September 19, 2012 1:40PM

Of Charm and Illocutionary Difficulties

Today Politico Arena asks:

What strategic changes — if any — does the Romney campaign need to make in the coming weeks?

My response:

If I may grasp at straws, let’s take such comfort as we can from noting that Romney is no politician — and maybe, just maybe, we’ve now had about as much political “charm” as we can handle in a four‐​year stretch.

And let’s note, second, that there’s a substantial element of truth in Romney’s 47 % remarks, but it’s buried in confusions that ill‐​serve his campaign or a nation that desperately needs to hear it. But we won’t hear it from his opponent — who’s never been comfortable with the truth, to put it charitably — nor from the mainstream media. (Addressing the issue this morning, NPR’s Brian Naylor began, “Romney went to the friendly confines of the Fox News channel yesterday afternoon .…” Would we ever hear Naylor say “Obama went to the friendly confines of NPR yesterday afternoon .…”?)

So if Romney’s going to recover from this and other recent illocutionary difficulties — dwelled on and amplified by the media — he’s going to have to rely on the upcoming debates. To look again on the bright side, at least he’s established low expectations. Rarely have conditions, domestic and foreign, so aligned themselves so propitiously for a change in administrations, if only the challenger could take advantage of them. If reason still counts, the VP debates should be a slam‐​dunk — poor Joe. For his part, Romney will have three shots, and more than enough material with which to work, if he can figure out how to use it.