Published on 30 Aug 2012

Mitts come off in race to the White House

This election is turning out to be very close and that’s why the mood is getting ugly.

Europe – on the whole – can’t imagine Barack Obama losing just like they couldn’t fathom Reagan beating Carter, Clinton beating Bush senior or Kerry losing out to Bush junior.

In America it helps to expect the unexpected. Remember the headline in the Daily Mirror in 2004 after George W Bush was re-elected: “How could 53 million Americans be so stupid?” Now that was a stupid headline. It fails to grasp, among many other things, the underlying conservatism of this nation. It would be just as shortsighted to believe that President Obama’s victory is inevitable because Mitt Romney is as wooden as his teak platform at the Tampa Convention.

Obama’s advantage is only wafer thin. The balance could be upset by any number of things: another walloping from the Eurozone (hurts Obama), worsening unemployment numbers (hurts Obama), an international crisis hailing from China, Russia or North Korea (hurts Romney), Iran doing something really rash (don’t know who that hurts more).

Then there are the debates. Romney is a very good debater and thanks to the death march of the primaries (more than 20 debates!) he has had lots of practice.

The least decisive “known unknown”, to borrow a phrase, in all of this is probably Romney’s big speech to the Convention tonight. Unless there is divine intervention from the Gods of Rhetoric I just can’t imagine Romney giving the kind of speech that would fire up the Convention and surprise the audience watching on their sofas, fingers poised on the buzzer.

What Romney needs to do tonight is to surprise by being blunt. Less milk of Ambrosia more linseed oil. That means stating unequivocally that he is dull but good. He really is the plumber in chief who has come in to fix America’s pipes. You don’t need or indeed want poetry from your plumber.

He could make the contrast with Barack Obama who was an electrifying candidate but a disappointing President.

Mitt’s issue is not his charisma bypass but the fact that America doesn’t trust him enough. He has been too many things to too many voters. Romney doesn’t have a Mormon Problem he has a Bain Capital Problem. And I am not talking about the mountains of money he made. The issue is his mindset as a consultant. He is results driven, flexible and always ready to cut a deal as long as it improves the bottom line. That plays well in business. It might even make him a good President. But it is not suited for the campaign trail.

Mitt, in short, needs to be Nanny McPhee: “When you need but do not want me then I must stay and when you want but no longer need me then I have to go.”

Follow @mattfrei on Twitter.

Tweets by @mattfrei

3 reader comments

  1. deculling says:

    “Europe – on the whole – can’t imagine Barack Obama losing just like they couldn’t fathom Reagan beating Carter, Clinton beating Bush senior or Kerry losing out to Bush junior.”

    Well isn’t Europe heavily steeped in socialist, communist and fascist traditions? America was created by those fleeing Europe and its tyrannies. Many more from all over the world immigrated here to escape tyranny. Is it really surprising that some of us descendants still remember why their ancestors came here?

    I kinda like that “plumber in chief” line. But I would prefer businessman in chief, here to fix the businesses of America. After all, wealth and therefore government revenue, is only created by businesses.

    He did talk about Bain Capital, but the most important stories came from those that worked at Bain or started or saved a business with the help of Bain.

    It doesn’t sound like you believe it’s possible for a businessman to be a good person, only self serving. There was one story about how Romney and Bain let a business not make much, if any, profit for 5 years because they believed in the person and his business plan.

    Is it possible there exists a religiously moral person that runs a business that, yes, makes a profit, but does so in a way that is morally right? I’m not a religious person, at most a Deist, so I’ve always been kind of skeptical of such claims.

    Reading about our revolution I learned that several of the Founding Fathers said they were Deists. Several noted that many things happen that defied the odds, for instance, Washington lost all the major battles, but somehow won the war. So many things that just couldn’t be coincidence. So many that well known Deists started talking about Divine Providence.

    Along with other things I’ve observed and learned in my life, this makes me wonder if there is not something to faith or at least something that occurs when many people pray or think or just focus on the same good cause…like a little nudge from a god that can’t really interfere in an obvious way without destroying free will.

    I don’t know, but I hope so.

  2. Philip Edwards says:

    Matt,

    Anybody who wants to know “How could 53 million Americans be so stupid?” needs only to read deculling’s post above.

    Christ on a bike, you couldn’t INVENT these people…………….:-)

  3. Philip Edwards says:

    Matt,

    Further to the above post.

    According to opensecret.org these are the sources of Romney’s campaign contributions:

    Goldman Sachs
    JPMorgan Chase & Co
    Morgan Stanley
    Bank of America
    Credit Suisse Group
    Citigroup Inc
    Barclays
    Wells Fargo
    Kirkland & Ellis
    Deloitte LLP
    PricewaterhouseCoopers
    UBS AG
    HIG Capital
    Blackstone Group
    Bain Capital
    Elliott Management
    General Electric
    Ernst & Young
    Marriott International
    Bain & Co

    If true, you wouldn’t need Gore Vidal to tell you what that means about the next Yank election…………same old, same old……..

Comments are closed.