It’s strange to read some of the commentary about the presidential election as it looks at the end of September. To read some of the analysts, especially on the anti-government side of the spectrum, you would think that Gov Romney’s only problem is in the tactics. If only he had performed better as a candidate to this point, or kept talking about unemployment rates, somehow his actions would have masked the core values and plans of the national Republican party. It’s as if fooling a lot of the people long enough and well enough to get them to vote against their interests is the real goal. I think what we are seeing is that the majority, not a huge majority, but enough in our winner-take-all system—the majority does not want what the national GOP is selling. They see the product. They see the belief system. They see the methods. And they are saying, No.
This could change in six weeks, of course, but I don’t think it is simply a matter of Gov Romney being off his game for the past five months that has brought us to this snapshot moment captured by the various opinion polls. The torturous GOP primary process exposed the real deal offered by the Right. It’s harsh, small, and anti-factual. Legions of Romney supporters believe the President is a Muslim and that U.S. soldiers found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It is difficult to have a productive conversation on those terms. I hesitate to use the word “conservative” because the positions bundled in Romney-Ryan are more extremely anti-government than those in the traditional sense of “conservative.” David Brooks of the NYTimes yesterday had a useful essay on this point. He is a lost soul among the national Republican party and Tea Party-ing advance column. The media will try desperately to re-balance the contest between the President and Gov Romney by the middle of October because they don’t want people switching to re-runs of “Friends.” Right now, though, it looks better for the President.