillabaisse von Romney IV got almost exactly the same support in Iowa's caucuses that he has had in nationwide polls: 25 percent.

Which is also how much support he got last time around in Iowa -- and we know how that turned out.

He should coast to victory Tuesday in relatively liberal New Hampshire. But things may get messy in South Carolina and Florida, where Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum could push him below the 20 percent mark. Or not.

I don't toss Ron Paul into that motley melange, because I'm as unsure about the Paul Effect as everybody else seems to be. I can't see him winning the nomination, and my guess is that his absence from the race would slightly benefit Romney. But I cannot overemphasize the word "guess."

Anyway, what keeps interrupting the supposedly inevitable Romney coronation is that many Republican voters can't shake the memory of John McCain. Like Romney, moderate "maverick" McCain benefited from primary season media coverage that bordered on sycophancy. Reporters were thrilled that he kept giving the back of his hand to conservatives -- or at least they were until he won the nomination. Then, with Republicans safely denied a conservative to take on Barack Obama, the all-out media offensive to barbecue McCain and ensure Obama's election began.

That history isn't lost on GOP primary voters, whose barely tepid support for Romney may be rooted in part in the suspicious kid-glove treatment he's getting. They've seen this trap before. Then again, they may just not like RomneyCare any more than they like ObamaCare.

As for the media's Obama re-election campaign, headquartered at NBC, all roads lead to Romney. In their worst-case scenario, elite journalists may fear Obama will be beaten by virtually any of the GOP candidates -- and would just as soon it be the one who imposed on Massachusetts the health care debacle on which ObamaCare was modeled.

More likely, they think a Northeastern, status-quo, caretaker Republican will depress the all-important conservative turnout in November, making Romney the best guarantor of a second Obama term. In recent decades, Republicans who won the White House were comparatively conservative -- Reagan and George W. Bush -- or at least campaigned as conservatives -- Bush I (and sometimes II). Losing Republicans included moderates Gerald Ford, Bush I (in his re-election campaign, after he violated his pledge not to raise taxes), Bob Dole and McCain.

It's anyone's guess what part of that track record would prompt Republicans to pick another candidate who can't distinguish between reaching out to Democrats and acting like one.

Yep, that'll do it

I couldn't stop laughing at this little gem from the brain trust at National Public Radio: "Gary, Ind., is among the most troubled cities in the Midwest, but some residents are starting to feel a bit more optimistic. That's because they've just elected a new mayor with an Ivy League pedigree and some big ideas."

That belatedly settles my wish for the new year: I'll stop hoping for that kidney, liver and lung transplant and ask only to be spared from Ivy Leaguers with big ideas -- and from government-funded radio shows that think installing Obama-style mayors across the nation is a good thing.

Bad bad, really really bad

Speaking of cranberry-stuffed lunacy on a cracker, was anybody else unfortunate enough to catch the most recent incarnation of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve"?

It was awful.

I did my best to set aside the idiotic image that most of the singers were trying to project (in the apparent hope that we wouldn't notice their voices). But even after I made ample allowance for bad hair and ludicrous getups -- Lady Gaga bore an apt resemblance to a hot-air balloon -- I couldn't escape the fact that the performers were aggressively bad.

I watched part of the show with a group of people ranging from college age to Medicare-eligible. I lack the space here to recount all the bile-dipped reviews, but it doesn't matter. The itemized criticisms were overshadowed by the generalized horror that gripped us as we kept waiting for somebody -- anybody -- to hand the vocalists a bucket in which to carry their spirit-wilting tunes.

So when does the backlash start? When will talent -- a la Ronnie Milsap or Patsy Cline or Nat King Cole -- rise and start beating the ever-living stuffing out of image?

It's overdue.

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You nailed it Barrett. Rombama's media machine spins every headline in his direction:

  • "Rombama Withstands Vicious Attacks by Opponents, Soars to 26% in Latest Poll"

or

  • "New Frontrunner (insert another candidate's name) Hiccuped in Last Debate, Leaving Rombama as the All-but-Certain Nominee"

Definitely a "McCain '08" phenomenon.

January 10, 2012 at 6:39 p.m.
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