The Unintentional Rhetorical Side Effects of Mitt Romney’s Business Experience

by evanmcmurry

Noam Scheiber has a thorough breakdown of the polls that led the Romney camp to so believe they’d won that Romney didn’t even bother to write a concession speech—until, in Scheiber’s nice turn of phrase, “the crotchety assignment-desk known as ‘reality’ finally weighed in.” Most interesting, though, in contrast to Scheiber’s sarcasm, is Romney’s pollster’s language, which still shows the kind of spin that separates signifiers from signified:

Newhouse told me his numbers showed Romney stalling out around the time of Hurricane Sandy the week before the election, then recovering in the final few days of the race. “We thought we had in the last 72 hours of campaign … made up some ground from the challenging messaging period during the hurricane,” he said.

“Challenging messaging period” indeed. That’s one way to put a hurricane that underscored Obama’s central argument that collective action through government was kinda necessary to modern society, while Romney had to explain why he’d said FEMA should be dismantled.

Campaigns are famous for these glosses of language, but even more so is the business community, where layoffs become “eliminating redundancies” or “getting fit.” This is the world Romney comes from, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he were especially susceptible to this kind of language, suggesting that the internal delusions of his campaign were as much rhetorical as numerical.