Romney’s Drone Attack

| January 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

While the Iowa Caucus has resulted in a bit of muddle in terms of the status of candidates at this point in the Republican nomination process, it has provided utter clarity in overall strategy by which Mitt Romney hopes to become president.  He will be matching Obama’s strategy for taking out Al Qaeda.  Here’s how.

It is a given among political consultants that negative ads work.  Voters complain about them and vow to ignore them, but there is absolutely no doubt but that voters are influenced by them…to a point.  There are two ways that negative ads can backfire.  They can simply be bad ads, dishonest, harsh or simply over the top.  In that case, the voters react against the perpetrator of the negative ad and the advantage goes to the target.  The other way they can backfire is, in a multi-candidate election, two candidates attacking each other effectively succeed in tearing each other down and the voters reject both.  Another candidate, seen as taking the high road, can sneak through.  A prerequisite of both of these scenarios is the fact that the voters know who is airing the negative ads so they can punish them.

Enter Citizens United.  We have a new world order in campaigns thanks to the Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited, anonymous funds to be spent by third parties in support of a candidate, as long as there is no overt coordination with the candidate.  It is through this mechanism, so-called Super PACs,  that Romney destroyed Newt Gingrich’s candidacy, using negative ads that did not reflect back on Romney.  Apparently, 40% of the political ads run in Iowa leading to the Caucus were Romney Super PAC negative ads against Gingrich.  Chris Matthews from MSNBC was horrified and, in his measured way, compared Iowa to Dresden.

How is this like the drones?  Drones are able to attack the enemy without putting the attacker at risk.  The military calls this “force projection.”  The most the target might do is shoot down the drone, but no soldiers are harmed.  Victims generally know where the drones come from, but they cannot do anything militarily to stop them, since those launching them do not expose themselves to counter attack.  As I understand it, the guys driving the drones in the Middle East are 9 to 5 workers in Middle America somewhere.

This is the way it is with Super PACs.  They are a force projection for campaigns.  They can go where candidate campaigns cannot without risk.  They have unlimited funds and can say whatever they want.  The victim of the ads has little recourse.  Voters’ opinions are influenced, but the candidate on whose behalf the ads are run is protected against a negative reaction from the voters because they have no way to make the connection.

Thus, we have Romney going around Iowa reciting the words to America the Beautiful, while his Super PAC is demolishing his most threatening opponent.  It’s perfect.  The formula is simple.  Candidate does positive ads and the Super PACs handles the rough stuff.  It’s like Michael Corleone in the Church baptizing his child while his lieutenants settle all outstanding Family accounts.

So, buckle up.  It’s going to be a wild ride.

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Category: Politics, republicans

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