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Saturday, April 21, 2012

President Mitt Romney?


Last November when there was an election going on I received a call from a woman who informed me that she represented the Tea Party.  "This is going to be an interesting conversation," I chuckled, and when she asked why, I confessed I was pretty much a "Yellow Dog Democrat."  She asked what that meant and I told her it's someone who's such a partisan that if the Democrats ran a yellow dog for an office, he'd vote for the dog.  She was shocked.  "You mean you support Barak Obama?" she managed to choke out.  I responded by asking her if she'd ever in her life voted for a Democrat.  'NO!" she replied, horrified at the impossibility.  "Then you're a Yellow Dog Republican," I informed her.  She hung up.

Goldwater and Johnson
Actually I have voted for Republicans from time to time.  My very first vote for President in 1964, when I was newly 21, was cast for Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee.  Why?  Because I knew that Lyndon Johnson, the incumbent, was a crook, and I didn't want to vote for a man I thought despicable.  Later, when I lived in Indianapolis Richard Lugar was the mayor and subsequently (and still) the Republican Senator from Indiana.  I voted for him every chance I was given, and would do so again if still living in that state.  He's a first rate person, very smart, very compassionate, a moderate, all things I admire.  Alas, he's currently locked into a major battle with a Tea Party candidate, and might well lose—Lugar doesn't change his opinions just because the wind is blowing harder to the right.  I wish the good Senator well.

Senator Richard Lugar
Now that Mitt Romney is the likely Republican candidate I asked myself if I could possibly support him.  It's not out of the question, but I think the country would be in far better hands with Barak Obama, who, while not the overwhelming force for change promised in 2008, is much like Lugar: smart, considerate, a proven commodity who's doing good things on an international scale, and handling the mess that the USA is in about as well as anyone could.  He's still learning on the job, as all presidents must, and he's solid choice.

But there are things about Mitt that I also like.  He has a proven talent as an executive, with a splendid track record at straightening out big messes, and (though he'd currently deny it) a willingness to compromise his stands if that's necessary to get the job done.  This willingness to compromise principles is the very thing that makes many Republicans dislike and distrust him.  Once in favor of treating gays fairly, Mitt now thinks that discrimination against them is fine.  But who's to say that his sense of fairness won't return once he isn't facing an immediate election.  Gays are rapidly winning the support of the American people, so by 2016, when President Romney has to run for the second time, he'll likely be behind them once again.  The same goes for more or less any stance he's taken.  As his own campaign manager claims, he's really an "Etch-A-Sketch" politician.  Currently he states he doesn't believe in evolution, but I trust that is, like many of the things he's currently saying, a necessary lie to get the required number of votes.  Mitt's an intelligent man and he knows that the science behind evolution is rock solid, so his statements to the contrary will be forgotten once elected when the need to apply scientific principles to problems as they arise becomes paramount. 
As an atheist, I don't like the idea that Mitt's a Mormon, but then I don't like the idea that anyone who wants to be President must at least profess to a strong religious belief.  I'll have more to say about religion and the presidency in a future blog post, so let it go for now.
What I don't like about Mitt is his lack of a solid grounding. It's good to be willing to explore and change one's mind.  It's bad not to have anything that you won't jettison if and when it proves a political liability.  Say what you will about Barak Obama, he doesn't suddenly alter what he believes in just because it's unpopular.
Moreover, Mitt doesn't quite seem real, as if there's no "person" inside him.  Yes, he looks like a President (handsome, square-jawed, although, as one reporter commented, he seems more like a statue of himself), but his attempts at genuine personality are embarrassing—toe-curling—to watch.  When Barak Obama, clowning at a ceremony, sang a snatch of a song and did so very well, Mitt leaped to the challenge and a few days later crooned "America the Beautiful"—the entire first verse—in a key that doesn't really exist.    In 2008, when Mitt first tried to win the nomination, he went jogging with the press, and they were astounded by the fact that he didn't sweat!  In 2012, when he again jogged with the press, he generated tons of sweat, thus showing he'd learned how to seem more real.  A columnist for Time Magazine later commented that Mitt strikes people as someone who's been "sent down from the mothership to report back, and, in turn, the humans find him pleasant enough, and surprisingly life-like."  Poor baby, he can be very awkward, and frequently first puts his foot in his mouth and then proceeds to jam it in tight ("Ann has two Cadillacs!" he told autoworkers to convince them  he's truly on their side).  When Mitt gets cornered and starts spouting slogans ("I AM A CONSERVATIVE!  "I AM A CONSERVATIVE!" "I AM A CONSERVATIVE!) his eyes can actually spin like pinwheels.

I've recently become fascinated by—of all things—quantum mechanics and string theory, and was therefore much amused at David Javerbaum's NY Times column of March 31st entitled "A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney."  Here are two excepts:
Entanglement. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a proton, neutron or Mormon: the act of observing cannot be separated from the outcome of the observation. By asking Mitt Romney how he feels about an issue, you unavoidably affect how he feels about it. More precisely, Mitt Romney will feel every possible way about an issue until the moment he is asked about it, at which point the many feelings decohere into the single answer most likely to please the asker. . . .
[A]ccording to the latest theories, the “Mitt Romney” who seems poised to be the Republican nominee is but one of countless Mitt Romneys, each occupying his own cosmos, each supporting a different platform, each being compared to a different beloved children’s toy but all of them equally real, all of them equally valid and all of them running for president at the same time, in their own alternative Romnealities, somewhere in the vast Romniverse.
My guess is that support for Mitt Romney is paper-thin.  This political cartoon captures that attitude:

 Moreover, Mitt doesn't seem like a good fit with the more fanatical elements in the Republican party (who likely don't know that his real first name is "Willard"):

Summing up, Mitt Romney was the best of the Republican candidates in the brutal primary season now closing, being the only survivor in the circular firing squad.  And, flaws and all, he might not be a bad president.
But there's a yellow dog tugging on my pants leg, so in the end Barak's still my man.
Related Posts:
“Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade!” August 27, 2012
“Mitt Romney, Leveraged Buyouts, and Morality,” September 12, 2012
“Mitt Romney: A Mormon President?” October 17, 2012


  1. Saturday Night Live got it exactly right when they used the line "...and nothing says 'settle for' quite like Mitt Romney."

  2. I appreciate the opportunity to think about Mitt Romney as a possible President in a more rational manner. The funny thing is that I can agree with some of the Romneys in this post. Certainly, Massachusetts Healthcare Romney is acceptable to me. Equal rights for the LGBT community Romney is fine too. Too bad that the wackos in the Republican and Tea Parties have crushed both of those Romneys just like they destroyed maverick John McCain. Barak will be my choice in 2012 as well.