Mitt Romney Is Likable Enough

No one has stopped to consider maybe the Republican primary electorate actually likes Romney and that is why he started from a higher base than the rest.


Have you heard the news? It's hot off the wire services. Drum roll please: Mitt Romney cannot get more than 25 percent of the vote in the Republican presidential primary race. That's what they say. He is the Mr. Good-Enough of the GOP, the guy you settle for because the rock stars that got you hot and bothered all ran off with supermodels and you can't be single and brokenhearted forever. So dull that he actually shines, Mitt Romney is surely the least-sure sure thing in elephantine memory.

All right, so that's not big news. I lied. This is actually not just mostly what is being said about Romney -- it's ALL that's said about him. I cannot figure out if pundits keep repeating this trope because they are senile or because they think that we are. No one even so much as makes the inverse point that he consistently polls with 25 percent of the vote, which, given the Keystone Kops hullabaloo of candidates hovering around him, seems like good work. Romney's a leveraged-buyout guy: He's making sure the bad stuff -- each 999 looney talking crazy -- is tossed out piece by piece. But that solid quarter he's starting from is a keeper.

And, of course, more to the point, he is surging at the rate of Global Warming in both New Hampshire and South Carolina, forcing the 25 percenters to come up with alternate theories that explain why they were not just plain old wrong. The New Hampshire thing, they say, is of course only because it's a satellite -- really a suburb -- of Massachusetts. Might as well call it Massachusetts 2. Might as well just incorporate it into Massachusetts -- heck it's about the size of a couple of football stadiums anyway.

And South Carolina -- that's because the Republican voters are exhausted and want to close the deal. They are like a 29-year-old spinster who doesn't want to be 30 and last girl standing in the musical-chairs of love. They say this as if the people in South Carolina are reporters who have been covering the election, they say this as if everyone likely to vote in the primaries in Columbia and Charleston has been lingering for months at coffee klatches and house parties in Davenport and Des Moines. Somehow these crazy Carolinians -- university undergraduates majoring in horticultural studies and chicken farmers and orchard keepers and wealthy merchants and collectors of antiquities -- are bored and ready to wrap this up because they they think like the kind of people who are tense and chomp at already chomped-at pencils and really worry about things that most people know they can't control and aren't that important anyway. I feel quite sure the reporter are sleep-deprived and stump-speeched out and they want this done with. But news-junkies notwithstanding, I doubt anyone in Aiken has been thinking about any of this all that much as they make their way to the 18th hole on the glorious green golf course.

I'm not sure why it occurs to no one that the GOP electorate might actually plain and simple like Mitt Romney. In fact, I hate the Republican party, I probably complain about Ronald Reagan in therapy more than I do about either of my parents, but I think Romney is kind-of okay, in his Stepford Husband way. I like Mitt Romney because, forgive me, he is what he is. Romney is simply this guy who is a last bastion of something old-fashioned and good in some ways: he has had a world-class education -- of which he should be very proud -- he's been civil and decent, he's been bipartisan and tolerant, and he's been spinning like an unhinged weathervane for so long he probably does it just for kicks -- which makes him exactly like a politician. Yep, that's what he is.

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