I’m beginning to wonder if former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney understands what it takes to become the president of the United States. Given the recent turn of events in his campaign, I could make a credible argument that the Republican presidential candidate simply cannot persuade a majority of voters that he’s in the race to win. Why? Well, he can’t explain why he wants to win—a fundamental prerequisite for the job.
Indeed, he’s twisted himself into such a pretzel largely to appeal to the narrowest slice of the undecided electorate as well as his conservative base that it’s almost as if he’s stopped actually believing in anything at all. If he loses the election, it will be an affirmation that most Americans don’t embrace the harshest and most extreme brand of conservative ideas, but it will also be a judgment on Gov. Romney’s increasingly apparent lack of commitment to any one overarching ideal beyond personal ambition. He doesn’t seem very committed to anything, which is why he’s having such a hard time trying to persuade voters that even he believes what he’s saying and doing.
Consider, for example, the short list of bungles, mishaps, and discoveries occurring in the span of days following the Republican National Convention, a time when most nominees are basking in the afterglow of a post-convention “bounce” in national polls. Not Gov. Romney, who has spent valuable campaign time batting back self-inflicted, negative news stories:
- The Republican nominee tried and failed to seize the political high ground last week in the wake of a fatal attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya. Without knowing all the facts of the situation, Gov. Romney accused the Obama administration of apologizing for American values as the attacks were unfolding. In fact, the White House had done nothing of the sort, prompting even fellow Republicans to criticize his effort to politicize an international crisis.
- A Politico story detailing finger pointing and in-fighting within the Romney camp rocked the campaign at the start of this week. The story overshadowed the campaign’s effort to jumpstart the campaign with a renewed messaging effort aimed at the middle class.
- Then, as if to dump salt into a gaping wound, the magazine Mother Jones released a video that showed Romney disparaging nearly half the citizens of the nation he wants to lead. In the discreetly filmed video, the candidate tells a group of very wealthy contributors that 47 percent of the nation will vote for President Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, because those voters are freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them.
None of this demonstrates a commitment to any single political ideology so much as a series of crass calculations about political expediency
A despairing right-wing pundit, Laura Ingraham, took to the airwaves of her nationally syndicated show last week to lament what Gov. Romney is doing to the Republican Party.