The Incredible Luck of Mitt Romney

It's fun for reporters to imagine Mitt Romney, who had the amazing good fortune to be born very handsome and very rich, is a pitiful dweeb unable to make the smallest small talk with other humans.

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It's fun for reporters to imagine Mitt Romney, who had the amazing good fortune to be born very handsome and very rich, is uncomfortable making the smallest small talk with other humans. But despite the pitying tone many take when talking about Romney, the man has benefited from an amazing lucky streak -- going way beyond his family's DNA and bank account. Romney was lucky to lose the Republican presidential primary in 2008, and he's lucky to be running now, even as Republican voters are animated by -- among other complaints with the incumbent President -- their hatred of a health care law inspired by the Romney's greatest political accomplishment.

Monday night, Jon Stewart viewed clips of Herman Cain's sexual harassment problems and Rick Perry's jokey speech and declared, "Mitt Romney is the luckiest motherfudger on Earth." This is true! And not just because the weekend's viral videos. In 2007, Romney spent a lot of money in Iowa, only to lose the caucuses. Pundits called it "disappointing," a "devastating defeat," said Iowa "marked the beginning of the end of Romney's presidential aspirations" that year, and that Romney remains "shadowed" by that loss. But they never mention that that loss was also awesome for Romney's presidential ambitions. In 2008, few saw the financial crisis coming. Sure, President Bush and the Iraq war were unpopular, but national security was still considered a Republican strength. But after Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in September 2008, and the Dow saw its biggest one-day loss ever, any Republican candidate would have been doomed. Voters tend to punish the party in power for a bad economy. War hero and longtime Sen. John McCain lost to thin urban liberal smoker first-term Sen. Barack Obama, who by the way is black. Could Romney have fared any better? Voters probably would have noticed that he made his career in the financial services industry just as those folks were kind of destroying the entire global economy. Romney had raked in the most hedge fund donors early in the campaign.
And this year, Romney is lucky again. In the spring, Republican strategist Mark McKinnon wrote for The Daily Beast that "Mitt Romney is damned by timing and circumstance." He's too conventional in a year when voters want unconventional candidates, McKinnon argued, and he was too moderate for the Tea Party. "And the more he makes the moves, the more he looks like the human pretzel he became in 2008, when he contorted himself to try to please the right wing of the party." Jonathan Chait has repeatedly called Romney doomed for his health care overhaul in Massachusetts. But the stars have aligned for him anyway! One by one, Romney's less moderate competitors have made themselves into jokes. Romney's heresies have been overshadowed by Michele Bachmann's conspiracy theories and Rick Perry's inability to speak English. Romney's most electable rivals have either taken themselves out of the race (Tim Pawlenty) or can only get attention by making dad jokes on Twitter (Jon Huntsman). And Romney has been blessed by his boringness. As Herman Cain struggles to defend himself over sexual harassment accusations in the 1990s, Romney's own potential mini-scandals go unnoticed. Tuesday, the Boston Globe reported that a Romney fundraiser was involved in a controversial power line in New Hampshire, while Think Progress reported that Romney is tied to guys accused of running a Ponzi scheme:
Mitt Romney, his son Tagg, and Romney’s chief fundraiser, Spencer Zwick, have extensive financial and political ties to three men who allegedly participated in an $8.5 billion Ponzi scheme. A few months after the Ponzi scheme collapsed, a firm financed by Mitt Romney and run by his son and chief fundraiser partnered with the three men and created a new “wealth management business” as a subsidiary. 
And now look: polls in early voting states now match national polls, where Romney has long held a lead, Politico notes. For Romney, everything is falling into place, like it was fate.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.