Mitt Romney, Come on Down!

 

I’m
excited to watch the Republican National Convention over the next few days. It
seems odd to consider the range of very different interests Mitt Romney needs to
attend in Tampa to enhance his chances of winning the Presidency. I’d say the
GOP needs to thread the needle but most needles only have one hole. Team Romney
has an awful lot to do in just a few days.

 

Mitt
Romney needs to appeal to his base, particularly evangelicals and social
conservatives who distrust him for his previous apostasies on a whole host of
issues. At the same time, Romney needs to present himself as a compassionate
conservative to the independents and moderates who think folks like Todd Akin
represent the true core of the GOP these days. Mitt tried to convince
CBS that the President is irrelevant regarding abortion policy.  He’s hoping to deflect attention from abortion
(and ‘women’s issues’ more generally) because he’s stuck in a horrible spot on
that issue. (This is in part because of his own struggles
to develop a coherent position on abortion. And stick
with it.)

 

Even
though George W. Bush happily talked about himself as America’s CEO, it’s
Romney that really fits the description. He’s trying to convince America that
his corporate experience puts him ahead of President Obama as a potential
economic savior. But Mitt embodies all the negative stereotypes of the 1% too.
His Gore-like woodenness and helmet hair enhance the images of him as an
automaton. The reluctance of his campaign to reveal more information about his
taxes also helps move Romney’s image from hard working entrepreneur to robber
baron. The gap between those images is massive.

 

My
guess is that in reality, Romney’s probably a staid but wonderful person.
Nobody outside his inner circle is quite sure of that though. And unfortunately
for him, the typical strategies used to soften a politician all carry a high
price tag. Talking too much about his family life immediately brings up
Mormonism. Talking about his all-American upbringing calls to mind the overwhelming
advantages of his early privilege. Talking about the personal obstacles he’s
overcome will, uh, well, they’ll get back to us on that one.  Overall, it’s gonna be tough to convince
average folks that Mitt ‘gets it’. Today, CBS describes this as the empathy gap
as its polling shows
that “only 41 percent of Americans
said Romney understands their needs and problems”.  Ouch.

 

Problems
need solutions. While candidate Obama was often criticized for being so focused
on hope and change, his themes were clear and consistent. I really have no idea
what Mitt Romney wants to do if elected President.

 

Okay,
so he wants to cut the deficit. He’s willing to cut programs. (Just not the
ones you like.) He wants to save Medicare. His plan doesn’t sound like it will
actually do that in a way that resembles Medicare. And he’s also focusing on
making America great. Or maybe proud. Or maybe proud of its greatness. Sigh. That
worked for Reagan because the country was dramatically different in 1980. And
Reagan made people feel better. Romney struggles to make people feel at all.

 

So
this week Romney has to create buzz about moving the country in HIS direction,
not just a different direction. This week and this year should be about
competing visions of America but I don’t know that this will happen. Romney
should have already learned that defeating weak incumbents can be done but only
if you demonstrate that what you offer is something people genuinely want.

 

Maybe
that’s the biggest reason I want to watch this convention unfold. I am very
interested to discover what Romney thinks America wants for its future.

 

 

FDO

 

 

 

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