Going into Wednesday night's debate, Mitt Romney has a decent chance to alter the underlying dynamics of the campaign and achieve a somewhat more favorable position to close the gap with President Barack Obama in the remaining weeks of the race. And not just because Politico reports that Politico reports this is true, in a Politico exclusive. As Steve Kornacki writes, "They won't say it loudly, but Romney's team is hoping to replicate what John Kerry did at the end of September 2004, when he won rave reviews for his debate performance and almost overnight closed most of what had been a six-to-eight point gap against George W. Bush."
But apparently, this is all for naught, because according to Mark Halperin, Mitt Romney has already lost an utterly critical political constituency, and is probably doomed to wander the earth like a pauper, or whatever:
Mitt Romney decisively loses the Tom Friedman Primary. Boston will likely say "who cares?" and "big surprise (not)," rather than asking why it happened and what the political (and potential governing) implications are.
Yes, according to Halperin's list of "required reading," this Sept. 29 Tom Friedman op-ed tells the dire story for Romney and his electoral hopes. Now, when I read this a few days ago, it sure seemed to me that all Friedman was saying was that he found Obama's foreign policy approach to be one that's "thinking afresh about the world," while Romney's was acting "as if he learned his foreign policy at the International House of Pancakes." By which I thought he meant that Romney's foreign policy is affordable, delicious, and you shouldn't sleep on the butter pecan syrup, because it's a game-changer.
Now that I've read Mark Halperin's take, I obviously know differently. Rather than a column that makes some generic observations about two candidates' foreign policy platforms, I realize now that this was actually a "Tom Friedman Primary," in which Tom Friedman voted and the winner of that vote received Tom Friedman delegates who were subsequently sent to the Tom Friedman state convention. Now, things were pretty touch-and-go for a while, as Ron Paul's devotees briefly staged a delegate takeover using their knowledge of the Tom Friedman procedural rules, but in the end the Tom Friedman state party chair took control of the situation.
Barack Obama, by the way, lost the Tom Friedman Primary many months ago as a result of Friedman's inability to find critical information about Obama's preferred policy outcomes that was widely available on the internet. If Romney has lost the Tom Friedman Primary as well, this just means that Friedman will support the Platonic ideal of an Americans Elect candidate as everyone expects, delivering to that non-existent contender all of Cloudcuckooland's electoral votes.
Now, Halperin adds that "Boston" -- his catch-all term for "the Romney campaign" -- "will likely say 'who cares?' and 'big surprise (not),' rather than asking why it happened and what the political (and potential governing) implications are." Well, if "Boston" wants to know "why it happened," they can just read the op-ed. If they want to know "what the political ... implications are," they can consult a dictionary for the definitions of the words "nothing" and "nil." Because there is not some cohort of persuadable voters in America who were waiting for Tom Friedman to write a column insisting that Obama and Romney had some generic foreign policy differences to make up their minds about the election. So I'm not going to fault "Boston" for offering up a big ol' "Who cares?" shrug.
It should be pointed out, though, that Romney's inability to win Friedman's favor and prevent Halperin's ensuing concern is very similar to Romney's alienating the "47 percent" in his famous donor-party remarks, because Friedman and Halperin account for 47 percent of the bullshit that is written about politics in America.
(This is all good news for John McCain, etc.)
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