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Romney Goes Full Sagebrush

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The thing about Romney basically declaring the Sagebrush Rebellion agenda his official policy on public lands is that it doesn’t attract a single western voter who wasn’t already going to vote for him. Does anyone in Las Vegas care about this issue? Denver? Phoenix? Not a lot. They care in Ely and Grand Junction and Yuma maybe, but there’s not enough people in these places to make a difference. And the states where people really care like Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah are already voting for him anyway. If this was Nevada in 1980, maybe it makes a difference but not now. I just don’t see how this matters at all.

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  • DrDick

    Even here in Montana there is serious division over these issues. The ranching, mining, and logging interests, along with ATV riders and some (but not all) hunters, favor that approach, but there is also a very large group, including not just environmentalists, but also sportsman and others.

  • UserGoogol

    Well, for what it’s worth, Montana’s a far far less Republican state than Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. By Cook Partisan Voting Index, those three are the most Republican states, whereas Montana’s a more contestable R+7 and has a bunch of Democrats (of varying degrees of merit) elected to prominent positions, so it realistically could be won by Democrats in a good year.

    Of course, that’s very different from saying Montana’s three electoral college votes actually matter.

    • Theoretically yes, but given that Dems didn’t win it in 08, which was a pretty expansive year, I’m skeptical it’s really in the cards in the near future. If another western state is going to start tipping to the Dems, it’s either Montana or Arizona, but I’d put my money on the latter.

      • DrDick

        I do not see any sign that this election will be much different than the last one. It looks like the Democrats may take all the statewide races, both the House and Senate races are up in the air right now, as is the legislature (not really much polling data for anything other than the Senate and presidential races). The presidential race will likely go to Romney (especially since there are a lot of Mormons and Catholics up here). This really has been pretty much the pattern for the last three presidential elections.

        • “The last one” here means “2008,” right?

          • DrDick

            Yes, that meant the last presidential election.

            • Oh, good.

              I’m pretty sure I would have remembered if the Democrats had won all the statewide offices in Montana in 2010.

              • DrDick

                They currently hold all of them, but won them in 2008.

  • howard

    you would have thought – ok, i thought – that the gop base would be so motivated to go throw out the kenyan socialist that romney wouldn’t have to keep proving his bonafides just to keep up the enthusiasm.

    but essentially, that’s what virtually all of romney’s moves have been about lately: getting the base to continue to stay with him.

  • Murc

    Well, I mean, it matters on policy grounds?

    Romney doesn’t believe in shit, but sometimes he articulates positions because he thinks they’re actually good, where good is defined as “profitable to the right sort of people.”

  • it doesn’t attract a single western voter who wasn’t already going to vote for him.

    Romney has been running ads about welfare, too.

    It’s the end of August, and his campaign is still working to shore up core Republican voters.

    • rea

      Romney has been running ads lies about welfare, too

      • Bart

        I’d like to hear from DrDick and others out in the mountain west whether the local papers are doing any fact checking at all on Romney?

        • DrDick

          You have got to be kidding me. Montana newspapers fact check anything, especially a Republican politician? We have been inundated by anti-Tester adds from Rove, the Kochs, and the Chamber of Commerce that are nothing but bald faced lies and not a peep from the media.

        • Dirk Gently

          I’m not seeing much of it in Colorado, but then again I hardly ever view any newspapers or TV news, apart from a daily skim of the Denver Post. So far it looks like a hands off approach. I will say that while watching Jeopardy! yesterday, every commercial break was almost all campaign ads, and pro-Romney/anti-Obama ads ran about 2:1, and yet it seemed to me that an undecided voter could watch both sets of ads and conclude that the smart choice was not to vote. Put them together, and you get, “Yeah sure, Obama is a failure and has wasted billions, but Romney is clearly about to fuck us over on taxes and shill for big money and social issues nutcases.”

          Just saying what the overall impression may be, not what is, and certainly not what I think personally.

  • SASQ

    Um, please, why is this hard? It matters to his most important constituency — the donors that are currently funding his campaign and will basically outspend Obama to win in November.

    • Because reassuring a small number of high-money donors is something you do directly, not in your public messaging.

      No, this is mass communication, which means you have to look at it in terms of a mass audience.

  • Oldmtnbkr

    I can’t stand the NYT much, so didn’t read the link, but the post and comments are right on. I was an avid off-road motorcyclist when the ‘brush thing started, and well remember the wooing. I took one look at the people behind it and thought about how much I’d enjoy riding through the clear cuts to the strip mine….

  • Heron

    I wonder why it is these people, who are so suspicious of the federal government which stands to make so little from exploiting these lands, uncritically believe that industry reps, who could make billions off opening up this land for exploitation, will make them rich as Croesus if they go along with this. Is this just another example of greed leading to the pursuit of short-term benefit, or are these land owners and state reps actually naive enough to think they are going to get the best end of the deal?

    • Holden Pattern

      Gummint automagically bad. Bidness automagically good.

      This is the result of decades of uncontested far-right corporate feudalist propaganda.

  • JP Stormcrow

    This gave me a chuckle.

    Mr. Romney’s plan, which would turn over decision-making on drilling and mining to the states, echoes the “Drill, baby, drill” strategy that another Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, used to great effect in the 2008 campaign.

    I do wonder what great effect the author had in mind. Sound bites from campaign rallies? Yet another catchphrase for right-wing talking heads?

  • Hanspeter

    He (mostly) isn’t going for voters in Wyoming or Idaho (for the reasons stated). He’s going for voters in contestable states that need to see he’s willing to really really do stoopid crap. These are also known as Republican voters. As joe from Lowell said, he’s trying to shore up his base.

    • Hogan

      Also the “I’m entitled to cheap gas forever” crowd.

      • Davis

        My friend in Prague says it costs $150 to fill up his Audi A6.

        • If your friend in Prague has an Audi A6 he doesn’t have to worry about paying for the gas.

        • NonyNony

          I’ve been to Prague. Prague is one of those places where it really does seem like a car is a true luxury item.

          I am insanely jealous of Prague’s mass transit system. Easily one of the best I’ve ever used.

        • Bill Murray

          given that gas is about $1.88 per liter (about $7.1/gallon) in Prague, that car has a 20+ gallon tank.

          • rhino

            Google says 65 liters. So assuming premium fuel that’s actually probably close.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    In the context of this campaign, it fits a larger narrative about Obama bloating the size of the federal government in order to destroy America and give (white) Americans’ stuff to Muslims and Black people (see, for example, the lies about Obama’s taking the work requirement out of welfare). In this case, he’s preventing us (white people) from getting our energy independence (from Muslims like himself).

    Every dog whistle counts!

  • Cody

    I think the most telling part of the whole article is “Mitt Romney worked with industry leaders…”

    In case anyone was wondering exactly what constituency his plan is helping. Did he work with local governments, or citizens of the states? Nah.

    • rea rider

      I think the eggheads here are trying too hard to micro analyze this.

      There is a feeling among many voters that the fed govt is way too big and daily oversteps its constitutional authority.

      This move by Romney not only demonstrates that he’s interested in energy independence, it also shows that he understands the concerns of those who believe the fed has too much authority.

      • Dirk Gently

        But there’s a sub-segment who feel that the “authority” is not regarding Constitutionality, but rather crony capitalism (yes, even some Republicans notice this). Devolving this to state control may be seen as a means of heightening local control–in which case it will be HARDER for Romney’s donors to do their business.

        Maybe I’m just too cynical, but I don’t see any presidential candidate preferring marginal vote tallies in states that he’s going to win (with the exception of maybe swinging Nevada and/or Colorado) over the desires of his biggest campaign donors.

        • Cody

          I would think that local government having power would INCREASE company’s ability to do business there. It’s much easier to bribe a mayor of a town of 10,000 then the President of the United States.

          Even easier to pay off the local people with jobs while they pollute the town 5 miles away than paying off the whole EPA to turn the other eye that you’re polluting the crap out of the region.

          • Dirk Gently

            Yes, but the opposite also holds. Local officials can be bought, but they are also easier to “reach” in that they can face all but literal tarring and feathering. As for paying off local people with jobs: again, there’s a real divide. Either people want the jobs, or they value the local environment better. In the West, there’s no such thing as “pollute the town 5 miles away”–people out here think of “local” more in terms of a 50-100 mile radius, including both towns and natural landscapes. I’ve never encountered the attitude that it’s okay to pollute just because it’s not “here”.

      • rea

        “rea rider,” huh?

        Must have some other “rea” in mind . . .

  • Dirk Gently

    Hang on a minute, though. I think he’s just assuming that his base is all gung-ho on drilling on public lands. This is just anecdotal, but nearly my entire family–extremely crazy uber-Republicans, many of whom are conspiracists regarding any and all Obama myths–are extremely pissed at the way in which drilling permits were given out, especially during the Bush years, where they thought that was too lenient and willy-nilly. They hunt, fish, etc., and are VERY skeptical of energy companies’ practices.

    DrDick is right: Republicans themselves are divided on this, and if anything many of them will view state control as a means of RESTRICTING the power of the energy companies, since they view the Feds as being too cozy.

    • DrDick

      Here in Montana, we had an ungodly coalition of environmentalists, sportsmen’s groups, and ranchers and farmers (all but the first mostly Republicans) unite to successfully protect the Rocky Mountain Front from oil & gas drilling. At the same time, the Montana GOP has embraced a “drill, baby, drill” policy.

      • Dirk Gently

        A similar coalition is forming in much of Colorado’s Western Slope, most recently among folks in Delta County. I think Romney and/or his big energy donors assume too much.

      • Cody

        So we have the unsurprising outcome that the GOP doesn’t actually care at all what it’s members want?

        I guess the people voting for the party still don’t understand. They’re all up in arms about how the government is taking away their land to drill, so they vote for the party that is having the government do that.

        • DrDick

          In fairness, mostly they are talking about in eastern Montana. They are also big backers of the Keystone pipeline, which Denny Rehberg (R-Loathsome) claims would create 1200 jobs right here in Montana (impartial estimates are that the pipeline will only add 500-6,000 new jobs nationally). This only a year after an oil pipeline ruptured in the Yellowstone River, doing immense damage to the farmers and ranchers in the area, and another pipline spill on the Blackfeet Reservation created havoc there.

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