Unlike my piece on Rick I’m going to focus here not on what I think but what I think the Republicans think…
He looks presidential: nice teeth, great hair (with those statesmen-like flashes of grey at the temples).
I don’t for the life of me understand why he isn’t romping it. The man has succeeded at pretty much everything he’s tried (even converting the French to Mormonism!) and his personal life seems squeaky clean*. Perhaps what Evan Thomas wrote about him comes close to explaining his relative lack of popularity, “came off as a phony, even when he was perfectly sincere.” In particular his change of position on abortion does seem genuine. “Changing my position was in line with an ongoing struggle that anyone has that is opposed to abortion personally, vehemently opposed to it, and yet says, ‘Well, I’ll let other people make that decision.’ And you say to yourself, but if you believe that you’re taking innocent life, it’s hard to justify letting other people make that decision.” Well, that seems fair enough. Though if too slickly delivered could easily (and has been) spun as glib and opportunistic.
Reading his potted biography on Wikipedia it frequently stresses that Romney has throughout most of his life before politics been essentially pragmatic in his outlook. I think this is interesting as it places Romney in a very different position from the likes of Santorum who love him or loathe him is certainly principled to a fault. Whether Romney has taken his pragmatic outlook to the point of being unprincipled upon entering politics is a moot point. As I noted above the reasons for his change of position on abortion seem at least plausible. The real question though is as to whether Republicans see it that way and I suspect many regard his lack of adamantine principles (whether this is real or imagined) to be a fatal flaw.
I suspect his faith is not an issue. Or if it is’s a bonus because it’s easily the most “interesting” thing about him. That and his taxes but the only people really interested in that are the IRS…
So, that’s my take on the Romney conundrum. I suppose there’s a couple more things to say. The first is that his relative unpopularity (and the rise of Santorum) seems to represent to me a peculiarity of US politics – the whole travelling circus that is the primaries. Romney is the only Republican candidate who can beat Obama and the Republicans seem to have lost sight of that in face of Rick and Newt and Mitt and the other Rick and whoever else there was engaging in a prolonged slanging match. And, yes, I do believe Romney is the only one who can win. A great many of the same people who believe that an Obama second term is the end of civilization as we know it seem vehemently against the one man who can stop him. A paradox perhaps?
The second is also rather odd. I thought I’d struggle to find anything to say about Romney and I haven’t. Whether any of it is to the purpose is another matter!). When I sat down with the laptop to write this all I could think of is one line and it’s what I’ll end on because when I think of Romney (which I don’t do often) it still returns to me. It is something Oscar Wilde said about George Bernard Shaw:
He hasn’t an enemy in the World and his friends don’t like him either.
PS I’m also aware my going easy-ish on Romney could be seen as an endorsement. It isn’t. There just isn’t too much dirt to dig.
*Despite his first son being bizarrely named, Tagg. The other kids have normal names so that outbreak of Palinitis was nipped in the bud…