Demographics. That’s Mitt Romney’s real opponent between now and election day. Demographics are working against white conservatives, and it’s making them ornery. Thanks to demographics, Mitt Romney cannot really go for the juggler with Barack Obama–it will put off the independents that he has to attract to win. But if he doesn’t go for the juggler in the last month of the campaign, his (shrinking) base will be put off.
Jonathan Chait at New York magazine explains the fight or stand-down existential dilemma facing Republicans going forward:
[T]he psychology of decline does not always operate in a straightforward, rational way. A strategy of managing slow decay is unpleasant, and history is replete with instances of leaders who persuaded themselves of the opposite of the obvious conclusion. Rather than adjust themselves to their slowly weakening position, they chose instead to stage a decisive confrontation. If the terms of the fight grow more unfavorable with every passing year, well, all the more reason to have the fight sooner. This was the thought process of the antebellum southern states, sizing up the growing population and industrial might of the North. It was the thinking of the leaders of Austria-Hungary, watching their empire deteriorate and deciding they needed a decisive war with Serbia to save themselves.
And, of course, it’s the thought process of the contemporary base voter in the GOP. Romney is trying to manage the decline of an angry base and win votes from moderates. I therefore predict that his debate performance tonight will flounder between these two poles (to the displeasure of both).
Romney is a sailor attempting to navigate between Scylla and Charybdis. In Greek myth, Scylla and Charybdis are sea monsters situated to either side of the Strait of Messina (between the Italian mainland and Sicily). If Romney goes too far to the left or right, he’ll find himself eaten by one of them on election day.
Here’s Johann Heinrich Fussli”s depiction of the sea monsters (via Wikipedia Commons). That would be Mitt Romney with his ass exposed.