Read the rest of Slate’s coverage from the GOP convention.
The Mitt Romney campaign had two things to convey about the candidate at the Republican convention: his steadfast likability as a human being, and his hyper-competence as an executive. Whatever progress they made on either front was gone by Friday afternoon, as aides tried to spin away the halting, awkward endorsement-cum-comedy sketch Clint Eastwood had delivered on Romney's behalf.
The campaign had expected "a more standard endorsement," the New York Times reported, citing two anonymous aides. “Aides said Mr. Eastwood does not like teleprompters and was trusted to deliver an on-message endorsement,” the story continued. This was not the campaign’s fault, no sir.
“Not me,” said an exasperated-looking senior adviser, when asked who was responsible for Mr. Eastwood’s speech.
Responding to media pressure by shooting your ally in the back is a time-honored political strategy, as President Obama and Shirley Sherrod can testify. But Romney and his staff have a quick trigger finger.
Back in December, when the Times reported on the contrast between Romney's often-cheap spending habits and the accumulated trappings of his fortune, the target was Ann Romney. Mitt cared not for material things, personally, but you know how women are:
Those close to Mr. Romney say he typically defers to his wife on large purchases—especially homes, most of which are in her name.
In July—again, distancing himself from his own lifestyle—Romney sold out his wife, the Olympics, and the family dressage horse, Rafalca, all at once:
"I have to tell you, this is Ann’s sport,” he said. “I’m not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event.”
And now we have the Man With No Name being ridden out of Tampa on Rafalca's back, as the Romney campaign trashes its celebrity guest speaker to protect itself.