As this is the first post from “Pterrafractyl’s Nest”, let’s start off with a bit of levity in the form of free advice to a multimillionaire: Mittens Romney. The US national discourse took a sharp turn towards divisive racial and religious politics a couple of days ago. Well, more than usual. The kerfuffle started after a NY Times report on a leaked brochure outlining a proposal for a $10 million ad campaign by the “Ending Spending Action Fund”, one of the many new “independent” Super PACs to since the Roberts Court killed democracy vigorously supported political free speech. The brochure described a racially/religiously-charged campaign focusing primarily on Obama’s relationship to controversial pastor Reverend Wright.
The particular billionaire that’s interested in “ending spending”, Chicago-Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, is an interesting choice for an anti-Obama billionaire. Not just because he’s currently lobbying the city of Chicago for a $200 million tax-payer renovation of Wrigley Field – where the Cubs play and where Obama’s former cheif of staff happens to be the mayor – but also because Ricketts’s daughter, Laura, is one of Obama’s top campaign fund raisers.
The political operative making the pitch, Fred Davis, is perhaps the least surprising figure in this story: he was John McCain’s media strategist in 2008 and proposed a similar campaign focusing in Obama’s ties to Wright back then (which McCain rejected). Somewhat interestingly, Davis was also the campaign advisor for John Huntsman. And why is it somewhat interesting that a former campaign advisor for John Huntsman would be pushing to make religion a high-profile topic in the race between Romney and Obama? Because both Huntsman and Romney are Mormons and with recent polls showing that over 40% of Americans would be uncomfortable with a Mormon president religion may not be the best campaign focus for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Perhaps not surprisingly, both Romney and Ricketts disavowed Davis’s proposed plan after it came to light…sort of:
Romney Rejects Wright-Based Attack as He Decries Obama Tactics
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis – May 17, 2012 11:01 PM CT
A Republican strategist’s plan to air racially tinged ads against President Barack Obama drew rebukes from Mitt Romney and other Republicans while sparking a fresh debate over what — if anything — is off-limits in the presidential race.
Both Romney and a billionaire activist who was a prospective financier of ads trying to discredit Obama by highlighting his ties with a former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr., denounced the idea yesterday. Racially incendiary sermons by Wright became an issue that Obama had to grapple running for president in 2008.
“I want to make it very clear I repudiate that effort,” Romney told reporters, referring to the advertising plan. It was said to have been drafted by Republican strategist Fred Davis for a super-political action committee backed by billionaire Joe Ricketts, founder of what is now TD Ameritrade.
“I think it’s the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign,” said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. “I hope that our campaigns can respectively be about the future and about issues and about a vision for America.”
Romney, 65, also took the opportunity to accuse Obama, 50, and his campaign of the type of tactics the former Massachusetts governor is disavowing, asserting there is a negative slant to the president’s re-election bid.
“We can talk about a lot of things, but the centerpiece of his campaign is quite clearly character assassination, and the centerpiece of my campaign is going be my vision to get America working again,” Romney said at a brief question-and-answer session in Jacksonville, Florida, in respose to the Wright story.
Still, Romney stopped short of disavowing remarks he made earlier this year on Sean Hannity’s radio show, when he said of Obama: “I don’t know which is worse — him listening to Reverend Wright, or him saying we must be a less Christian nation.”
Asked yesterday whether he believed Obama was trying to make the nation “less Christian” or that Wright shaped the president’s views and policies, Romney said, “I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.”
Ok, well, kudos to Mittens for disavowing a self-destructive political campaign. But this clearly could have been handled better. After all, had this document not been leaked and the whole ad campaign came to fruition, that could have seriously backfired on the man trying to become the JFK of Mormonism. There are obvious dangers that Mittens will have to watch for over the next six months if he’s going to avoid more Mormon-itis and variously other gaffes on the campaign trail, so here’s where the free advice comes in:
1. First, keep trying to remind people of Reagan. Your anti-Mormon base can’t get enough of the guy and the more you can associated yourself with Reagan’s memory the better. With that in mind, don’t say things like “I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.” Yes, you want to seem Reaganesque, but not in that way.
2. You will be asked many questions designed to let voters get to know the “Real Mitt”. With so many Americans still uncomfortable with a Mormon president, you may not want to emphasize that aspect of your biography. And that includes avoiding indirect references to Mormonism. So, for instance, if you’re asked by an inquisitive reporter about, oh say, your favorite book, be sure to avoid any books that are authored by notorious cult leaders. And since you’re an obscenely wealthy fellow, you really want to avoid books written by cult leaders when the cult is focused on exploiting people to make money. You really want to avoid those cults. It also helps if the book isn’t notoriously awful.
3. If you happened to have already told reporters that your favorite book is one written by notorious cult leader AND that cult is focused on scamming people out of their money AND that book is notoriously awful, you may need to get a new favorite book. If this becomes necessary, just be sure that the new book isn’t written by a Mormon author. That’s just pushing it. And since you’re sort of an economic vampire with a bit of a “Mr. Burns” vibe you probably want to avoid any vampire novels. And, of course, your new replacement favorite book should also not be notoriously bad.
4. Ok, so if you happened to choose a new favorite book that’s about vampires and written by a Mormon author and notoriously bad you’re definitely in unsafe territory with respect to indirect Mormonism references. If it gets to this point, be sure to follow this last point tip: Stay off white horses. Non-white horses are ok, but don’t push it. Pushing the “Messiah Mitt” meme may sound nice at first but, like strapping the family dog to a car and driving to Canada, bad ideas often sound good at first. As a vampire oligarch trying to trick the nation into voting for its own self-destruction, that’s a concept you should be familiar with.