Mitt Romney yesterday termed a robocall by Rick Santorum’s campaign a ‘terrible dirty trick’ and said that efforts to get Democrats to vote in Michigan were ‘outrageous and disgusting’. The call encouraged Democrats to vote for the ex-Pennsylvania Senator to send a message to Romney since he was so vociferously opposed to the auto bailout.

Romney made this charge in Royal Oak, Michigan at a rally last night. He was joined by a celebrity/musician, Kid Rock, who played ‘Born Free’ at the gathering. It is unclear how many of those voting today are suitably impressed by the appearance of this singer; I’d guess that he will have slightly less impact than the video of Scarlett Johansson in 2008. I could be wrong, though.

The term Operation Chaos was coined by Rush Limbaugh in 2008 to encourage Republicans to vote in open primaries for Hillary Clinton to make it appear that she had a realistic chance to win the Democratic nomination so that she stayed in the presidential race. It is unclear if Ms. Clinton would have ever, ever left the contest until Obama had actually clinched the race in any event, but the unintended consequence of this is that it permitted Obama to build campaign operations in virtually all of the swing states, which may have been responsible in part for his victory in 2008. It didn’t matter. Limbaugh’s intent in 2008 was to convince his ever-shrinking band of elderly followers that he still retained some kind of political relevance outside of nursing homes.

So Santorum is using a similar tactic. And Mitt’s response is that Democrats shouldn’t be allowed to have an impact in the Michigan primary. This is Mitt’s home state, so maybe he should be aware of the term ‘Reagan Democrats’. This was the group, centered among people who worked in manufacturing in Michigan, who were opposed to the Democratic Party trend to emphasize social issues and take these person’s vote for granted. Mitt’s claim to the nomination is based on him being able to get more Democrats and Independents to vote for him than for any of the other candidate. Well, if he can’t get their support in a Republican primary, what is the chance that he can get them to vote for him in November.

Is the robocall and related efforts a dirty trick or is it fair? Generally, I think that anything legal in politics is fair. So, I think it was fair that, in the last debate, Romney packed the audience with mindless automatons whose task was to cheer wildly every time he opened his mouth, and to boo wildly every time Ricky did the same. I think that it was fair for Mitt to bus in students from BYU into South Carolina to work for his campaign. I think that it was fair for Newt’s campaign to expose this tactic. I think that it’s fair for Mitt’s Super Pac to spend tens of millions of dollars in any contested state on negative ads. So, yeah, Operation Chaos is fair. The elites who are bewildered by Mitt’s lack of appeal among voters may not like it, but so what? What have these guys ever done for us?