Friday, April 6, 2012

Mitt Romney, Straw Man

“A fool and his money are soon elected.” - Will Rogers

A few days ago, American Thinker carried a piece entitled: “How Mitt Can Win.” The argument was unremarkable, but the comments that followed were not. Published reader sentiments were almost universally negative, not about the writer’s facts or logic, but about Romney’s character – or lack of it. Such visceral animus is startling because many American Thinker readers might be described as somewhat east of Genghis Kahn - or be described as believers in “anybody but BO’B.”

Yet, queasiness about a Mitt candidacy or a Romney presidency is not news. He may never be the choice for most Americans, but he is clearly the preferred choice of the Republican establishment. Nothing says ‘business as usual’ like an endorsement from John McCain or the Bush family.

And Romney may be able to buy the nomination; yet, he is very unlikely to purchase the White House. Beating Obama was once thought to be lead pipe cinch. A Romney candidacy changes that calculus in many significant ways. If the character question can’t be answered for work-a-day Republicans, conservatives, or American Thinker readers; imagine what Democrats or liberals will do with that single flaw in a general election.

What Romney believes or pretends to believe no longer matters. That ship has sailed. What matters now is what voters believe about Mitt Romney. And here the news is not good.

Romney’s character problem is variously described as inconsistency, double talk, flip flopping, or any number of euphemisms that suggest that his beliefs are as variable as weather. Still, significant change of heart on any issue is not necessarily a political handicap. Churchill was fond of saying that a change of facts should alter beliefs.

Ronald Reagan provides a telling contrast. Early in life, Reagan was a liberal activist and high union official. Based on his experience with west coast Communists, California’s social profligacy, and union corruption; Reagan eventually altered his views and his party affiliation. Through his writings and speech making, it was always possible to audit the vector of his thinking. Reagan came over from the dark side and the electorate knew how he got there. Indeed, few presidents since Lincoln left a better paper trail of personal political evolution. With Romney, there is no intellectual paper trail, just a series of apparent reversals which paint him, fairly or not, as a serial opportunist.

Many voters seem to view Romney as the rich kid trying to pledge for the most exclusive fraternity on campus; more interested in joining the club than changing it. Hard to determine what Mitt stands for besides getting elected. And by playing to both sides of any issue, Romney panders to the worst instincts of the beltway establishment.

Surely, mainstream conservatives are looking for an iconoclast willing to break the social, economic, and geo-strategic paradigms that have contributed to the American decline. Romney is a lot of things, but few think of him as a game changer. He may have shed the jacket and tie, but not the image of a mediocre, buttoned down, traditional politician.

Obama’s greatest asset is that people know what he represents. “Obamacare” may go down in flames before the election, but no one has any doubts about Barack’s politics. Even his opponents will give him credit for an effort based on neo-socialist principles, however misguided those ideals might be. That much cannot be said of Romney.

Adding insult to injury, of four Republican candidates, Mitt is the one who makes Obama look the best. Indeed, Romney might have to spend the majority of his political capital trying to explain how a Massachusetts elephant is not just another Washington jackass.

Romney’s “etch-a-sketch” reputation was not created by Democrats. Even his staff appears to believe that Mitt is, and will be, a chameleon as the political terrain dictates. This may be, at once, a winning primary tactic and a disastrous election strategy. All that is certain about Romney to date is that he desperately wants to be president. And wanting to be somebody may not be enough. If Romney is selected as the Republican candidate, liberal or Democrat Party hit men may be the least of his worries.

Consider the following nightmare scenario.

Reagan conservatives, the Americans Elect movement, and traditional Jews/Christians represent three minorities whose influence in a close election could be decisive. True conservatives may not be moved by the “anybody but Obama” appeal and just stay home. Most voters are motivated to vote for, not against, a candidate. The Americans Elect movement, while possibly a Trojan horse or a fake “third way,” will, like hard core conservatives, nonetheless, tap into the ‘plague on both (Republican and Democrat)) their houses’ sentiment. Remember that Ross Perot made Clinton possible – twice. And traditional Christians, and some Jews, have long standing beefs with Bishop Romney’s co-religionists, the details of which are well represented in the Press and on the internet. If and when the Democrats have to go nuclear; religion is sure to be a weapon of choice.

Should a Romney candidacy be as inevitable as it now seems, 2012 may be known as the year of the lesser of two evils; or the year for choosing between the devil you know and the devil that makes you gag. If historical voting statistics mean anything, Barak Obama has the edge in such a contest. The loudest voice in any American election is often inertia.

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About Me

The author is a native of the Bronx, a transplant to DC. He is a Vietnam veteran and former USAF Intelligence officer with tours at all of the major 3 button Intelligence agencies. He is a graduate of the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. School and Cardinal Hayes HS in NYC. He also has several degrees from less illustrious institutions. Check Six writes primarily at G. Murphy Donovan and Agnotology in Journalism. His work has appeared in various political, national security, and Intelligence journals.