Pre-convention musings. Presidents do things, lots of things. They have complicated and nuanced records: hard to capsulize on a bumper sticker. So presidents are hard to brand. Candidates? Well that’s something else entirely. Obama the candidate was able to sum himself up in “Yes we can” or in a more expected call for “Change”. Change may seem trite because it’s been used so often before. But it works. Ike crushed the long ruling Democrats in 1952 with, “It’s time for a change.” We are a nation of the easily fatigued. We love change, in theory that is, because in practice it seems to scare the hell out of us. “I didn’t mean that kind of change, not a change that might impact on my comfortable life.”
Well, what about Mitt Romney? He surely has the pretender’s advantage. He has a clean slate upon which to write his slogan, to build his brand. Problem is, Romney is hard to encapsulate in a phrase, but not impossible. I’d suggest a slogan that really captures the political essence of the man — “As the Wind Blows.”
During all his years in the public eye, there is hardly a policy position that Mitt Romney has not changed to fit his immediate need. This past week’s flap over rape and abortion is just one of many where the candidate has said whatever he deems required in the moment. He’s for exceptions in the case of rape one minute and, almost without skipping a beat, seems to endorse his party’s draconian — no abortion regardless of circumstances — platform in the next.
Compounding his serial flip-flops, Romney also suffers from severe “foot-in-mouth” disease. On Friday a so-called joke sounded an awful lot like an embrace of birthers. Donald Trump will probably claim credit for writing the script. Whatever, it seems that Mitt just doesn’t think before he speaks.
Ah, glass houses you’ll say. Look at Joe Biden the champion “foot-in-mouth guy. True, but I think there is a difference. The Vice President misspeaks because he is a man with little pretense, a natural, sometimes in the rough. What you see is what you get with Biden who, unlike Romney, seems totally comfortable in his own skin. Biden has a certain Yogi Berra charm, except with better syntax.
Romney gets into trouble for exactly the opposite reason. He’s a guy who comes off as totally calculated. Every hair in place, he looks ill at ease much of the time. His idea of small talk is…well, let’s be honest, he’s unfamiliar with small talk. Okay, that’s unfair. Romney might look at someone standing aside his outboard motor fitted rowboat and spontaneously ask, “Where do you keep your vessel in the winter”? Biden knows rowboats and more importantly the kind of people who own them. He gushes authenticity to a fault, literally. Romney, who is often painful to watch, comes right out of central casting ready to play a scene.
Mitt Romney: As the wind blows. I like the sound of that.
Transcenders coming soon.