Sure enough, a tone-deaf GOP establishment (sorry to be banal and use that expression, but it’s accurate enough) deployed Mitt Romney to lob its big volley at Donald Trump after his strong performance on Super Tuesday. The speech was predictable: a grave-sounding indictment of Trump, delivered with Romney’s characteristically earnest but cheerful demeanor.
Whom did the GOP establishment think it was appealing to with the Romney speech? That’s a serious question. Who was the target audience?
If it was aimed at the people who support Trump today, Romney is not the guy to deliver the message. Those people think Romney and candidates like him have been the Republican Party’s chief problem for the last 30 years. They think Romney’s the reason we got four more years of Obama in 2012.
If the speech was aimed at convincing the undecided, it was the dumbest speech ever made for that purpose. It was all about attacking Trump – and on a pretty personal level. That’s not how you persuade the undecided.
Attacking personalities palls on everyone rather quickly. It’s a drive-by tactic. It looks really disproportionate to stage a big, solemn oratorical event just to dump on Trump.
That point leads to the larger one: why have this speech at all? What does the GOP brand buy itself by attacking Trump, in this stately, strained manner?
If the answer is “more cred with the mainstream punditry and the Washington-centric political class,” well, God help the GOP. It’s too stupid to live.
Moving on. Between 30% and 50% of GOP voters, depending on state, have gone for one of Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, but it’s hard to see how the Romney speech could have been aimed at them. Those voters have (a) decided, and (b) decided not to vote for Trump in the primaries. Is there something else they’re supposed to do after this speech?
Maybe the speech was intended as the opening salvo in an asymmetrical campaign by the GOP establishment to “broker” the convention in Cleveland. Like, a signal flare that they’re going to fight this Trump dude, or something along those lines. If so, it’s a poorly crafted demonstration. Not only doesn’t it scare anybody, it just makes the Trump divisions more determined.
Even more important, it exposes the GOP establishment further. It shows the establishment’s hand, and generates opposition to its anti-consensual intentions unnecessarily. It’s quite likely that every trial balloon about a brokered convention drives more voters to Trump, out of frustration with the GOP leadership’s highhandedness.
That’s the problem with the establishment’s approach: all it does by coming back again and again at Trump is make him stronger. It’s like the GOP’s top echelon is sending one contender after another at the mythical Antaeus, and every time they throw him to earth, he gains strength.
Of course, if the GOP establishment wants everybody talking about Trump, listening to Trump, listening to other people talk about Trump, focusing on Trump, and waiting to see what Trump will do or say next, then it is doing everything right.
Read the rest of the article by J.E. Dyer at LibertyUnyielding.
Photo credit DonkeyHotey