Monday, January 30, 2012

The Existential Otherness of Mitt Romney

Frank Rich is smarter, better informed, and a much better writer than you and I. What we share is a certainty that, once Newt Gingrich inevitably explodes in a destructive, self-serving, and oddly  entertaining fashion, Mitt Romney will be the GOP candidate. Mr. Rich wonders, as many are beginning to, just who this cipher really is and what he really believes in.

"That missing human core, that inauthenticity and inability to connect, has been a daily complaint about Romney. To flesh out the brief, critics usually turn to his blatant political opportunism and rarefied upbringing—his history of ideological about-faces and his cakewalk as the prep-school-­burnished, Harvard-educated son of a fabled auto executive. But the hollowness of Romney is not merely a function of his craven surrender to the rightward tilt of the modern GOP or the patrician blind spots he acquired at too many fancy schools and palatial country clubs. If that were the case, he’d pass for another Bush, and receive some of the love that Bush father and son earned from the party faithful in their salad days. Some think he can get there by learning better performance skills: As Chuck Todd of NBC News put it, he “has to learn how to connect, how to speak emotionally … more from the heart.” If Nixon could learn how to sell himself in 1968 under the tutelage of Roger Ailes, and Bush 41 could receive coaching from the legendary acting teacher Stella Adler in 1980, there might still be hope for Romney under the instruction of, say, Kelsey Grammer. But Romney is too odd, too much a mystery man. We don’t know his history the way we did Nixon’s and Bush’s. His otherness seems not a matter of style and pedigree but existential."

Read more:      Who in God's Name is Mitt Romney?    Frank Rich