Political Leadership, Romney, and Palin

[Image: Joe Hamm, as Don Draper of Mad Men, from Wikipedia.]

In Loyalty to the Truth, on National Review Online,  Gabriel Schoenfeld sets out the theme of his new book A Bad Day on the Romney Campaign: An Insider’s Account:

Romney’s top strategists saw the campaign not as a battle for the hearts and minds of Americans, but as a massive marketing and advertising challenge. On November 6, 2012, consumers would be asked to choose between two products. The key task was creating a start-up company called Romney for President, Inc., that [would use] every available marketing technique . . . .  The ad men running the campaign thus believed that politics consisted not of leadership by a candidate speaking difficult truths to the American people, but of carefully matching Mitt Romney’s positions to the preferences of voters as they were revealed in polls.

Scripting Romney from morning to night with words favored by focus groups, the strategists running the campaign transformed a man noted for geniality and earnestness into a “severe conservative” who radiated insincerity. Along the way, they created a candidate who, despite his firm convictions on many matters, appeared to the public to have no convictions. Unfortunately, all too often, Mitt Romney willingly helped them along.

This description highlights why so many of us are enthusiastic about Sarah Palin — she is the opposite of all this. She has values, beliefs, and positions based on thought and experience, and she will try hard to explain why she thinks them correct. If some focus group disagrees, she will try harder to explain. But the core remains constant. None of the old comedy routine: “These are my principles, and if you don’t like them I have others.”

Schoenfeld’s article concludes:

After the hand-wringing of Republicans across the spectrum, the Republican National Committee’s own flawed attempts at explaining the failure, media reports on the imminent death of the GOP, and attempts to redefine conservatism out of existence, I realized that the party cannot move in the right direction unless it understands what went wrong.

If, in the process of explaining what went wrong, I am labeled “disloyal” by the guild of political hacks who want to keep working in future campaigns without any accountability for their failures, so be it. . . . staying silent is itself a moral failure.

The book is available for $2.99 on Amazon Kindle. As one might expect, the reviews polarize between 5 and 1 stars. I am skeptical of the pans; I have seen too much confirmation of Schoenfeld’s thesis from other sources. Also – it is characteristic of the admen approach to politics to detest any politician of principle, which may explain why the establishment regards Palin as an enemy.



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Author: "Ending 'Big SIS' (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic" (2012) [www.SpecialInterestState.org] and "Property Matters--How Property Rights Are Under Assault and Why You Should Care" (1997). Some former jobs: Assistant Director of Consumer Protection in FTC; member of the Program Analysis Staff of the US Bureau of the Budget; Research Director of the Administrative Conference of the United States; Director of IPCentral at the Progress & Freedom Foundation; VP & GC of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest. Graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, former Book Review Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

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