Practicality, prudence and temperance are excellent pillars to build a campaign on but the trade-offs are also dangerous. Mitt Romney is acutely aware of this danger.
Take the issue of global warming. As a proud global warming denier I was taken back when Governor Romney declared his belief in the same. However, his reasoning and positioning is instructive for this discussion.
Each candidate is faced with a set of issues fraught with political danger. Picture this as a set of clubs – “damned-if-you-do” / “damned-if-you-don’t” clubs. In other words, you’re going to take a beating but you decide who gets to beat you up.
Case in point: the left-leaning press is hell-bent on beating up people for being global warming deniers. Romney believes in global warming but realizes that his base loathes this issue.
Mitt decided he was willing to get beat up from the Right and not from the Left. His approach is logical (affirm his believe in global warming – some conservatives, like Jonah Goldberg believe likewise) and strategic (lambast the current approaches to solve the problem). Results: the press have one less issue to hit him on and he can claim opposition to Obama’s nutty job-killing approaches.
Of course, the other side of the equation can lead a candidate to become overly “brand conscious.” He can quickly be thrown to the “egg-shell walking” RINO side of the spectrum.
Romney has avoided the manufactured stigma that haunts other candidates but his avoidance of the fight ferments distrust across the base. It’s a trade-off he’s comfortable making and on paper it may serve him well in the General election.
The invisible hand of politics is like the martial arts concept of “mind like water.” When a pebble is thrown into a pond the water reacts just as it should with small ripples to absorb the rock. When a boulder is thrown into the same pond the water reacts accordingly dispersing the energy of the stone with large waves and returning to a state of rest.
Every choice, mistake and foible is amplified ten-fold in this digital age. Some ripples take years to come back and bite you; others are felt immediately. How candidates choose to respond (or not respond) to the treacherous stones thrown their way will determine whether their political brand will return to a resting point or spill over the banks and empty their brand altogether.