The first thing to understand about political journalism is that the headline is more important than the story. Some significant percentage of readers won't actually read the entire article, but the headline will register in their minds. For tabloid outlets like Politico, the headline is the entire point of even writing the article. No doubt, since the beginning of the election season, Mike Allen and Jim Van Dehei have day-dreamed about writing the "Romney is flailing" article. Feigned concern over "problems" in a GOP campaign are a staple among left-wing journalists. Today, they finally cobbled together enough bits to produce a 5-page exposition of the "troubled" Romney campaign. It's a yawner.
Here are the main things we learn in Politico's post: There was disagreement about Romney's convention speech; the main advisor, Stuart Stevens is "eclectic"; Romney is loyal to his staff; and, GOPers not on the campaign payroll disagree with some aspects of the campaign.
No, seriously, that's it. That is the sum total of their indictment against a campaign that is essentially tied with the incumbent President. In every poll, Romney leads among independents, yet Allen and VanDehei want you to believe that the Romney campaign has "stumbled."
The entire frame of the Politico article is Romney's convention speech. Some guy was asked to write it, but they didn't use any of his work and then asked other people to write the speech eight days before Romney gave it. If you just landed on Earth and read this, you would assume Romney's speech was a disaster. It wasn't. Will it be remembered across the ages for political rhetoric? No. But, it did largely what it needed to do. Romney received a modest bounce coming out of the convention that was only blunted by the almost immediate start of the Democrat convention.
Here's a shorter version of Politico: Man, there was a lot of drama about something that turned out to not be a problem.
You know who did have a poorly received convention speech? President Obama. It was panned by even left-wing journalists. Giving speeches is the one thing Obama can actually do, so his failure here would seem note-worthy. How that speech came about would actually be an interesting story. I've heard rumors there were actually two drafts, depending on the sneak peek Obama got of the jobs report. Supposedly, he had to go with the more dour speech, because of the dismal jobs numbers, which he hadn't really practiced. That might be an actual story, if you aren't a Democrat stenographer at Politico.
Since the end of the Democrat convention, the media have engaged in a full-court press to declare Obama the winner of the election. They have employed heavily-skewed polls to show Obama ahead and have strained to brush aside unpleasant news.
In just the past two weeks, we've had a terrible jobs report and utter chaos in the Middle East. We've had an Ambassador and three other diplomatic officials murdered and almost a dozen riots at Embassies throughout the world. Our debt has again been down-graded. And yet, Politico is obsessed that Romney's campaign has "stumbled"?
We are in the final stretches of the campaign. Obama is in trouble. Over the summer months, he outspent Romney 3 or 4-1, yet is essentially still tied with him. In the final days, Romney will have the spending advantage.
The GOP has a clear enthusiasm edge and the economic picture isn't going to get better before November. Politico can spin and cobble together anonymously-sourced anti-Romney stories from now until election. But, it won't matter. Their days of setting the narrative are over.
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