By most accounts, Mitt Romney is a political moderate. In some circles, President Barack Obama is considered further to the Right than Romney once one looks at the many Bush-era policies Obama has upheld. So why is Mitt having such a hard time pulling ahead of a President presiding over a failing economy? The answer to this mystery lies in the perception of the current Republican Party, it’s talking points, platform, and party base ideology that Mitt is being forced to represent. The current political climate has produced a range of sniping, allegation, and innuendo on both sides, but none so outrageous as those presently coming from Republican Party.
The Right has been relentless in portraying the President of the United States as a false pretender who isn’t really eligible for office as he is simultaneously a non-American, radical, black nationalist Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Communist, and Socialist. The drumbeat of said accusations have produced a steady stream of Right-Wing characters, activists, commentators, and actions. We have witnessed wonton disrespect of the President on Capitol Hill during a State of the Union Address where he was called a liar, we watched as the Governor of Arizona pointedly disrespected the President on the tarmac during a visit, and recently a Conservative Blogger during a Presidential Address, interrupted him while he was speaking.
This last action, where Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro interrupted President Barack Obama’s remarks on changes in immigration policy, created a media frenzy and varied response from Americans across the political spectrum. However, the perception of these actions have largely been viewed through partisan lenses.
Where Moderate and Liberal leaning Americans see disrespect, Conservative and Far-Right leaning Americans see these actions as telling it like it is. Take the following viewpoints from the editor of the Conservative Daily Caller and Sam Donaldson a widely respected former White House correspondent:
“He was doing what reporters are supposed to do — get their questions answered,” “Presidents come out and they expect the press to act as stenographers — dutifully take down their every word and they retreat back into the White House. It’s very frustrating that they sit there every day and act … as politicians’ stenographer.” – Tucker Carlson, editor of the Daily Caller
“let’s face it: Many on the political right believe this president ought not to be there – they oppose him not for his polices and political view but for who he is, an African American! These people and perhaps even certain news organizations (certainly the right wing talkers like Limbaugh) encourage disrespect for this president.” – Sam Donaldson, former White House correspondent during the Reagan years
These two divergent opinions represent why Mitt is having such a hard time. How can Mitt Romney represent a Party who doesn’t see such allegations, commentary, and actions as deplorable and at the same time present himself as a candidate that all American’s can get behind? This has been Governor Romney’s number one challenge since vying for his party’s nomination. The base of the GOP is so toxic to the majority of Americans that to run on any of their ideals, while it was necessary to win the nomination, has a lasting impact in the general election campaign season. Mitt, a pretty likable guy who’s had ideas that he’s since had to distance himself from, such as universal health care, is fighting a war on two fronts. He’s handicapped by his party base due to their rhetoric that most abhor and party politic that makes words like “moderate” or “compromise” evil, and yet he fights on with one-arm securely tied behind his back against an incumbent President who methodically rallies each segment of his party’s base one community at a time.
If Mitt could just be Mitt, he might stand a chance, but as long as he must carry the pail for the current Republican Party, he will continue an uphill battle and likely lose his final chance at the White House.