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January 24, 2012

Eesh: Romney's Favorability Drops Down Close To Newt's

Via Hot Air, Romney's fundamental lack of political skill is catching up with him:

Ya know, for a long, long time I was saying "Romney's not as electable as people seem to think." With Rick Perry out (bad call on that, GOP), I had to pick from the rest, and I thought that of the rest, Romney was the most electable.

But he's not really a good politician. Never has been. Someone more invested than I can spin that in a positive way ("Hey, that just shows he's not good at huckstering people") but it's a drawback in politics.

Huckstering people is, after all, what politics is all about. Some people are good at it; some people aren't. The ones who aren't we called "would-be candidates" or "former politicians."

Jonah Goldberg has been thinking about this.

As Ive been writing for a very long time, Romney has an authentic inauthenticity problem. In other words, he seems like hes faking things even when hes not. He may take positions he doesnt hold in his heart, but all politicians do that. The problem is that the vast majority of the time hes no more passionate or convincing about the positions he almost surely does hold in his heart.

On the Ben Howe podcast, a few weeks back, Ben Howe asked me if I thought Romney would get away with something -- some crude attack he'd made, or something. I said, "Of course not; Romney can't get away with anything."

By which I meant he always seems like he's hiding something -- even when he's probably not. I called this strange property of Romney's a type of "anti-charisma."

Bill Clinton had charisma. He could convince people he had their best interests at heart when he was actually just scheming how to deceive them.

Romney has a vibe where even when I think he's on the level, he seems like he's keeping something from me. I think it's a "seems" thing, most of the time. He just doesn't seem comfortable.

Maybe it's some kind of Winner's Guilt, where he's constantly aware of his own prosperity and success and possible resentments thereof, so that air of discomfort he projects is our sensing of him constantly analyzing his own performance and wondering how it's coming off-- which gets perceived as showing dishonesty, because that's what we usually attribute excessive caution and calibration as meaning.

I thought Romney had his best performance at that first South Carolina debate, though I didn't say so, because I still thought Rick Perry was our best candidate and didn't want to call out Romney for having done especially well.

But his best moment came, for me, when he admitted, pretty honestly, that SuperPACs were a scam the law was pushing everyone towards, and he would rather do without the scam.

Although, on a policy level, I agreed with him, about undoing this nonsense system that Mr. Integrity John McCain had insisted on, what I liked about that was that he seemed honest. He didn't seem like he was bullshitting me. He was saying, "Yes, I've got these people who formed this PAC, and I think it's a scam, but the law says I have to do this, so I'm doing it."

Another one of Romney's problems -- if I had to guess -- is that he's a very Type-A, very organized personality type, and he does most things very well. And sometimes with people like that, they wind up being excessively defensive -- they're not used to losing, or erring, or just screwing up, and don't have the ability to easily just acknowledge errors. (See Romney's defense of RomneyCare; he just couldn't admit it was an error.)

And the problem isn't restricted to the "has problem admitting errors" part. The problem goes deeper, because that sort of person becomes very uncomfortable in their bad moments, jangly and prickly with defensiveness and a controlled hostility, and human beings feel that, and have an unpleasant feeling themselves.

I don't even know what I'd advise him, because the advice I'd offer -- "You know how you are? Yeah, be someone else entirely" -- is just silly.


A final problem is that no one seriously examines their errors and miscalculations while they are still limping along. A football team doesn't fundamentally re-examine its assumptions, for example, after a three-point loss, or after a 7-9 season.

Romney is doing just well enough to justify keeping on with the same basic act. Alas, for him, and for us.

I can see no possible solution to our problems except:

Let's get Rick Perry back on the ballot.

(I'm kidding about that; he's done.)

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posted by Ace at 10:36 AM

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