Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Sep/12

19

Rebuke of the robotic candidate

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I’ve been heard to say that perhaps we need a robot president, and Mitt Romney might be just the right robot. But I have to admit that robots just don’t make good candidates. The robot could still win because of a “Black Swan” or the grinding of the negative fundamentals, but he’s not helping himself. Disappointing. I guess I’ll have to look to the human race in the future when it comes to be appealing to an electorate of humans.

Addendum: I want to be clear on one issue: people are overreacting right now. Romney still has a realistic shot to win. But it is a longer shot than he had one week ago. The right direction/wrong direction measure is not looking good.

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3 comments

  • Rabbi Moshe Rudner · September 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Romney was always running as the undog but I can’t claim to understand why his intrade value is currently at 30 cents on the dollar. His supposed “gaffes” require some media interpretation to be understood as gaffes while the results of Obama’s Qaddafi-removal require no interprfetation for the masses at all.

    For people less familiar with my views I should mention that I’m not discussing my personal political preferences when I simply note my doubt that the chattering classes are correct about Romney’s odds of winning have diminished over the past week.

    As for his ahuman mode of running for the presidency, it certainly makes him less likeable to voters but it’s also been remarkably efficient, as evidenced by the fact that he’s the GOP’s candidate despite his never having had an enthusiastic fan base outside of Utah.

  • Acilius · September 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    When you say that Mr Romney’s chances of winning the election are less than they were a week ago, I assume you’re thinking of his remarks about the “47, 48, 49%” of voters who will never support him because their household incomes are too low. If that is an incorrect assumption, please let me know.

    I don’t know whether those remarks will hurt him in the end. What does seem clear is that they are part of a deliberate strategy on Mr Romney’s part. A few days before the release of this video, he had said that an annual household income of $100,000 was insufficient to qualify for the middle class, that it took at least $250,000 to be a middle-income family. And there have been so many other remarks of the same kind, from “Corporations are people, my friend” to his challenge to Rick Perry to a $10,000 wager, to “Some of my best friends are NASCAR team owners,” that it is clearly a strong pattern. Mr Romney is an extremely intelligent man, and is continually receiving high-quality market research about the voting public’s response to his statements. Therefore, it is unlikely that he would exhibit such a strong pattern unless he believed that it would help him achieve some goal.

    What is that goal? I’d say the answer is in the “47, 48, 49%” formulation. The last survey I saw that asked Americans to rank themselves by the level of household income showed that something like 17% of them thought that they were in the top 1%. That survey is pretty old now, but I suspect that far fewer than 49% of Americans think of themselves as part of the poorest 49%. Those who do know that they are in the bottom half of the income distribution are certainly no less likely to vote for Mr Romney now than they were before these remarks were released; if anything, those voters with sub-median incomes who would consider voting Republican are likely to cheer when they hear a politician casting aspersions on those of their neighbors and coworkers who express concern about the future of public assistance programs.

    In other words, I think that Mr Romney is trying to position his candidacy as a luxury brand. He knows that people like to feel rich, and that they sometimes choose luxury products or services because the act of buying them will give them that feeling. He is in fact betting his entire candidacy on this sort of luxury appeal.

    Will this wager pay off? It seems very unlikely now. Mr Romney started running for president shortly after he was elected governor of Massachusetts, in George W. Bush’s first term. At that time, he evidently hoped that, in 2008, he would be the Republican Party’s nominee for president, that because of the Bush-Cheney record the Republican Party would be very popular, and that the economy would be booming. Under those conditions, a strategy like Mr Romney’s might very well have won a presidential election.

    As it happened, Mr Romney was not nominated until 2012, the Bush-Cheney record made and continues to make the Republican Party unpopular, and the economy has not been truly strong for a good many years. So it would be surprise if his strategy were to succeed. What is not surprising is that he continues to pursue it. On the one hand, Mr Romney’s own personal history is such that he could prove his independence from the plutocracy only by advocating a genuinely populist economic policy. That, obviously, is something which he has absolutely no desire to do. On the other hand, the Republican Party in general has been moving towards a more frankly pro-rich posture in recent years. Look at all the talk from leading Republicans about “broadening the base” of the tax system, that is to say, raising taxes on the non-rich. If that is the direction they are going, the only asset the Republicans are going to have in future elections is their luxury appeal. So, slim as Mr Romney’s chances may be, his decision to base his campaign on the fact that he and his social circle are all very, very rich is in fact a rational one.

  • Steve Cardon · September 26, 2012 at 4:44 am

    I quite agree Acilius. It is embarassing that candidates must engage in such a petty, cynical, and childish process (election campaigns) in order to be appointed CEO of the most important corporation in the world… the United states. Romney is a business success machine. Thats what he does. Thats all he does. Well, maybe not all… but you get my point. What we need is a capable manager, not another slick politician. That said, I firmly think that he and his strategists are lulling the democrats into a trap. They are letting O’bama and his campaign comittee punch themselves out with the dishonest negative ads, and the disingenuous spinning of O’bama’s track record.

    It is absolutely my belief that Romney and his staff have a full strategy which they are about to unleash, and a smug O’bama will never know what hit him… Actually I think O’bama is probably at least smart enough to be thinking “it can’t be this easy”. I believe that would be a reasonable assessment.

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