Why Does Romney Want to Be President?

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Last night's Republican debate will most likely be remembered for Gingrich's assault on CNN's moderator, who kicked off by asking Gingrich to comment on his ex-wife's claim that he'd asked for an open marriage. Gingrich flattened him: that line of questioning was "as close to despicable as anything [he] could imagine". (He's apparently lacking in imagination.) The audience loved it. Down with the lamestream media.

But my own main thought during the debate was to wonder, not for the first time, why Romney even wants to be president. You couldn't call him a natural politician. The others up there all seemed to belong. There's nowhere else they'd rather be. Give them an audience and they'll set the world to rights. But this supposedly new, improved, campaign-polished Romney is still so unconfident, uncomfortable, stammering and inarticulate, you actually feel embarrassed for the guy. He tries to make a virtue of the fact that he isn't a professional politician--despite his pathological longing to succeed in that line of work--and promptly screws that up too. Did I hear him say he's "from the streets"? From the streets?

Remember Bulworth? Coming up next from the Romney campaign, an impromptu rap on tax shelters. The man's got rhythm, no doubt. I hesitate to mention it in case he thinks it's worth a try.

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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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