All of the probing insight into Mitt Romney's daddy issues over the last two years has been based on a lie. The widely-accepted Romney Freudian analysis holds that Romney wants to save his father's legacy by winning the presidency, and he wants to do it by avoiding all his father's mistakes. The Unified Romney Daddy Theory goes like this: Mitt Romney is flip-floppy and cautious and afraid of the right wing; George Romney was bold and gregarious and took a principled stand against the far right. The central datapoint in this analysis is that George Romney walked out of the 1964 Republican National Convention because his party nominated civil rights opponent Barry Goldwater. Turns out, Romney did not do that, as BuzzFeed's John R. Bohrer explains in great detail. He quasi-endorsed Goldwater until his polling showed it didn't help him in his homestate. So the idea -- a favorite of liberals, of course -- that Romney is tarnishing his father's principled legacy is false. If anything, Romney's flip-flops honor that legacy.
He stayed until the very end, formally seconding Goldwater’s eventual nomination and later standing by while an actual walkout took place. He left the convention holding open the possibility of endorsing Goldwater and then, after a unity summit in Hershey, Pennsylvania, momentarily endorsed the Arizona senator. Then he changed his mind while his top aides polled “all-white and race-conscious” Michigan communities for a “secret” white backlash vote against LBJ’s civil rights advances — a backlash that might have made a Goldwater endorsement palatable at home. Finding the Republican label even more unpopular than civil rights in Michigan, Romney ultimately distanced himself from the entire party, including his own moderate Republican allies.
We've spent years refining and perfecting the Romney Daddy Theory only to have it ruined by facts less than a month before the election. (The Great Obama Mommy Theory still holds: everything he's done can be explained by the fact that his parents weren't around much when he was growing up, so he seeks to build consensus and erase the pain of being a perpetual outsider.) How will we ever make up a new one in time?