Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Trouble With Romney

...is that he's dead. No, wait. That was 'The Trouble With Harry', a classic black comedy directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Romney isn't dead; his trouble is that he just acts like it.

Seriously, how does a party as smart about winning elections as the Republicans have been over the last three decades wind up with this guy? The Republican party has been a classic case of picking style over substance, choosing likeable candidates that you'd "want to have a beer with" who easily beat smarter, better prepared wonks. George W. Bush was an absolutely terrible President, but he won against two people who were better on paper because he noticed that they were short on charisma, didn't have great social skills, and used attack ads to reduce them to caricatures of themselves (the self-aggrandizing stiff, the flip-flopper.)

And they now have Romney? For Pete's sake, Romney is what you'd get if the Republican caricatures of Gore and Kerry had a kid together! Not only does he have Gore's utter lack of personal magnetism, but he has Kerry's inability to stick to a position...all combined, of course, with an utter tone-deafness to the rising anger against America's wealthy Wall Street bankers, in a year where that's going to matter. (The article today, that he's only paying 15% in income taxes, isn't what's going to hurt him. The fact that he said he made "not much money" in speaking fees, when in fact he made more than my house is worth, is what's going to kill him.)

Of course, I know why the Republicans are going to get stuck with Romney. It's elementary game theory. Of the four candidates remaining who aren't Romney, all of them know that if the others drop out, they'll attract the support of the losers and beat Romney. (With the exception of Ron Paul, who is never going to attract much support but who isn't in it to win an election so much as for the soapbox.) But for that reason, none of them wants to drop out, because they all are hoping for someone else to drop out and give them the victory. And with four candidates splitting the non-Romney vote, Romney wins.

But do they really want Romney? It doesn't appear so, and you'll see that play out in the general election. It's hard to run when even your own party doesn't like you, and I suspect Romney's going to find out that they're not alone. It's pretty easy for your opponent to turn you into an unflattering caricature when you start out 99% of the way there.

3 comments:

Brendan said...

I dunno, I'm starting to wonder if Romney really is the presumptive nominee. He's stumbled badly in recent weeks, and now it looks like all three of the main candidates may come out of SC having each won a single primary.

magidin said...

Romney has the organization, and he has the money; Gingrich does not have the money, and he's prone to bouts of self-satisfied condescension. It's what spiked his surged last time, it'll do it again later. But he has the edge in the South. I still think it's going to be Romney in the end; and probably a Romney-Rubio ticket, to keep the southern states interested.

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