Frank Rich on Mitt Romney

Empty Spaces
Empty Spaces

A Frank Rich article worth reading, especially since odds are that Mitt Robot will be the GOP candidate for president, even if his own party is not enthusiastic about him.

Or as Frank Rich puts it, His greatest passion is something he’s determined to keep secret.

As this narrative has it, Americans are at least comfortable with old, familiar Mitt—heaven knows he’s been running long enough. He may be a bore and a flip-­flopper, but he doesn’t frighten the ­horses. His steady sobriety will win the day once the lunatic Newt has finished blowing himself up. As one prominent Romney surrogate, the Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz, has it, Romney is “the most vetted candidate out there.” Maybe—if you assume there will be no more questions about Bain, the Cayman Islands, the expunged internal records from Romney’s term as governor, or his pre-2010 tax returns. Or about the big dog that has yet to bark, and surely will by October: Romney’s long career as a donor to and lay official of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But you can also construct an alternative narrative—that the vetting has barely even begun, and that the “Mitt Romney” we’ve been sold since 2008 is a lazy media construct, a fictional creation, or maybe even a hoax.

To escape the twin taints of Bain and his one-percenter’s under–15 percent tax rate, some Republican elders are urging Romney to “stake his campaign on something larger and far more important than his own business expertise” (The Wall Street Journal editorial page) or, as Fred Barnes suggested more baldly, to find “a bigger idea to deflect attention from Bain.” But even Mitt’s own spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, once described him (to the Des Moines Register) as “not a very notional leader.” Romney is incapable of an arresting turn of phrase, let alone a fresh idea. Running on empty, he resorts to filling out his canned campaign orations with lengthy recitations of the lyrics from patriotic anthems. (“Believe in America” is his campaign slogan.) Take away the bogus boasts about “job creation” at Bain and the disowned Romneycare, and what else is there to Mitt Romney? Mainly, his unspecified service to his church and his perfect marriage. That reduces him to the stature of the Republican presidential candidate he most resembles, Thomas Dewey—in both his smug and wooden campaign style and in the overrating of his prospects by the political culture. Even the famously dismissive description of Dewey popularized by the Washington socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth—as “the little man on the wedding cake”—seems to fit Mitt.

No Republican has ever won the nomination after losing the South Carolina primary. No incumbent president since FDR has won reelection with an unemployment rate higher than 7.2 percent on Election Day, and ours currently stands at 8.5 percent. No candidate with a 58 percent disapproval rating—especially Newt—is likely to win a national election, even for dogcatcher. But surely someone has to be nominated by the Republicans, and someone has to win in November.

“This race is getting to be even more interesting,” said Romney when conceding to Gingrich in South Carolina. As always, it’s impossible to know whether he really meant what he said or not, but this much is certain: He will continue to be the least interesting thing about it.

(click here to continue reading Frank Rich on Mitt Romney — New York Magazine.)

Or the whole article on one page, here

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