Romney, GOP have uphill battle to fight against Obama’s self-constructed narrative

I had a professor tell me once that if you can dictate the terms of the argument, you should always win.

In other words, if you can determine what “winning” the argument is, then you ought to set it up to most favor your presentation of the facts.

That means even without changing any of the facts in the case, you can manipulate the narrative to your advantage.

Politics is a never-ending case study in just why this holds true and right now, that’s bad news for conservatives.

It’s going to take a Herculean effort from the GOP and Mitt Romney to wrest control of the political argument from Barack Obama and the liberal media.

If you were to take the facts about the economy, the runaway spending and reckless foreign policies of this administration, Barack Obama would have no chance in November.

But there’s no such thing as objectivity in politics.

The President, particularly this one, has such a massive advantage when it comes to the media narrative because he has the built up credibility of his office, plus the eternal love of his liberal cronies in movies, music and MSNBC.

David Letterman isn’t going to ask Brian Williams what else Mitt Romney has to do to prove himself. As simple as that seems, there’s a stacking effect to all of this.

We’ll hear it constantly from now until November, why we’re racist if we don’t vote for Obama, or how we love rich people or corporations or bigotry.

None of it has anything to do with how good a president Barack Obama has been or how good Mitt Romney would potentially be.

It’s all about secondary narratives, about framing the argument.

Obama, as the leader of the socialist Democrat party, has set the argument on his terms. Obama wants this to be about which guy you like better and which guy you’d rather be.

Our soon-t0-be-former president is charismatic, funny, charming and bright.

That’s great if you’re looking for someone to marry your daughter, but when it comes to being qualified to lead the free world, Obama has failed over and over.

Unfortunately for Romney, he may be in a lose-lose situation. His best strategy all along has been to refrain from getting in a tit-for-tat with Obama over these tangential issues, choosing to instead hammer home the economic issues that plague this country.

But after a while, Romney becomes the doom and gloom candidate which has consistently failed as a strategy among modern presidential campaigns.

What the campaign will have to do is focus on the strengths of Romney through the lens of some of these issues.

For instance, rather than coming out and making your own declarations about gay marriage, talk about the strength of his marriage to his wife and the love he has for his children.

It’s harder to pin a word like “bigot” to Romney if the majority of the country sees him as a devoting husband and loving father.

Rather than defending his record at Bain, choose a private equity firm with a conscience (they do exist) and tout the laurels of capitalism as it relates to social justice.

Instead of repeating that you “won’t apologize for success,” remind people that you’ve donated millions to charity, that you want to lower taxes so other people can choose to put their own money to specific use rather than having it siphoned by the government.

Romney and the GOP may be fighting a losing battle trying to dominate the national presidential narrative, but they can at least control how their candidate is being framed.

Given the way the country feels about the president, that seems like it should be good enough.

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5 thoughts on “Romney, GOP have uphill battle to fight against Obama’s self-constructed narrative

  1. B.J.Simons says:

    I enjoy reading opinions from one who has beliefs opposite of mine from time to time because debate augments understanding and knowledge.

    I wanted to spark debate by saying that I disagree with your claim that the issues Obama has been tackling (civil rights) and issues Romney likes to tackle (the weak economy) are tangential. These issues are far from divergent, in fact, they are converging bodies in U.S. political arenas.

    Romney is the family man you describe and he loves to boast his traditional, familial value (as did Rick Santorum). Along with traditional values comes his love for bashing Obama’s support for same-sex marriage and recalling Obama’s “failures” with the economy and spending (which has been slowly repairing itself from Bush’s and consumer’s mistakes from the previous eight years of Obama’s presidency).

    Obama, on the other hand, is the minority staking his claim as the first black president, obviously pressured to setting the bar for future black Americans who wish to follow his path. Being a minority, his liberal views need no explaining. He is a minority living in a majority world and now leads it. With his minority background, he understands that issues such as a health care and marriage rights are often overlooked (not in MA from where Romney ironically hails) and need to be attended.

    So what we have here are two sides: A conservative nestled in traditional, religious values who focuses on the economy and “free” America; and a liberal devoted to liberalizing the nation in recognition of both majority and minority favor. Obviously, championing their goals is difficult with such a large and diverse nation.

    I, personally, side with Obama’s goals, while you clearly side with Romney’s. I believe that it is a display of bigotry when Romney flashes his family values; there is no doubt about it. Bigoted is defined as “obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions,” and to preach his religious morals and family lifestyle as best is clearly him being a bigot.

    Obama doesn’t focus on his family because his personal life shouldn’t intrude on governance. Becoming president is an act of devoting oneself to the nation; the entire nation. This means accepting the entirety of culture and adapting to growth.

    I don’t wish to make a blogpost out of this comment, so if you’d like, read more in my blog here:

    • youngright says:

      B.J. I appreciate your willingness to extend your reading beyond the realm of those who will simply pander to your shared biases. That being said, I think it’s quite a leap to say that when Romney touts his family values that he’s being a bigot any more than Obama is being a bigot when he touts his own values.

      Everyone believes their own ideals to be superior to others on SOME level, otherwise why would you believe them? The ideas we hold to be our own truths and the things we prioritize, we find inherently better than others. That’s the very nature of what it means to prioritize things.

      In some true sense, I could say everyone discriminates everyday. Every time I make a choice I do so with the thinking that a particular choice is better than another, hence the reason I make it. In a very real way, I’ve discriminated against my other options for various reasons. There’s just no relevant or necessary value judgment for that discrimination, but that’s what it is. This is the logic you’re using and it’s reductio ad absurdum.

      It is interesting for you to bring up the minority status of the president. He’s black, so he must be more likely to put forward a “black” agenda. Apparently he’s an expert on the black experience simply by virtue of his skin tone. I’m a white, middle class writer. Does that make me any more or likely to put forward a “white middle class” agenda?

      I see no reason to believe he’s any more likely as minority race president to put forward a minority agenda in the same way John F. Kennedy didn’t put forward a Catholic agenda or Bill Clinton put forward a southern agenda.

      Furthermore, Obama has not, in his adult life, every really felt the pain that many minorities have felt because he’s never really struggled as a minority. On what grounds and with what evidence do you have to show that he is somehow steeped in the “minority” experience?

      All you’ve given is an excuse for the president to put forward his own discriminatory agenda (classified as such based on your own logic).

      To your last point about the way the president presents himself and his own values, I think you’re missing the point of why politicians do this. Politicians tout their family values as a way to show their consistency, their empathy and their sensitivity. A father and husband is the kind of man nearly every boy wants to be. He’s the man every man hopes to be.

      Every president, at various times, uses this same strategy, just to varying degrees. Furthermore, it does say something about your character and your abilities to be a leader or show empathy, when you’ve successfully raised a family and a household in a country where you’re now more likely to be divorced than stay married. To say it has to bearing on one’s ability to be president is to be completely miss the point of the qualities it takes to truly be the leader of the free world.

      As Barack Obama, a dedicated father and husband himself, shows you need other qualities as well.

      • B.J.Simons says:

        Youngright, I would like to start off by saying that when I included Obama’s race in discussion, I simply meant to state it. He is a minority and that is part of his experience. There is no denying that he is a minority, his experience does not change that fact.

        With race rest aside, I would like to return to the conflict of opinion between Obama and Romney regarding same-sex marriage, since that discussion was the primary concern of my first comment.

        Claiming that, by reductio ad absurdum, I simply gave an excuse for Obama to put forward a discriminatory agenda is, by your use of reductio ad absurdum, is completely illogical.

        Obama supports same-sex marriage, meaning that he believes same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples. This is a belief of equality: the opposite of prejudiced beliefs.

        Romney, on the other hand, has stated that he wants a federal law banning same-sex marriage, meaning he believes that marriage, even defined by law, should be reserved for heterosexual couples. This is a prejudiced belief and discriminatory statement: the opposite of what Obama’s motives are. Romney believes that the nation should grant federal benefits and loans only to those individuals living in the same institution as he had and as his religion says should live in. Obama believes, despite his own religion and marriage, that homosexuals should retrieve the same benefits.

        Ipso facto, Romney is a bigot and discriminates against homosexuals while Obama does not.

  2. youngright says:

    You can’t simply shove aside what you’ve said about his minority status because you are allowing him to utilize it to be, in your words, discriminatory.

    In essence, your original argument was that Obama is spending more time on social issues (while the economy goes to hell in a hand basket) because social issues are more important to minorities.

    If that’s not what you’re arguing, then you’ve failed to support any claim other than to say Mitt Romney is against gay marriage (He didn’t, just so we’re clear, say gay people are the spawn of satan, just that they don’t have legal standing to get married. It’s discriminatory, but hardly bigotous).

    Furthermore, my argument in the blog was that Obama has chosen to tackle these social issues because his record on fiscal and foreign policies is so horrid.

    Perhaps more importantly, at a time when our economy is as bad as it’s been in a century, Obama has shirked his responsibility to lead, to unite and to support this country financially.

    Gay couples won’t care if they can get married if they can’t find a job.

    My point has always been that social issues are, for the most part, not the purview of the federal government, but rather only to mediate issues states cannot handle on their own or to resolve potential issues between states.

    Given the scope of media coverage, that role has been perverted. We now expect the president to talk about everything, regulate everything and manage everything.

    That’s not his job. I don’t care if the President is pro-gay marraige (I am too), but I also don’t believe President Obama when he says he’s in favor it. Both his view and mine are irrelevant.

    The federal government has no role in defining marriage and ought not have such a role.

    Social issues ARE important. I don’t want to downplay that, but they’re less important right now because the biggest inequalities in our world today are wealth inequalities.

    The president has been too focused on making toothless claims about gay marriage to notice apparently.

  3. B.J.Simons says:

    My initial argument never claimed that Obama focuses only on social issues, but rather focuses on liberal goals. I mentioned the gay-marriage position because I wanted to identify how beliefs about social issues and other goals (economy) are not tangential.

    As far as the President’s duties, the presidential oath states: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    The Constitution has been a plastic document and the President’s role is to discuss, be aware of, and work with the legislative branch to manage it. Social issues are definitely involved in the written law in the Constitution, so therefore, they are part of the President’s duties.

    I also believe that these wealth inequalities are not results of Obama’s presidency considering the recession had initially been caused by events in the previous two presidential terms. Mitt Romney’s striking similarities with the president of those two terms doesn’t exactly provide comfort.

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