The press likes to describe the Romney campaign as "disciplined." But what they really mean is that the Romney campaign is totally risk-averse, won't answer any questions, won't articulate a positive agenda, and wants to keep all the focus off their candidate.Of course, during the crazytown primary, everybody was pondering in advance the quandary that Romney would inevitably face when he cinched his party's nomination. While it is a commonplace dynamic for a candidate to play to his base in the primaries, there is an expectation that the candidate will then tack to the center to appeal to independents for the general election. Setting aside for the moment what sort of reactionary political views tend to get denominated as "centrism" in these punditocrapic formulations, it was regularly pointed out that Romney's special dilemma might be that he was too disliked and distrusted by his party base to permit such a dodge back to more apparently appealing moderate positions.
This is because, first, the Movement Conservative base of the Republican party has grown so extreme since Americans overwhelmingly elected to send a brilliant accomplished likable man who happened to be Black to the White House and especially in the aftermath of Show Me the Birth Certificate and Death Panel Summer and also because, second, Romney is copiously on the record as an abortion and homogay supporting governor of liberal Massachusetts who implemented the successful and therefore crazytown despised model for the Affordable Care Act (and, one has to wonder, if it is also because, third, conservative Christian fundamentalists don't much like the fact that Romney is Mormon).
The truth is that the Romney campaign has not made the conventional tack to the "Center" (wherever that is supposed to be for a GOP candidate in 2012), but has opted instead for a policy of ever less substance and ever more silence, apparently in the hope that the strident posturing of the primaries will continue to echo in the ears of the base, while independents fill in the blanks with centrism just because Romney is so bland and so robotic that he simply must fit the bill.
I quite agree with BooMan that this rather desperate pragmatist calculation is far from "discipline," but more like a complete retreat from the ugly realities of trying to run for President of a party less and less capable or even pretending it's capable in its embrace of religious and market fundamentalist pieties and anti-tax anti-regulation anti-evolutionary anti-environmental anti-macroeconomic anti-civilizational denialisms of functioning in a relevant way for a racially and ethnically diverse, resource-rich, industrially-organized, mass-mediated, continent-scaled secular republic with over a quarter of a billion people beholden to the most exorbitantly greedy and relentlessly incompetent corporate-military incumbent elites in world history.
To say of the Romney campaign's retreatism that it is "disciplined" is to suggest that there is some whiff of competence and professionalism about what it is doing when the palpable reality is that in the absence of making substantial claims about its preferred policies and positions the Obama campaign has been successfully filling the vacuum, defining Romney as a heartless feckless plutocrat with its relentless (and precisely accurate) Bain attacks. Meanwhile, far from satisfied by Romney's not backing away from the silly extremism of his primary posturing, the Republican base -- in its constant craving for ever more and more crazytown Red Meat -- has seemed increasingly dissatisfied with their candidate anyway, possibly quite as much as they would have been had he actually tacked back to comparatively more sensible or at any rate no longer batshit crazy right-wing positions in a bid for independent and moderate votes. (Again, I personally don't think either the words "independent" or "moderate" are strictly appropriate descriptions of the sorts of policies that actually tend to be corralled under these headings in our stupid public discourse, but there it is.)
Now, it appears that the Romney campaign wants to amplify the "retreatist" discipline, proposing that their candidate may take a foreign policy glamour tour close on the heels of his already slightly odd extended vacation sojourn. One expects a mincing minuet of stumble-mouthed bellicosity against the Russian Bear and bomb bomb bomb bomb-bomb Iran bombast easily as absurd as the spectacle of Dukakis in a tank will be the subject of a million YouTube clips forthwith. And, anyway, the simple truth is that there is no sufficient retreat, no adequate escape for Romney. In the still ongoing still amplifying still exacerbating self-marginalizing crisis of Movement Republicanism there is less and less and less chance that any candidate Republicans themselves are willing to vote for will be the sort of candidate a majority of Americans will be willing to vote for. An avalanche of anonymous bazillionaire cash and systematic disenfranchisement efforts can tinker at the edges of this crisis in electability, but not for long, and possibly not even now. The Republican Party will have to rethink what it stands for in a diversifying, secularizing nation of people the majority of whom have to work for a living, deeply interdependent with and in communication with billions of ecologically, economically, socially distressed fellow earthlings. If it proves incapable of this sort of soul searching, it will marginalize itself into oblivion (but not before it manages to do a whole lot more damage, I'm afraid).