Sometimes when righties have a new obsession I fail to make connections to where the obsession came from. Yesterday I saw that a number of righties were calling Mittens the “new James Knox Polk.” To which I thought, They want to invade Mexico? WTF? Not that I’d put it past them.
It turns out that operatives like Karl Rove are circulating the idea that Mittens expects to be a one-term president who will enact a bunch of significant stuff and then retire, as Polk did. And Romney’s staff seems to be the source of this notion. Some of them are telling reporters that Romney plans to “fix things” even if it means enacting unpopular policies and taking the political hit.
Multiple senior Romney advisers assured me that they had had conversations with the candidate in which he conveyed a depth of conviction about the need to try to enact something like Ryan’s controversial budget and entitlement reforms. Romney, they said, was willing to count the cost politically in order to achieve it.
The idea that Whiplash Willard would fall on his sword for anything — well, unless there’s a tax write-off involved — strikes me as preposterous, but let’s go with this for a moment. Jonathan Chait writes that Republicans see Romney as the last hope for imposing their vision of America on the rest of us before they are swamped by changing demographics —
A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry over Mitt Romney’s birth certificate crack and a potential convention-altering hurricane. The subject was a Ron Brownstein story outlining the demographic hit rates each party requires to win in November. To squeak out a majority, Mitt Romney probably needs to win at least 61 percent of the white vote — a figure exceeding what George H.W. Bush commanded over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.
I wrote a long story last February arguing that the Republican Party had grown intensely conscious of both the inescapable gravity of the long-term relative decline of the white population, and the short-term window of opportunity opened for the party by the economic crisis. I think we’re continuing to see the GOP operate under an integrated political and policy strategy constructed on this premise. This is their last, best chance to win an election in the party’s current demographic and ideological form. Future generations of GOP politicians will have to appeal to nonwhite voters who hold far more liberal views about the role of government than does the party’s current base. …
… Blowing up the welfare state and affecting the largest upward redistribution of wealth in American history is a politically tricky project (hence Romney’s belief that he may need to forego a second term). Hence the Romney campaign’s clear plan to suture off its slowly declining but still potent base.
Mittens literally is selling himself to the Republican Party as the Last White Hope.
See also Thomas Schaller, “Republican National Convention: Heart of Whiteness.”