Rick Perlstein reports on Mitt Romney's attempts to woo conservative support - not just by trying to make friends, but by making enemies. Exhibit A: Mitt's announcement speech at a museum honoring the notorious anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer Henry Ford. Perlstein notes that the controversy ended up helping Romney with many conservatives - thanks to the right's eagerness to lash back against media backlash:
Consider the sarcastic reflection of this denizen of the right-wing website Free Republic:And Perlstein goes on to make a very interesting comparison between this move and Reagan's decision to launch his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., where only sixteen years previously the Klan had murdered three young civil rights workers:Allright, an AP hit piece! The MSM has more acute RINOdar than we. Real RINO's don't get rinky-dink MSM hit pieces such as this. This proves that the MSM believes Romney is a conservative, and therefore must be roughed up.Translation: I used to suspect that Romney was only a "Republican in Name Only." But now I realize: He bugs the liberal media. By the tribal logic of right-wing identity politics, that is enough--Mitt Romney now can be called a conservative.
Then, the symbolism was absolutely deliberate: Reagan pledged fealty to "states' rights," a concerted attempt to nudge the tribal identities of Southerners into the Republican column once and for all. But it didn't mean Reagan, or anyone in his audience, was for bringing back Klan terrorism any more than Romney has Michigan anti-Semites dusting off their copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Reagan's benefit from speaking at Philadelphia, Mississippi derived primarily from all that outrage that he spoke at Philadelphia, Mississippi. He stood up to the Yankees. He proved to Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and the rest that he felt their pain: tribally, he was one of them--just as Romney has just demonstrated oneness with conservatives sick of being called "fascists" by liberals.Whether Romney's intending to do this or not, it's fascinating. It still might not be enough to save his campaign, but it's yet another reminder that nobody's trying harder to get right-wing support than Multiple Choice Mitt.