Here’s something fun to ponder while you watch Governor Romney make his speech tonight:
Seated around a conference table in a nondescript suburban Virginia office building, a dozen Republican voters shed light on one of the continued mysteries of this election season: What ails Mitt Romney?
Four strong supporters of the tea party movement; a couple of the movement’s critics; a young, male libertarian; several people strongly concerned about traditional values, a Realtor, a sales rep, a couple of bookkeepers, a stay-at-home mother of four — white, with an average age in the mid-40s, the 11 registered Republicans and one independent answering Hart’s questions provided a cross section of the ideologies and occupational groups that define the GOP electorate.
“Family values” “knows how to create jobs” “can handle pressure” were among the compliments the group offered him. But there were also these: “goes with whatever people want to hear” and “no charisma.”
The deeper problem Romney appears to face became evident, however, when Hart posed questions designed to get beyond the traditional “political” attributes and reach more personal connections.
If the candidate were a member of your family, who would he be, Hart asked. Gingrich came first, drawing comparisons to a grandfather, a father, a favorite uncle.
Then came Romney’s turn and far more distant associations: “neighbor,” “cousin” “twice removed.” “Richer than the rest of us, so he wouldn’t come to our events,” said Christine, 38. “The dad who’s never home,” added Chris, 27, and the group’s chief supporter of Ron Paul.
Hart offered another scenario: Imagine the candidate at an airline ticket counter, badly needing to catch a flight. Five people are in line ahead of him, and only one ticket remains. What would the candidate do?
Romney, the group said, would try to buy his way to the front.
Richer than the rest of us, so he wouldn’t come to our events! Oh, my. Not at all good. He’s going to need a lot of help.
On that note, here’s the Statement of Organization from Romney’s SUPERPAC:
Restore Our Future PAC
Re: Form 1, Statement of Organization—Unlimited Contributions
To Whom It May Concern:
This committee intends to make independent expenditures, and consistent with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision in SpeechNow v. F E C, it therefore intends to raise funds in unlimited amounts.
This committee will not use those funds to make contributions, whether direct, in-kind, or via coordinated communications, to federal candidates or committees.
“Then came Romney’s turn and far more distant associations: “neighbor,” “cousin” “twice removed.”
What the hell? Can’t people just say “distant”?
If people kept their family issues out of politics, things would be much better.
He’s a dead soul.
Knows how to create jobs? One of his only perceived positives is complete bullshit.
Winter is coming.
I had a guy tell me that Mitt’s kids look like they have been waterboarded. You know that glassy eyed far away look that extremely religious people can sometimes have? Mitt sometimes has it. A look of detachment and surprise. I don’t know exactly what it is but my wife who is totally apolitcal and does not give a shit told me that of all of the candidates out there Mitt would be the last one she would vote for.
who will be the first dumbass pundit that backfills a justification for wanting to have a beer with mittens more than with the kenyusurper?
The Moar You Know
Romney is too deep in the uncanny valley.
I don’t know about you folks, but the “Romneytron3000” jokes to me are just an acknowledgment of an odd reality: he really does not seem human.
A well used word from the 60’s fits Mitt, perfectly. PLASTIC!
I have never seen a man so uncomfortable in his skin. (or in LL Bean clothing)
The Moar You Know
@pragmatism: Can’t wait for that. Romney’s religion forbids alcohol.
You know, like Islam.
In other words, everything short of a ham sandwich that you need to hold a disorganized postmodern neighborhood blockparty on the Fourth of July.
There must be many people jealous that only Mormons can have magic underwear.
If they aren’t yet they will be by the end of this campaign.
Doubtless some entrepreneur will eventually recognize the opportunity, but why shouldn’t the BJ store grab it first?
I want Tunch-brand magic underwear.
@The Moar You Know: it’ll happen. then a backpedal to “i meant caffeine free coke”.
That would be pretty funny since Mitt won’t have a beer with anyone. Wonder how they’ll spin that?
@The Moar You Know:
Yeah, that’s right. Like a Muslim. Heh.
The article about the focus group was from way back, Dec 2nd. I would love to know how the group feels about Mitt now.
If anything captures the phoniness and willingness to say and do anything to get the prez nomination, it was the video of Mitt singing America I saw last night on Maddow. Incredible.
Money iz peoplez too!
I love this:
“The dad who’s never home,”
What is this thing with Republicans and their cyborgs? It started when the Weekly World News discoverd that Dick Cheney was a robot. Now we’ve moved on to the Romneybot, the Callistoid….what’s next?
So, IIUC, we can pray him into heaven anyway? Win!
Villago Delenda Est
My thought as well. Knows how to destroy jobs, for his own personal profit, yes. Create jobs? Not so much.
It really was horrible. The first thing I thought was man that sure ain’t “Let’s Stay Together” :-)
The Boston Globe goes there today about Mitt’s Mexican polygamous background. If Newt starts pushing his buttons on that, I’d pay to watch Mittbot short-circuit. Go Newtron Bomb!
I loved that one as well. And it’s so true. He really does seem like the dad who’s never home.
@The Moar You Know:
And Methodism. Being opposed to consumption of alcohol may have more resonance than you realize in parts of the country that still have dry counties.
Mittens clearly needs better optics. Photo-op ideas: windsurfing lessons from John Kerry, tank commander lessons from Michael Dukakis, brush cuttin’ lessons from….
Frank Rich thinks that what we’re perceiving, the “hole” in Mitt Romney, is the fact that Romney can’t speak about the central fact of his life, which is he and his family’s history with and connection to the Mormon church.
It’s an interesting theory. Because there’s a hole there. Don’t know what it is, but it’s there.
This bit says extremely depressing things about the family of the typical Republican voter.
@ThatLeftTurnInABQ: But, of course, none of them black or brown people.
@kay: the hole is where his empathy and self awareness chips are supposed to be.
@The Moar You Know: Dubya was a teetotaler, and pundits wanted to have a beer with him.
(Personally, I wouldn’t want to have a beer with any presidential candidate. They’d probably want American beer.)
The Moar You Know
“Mormonism: America’s Own Islam”
Weird clothes: check
Multiple wives: check
Prophet ain’t Jesus: check
No booze: check
Women are property and should STFU: check
Center of religion in middle of desert: check
The Moar You Know
@giltay: Stop right there. World of difference between “teetotaler” and “recovering alcoholic”. Bush was a “recovering alcoholic”, and quite frankly he would probably be a blast to get hammered with so long as he’s paying and there weren’t any firearms around.
But but but he’s Gov. Warmth!
It’s extremely unsettling when all the Romneys are onstage and they all have that glazed over Talky Tina look on their face.
@The Moar You Know: Fair enough. I merely meant that he (publicly claimed that he) wouldn’t touch a drop.
The response of the Romney campaign and GOP propaganda apparatus to the charisma/poor voter identification-with-Romney problem will be simple:
DISTRACTION OF THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH SHINY OBJECTS.
It’s of course far too early to anticipate exactly what forms of distraction the GOP will try to synthesize, or what events will occur to provide convenient frames upon which to build distracting narratives. The underlying frame will be weak as straw, the flesh put onto it will be more than half bullshit, but the key goal is to get the media and public distracted with these tangential frames, rather than any usefully substantive debate over genuine matters.
He will need to do a whole lot of laundry and eat a lot of fast foods for the TV cameras. He’ll probably get a rash and clog up his arteries before the campaign is over.
I’ve been saying this for a long time here. If you don’t know much about the LDS Church, you can’t know much about Mitt. Personally, Mormonism is at the core of his being, yet he can’t speak about his family background, his place among the LDS elite, his role as a Bishop, and his financial ties to the Church as a business. Professionally, he can’t talk about his time as governor because he had to disavow everything he said and did in order to get this nomination. Running as a successful businessman is also going to be a bigger challenge that he assumed. Any candidate who enters a race without a narrative of his own, will find one imposed upon him by his political detractors. The fact that the Romney people never seemed to understand this suggests they are not as clever as the msm wants us to believe.
“Here’s a picture of me firing my first employee…“
The Methodists I know drink alcohol. Doesn’t seem to be any prohibition on it by their churches. It’s Baptists who are more scornful of it and whose churches seem to prohibit it more.
It’s different with Mormonism, though. It’s expressly prohibited and the entire family/church culture is set up so people are pressured to conform–in this case not drink alcohol.
@The Moar You Know:
To be fair, isn’t that true of the orthodox variety, of just about any religion. It is a feature not a bug of religious orthodoxies, to keep women submissive and in their place.
Mike in NC
These words cannot appear next to one another. It’s like a violation of some Law of Physics.
The Other Bob
Don’t drink many microbrews Eh? I can drink a different Michigan made or American beer every day and always drink some of the best in the world.
@giltay: That’s the difference between Methodists, Baptists and Mormons. There is at least with Methodists and Baptists a Fellowship Hall tradition where a visitor could go downstairs and drink coffee with the members.
Methodists could at least share a coffee with you (maybe sneak an Irish Coffee if nobody was looking), but no alcohol or caffeine? That’s too uptight for words. No Coke or Pepsi or tea? It comes across as way too strict for words.
Talky Tina says it better than I ever could have.
I heard Donald Trump say today that he was leaving his options open as far as running goes. He may jump back in. Donald Trump. Bob Dole. Fred Thompson. I am telling you it is the world record for number of clowns in one car. There just seems to be no bottom to the pit of dumb ass that is the 21st century Republican party.
I agree. The Mormons I’ve known place the church at the very center of their lives. Church and family are the center, and everything else (job, hobbies, etc.) is secondary. Mitt can’t speak of it outside of claiming he’s a Christian and that he believes in God, so he’s left with this massive hole in his story.
Mitt is probably finding this running for President thing grinding away at his very sense of who he is. He can’t use the shorthand that he’d use in Mormon circles to talk about his life, and if he tries to explain his LDS ties in normal language, he’ll sound like he’s owned by the church and that it sounds like a cult. So he’s completely stuck.
Poor little rich Mitt Romney. Inspite of his elbenty million munnies, money can’t buy him love. Lets see if it can buy him enough votes.
My underwear is magic too! I went to the dr. & he said he needed a stool sample, a urine sample and a semen sample. I said “Here, take my underwear”.
Thank-you, I’ll be here all week, please tip you waiter.
That, my friends, is the makings of a bitchin’ party. I’m gonna grab the Realtor, the sales rep, the bookkeepers and the stay-at-home mom, we’re gonna go off to a side room, and let our freak flags fly, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
There could be s’mores.
The Baptists I know drink alcohol. The key principal of the church is you’ve got to decide for yourself what’s right and what’s wrong because no guy in a dress and a funny hat has any better knowledge of god than you.
@JGabriel: Mmm, s’mores.
@The Moar You Know:
This is true. But there is also a difference between a “teetotaler” like Mitt Romney and a “teetotaler” like Joe Biden. One doesn’t drink because of imposed Church dogma and the other doesn’t drink due to personal choice. In terms of personal choice, on a great deal of issues concerning personal and social behavior, Mormons have few choices.
J. Michael Neal
OT: The jukebox in this bar reminds me, once again, that when you die, if you’ve been bad, you get to spend all of eternity in high school, and the only thing played over the PA system is “Freebird” on endless loop.
@MikeJ: I can’t keep all these different versions of Christians/Evangelicals straight. Pentecostal, Baptists, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and so on, I has a confused.
@dogwood: I have heard that can’t even drink coffee or a tea. So what does a Mormon drink at a tea party? Herbal tea?
Almost, but not quite correct. Romney and his people went into this firmly believing he DID have a compelling, strong narrative as a successful businessman who also intervened with his managing skills in the Salt Lake Winter Olympics to turn a potentially developing fiasco into an extremely successful hosting of the event. They also assumed unimpeachable personal integrity would be a reliable asset as corollary to his business acumen. They failed to anticipate just how badly Romney would get knocked off the pedestal on his intended core personal narrative of man-of-integrity with unimpeachable pragmatic business and management experience of the sort capable of fixing things. They failed to see how such a powerfully damaging counter-narrative would form around the very things Romney assumed were his key assets. In that limited sense, he’s like John Kerry and his military service, except that Romney’s being viciously jobbed by someone supposedly on the same team (Gingrich) rather than from the opposing team, but unlike Kerry, Romney’s being damned by new light shining on true facts rather than by the choking smoke of a slanderously false smear campaign.
The irony here can be seen in the response from one of the people in the focus group who indicated Mitt was probably one of those fathers who was never home. Despite Mitt’s high-powered business positions, I’d be surprised if that were the case.
Cris (without an H)
I like how this makes him sound like some other species.
Yeah but you can party down with Tang.
@schrodinger’s cat: decaf is fine. the mormon families i grew up around always had a cache of caffeine free sodas/teas/etc.
Dunno much about Mormons, don’t much care. I’ve met a few, and they seemed like nice people.
But Mitt’s got this “I was responsible for the Hindinburg” vibe, and he’s trying to cover it up.
I don’t trust him.
And I’m damn sure my dogs would growl.
Interesting. It’s my impression that the Baptists are much stricter on drinking and other questionable activities. Baylor University, a Baptist university in Texas, still doesn’t allow drinking:
They used to forbid dancing as well, but I think they might have lifted their ban on that.
I don’t know of any Methodist universities than ban drinking outright (not just underage students, but everyone).
J. Michael Neal
@dogwood: True, but I would *love* to have a couple of beers with Joe Biden. I’ll be happy to drink his if he doesn’t want any, but he does have to keep talking.
Cris (without an H)
Methodism hasn’t proscribed alcohol in a few generations.
As for Baptists, you know why you always invite either no Baptists fishing, or at least two?
Otherwise the one will drink all your beer.
It would be nice if “it’s just business” wasn’t accepted as an excuse for one’s moral failings. Maybe Mitt is helping us get there, even if it is against his will. At least he can be a bad example.
@pragmatism: An extremely religious friend who shunned all things caffeine, didn’t drink decaf because even decaf has some minute amount of caffeine. He was not a Mormon but a Hare Krishna.
ETA: So the Mormons are really cheating if they are drinking decaf, aren’t they?
I was raised in a prairie Methodist household (as opposed to the ‘great’ Southern Methodist tradition – famously tagged as “The KKKs secular arm” by Twain – we believed in equality). But drinking was right out although that broke down in the 60’s (damn hippies!). No movies and no card playing (but those were gone before I came along). All the Methodists I know today are OK with a little nip.
The last time I had anything to do with the church they were pretty schizophrenic on social issues. I’m surprised they have not split because of Womens issues, Gay rights or some combination thereof.
Nope. Hearing the audios of Obama followed by Mitt (on Randi Rhodes) sent me off in fits of laughing. What possessed Mitt to sing after Obama’s cool performance? Anyone could guess in a second, they would be contrasted And Mitt couldn’t have looked more unauthentic topping his record so far.The republican campaign is like a so-awful-it’s-funny sitcom.
Postum! Looks like coffee, smells like mud, tastes like $417.
@J. Michael Neal: Roger that. Biden would be a blast.
@J. Michael Neal:
That was my point. Being a teetotaler is not a drawback for a normal politician. For Romney, however, “teetotaler” becomes code for “weird”, because that’s what people really think about him. They think the guy is weird and are searching for a more acceptable way of saying that.
They’ll all fall into line when the time comes.
They always do.
@The Moar You Know:
I’m a little offended by the stereotyping of Muslims in your list. Item 1 is xenophobia, plain and simple. There is no prescribed “Muslim” garb, people just wear what is commonplace and considered decent in their local culture. Item 2, polygamy, is in fact atypical; it’s not cheap to maintain more than one family, you know. Item 3 is flat wrong: Jesus is a revered prophet to Muslims, though not quite at Muhammad’s level. Item 5 is strictly speaking an artifact of pre-Islamic tribal culture that has survived into modern times, and the attitude is hardly universal in the Muslim world — nor, as you note, unique to it.
I understand that you are describing other people’s prejudices rather than any of your own, and intend no offense to Muslims. So I would not say that any sort of apology is necessary. But it’s still somewhat annoying to see them in a comment here.
@schrodinger’s cat: hmmmmmm the mcmegs answer would be technically true but collectively nonsense.
i, however, agree with your hypothesis. it could be that los mormones relaxed this standard. like most churches they do make doctrinal changes. they started allowing 2 piece magick undies, etc.
I worked with quite a few Mormons (if you have one Mormon in a position to hire employees, pretty soon you have their entire stake working in the office) in my working days. Once the LDS church got stocks in Minute Maid, they were all drinking Coke products, fully leaded. Made a difference when their church owned the product!
Also, they were some of the most unethical people – pirating software (against the rules), lying to save their asses – but all of them were sexually pure and considered “temple worthy.” I always tell myself they aren’t the Mormon template, so don’t stereotype. I think Romney is the same as these – sexually pure, but pretty venal in the rest of his life.
@Cris (without an H): Isn’t that more dangerous that caffeine?
@schrodinger’s cat: No caffiene, no alcohol. And don’t even think about touching yourself ‘there’ later that night.
Huh? My paternal grandparents and my father (until he converted to Catholicism) were all Methodists. None of them were teetotalers.
@Schlemizel: That doesn’t even sound good.
This was my experience as well. We started with one, and then we had one more and so forth. Plus their families would stop by for various reasons. It felt a bit like being overrun by Mormons. A unfailingly polite and nice, of course.
I assumed he was being ironic. Actually saying what the mouth-breathing morans here are thinking. Those people all know:
all Muslims men wear a towel on their head
all Muslim women wear a floor-length hood
all Muslims want to destroy the US
Muslims do not believe in God – the “brighter” morans think Muslims disrespect Jesus, the duller ones assume they don’t know who he was
The fact that none of that is true can’t seep into their brains. Its one of the reasons I love to point out that Allah, Yahweh and God are all the same entity as precieved by three different cultures & modified as they spread out across the world
Unlike Pinnochio, Mitty is a wooden creature who will NEVER be real.
Yes, but it was a faux narrative, a sort of cliff notes of a life. The problem Romney faces is that he is a bad storyteller. He can’t figure out how to sell the sanitized version of his life, which is the job of every politician. Great politicians are great storytellers; that’s what makes Joe Biden great no matter how hard the MSM tries to turn him into a foolish blowhard. The stories Joe tells about himself and the President are sincere, and engaging, despite his goofy rhetorical ticks. President Obama can completely charm a crowd by simply telling a short anecdote about his girls and people relate to that because he is obviously crazy about them and talking about his family seems natural. Nothing Mitt says about his family seems natural; he always comes across as a bad lounge singer.
@The Other Bob: I am a fan of microbrews … from Ontario.
Thank you. We needed that.
We sometimes find ourselves in a bubble here and lose the view of the bigger picture.
How are you otherwise?
They have ‘Mormon Tea’ — Ephedra. Everybody knows that is so much better for you than caffeine.
Also, too: while at Bain Romney invested a lot of money in GNC, whose main draw was this newly marketed herbal supplement that stimulates a bit and inhibits appetite a lot…
@Amir Khalid: What he said, and what wing nuts in the US say is pretty tame compared to how Muslims are demonized by the right wing in India. Of course the Hindu-Muslim divide in India goes back at least a 1000 years and the partition of India did not help matters much. How about Malaysia, are there any religious tensions there?
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t make Mitty a human be-in.
@Bobby Thomson: Of course you know why Baptists never have sex standing up?
@BC: A friend of mine bought a company in SLC from the Mormon owners. “In over 30 years in business” he told me, “I hit the trifecta, it is the only time I’ve ever been screwed, lied to and stolen from all in one deal”.
Take wealth and influence out of Mitten’s story and you’d be left with the shitty middle manager that everybody else is trying to get the boss to replace with anybody because he’s supposed to work with people…
This is true, and is the reason why many who live around Mormons resent them. It has nothing to do with the tenants of their faith and everything to do with economics. I live in a community of around 60, 000 and almost every dentist is a Mormon. Any young person who isn’t Mormon knows they can’t get a job here as a dental hygienist for instance, and anyone who is looking for office work would know not to answer an ad placed by one of these dentists if they aren’t a Mormon with a Temple Recommend. A handful of restaurants hire only Mormons and one of the two main tire outfits is pretty much Mormon only. That’s just the way they roll.
J. Michael Neal
I agree with the Romney impressions — he’s just soulless.
AHHHHH. A fucking loudmouth mean philanderer who thinks he smarter than everyone else in the room (OK, the world)? How bizarre.
i see what you did there….
@dmsilev: FTW! All I could think when I read that was “whitewhitewhitewhitewhitewhitewhitewhitewhitewhite, etc…”
@dogwood: Your story makes me curious: if Mormon’s arent supposed to consume alcohol, caffeine or other drugs, do Mormon dentists use laughing gas for their Mormon patients?
What’s funny about it, dogwood, is these people aren’t responding negatively to his religion.
They’re responding to his “distance” lack of authenticity, lack of a coherent narrative or sense of his life.
If you and Frank Rich are right ( I think Frank Rich has a good intuitive sense for people) Romney NOT speaking of the church’s role in his life is hurting him, because they know something’s missing, but they don’t know WHAT it is, which makes them not trust him.
He’d be better off taking the risk.
The Moar You Know
@Amir Khalid: I truly did not mean any offense.
However, it cannot come as any shock to you that the stereotypes I’ve listed are how most Americans perceive Muslims. And I suspect that will still be the case long after you and I are dead.
A Rovian strategist (can’t be Karl, he’s working for Romney) would use these stereotypes against Romney, smearing him and Mormons with comparisons to Islam. It would be simple enough.
@Bobby Thomson: Mormons tell that joke about Mormons, too (“never invite just one”).
Good question. My dentist just retired, and I’m on a waiting list to get into one of the Mormons who really is a saint. Probably one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I’ll let you know when I get an appointment. Actually, here’s some positives about Mormons that makes them different from other Christian conservatives. They are not anti-science. They don’t want prayer in schools. They encourage marriage at a very young age, but they don’t object to sex education and seem to teach their children about sex and their bodies in a very respectful, pragmatic and accurate way.
I have the impressions that Mormonism is not as much a religion as it is some massive type of networking opportunity. I wonder what their unemployment rate is like.
@Schlemizel: Okay, I’ll admit it. I laughed.
Say, it seems like it’s been nearly 2 weeks since you mentioned some test or procedure that would be happening in 2 weeks. Any news?
@ Xenos 88: someone might think they’re dancing.
Oh yes, there are inter-religious tensions here too. We have Islam is the official religion of Malaysia. This is bound up with the equal-but-privileged Constitutional position afforded to Malays (my own ethnic group) which leads Malays to think they are more Malaysian than anybody else, and that Muslims have a right of veto over other Malaysians’ religious expression — attitudes I myself consider un-Malaysian and un-Islamic. And when I see similar attitudes elsewhere, I can’t help but be discomfited.
@The Moar You Know:
Rest easy. I’m not at all upset. As I said, I understand what you were doing and that no offense was intended.
I’m good. How you?
Let me say it once again: IN VIRGINIA YOU DO NOT REGISTER BY PARTY. You register to vote. Period. If these people are self-described Republicans, fine, but DO NOT SAY THEY ARE REGISTERED REPUBLICANS. Yet another example of really sloppy reporting. Sorry for the rant, I just get so tired of hearing this. BTW, I’m a life-long die hard Democrat and I’m thinking of voting for Ron Paul in our primary, just to screw with them. Your thoughts?
I live in Virginia too, and I’ve thought about that.
Ultimately I just couldn’t do it though — perhaps because it is the same tactic Limbaugh, et al. encouraged against us in 2008.
Romney wouldn’t try to buy his way to the front of the airport line. He’d be the asshole yelling, “Do You Know Who I Am? I’m a Triple Double Super Secret Platinum Diamond Elite!”