Jewish World Review Jan 11, 2012/ 16 Teves, 5772
Romney's authenticity problem
By Jonah Goldberg
He is poised to sweep every primary contest -- a first for a non-incumbent. And yet, in Republican ranks there's an abiding sense that he should be beatable -- and beaten.
It's not that Romney doesn't have fans. His events in
And yet the non-Mitt mood just won't go away. Indeed, it's intensifying. One reason for that is people are starting to doubt whether he is in fact the best candidate to beat President Obama. For instance, you hear conservatives wondering more and more whether all of the attention from the
Still, I suspect there's no head fake. Romney has his faults, but his 2 percent milk personality makes him hard to demonize. He seems more like a super-helpful manager at a rental car company than a fire-and-brimstone preacher. The
(For reasons that remain mysterious, the moderators wasted vast swaths of time quizzing the candidates on gay marriage, whether they thought states could ban condoms, and on how
Romney was at his best swatting away the swarm on inanities at the debate -- birth control is "working just fine." He's weakest, however, when discussing himself. In this he is the anti-Obama. The president is never more eloquent and heartfelt than when he is talking about himself; it's his ideas he can't move.
Romney, meanwhile, has the opposite problem. Voters can buy his policies; it's the salesman that leaves them unsure. For instance, in the Sunday "Meet the Press" debate, Romney suggested that he didn't run for re-election as governor of
And he was right. Romney's claim that he's just a businessman called to serve -- Cincinnatus laying down his PowerPoint -- is nonsense. Romney, the son of a politician, has been running for office, holding office or thinking about running for office for more than two decades. "Just level with the American people," Gingrich growled. "You've been running ... at least since the 1990s."
For some reason Romney can't do that. Or at least it seems like he can't. His authentic inauthenticity problem isn't going away. And it's sapping enthusiasm from the rank and file. The turnout in
Santorum's tie in
The most persuasive case for Romney has always been that if he's the nominee, the election will be a referendum on Obama. But that calculation always assumed that rank-and-file Republicans will vote for their nominee in huge numbers no matter what. That may well still be the case, but it feels less guaranteed every day.
Every four years, pundits and activists talk about how cool it would be to have a brokered convention. This is the first time I can remember where people say it may be necessary.
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