On Friday's All Things Considered, NPR anchor Robert Siegel wasn't mincing words about wanting the 2012 presidential race to be over after the secret Romney tape surfaced: " What do you make of that shift, E.J.? Is it just a terrible week with several more weeks to go in the campaign or did the wheels just fall off the Republican campaign?"
Dionne temporized a little before saying the speech was "really harmful" to Romney's chances. But he was almost polite compared to "conservative" David Brooks, who dug a grave for Romney, saying he's not a "plausible alternative' to Obama and carries higher unfavorables in polls than losers like Al Gore and John McCain:
E. J. DIONNE: First, that 47 percent speech was really harmful, and there were a lot of conservatives who wrote very powerfully. David, for one, Mike Gerson for another in the Washington Post, Henry Olsen at the American Enterprise Institute; all these people said there is something just terribly wrong about saying that half of Americans are effectively takers and not makers, that they rely on other people...
ROBERT SIEGEL: Think of themselves as victims.
E.J. DIONNE: Yes. And it was just an awful statement. And so, that hurt him, but he's had a whole series of other troubles. And that the swing states have been moving Obama's way for quite a while. These polls simply confirm that. And I think some of it is something that came out at the two conventions, which is in the end, the Republican Party really has moved quite far to the right of where most Americans are, and as more information has gotten out, more Americans realize that. And I think that's a real problem for Mitt Romney.
ROBERT SIEGEL: David, what do you think about that? Is it really an issue of substance or is it terrible messaging and terrible appearances?
DAVID BROOKS: I think it's mostly Romney, frankly. I think the country would like to vote against President Obama if they had a plausible alternative. But Romney is the only candidate in modern political history where his unfavorables are higher than his favorables. John McCain, Al Gore, people who lost, had double-digit advantage in favorable. So people just don't like Romney. And the core problem is he's insincere. It's an insincere campaign. He's a non-ideological person in an ideological age and he's pretending to be something he's not.
Then NPR shifted to how the Democrats are allegedly surging in Senate races. Brooks was even pulling for Heidi Heitkamp's campaign: " I'm looking at North Dakota, which is a surprising Democratic possibility."
Brooks was a little less rough on Romney in his stint on the PBS NewsHour, as they discussed Romney's compassion in his personal life. But he had to repeat the mantra of the Mitt the Fake Ideologue, working in that Romney is a "cartoon" and even looks "stupid" in his impersonation:
BROOKS: He's faking it. I think he's a non-ideological guy running in an ideological age who is pretending to be way more ideological than he really is. And so he talks like he has this cartoon image of how I'm supposed to be talking. And, as a result, it is stupid a lot -- half the time -- not half the time, some of the time. It's an impersonation. And, so, if I were -- knowing it's too late to change who he is running as, but just be the more boring manager you are. He is a competent manager. We thought he was.