ROMNEY? ROMNEY? I’ve been intrigued by the boomlet for Mitt Romney currently underway in the Republican Party. It hasn’t gotten much media attention, which may tell you more about the candidate than he’d like you to know. But it’s there.
A poll of Republican activists placed Romney right at the top for 2012 – the man most likely to get the GOP nomination for president. Now, what does that say? It says that Republicans are acting like Republicans again, with many of them perfectly prepared to nominate “the next guy in line.” In 1996, Bob Dole, one of the worst candidates in the history of democracy, stretching back to Athens, got the nod because he was next in line. We forget that Ronald Reagan’s candidacy in 1980 actually upset many establishment Republicans because he hadn’t taken a ticket and wasn’t standing in line.
So now Romney is the man of the hour, or minute. Make that “second.” Now, I think Romney is a fine guy. Decent record. Nice family. No apparent scandals. In fact, he probably would make a perfectly acceptable president, and a substantial improvement over the student government head we have now. The problem is getting there, and for Mitt Romney that’s a huge problem. He ran before. His campaign excited two people, and he was one of them.
The issue with Romney harks back to Thomas E. Dewey, the Republican standard bearer in 1944 and 1948. In 1948 the Dewey campaign was dogged by a single line. Dewey was a stiff-necked fellow with a thin mustache. Observing this, one pundit called him “the man on the wedding cake.” He never lived it down. When you look at Romney you feel he’s a man who can be devastated by one line. He is, first of all, too pretty to be president. After a while he begins to look like a model from the Brooks Brothers sale catalogue. If you bend him, he breaks. I don’t know what he can do to change that image, but maybe appearing in public with a hair out of place would help. However, you just wait for that one “man on the wedding cake” line to define him, and you know that someone will come up with it, and that it will hurt…very badly.
The late broadcaster, David Brinkley, told the story of applying for a job to Arthur Krock, the distinguished columnist for The New York Times. Krock’s reply was that the writing sample that Brinkley had included with his application was good enough to keep the job, but not good enough to get it. That is the barrier facing Mitt Romney. He’s good enough to be president, but not good enough to run for president. And that is why Republicans should be careful, unless Romney improves dramatically, about once again picking the next guy in line.
FROM URGENT AGENDA (WWW.URGENTAGENDA.COM)
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