Sunday, September 23, 2012

Romney as a terrible candidate

Lots of writers have covered this ground, but I'm compelled to trod on it too.

On the one hand it's amazing how terrible Romney is doing. After all, he successfully managed to sell himself to a reluctant Republican party. The job of selling himself to a more moderate electorate should be easier, shouldn't it? Besides, Romney is supposed to be good at this kind of salesmanship due to his background in business.

Somehow it turns out that selling yourself as a candidate is maybe harder when the audience is more diverse. Some of the positions that are taken for granted in the GOP (lower taxes are just plain good) require more explanation for the broader audience not steeped in GOP orthodoxy. Romney (unlike Perry, Palin, Bachmann, or Cain) is smart enough to know that some of those GOP orthodoxies aren't very solid, and he can't manage to enthusiastically lie about them the way other candidates might have. So he is bland, avoids specifics, and postpones the date of reckoning until after the election.

Luckily, all that hedging and feinting isn't going unnoticed. Of course Obama points Romney's dodges, but also Romney is just not that good at it. He gives himself away when he's eluding a question--I'm not sure quite what the tells are, but a lot people can see them as clearly as I do. I think perhaps his speech patterns change--the sentences are shorter and more disjoint. They just don't flow in the same way that the longer diatribes against what Obama do.

Gingrich was a speaker who could flawlessly pull off this kind of thing. He could deliver reams of analysis of Obama, or the merits of GOP policy, and they all sounded great. Unfortunately, he could do the same when he talked about space colonies, so we knew that he could make anything sound good, thereby demonstrating that he was a silver-tongued charlatan who couldn't be trusted.

In comparison, Romney is more like us--nervous when he lies or prevaricates. And that's exactly what he has to do now until Election Day. May God have mercy on his soul, but Americans shouldn't.

Grit your teeth, Mitt. Just X more days of this.

Extras. Nate Silver says the Romney is trying to be the generic Republican candidate. Jon Stewart says the same thing, but with much better jokes. It turns out a generic Republican can win over Obama, but actually flesh, blood, and flawed Republicans can't. What is a real person to do? Bleach out those personal bits.

Herman Cain proclaims he'd be doing better. Many at conservative site HotAir disagree. Lots are resigned, few have buyer's remorse. Not many analyzing why the choices for GOP presidential nominee were so poor this time.


Anonymous said...

With the way the GOP is these days, a generic Republican would not defeat President Obama either. Their brnad is synonymous with obstruction and give-aways to the rich. Romney's comments in what he thought was a "private" gathering (spoken out loud in front of dozens of people is private?), pretty much lays bear the GOP thinking, and it's pretty ugly.

I agree he's an awful candidate -- and the best of the litter. Chris Christy would be no better; perhaps Jon Huntsman might have been the most formidable head-to-head, but only because he has class. Perhaps he could have brought along the party to a more moderate set of principle, but since he couldn't generate any enthusiasm he hardly stood a chance.

Actually, by nominating Romney the GOP core can claim that they should have nominated a "true conservative" to explain the shellacking they will probably take in this election. Glaldy, this will clear the way for another wipe-out in 2016 when they DO nominate what they consider a "true conservative". After that, they will moderate to survive. They really should have done it this time -- letting Rick Santorum have carte blanche, for example -- to learn their lesson.

ModeratePoli said...

None of the GOP choices would have been strong enough conservatives plus strong enough candidates to be the test case that shows a "true conservative" is rejected by the general electorate. Santorum was definitely too weak to fit the bill.

The GOP needs the arrival of the next Reagan, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen, just as the Dems haven't gotten another FDR.

At least we probably won't have to wait too long for the GOP to move on to their next big theme after this election (assuming they don't take the WH). I'll certainly be watching much more closely than I did in 2008.