Is Romney secretly brilliant?

If at all possible, dispence with your political prejudice and try to look at this impartially. Let’s make an assumption that politicians think Americans have a very short memory during elections. Also there a 3 months until the election and neither party has had their convention yet. Is Romney being a political genius by letting all of the “When did he really leave Bain?” and “What’s up with the tax returns?” go unanswered now so that strategically they are played out before election time rolls around?

Please no, “He’s an idiot because he’s Republican.” type arguments like <Certain Left-Wing Doper names redacted> always post, but rather:

  1. Do you think this is an intentional strategy in letting the issues die out without a response?

  2. If so, is it a smart strategy?

  1. It’s not a deliberately chosen strategy; it’s not having any alternatives.

  2. The strategy is to hunker down, stay disengaged (because engaging means losing for a guy who can’t even chat up the *Brits *without pissing them off), wait for an Obama disaster/implosion, and still appear acceptable afterward. “Smart” isn’t the word, but “forced” might be.

Generally speaking, the political staff of Presidents and Presidential candidates are smarter than the average TV pundit. They are aware that things blow over.

I’m agnostic about this sort of horserace stuff though. I do see some problems with keeping the tax return issue alive:

  1. It feeds into the narrative of Romney as an out of touch plutocrat / one percenter.

  2. It’s striking how a guy who has been angling for the Presidency for over a decade lacked the discipline to manage his affairs so that he could release the typical 5 years of returns.

  3. These stories knock Romney off his strongest narrative which is ITES.

  4. These stories put to pasture the idea that his business skills will transfer into the oval office. It’s one thing to build a business and create wealth. It’s quite another to cook books and dodge taxes.
    I have wondered whether there’s a fakeout here. Maybe Romney has 3 good years of returns and a landmine on the 4th or 5th. So releasing 2 gives him an option to release an extra benign year and keep the bombshells unseen. Then again, I understand that there was a 2009 tax amnesty for foreign accounts. So while 2010 and 2011 may be clean, 2009 could be problematic. Or not: it’s difficult to tell with borderline years.

What makes you think Romney is ***secretly ***brilliant? Seems obvious to me that anyone so socially awkward and financially successful as Romney probably has a lot of brilliance inside him.

No, George W. Bush disproved that theory.

I doubt it’s deliberate, other than in the “If we ignore it maybe it will just go away” sense, and I don’t think it’s smart; the “out of touch rich guy with stuff to hide about his taxes” theme is being established in people’s minds, and nothing he’s been doing is counteracting the bad vibes that evasion’s been producing. Romney’s favorability ratings are drifting downward just when he needs them to grow as voters learn more about him. Alas, the more they learn about him, the less they appear to like him.

Folks may indeed have short memories for the details of this stuff (though “Why won’t he release his taxes? What’s he hiding?” is too easily understood to just fade away), but Romney’s accumulating a penumbra of sketchiness (let alone Etch-A-Sketchiness) that’s not going to help him.

I don’t think he’s secretly brilliant at all. I think he’s just making some miscalculations. He thought all he had to do was jump up in front of a podium, say “I’m not Obama”, and be deafened by the applause. I think he’s getting a little frustrated that he’s not getting any traction and that all he touches turns to shit. It seems to me that he’s like a AAA batter who gets sent down to class A ball for an injury rehab assignment. He tears up the league, feasting on class A pitching. So he goes from class A ball to the majors and has to dig in against Justin Verlander. I think the primaries were his class A ball. His opponents were painfully inept, those who didn’t self-destruct were easily outspent into oblivion when crunch time came. So he easily crushed him and thought to himself, “I got this campaign thing down”. Now he’s not going against an inept opponent. Now he’s not trying to win over hayseeds and rednecks, he has to win over people who don’t already hate Obama. It’s tougher. Much tougher. He’s thinking the tax form release will blow over if he ignores it. So far, not so good. He’s thinking that everybody loves venture capitalists and agrees that if the little guy gets screwed over so the big guy profits, that’s just peachy. He hasn’t found his stride and perhaps never will. Now he’s going to pick Pawlenty for veep and think that will ignite excitement.

Would they really be any less played-out by then if he answered them now?

Yes because every reveal starts the cycle over again.
<tax returns released back to 2000> => what happened in 1999? did he cheat on the tax forms? etc.

He’s apparently releasing his 2011 tax returns in October, two weeks before the election. So if a “reveal” puts the story back in the public conciousness, he’s choosing a sub-optimal time for it. I don’t think the plan you propose for Romney would work, but in anycase its pretty clearly not what he’s doing.

I don’t think Romney is brilliant. I don’t think candidates are ever brilliant about campaigns. That’s why they hire experts. Candidates’ strength should be governing, which takes a different skill set than campaigning. That’s why actors, athletes, and politicians hire people to help them with things that aren’t among their talents.

Now is Romney’s campaign brilliant? So far I’d say they are doing what makes sense in the current climate. In hindsight, their performance will be judged on whether they win or not. History tends to judge losing campaigns harshly and treat winning campaigns as full of geniuses.

If he is secretly brilliant, he’s really good at keeping a secret.

Pretty much this. I mean you can almost see the waves of exasperation coming off him and his campaign. He is a top down “my way” kind of person who really does not like being questioned.

But, let’s not forget he was elected Governor of Massachusetts. He has political skills. Obama needs to run a tight ship and cannot afford to keep making some of the foot in mouth statements like the ones he has made lately.

I think Obama is dictating the game, deliberately going negative early because come October we will see Obama the sunny optimist and Obama the Statesman. If Romney falls into that trap and goes mostly negative in the run up to election day, he is doomed.

I see brilliance here, but it’s Obama…again. 2008 made it obvious that he is a far more talented campaigner and strategist than he is an administrator.

Obama can only go sunny if he has a record to run on. While I wouldn’t call the campaign he’s had so far dumb, his brain trust doesn’t have as good a product to sell as they did in 2008. He’s gone negative because he doesn’t have any other choice.

Personally, I wish that incumbents with such mixed or poor records would just not run. If you’re like Reagan or clinton and you can sell your record, that’s great, but if you’re like the Bushes, Carter, or Obama and all you can do is try to tear down your opponent, there are plenty of other people in your party that can carry the standard better. And how often do the second terms of Presidents with mediocre first terms end up going well?

What they are doing is precisely the Rove strategy of attacking your opponent’s strength. Romney’s big plus is as a successful businessman, especially now. The discussion has been transformed into Romney as a sneaky rich person and possible tax cheat - which is exactly how a lot of people see the rich (usually inaccurately.)
Being trapped like that is not smart on Romney’s part. And if there wasn’t a big turd hiding in those returns, it would be easy to fix.

It’s akin to John Kerry’s selectively released military records. Rove attacked his military service and since Kerry wouldn’t sign a Form 180, it made it look like he was hiding something embarrassing. Then he signed the form after the election and there was nothing embarrassing in there. Weird.

Hey, nice work! You took the fact that there was nothing there, and twisted it into a quasi-negative. That takes some talent!

It wasn’t just conservatives wondering why the heck he didn’t just sign the Form 180.

Wouldn’t have made any difference if it did, would it? The people who desperately wanted reassurance that it was their own guy who had served honorably, and Kerry who had not, had already shown themselves to be impervious to evidence. We saw that even here from, for instance, Sam Stone’s steadfast repetition of every single swiftboater fabrication. They are, btw, largely the same people who can never be convinced by a mere birth certificate, either.

Kerry’s mistake was to assume that the facts would prevail. That has to be Romney’s fear.