President Obama's gimmicky 48-hour campaign swing last week was given gauzy treatment on the front page of the October 30 Washington Post Style page. Staff writer Jason Horowitz devoted a 36-paragraph story headlined "Sleepless in the swing states" to the venture. Horowitz opened with "the president's electoral mastermind" David Plouffe as his protagonist.
Plouffe "is the data-driven guru of Obama's 2008 victory," Horowitz gushed, adding that the presidential reelection campaign may be a referendum on Obama, "but it is also by extension a referendum on Plouffe." Horowitz turned to Plouffe to dismiss as "garbage" polling data that bodes poorly for the president. While Horowitz may have aimed at positively portraying team Obama as happy warriors on the campaign trail, Plouffe ends up sounding a bit like Baghdad Bob:
"The notion that the Romney surge nationwide may have an impact in swaying swing state voters is a possibility Plouffe refuses to entertain," Horowitz noted:
"No!" he said. "We know the national vote is going to be close. But our visibility is here in Ohio. The election is like a series of governors races on steroids."
Like his boss, Plouffe carefully avoided any sign of worry. "we know what a campaign coming together again feels like," he concluded, "And it feels like this."
Feelings? Wait, a minute, I thought Plouffe was the hard data guy?
For his part, of course, Horowitz has not given positive press to the other camp.
You may recall that, two weeks ago, my colleague Matt Vespa noted how Horowitz dedicated a 3,800-word column to essentially suggesting there was a vast Mormon conspiracy at work in Romney's 1994 Senate run:
Horowitz's piece was filled with innuendo about Romney’s faith, as if the ’94 race was part of some grand Mormon conspiracy.
Horowitz notes the Republican meltdown during the 1980s where a litany of candidates had their personal lives implode their chances at public life. Romney’s dabbling into politics is described as “cautious” – as if that would be the defining characteristic of Mitt Romney if he were elected president in November.
The Mormon talk becomes pervasive in the narrative when Ann Romney’s father died, which prompted Romney to have a ‘seize the moment’ sort of epiphany about entering public life. However, that came after “Romney accompanied his brothers-in-law to a Mormon temple, where, donning white robes, he solemnly watched as they posthumously baptized their father [Ann’s father] through a proxy, according to a person present at the ceremony.”
When he did run for the Senate in 1994, Romney had to be “freed” from his Mormon overlords.
When George Romney, the highest Mormon authority in Detroit as stake president, considered running for governor decades earlier, he sought the counsel of David O. McKay, then the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mitt Romney, having followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming the Boston stake president in 1986, also needed to consult a higher authority. The office’s term usually lasted about nine years, and Romney appealed to his church’s leaders for an exemption from service. According to Gordon Williams, Romney’s mentor and predecessor as stake president, the burgeoning politician expressed concern to the church hierarchy in Salt Lake City that the church would be tainted with politics if he maintained his official position while running. The church agreed, and freed him up in March 1994.
After this emancipation, Horowitz insinuates that the ’94 campaign was a Mormon plot writing, “Romney’s connections in the church proved critical at the inception of his political career. Months before the hierarchy released him from his obligations as Boston’s highest church authority, Romney called Richard Bitner Wirthlin, Reagan’s chief strategist and pollster, who had become a high-ranking church official in Salt Lake City.”
In a way, Horowitz is implying that Mormonism would be a problem, and should remain a dilemma, for Romney in any campaign. He harkens back to the discussion he had with Ron Scott, Romney’s communications specialist in the ’94 campaign, saying that his religion would be a problem.