Friday, March 9, 2012

Dean Barnett, Hugh Hewitt, Mitt Romney and PunditFight

Hugh Hewitt, who has been gracious to this blog in the past recently referenced PunditFight as he laid out his delegate hypothesis to his peers. Not surprisingly its Pro-Romney.
What Just Happened? Punditmania 2012
I will test this conclusion against a line-up of guests from the Daily Mail's Toby Harnden, to Michael Barone and Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner, AEI's James Pethokoukis, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, Chris Cillizza and Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, Commentary's John Podhoretz, and the original dynamic duo of on-air blogging and punditry show-downs, Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus.
Interestingly on this day, I was compelled to reference an old interview I did with the late Dean Barnett, a good friend and occasional fill-in for Hugh. Though this blog has always strived to be post-partisan, I recalled Dean's statement about wrestlers warring on screen but being cordial in the lockers. How civility may not always be possible but that it wasn't as heated as the audience were led to believe. These reflected my own personal thinking during my time away from full-time pundit watching.

My published transcripts didn't say as much as I remembered however I did find some endorsements of Mitt Romney that might be relevant for this time.
A PunditFight conversation with Dean Barnett
APF: It seems to me that Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson had the most compelling conservative credentials but there was a disconnect somewhere personality wise.

DB: One of the things that still irks me, is I don’t think the true Mitt Romney ever really came through to the electorate. If it did, this is a guy who worked for a big Company. Everybody who worked with him, everybody that did business with him loved him. Universally respected, universally liked.

I remember I was in Washington during the Primary season having lunch with another conservative writer and the name Mitt Romney came up, he’s question about Mitt Romney was "how come nobody like him". The people who know him like him but its true – and I’ve overstated it a lot – bur Mitt Romney didn’t quite connect with the electorate. Part of it was Mitt’s an idea guy. Mitt’s not a pound the lectern kind of guy. He’s an idea guy. He’s a thinker. He’s not a technocrat in that he’s also warm and outgoing and engaging guy. He is at his core an idea guy, I think if ran a campaign that communicated that side of his nature rather than what he did I think it might have gone differently. I hope he stays involved in public life because he has a lot of ideas and especially with the economic problems we’re having right now. He has a lot of ideas that should be heard, it’d be nice to have someone in politics who understands something about economics.

APF: It was certainly more pronounced in the case of Fred Thompson and we’re seeing the opposite with Palin. Do you think that kind of deficiency in the minds of voters can be overcome.

DB: To use your wrestling analogy, on the one hand you’re born with what you’re born with. On the other hand there’s a craft of getting through to people. You look at some wrestlers who get so much better – look at Hulk Hogan in his initial incarnation didn’t go over at all. But in his latest incarnation after Rocky III he was the biggest thing since sliced bread. They can develop their craft to become better and better. I think the same is true of politicians. They can learn what works, they can learn what doesn’t work they stay away from their weaknesses, they can emphasize their strengths. As you point out there is no substitute for - if you’ve got someone who can deliver a speech like Barack Obama, if you’ve got someone with the charisma and personal appeal of Sarah Palin. That’s being born on third base in a political sense with that kind of talent.

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