Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Mitt Romney went down to the crossroads

For what it's worth, according to one poll, Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention was not particularly well received by the nation.

According to Gallup:

Romney's acceptance speech this year scored low by comparison to previous convention speeches going back to 1996. Thirty-eight percent of Americans rated the speech as excellent or good, while 16% rated it as poor or terrible. The 38% who rated the speech as excellent or good is the lowest rating of any of the eight speeches Gallup has tested since Bob Dole's GOP acceptance speech in 1996.

I watched the thing and, to be fair, didn't think it was that awful. Rachel Maddow said something during the coverage with which I tend to agree. She said that when Mitt Romney is just talking about his life, or his family or other non-political stuff, he's not awful. It's when he starts going into political attack mode that he begins to make people cringe. I had never thought about that, but I think she's right.

I will not be the first one to say this, but his views on so many things have been tailored to the specific requirements of this election, of securing his parties nomination, of appealing to just enough of the electorate to be successful, of balancing the interests of the hard-right against the center-right, that every political line he utters seems forced and duplicitous.

It isn't just that he has abandoned so many positions previously held, it's that the contortions required have done something to him.

I'm reminded of Robert Johnson who, the legend goes, made a deal with the devil at the crossroads. In exchange for becoming a famous and talented bluesman, he had to surrender his soul (or Faust, if you like).

I'm just saying that Mitt Romney had to completely remake himself to make a credible run at the presidency, something he has wanted badly for a long time. In remaking himself, he may have had to give up too much of who he thought he was. And that shows in the way he presents himself and the way people perceive him when he is assuming the political personae required of the task.

A lot of liberals won't agree with me, but whoever Mitt Romney is, he is probably not naturally inclined to be the presidential nominee for what has become of the Republican Party. It's not just that his campaign has a problem with the truth, but that his candidacy is in some way dishonest and it shows. The devil always gets his due.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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