Can't Hold Your Fire?

Dean Barnett, an astute blogger of all things conservative, Massachusetts and Romney, has a good post today on the media's storm of attacks on Mitt Romney this week. Dean's view is that although Romney appeared to be having a rough time, these attacks have not been timed well. The Romney as a "flip flopper" on abortion may be playing out too early to be damaging in the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary.

I agree. And I would add that the mere fact that the attacks are being made by the media reduces their harm. After all, conservative primary voters so mistrust the mainstream press that negative stories in the MSM are often a net positive for Republican candidates. Evidence John McCain's failing candidacy. He has long enjoyed positive media coverage and look where it has gotten him with the Republican Party.

In addition, the "evolution" of Republican candidates on the abortion issue is nothing new. Investor's Business Daily notes that Reagan and GW Bush were pro-choice early in their political careers. Both evolved into strong anti-abortion advocates and went on to have the two most successful Republican political careers in history (check it out... it's true). In a country where the pro-life position gains more political currency with each passing year, there are increasing numbers of people who have shifted their views on abortion much as Romney has.

Additionally, the media's intolerance for Romney's stance on abortion is hypocritical on its face. Their candidate Hillary Clinton has changed her position on the war 180 degrees in less than three years, yet that doesn't seem to be a problem for the Gang of 500. It is sad that Republicans need to run against both the Democrats and the traditional media. But that's nothing new and there's no reason to think it will change as long as the Beltway media remains (as corrupted by political bias) as it is today.

Taking down Romney early in the cycle, the only true social conservative in the race, is an important part of the media strategy to get Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama elected. However, as Dean Barnett suggests, there is no need to fret. There is plenty of time for the "Romney as flip flopper" story to play itself out, its impact diminishing with time.

Rather than being a bad week for Romney, it may have in fact been a good one. For in their zeal to damage the campaign's strongest conservative candidate, the Democrats and their allies in the media may have underestimated Romney's strength as a candidate, attacked too early, and failed to keep their powder dry.