One of the truths about campaign reporting is that results determine everything. That is, winners are treated as superstars, losers as dimwits. Winning campaigns are always focused, disciplined, well-organised, in-control, cool; losing campaigns are invariably dysfunctional, confused, prone to internecine warfare and staffed by borderline psychopaths.
That’s how the insta-historians in the press and blogosphere score these events. If Hillary Clinton had defeated Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary her campaign staff would have been treated more kindly (even Mark Penn!) while the Obama campaign would have been written-up as, at best, a heroic, noble effort in the face of impossible odds. More probably, he’d have been castigated for failing to throw enough punches.
A lot of the time this is really not much more than waiting for the roulette wheel to cease spinning before pronouncing one set of gamblers soothsayers and the other mob schmucks.
So it’s not a great sign for Mitt Romney that “insiders” are getting their revenge in six weeks before the election. None of the details in today’s Politico report detailing grumbling and unhappiness within Camp Romney and pinning the blame for all its woes on Stuart Stevens (Romney’s chief strategist) matter nearly as much as the report’s simple existence. It’s a kind of pre-death post-mortem.
It’s more or less a demolition of campaign majordomo Stu Stevens, who is blamed for a serial botching of serial drafts of Romney’s acceptance speech in Tampa, along with a general resistance to a bolder and more policy-specific campaign message.
So long as there is Politico this kind of piece will continue to be published.