Published on 9 Jan 2012

Mitt Romney and the mensch

We now know why Mitt Romney, the squeaky clean former governor of Massachussets, ex-head of Bain Capital, multiple millionaire, son of a governor and former presidential candidate is running for president and wrenching himself away from his perfect family of immaculately-turned out children and grandchildren. His beautiful wife Anne confided in us last night. In us and 500 voters, 100 journalists and local TV.

The Romneys were sitting at breakfast about a year ago, still reeling from the rigours of the last presidential campaign at which husband Mitt had tanked. Understandably Mitt and all the other Romneys were reluctant to subject themselves to another bout of campaign torture if it weren’t for this one question. “So I asked Mitt”, Anne intoned with polished suspension to an audience yearning to be surprised, “Can you save America?” The answer was yes. The campaign was on. On stage, one of the half-a-dozen Romney grandchildren morphed a yawn into some silent tears, presumably induced by campaign fatigue. Listen up girl, your granddad is busy saving America. Show some of that Romney steel.

The looks of an award-winning plastic surgeon

The candidate’s speech about believing in America, reviving the flagging American dream and dissing Obama for supposedly apologising for his country, goes down well with the audience. But his invective lacks passion. Mitt does not do anger well. Mormons tend not to. That is one of the likable things about them.

Romney combines the looks of an award winning plastic surgeon with the bedside manner of an award-winning dental surgeon. In Europe they might call him a technocrat. But Mitt doesn’t like Europe. He keeps slamming Europe in his campaign speeches. Europe has become a dystopia of high taxes, excessive government, strangulating regulation and pessimism that any Daily Mail reader would recognise.

And Europe, according to Mitt is what Obama wants to turn America into. The crowd is horrified. But this line too lacks conviction. Romney’s voice is thin as his frame. I had adjusted my expectations accordingly when Romney committed a terrible mistake. He invited the It-boy of the Republican party, New Jersey governor Chris Christie on-stage with him.

Authenticity

This was first of all a study in contrasting body types. Mitt, whippet-thin and stiff as pole. Christie as wide as he was tall, a huge, sweating ball of a man rolling, swaying, even dancing on well polished, tiny shoes. You and he are afraid that if he falls over he might never get up. He looks like the anti-Romney.

But when he opens his mouth you realise why the party was so desperate for him to run. He exudes menacing charisma. Christie is more mensch than Mitt. He bleats authenticity. His voice resonates with a mixture of anger and clinging hope which perfectly captures the mood of America today. And next to Mitt, Christie explains why the former governor of Massachusetts has not been able to seal the deal with his own party, why he has so far been unable to save himself even if he wants to save America.

Twitter: @MattFrei

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5 reader comments

  1. Clare says:

    Doesn’t ‘mensch’ mean ‘a good person’? Christie sounds like yet another tedious, artificial, manipulator. If the US (or UK) ever found a leader who was authentic enough to say “We are up the creek and have lost most of our paddles. We have to do things differently now,” that person would be a mensch. To rhyme with lynched.

  2. Philip Edwards says:

    Matt,

    If satire changed the world, that piece would alter its political axis.

    Just brilliant. I laughed like a drain from beginning to end :-)

    If only the Americans would realise what an international laughing stock is their “democracy.” It’s a tragedy for the rest of us too.

  3. Ted says:

    A very insightful piece.

    I think the hyphen got transposed in “immaculately-turned out” which would less awkwardly read as “immaculately turned-out”.

  4. xS00NERSx says:

    Phillip, Britains claims they have a democracy but it is a very very diluted version of democracy… Laughing stock hardly think so, but these are the blogs and comments I expect from the ultra left… Mitt Romney is a joke and my vote will be with Obama once again. The republicans have put nothing out there that’s even woth taking a second look.

  5. ricardop says:

    here, here isnt Mitt the new john edwards ?

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