Bruce Reed is actually a little wistful about the decline of Mitt Romney, and the possibility that we're seeing our final, remarkable, ridiculous Romney Family YouTubes.
For the past year, the Romney clan has welcomed us into their lives on an unprecedented scale. They had us over for Christmas to see Mitt got out his legal pad and ask his family whether to run. His refreshing wife Ann showed us how much she has to put up with. The Five Brothers took us around the country on a MasterCard tour of sporting events, sharing their dumb jokes and fraternal banter. Every step of the way, Tagg revealed family secrets and spoke great truths, rarely on purpose.
Mitt never does anything by accident, but even he has shown his own charm as the hopelessly square dad, a throwback to '60s sitcoms when every normal family was a pretend one. The Romneys was designed to be the most manipulative, invasive, manufactured reality show in political history. In spite of itself, it turned out to be revealing anyway. Like The Office, The Romneys has proved that fake reality TV is better because it has a script.
This presidential campaign season has given us two kinds of politicking, and I don't know which I like less. On the one hand you have the faux folksiness of the Romneys and the Clinton campaign. Long before she was blubbering in diners and marathoning town halls, Clinton steered a bullshit-heavy media campaign to make her look more approachable. She* and Bill parodied the Sopranos in a diner, Bill ran on a treadmill, etc. The goal was to make people who you can't even glance at without the Secret Service frisking you look like plain folks, like your friends.
The other kind of politicking has been the Kennedy kind, the stage-managed attempt to make candidates look not approachable, but aspirational. With a couple exceptions (like his extremely awkward dinner with fans) Barack Obama's campaign has sold him as a heroic guru. Same with Edwards, who's made a lot out of his wife's illness, but more in an effort to look heroic than to look relatable.