As I said, the media are “joined at the hip” with government leaders who have the capacity to put in place the media agenda. And I now realize that the national media as we know it—the networks, TIME, national columnists such as Walter Lippmann and Scotty Reston, the national reach of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times—all came to life and grew along with the federal government’s rise under Franklin Roosevelt and successive Democrats. It has been, from the beginning, a symbiotic relationship. And since World War II, academia and non-profits have become increasingly dependent on federal money. It’s one big, mutually-dependent family.
Today, now, that big glob no longer works. Former GOP presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan, in the Wall Street Journal, is guessing at the reason Obama fails to see the crisis his presidency faces:
the most harmful aspect of the president's leadership style is that all of his political instincts were honed and settled before 2008, when he was rising. What he learned before he reached the presidency is what he knows. But everyone else in America knows the crash and the underlying crisis it revealed—on our current course, we are bankrupt—changed everything. Strangely, inexplicably, the president thinks the old political moves apply to the new era. They do not.Noonan would write Obama off—the president missing in action as America’s economic crisis enters year four—except that she senses the underlying strength of the Democratic coalition, including its grip on our entertainment and arts.
The Democrats have . . . going for them [that] American culture, high and low, is governed and run by the entertainment industry. And the entertainment industry is, and has been since the New Deal, firmly rooted in the Democratic Party. It was invented by the ethnics of the East. . . who joined the Democratic Party as soon as they got here. And they let everyone in America know, and they do it to this day, that the Democratic Party is the cool party, and the Republican Party is the one [not cool], the one that seems like a character flaw to belong to. . . Democrats were, through most of the 20th century, better at propaganda.“Propaganda.” The power of a unified media, pushing a single message.
“The ethnics.” First came the Irish, Italians, and Jews. Then other white ethnic groups, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, other nonwhites, and women, especially those without husbands, of any color or background. The Democratic Party is their home, their family. Even though Democrats have royally screwed up, how are Republicans to beat this powerful coalition?
Noonan and her fellow media- and New York/Washington-based intellectual friends know, not think but know, that Mitt Romney is the only Republican capable of beating the mighty Democratic coalition they live with and eat among every day. Here’s Noonan on Mitt:
A big Romney virtue is the calm at his core. The word unflappable has been used[;] a nation in trouble probably wants a fatherly, or motherly, figure at the top. . . Romney’s added value is his persona. . . like the father in one of those 1950s or ‘60s sitcoms . . . Robert Young in “Father Knows Best,” or Fred MacMurray in “My Three Sons: You’d quake at telling him about the fender-bender, but after the lecture on safety and personal responsibility, he’d buck you up and throw you the keys. . . The Republican Party is going to make Mitt Romney work for it. They’re going to make him earn it. They’re going to make him suffer. Because that’s what Republicans do.But in the end Noonan believes that if Republicans care about winning, they will nominate Mitt.
We have already recorded our objection to Romney—he’s unlikely to provide the depth of change this country requires to overcome addiction to big government. Noonan doesn’t see it our way. But we can’t win with Mitt, because he is “Democratic lite,” relatively untroubled by big government. He's the Republican mirror of Democrat John Kerry in 2004, who ran and lost as "national security lite."
People want the real thing, so if it’s big government they want, they will vote Obama, not Romney. As Stanford’s Hoover Institution conservative Thomas Sowell points out, there have been a long string of Republican presidential candidates who, like Mitt, fought for the center. They lost.
Look at the following chart. In the past, even GOP “extremists” have done better than GOP moderates such as Mitt. But the winning choice is a conservative—they do best.