Mitt Romney

Does This Man Scare You?

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The liberal pundit/journo-blogs have been piling on Mitt Romney for his strange performance in the GOP debate: Full of gaffes but so smooth that no one (in the room) noticed. Josh Marshall:

Romney seems so transparently phoney, so willing to say anything that I find him genuinely frightening. And this is something I don't feel about any of the other credible Republican presidential candidates, though I obviously have criticisms of each. Romney seems almost like a caricature of the political phoney.

Ezra Klein:

Romney either doesn't know what happened in the Iraq War, or he is lying about it. Either way, it's inexcusable for a serious presidential candidate to be this misinformed on the preeminent issue of the day. Romney is unfit for the presidency, and the apparent lack of concern among Republicans in the aftermath of these statements show how utterly hollow their professed commitment to the Iraq War is.

Romney isn't unique on that last point: Is any GOP nominee not going to lie and lie about the Iraq War? Are any of their flacks not going to banter and belch with the same pride and decibel level as the Romneydroid whom Klein interviewed? Au contraire. If we're talking about McCain or Giuliani, we are reasonably certain that they'd be worse. As I noticed while dithering with this post, Matt Yglesias said as much.

Given that he's a Republican, that he has a business background, and that corporate America holds many levers of political power—in practice he'd probably still do lots of bad stuff. But I doubt he'd go the extra mile of badness or force the issue the way Giuliani or McCain almost certainly will.

This is really amusing to watch unfold. Republicans are making, basically, the same choice they made in 2000. There were longstanding doubts about George W. Bush's commitment to conservatism and what his actual priorities would be if he got into office. But he had a decent resume (governor is a good resume item, at least) and a good name and lots of money so they rolled the die. Romney has an even shorter political resume than Bush, but that isn't necessarily evidence that he'd be a harmless president. Insofar as we know anything about it's that 1)he wants to "confront" our enemies and change the Middle East "away from extremism" and that 2)he likes to compromise with Democrats. Those are two things that a Republican president can get far doing, which makes Romney worrisome.

More worrisome than the other candidates, even? Probably. Think of how they'll deal with Congress. Giuliani is power-hungry, but he's a micro-manager who succeeds at economic policy and doesn't really care about moral/social policy. McCain is too obstinate to get much done in any congressional confrontations, and Thompson is too sleepy to do much of anything.

Incidentally, remember that Bill Richardson ad that showed the avuncular gov interviewing for a job with a prick-ish HR guy? Thompson could do his own version.

INTERVIEWER: So, what makes you qualified to be president?

THOMPSON: [in a manly, subterranean rumble] Well, ah talk lahk thees.

INTERVIEWER: Holy crap: You're hired!

Thompson has a better chance of becoming president than Richardson.

NEXT: The Return of the Thin White Anti-Capitalist

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  1. Thompson is too sleepy to do much of anything

    So, doesn’t that make him the perfect president?

  2. “But he [Bush] had a decent resume (governor is a good resume item, at least) and a good name and lots of money so they rolled the die.”

    I think you’ve put your finger on the Republican problem. They’re rolling only one die. Could that explain the low IQ level of Republican candidates?

  3. Is Romney the Republican equivalent of John Edwards?

  4. You just improved my opinion of McCain.

  5. McCain’s ego has no equal. Compared to McCain, Edwards is St. Francis.

  6. I think Mitt Romney has made a major strategic mistake trying to position himself as a social conservative and Bush loyalist.

    I think there is a strong constituency in the Republican Party for a successful businessman who is socially liberal. Romney had that, and in trying to remake himself as a social conservative, he comes off as someone with no real principles.

    And in trying to remember his current positions on everything, he appears to be plastic and overrehearsed.

    There is another choice, though, and information is available at http://www.libertariansforpaul.com

  7. Whenever I hear Romney’s name, I remember that “Gosh, I love America” line in my head, and proceed to throw up a little in my mouth. The second the word “Gosh” slips out of your mouth, people should be able to tell you’re full of saccharine shit.

  8. PS I can’t believe Paul is losing to that guy.

  9. Compared to McCain, Edwards is St. Francis.

    Reading this comment, I was reminded of a story told to me by a friend who’s an emergency room nurse, concerning a guy who showed up in the emergency room needing to have a small statue of St. Francis removed from his ass.

    Any implied similarity between the situation of the statue and Mr. Edwards is purely coincidental, of course. 😉

  10. Fools! Richardson will be the Democratic nominee.

    Don’t know about Mitt. I mean, Mitt? What is that?

  11. coincidental but very creative!

  12. One thing about McCain is, I have a feeling that he will choose Jeb Bush as Vice President. It just wouldn’t surprise me if the Bush family and McCain made a deal like that.

  13. Romney seems so transparently phoney, so willing to say anything that I find him genuinely frightening.

    So what, the liberal bloggers don’t like Bill Clinton, now?

  14. “Is any GOP nominee not going to lie and lie about the Iraq War? ”

    YES!!!

    RON PAUL!!!!!!!!!

  15. That picture of Romney is fantastic. For some reason it makes me think of The Running Man, I have no idea why.

  16. Deus,
    I’ve long thought so. He hasn’t decided whether he’s Rudy (“I governed in a BLUE state!”) or John (“Yep, I’m a real Conservative! Religious, too.”), just like Edwards can’t decide whether he’s Hillary (“I’m experienced and can fight dirty and I like health care”) or Barack (“I’m charismatic and an outsider and I say pretty things”).

    Both are making this choice because they really don’t have much to go on. Romney’s resume is stronger than Edwards’, but neither’s background screams either effectiveness or any particular political positions.

  17. The evidence that Republicans are “making the same choice” in 08 as 00 is that Romney’s clearing a healthy 10% nationally, I guess.

  18. I have to say, every time I see Romney he reminds more of “the Smiler” from Transmetropolitan.

  19. I recall telling a friend a couple weeks ago that Romney scares the shit out of me. It’s the phoniness combined with the wackier-than-usual religion, plus the fact that he kind of looks like Greg Stillson. The picture up there just sends it home. Holy crap.

  20. Without even reading the post, the picture reminded me of an oldish political/scifi book called Interface, by Stephen Bury. Romney looks like the sort of guy who’d get a biochip in his head to be able to “sense” the mood of the electorate in real time

  21. “Whenever I hear Romney’s name, I remember that “Gosh, I love America” line in my head, and proceed to throw up a little in my mouth. The second the word “Gosh” slips out of your mouth, people should be able to tell you’re full of saccharine shit.”

    Not to be a downer in the Romney-bashing lovefest, but as a Mormon I’ve seen my share of squeaky-clean guys fresh outta Provo, and using the word “gosh” isn’t necessarily a sign of insincerity so much as of being from a different culture than most of the people posting here, where even the mildest profanity is frowned upon.

    I’m voting for Paul, not Romney, but name me one politician besides Paul running for president who isn’t willing to say whatever they think will pick up votes.

    McCain, Guiliani, Clinton, and Obama all strike me as being marginally more statist than Romney.

  22. Pro Lib brings up a good point. Just what is Mitt short for? If it’s not short for anything, why did his parents name him after baseball apparatus?

  23. Wiki to the rescue:
    his real first name is WILLARD.
    No wonder he goes by his middle name.

  24. Jh –

    I didn’t mind his “Gosh” as much as I minded the reflexive way he went straight into a [very bad] Norman Rockwell tone poem.

    If you can’t think of one thing you don’t like about America, what do you want to be President for? The country’s already perfect and doesn’t need your assistance.

  25. Is Romney the Republican equivalent of John Edwards?

    Well, there is a Greg Stillson vibe about both of them, and that’s not a good thing.

  26. Now that I think about it, that should be Mitt’s campaign slogan:

    “America is perfect, and I’m here to talk to you about change.”

  27. I think you’ve put your finger on the Republican problem. They’re rolling only one die. Could that explain the low IQ level of Republican candidates?

    It’s just a metaphor. Republican presidential candidates roll 2d10 for IQ.

  28. Is any GOP nominee not going to lie and lie about the Iraq War?

    Yeah, but only one. You know who it is.

  29. Fluffy says: “I didn’t mind his “Gosh” as much as I minded the reflexive way he went straight into a [very bad] Norman Rockwell tone poem.

    If you can’t think of one thing you don’t like about America, what do you want to be President for? The country’s already perfect and doesn’t need your assistance.”

    As I recall from watching the debate, with that response Romney was essentially ducking a loaded question that was designed to elicit a response that could be edited out of context to appear damaging. I worked on a campaign this last election where someone asked my candidate what he thought about Bush, and he gave a nuanced answer about the pros and cons (yeah, yeah, I know, you don’t think there ARE any pros). His opponent edited out everything but the phrase, “I support President Bush …”, removed the ellipses, added a period, and then she ran that clip over and over again on TV, radio, and hit pieces ad nauseam, completely misrepresenting my candidate’s views.

    So, yeah, Romney didn’t give the most responsive or intelligent-sounding answer, but if you’ve been on the dirty end of political hatchet jobs (such as, oh, this article we’re discussing), and don’t have a snappy response ready for a question with a response that could be edited into “Mitt hates America!”, platitudes can seem mighty tempting.

  30. Romney seems so transparently phoney, so willing to say anything that I find him genuinely frightening.

    Clinton seems so transparently phony, so willing to say anything that I find her genuinely frightening.

  31. It is interesting that that Ron Paul’s views most closely align with Pat Buchanan than any other person I can think of. Makes sense as Paul is a populist libertarian. Aside from the drug war there is not much difference except Paul is more of an extremist. (gold standard and all that jazz). Their foreign policy views are very close.

  32. I’m voting for him because he is the best dresser. Like, how can anybody with that much style screw up in office? I’m so glad that CNN reports the important stuff.

  33. There is no way Republican Americans will vote for a Mormon in the primaries. I will eat my hat if they do. Or drink a fifth of vodka.

    My thought is this: We have these 24 hour news station, why not have each candidate from each party on for an hour. The main question would be, I think, Iraq. I think there are fewer than 24 hopefulls, so why not actually let the voter hear the candidate for more than 30.2 seconds? Not sure who to have interview them, or maybe let the candidate select their own interviewer. That would say alot about them in the selection. The gasbags would get their turns on air, the candidates could have an hour to say whatever they want, and the voting public may learn something. The hour would have to be live. No edits, no commercial breaks. That, to me would be a fine use of fox news, msnbc, cnn, and the others. Hell, I should write to currenttv.com and see if I can get a grant to do this.

  34. oldumberseven says: “There is no way Republican Americans will vote for a Mormon in the primaries. I will eat my hat if they do. Or drink a fifth of vodka.”

    You mean “There is no way ENOUGH Republican Americans will vote for a Mormon …” Mormons are about 80% Republican, and will vote for Romney the way libertarians will vote for Paul. Romney has a shot at many of the states centered around Utah … Utah is a lock, he has a good shot at Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming, and is probably going to be a contender in California, Oregon, and Idaho. I was in Utah on a skiing vacation, and from watching the Fox News Utah coverage, you’d think Romney was running unopposed. If Romney can pull enough delegates to keep Guiliani or McCain from winning the primary outright, he might wind up brokering a deal to be the VP nominee.

    Ooops, bringing up facts again. My bad.

  35. Make that “California, Oregon, and WASHINGTON.”

  36. 1. The President Romney we should have had was George Romney. Mitt’s accomplishments are copies of George’s (pale copies when you consider the state of American Motors before the Rambler, or how GR could address a union delegation, disagree and keep their respect), and now you see him trying to avoid the mistakes (but making them anyway). He thinks his father’s mistake was to appear too soft, too liberal; his father’s mistake may instead have been to explain changes in his positions in careless terms.

    2. So he’s pretending to be a Bushie. Unless you are a Bushie yourself, why attack him for being insincere about this? There are two possibilities. One is that he’s really more authoritarian than Bush. The other is that he’s less. What does the evidence suggest? My money is that he’s having a joke at social conservatives’ expense. Why not let him?

    3. He’s a CEO at heart. Why shouldn’t he do the expedient thing. In business this would be seen as a virtue, no?

    But I’m not considering voting Republican in 2008, so I can’t tell you what to think.

  37. The lack of seriousness of most Republicans on the Iraq War was definitively proven when their response to the obvious problems from late 2003-late 2005 was to insist that there weren’t any such problems, and that the biased news media was making them up. Nope, freedom is messy, there is no insurgency, the insurgency is on its last legs, there is not civil war, blah blah blah.

    John McCain is a notable exception to this, despite his foolish statements about the Baghdad market. He spent those 2 1/2 years shouting for the administration to do something.

    For all their talk about Iraq (and not, say, Afghanistan/easter Pakistan) being the most important thing in the world, it’s flagrantly obvious that most Republicans in Washington would rather lose the war than lose an election.

  38. why did his parents name him after baseball apparatus?

    I thought the answer would be here. Alas, no.

  39. Rhywun,

    This is totally creepy–I thought the same thing. Good thing Christopher Walken is still with us 🙂

  40. Wow. One of the girls names on that list is “Abcde”! LOL.

  41. Not to be a downer in the Romney-bashing lovefest, but as a Mormon I’ve seen my share of squeaky-clean guys fresh outta Provo, and using the word “gosh” isn’t necessarily a sign of insincerity so much as of being from a different culture than most of the people posting here, where even the mildest profanity is frowned upon.

    Then he shouldn’t reflexively blurt out a minced oath. If you’re gonna sin, might as well not be such a pussy about it.

    Abcde? How the hell is that pronounced?

  42. His first name is Willard? Like Captain Willard? Oh, dear, this is getting creepy.

    Look out if he plays The Doors’ “The End” at his inauguration.

  43. Romney reminds me a lot of George H.W. Bush – a moderate Republican who remakes himself as a conservative after he realizes that’s what the voters want.

    Of course, after a certain point, the facade falls apart and we get things like the ADA, the 1990 budget deal with new taxes, the “Civil Rights” quota bill, etc.

    The one area where I do like Romney is for his willingness to greatly expand legal immigration for skilled immigrants. It makes a lot of sense.

    But overall, I’ll pass, TYVM. I’d much rather vote for Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Hunter, Tancredo, Paul, Brownback, Gilmore, and maybe even Tommy Thompson than Romney.

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