Rand Paul’s stances in favor of civil liberties and against government intrusions into privacy make Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul the most interesting of the 2016 candidates. But he’s already pivoting away from those appealing positions in order to be perceived as more electable.
“Conventional wisdom” has kept other GOP candidates at bay and ensured Romney remains the likely Republican nominee.
“Why don’t they like me?” Time magazine asked on the cover of its December 1, 2011 issue, next to a face shot of a bushy-browed American politician Mitt Romney.
According to that nebulous vapour that accompanies conventional wisdom, the former governor of Massachusetts will inevitably emerge as the Republican Party’s nominee to challenge President Barack Obama in November.
The wise white men of the media also posit that the GOP isn’t happy about it. The pundits say that Republicans feel that it’s Romney’s turn in a party that traditionally hands its top spot to the guy (Dole, Reagan, Bush, etc.) who’s been patiently waiting. The pundits also say that Republicans also feel that Romney is too liberal, too squishy, and too Mormon for a party that has been hijacked by its right-wing Tea Party faction and right-wing Christian fundamentalists based in the South and Midwest.
As these conflicting narratives play themselves out in editorial pages and news analyses, the twisted relationship between media determinism and popular democracy is being exposed in sharper relief than in any recent election.
Reporters tell us – and no doubt believe – that they are dutifully relating the Republican Party’s discomfort with Romney’s inevitable turn.
There was no mention made of a similar inevitability when Hillary Clinton, heir apparent to the Democratic throne, was vying for the Democratic nomination four years ago.
Phil Singer, adviser to Hillary in ’08, was quoted in an October 13, 2011 ABC News piece (headline: “Is Romney Inevitable?”) saying that there’s a “Goldilocks balance” to the inevitability dance: “You want to be inevitable, but not too inevitable because it takes away a sense of urgency from your supporters”, Singer said. “If you create this perception of inevitability you run the risk of seeing a more lacklustre turnout than you would need for a favourable result.” But, on the other hand, he also said that “inevitability is an asset in terms of chilling your opponent from raising money and mounting a challenge”.
But what about the media’s role in a story they’re supposed to be covering, rather than shaping? Would Romney be the widely-accepted frontrunner without their description of him as such? Would Republicans be annoyed by Mitt’s reputation as a flip-flopper – a tag that could stick to just about any politician anywhere – if the punditocracy didn’t go on-and-on about it?