Saturday, January 5, 2008

Mitt Romney's campaign

Every once in a while I highlight comment threads that are relevant to the spirit of the APF. While I don't consider it a good thing for politics there is no denying that Style can often trump Substance. An overwhelming majority of voters are casual observers who don't follow a candidate's every move and policy positions. Instead they base their vote on superficial impressions based on a few minutes of TV screen time. The comment thread I will be highlighting discusses the issue of aesthetics as it relates to republican candidate Mitt Romney.

This thread comes from Ross Douthat's Column for The Atlantic on January 3, 2008

My Mitt Romney problem (and your's?)

Mitt Romney has to be judged the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, but it's awfully hard to find anyone not named Hugh Hewitt who seems excited about the prospect. More than enough ink has been spilled on how his political inauthenticity, his consultant-ish pursuit of ideological correctness, has undermined any excitement surrounding his candidacy, replacing it with the resigned, "he's the best we can do" thinking that undergirds the NR endorsement and others like it. (David Brooks' column this weekend offers, I think, the last word on the subject.) For my part, though, the most alienating and off-putting quality of the Romney campaign hasn't been what's he’s said, but how he’s said it - the words he's chosen and the tone he's employed, which have made following the Romney campaign the equivalent of listening to nails drawn across a chalkboard.

I've tried to highlight the best points and counterpoints in this post. Enjoy!

John and Ross,

Please stop with the "annoying" and "irritating" comments about Romney's style. Let's focus on the issues.

Posted by Rob

Style is an issue here for two reasons

1)This is a campaign. Campaigns need voters. If somebody sounds insincere, it's an issue.

2) It seems clear that Romney's positions on every substantive issue are purely poll-driven. In other words, complaints about his appearing insincere may be stylistic, but that insincerity has lead directly to Romney-the-chameleon on matters of substantive policy. That does not instill me with a lot of confidence in the consistency of his new positions.

Posted by John
We are really in trouble as a country if we choose not to vote for someone merely because of his/her lack of charisma. Object to Romney on whatever campaign issues you want. Feel free to doubt his sincerity on policy changes. But it's a sad day when a voter goes to a caucus or primary and says, "Ew, he creeps me out!"

Me, I'd rather have a "phony-sounding" dedicated, creative leader in the White House than a homeboy who has no idea about foreign policy, flip-flops as much as Mitt but won't admit it (unlike Romney), childishly handles finances, lets So. Baptist dogma skew his decisions, and and really IS a phony!

Posted by Jon
But it's a sad day when a voter goes to a caucus or primary and says, "Ew, he creeps me out!"

Like it or not, that's exactly how most American voters choose a president. Furthermore, they position their views on a candidate's grasp of policy, etc. in direct proportion to how much "he creeps me out." I imagine a number of Romney supporters were among those who wouldn't vote for John Kerry because he was "a flip-flopper". The differences? Romney's flip-flopped the "right way" and John Kerry "creeped them out."

Posted by Lynn
I'm sick of people saying they won't support Romney because he sounds 'too slick' or he is 'annoying'.

Ross, if you are going to attack a guy because of his character, you have slid we below the belt.

I don't care that he has changed his mind or that he 'sounds' calculating when he talks. I only care that when he was in charge, he made the right decisions at the right time. He is extremely intelligent: BYU Valedictorian, and Harvard Law/Business school grad. He turned many, many businesses around, and he ran a great governership in Mass.

Maybe his responses about Terrorism, Economics and Immigration ARE scripted. So what? Isn't that better than a guy like Mike Huckabee that doesn't know what's going on around him at all? Or better than John McCain who is just angry all the time. If he has 'memorized' the issues going on around him, then he will be much better prepared to deal with them.

Lets not be stupid and vote another George Bush, think-with-your-heart clone. Let's vote someone with a brain who has PROVEN he can get it done.

Vote for Mitt Romney

Posted by Casey

Although I agree Mitt has a strong resume, I doubt his electability. The number of folks he truly inspires seems limited. His background suits him well to connect with top executives and board members, but not the average American.

As a business owner I would be pretty concerned if I pumped millions of dollars into a product launch and I was only getting limited traction. That indicates to me there is something wrong with the product. The fact that Mitt has not been able to connect with so many Republicans, even after his $17 million investment, is a pretty good indication there is a problem. It's not the message, it's the man!

Posted by rough-air
"Please stop with the "annoying" and "irritating" comments about Romney's style. Let's focus on the issues," sez Rob. Rob, a politician's ability to irritate and annoy is an issue. (We may thank God for that, as it preserves us from Hillary in the White House.) Romney comes across as what Orwell once memorably described as "a hole in the air". To call him plastic is to insult a useful and protean material. He is the Edsel of Republican politicians, proof that an expensive ad campaign cannot sell a clunker product. Not forever, anyway.

Posted by Scott Walker
Scott says: "a politician's ability to irritate and annoy is an issue".

Last I checked, having a charismatic, funny president won't lower the cost of oil, secure the borders, keep taxes low or catch terrorists. Or maybe you can show me a President that used a joke to solve any of these problems?

Posted by Casey
Wow! This has got to be the shallowest argument I ever heard against any candidate. Almost as shallow as the majority of those in favor of Huckabee.

Posted by mperry57

Learn about Mitt Romney
Go to The Atlantic's official website
Read Ross Douthat's bio
Read more of Ross Douthat's work

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