Friday, February 08, 2008

Mitt Romney Didn't Lose Because He is a Mormon. He May Have Lost Because He is Too Perfect.

Gosh, it hurts to compliment the Los Angeles Times, but I think they got it right today in a news analysis by staff writer Janet Hook, who explains that Mitt Romney did not lose because of prejudice against his Mormon faith, but rather because he was perceived as inauthentic by the electorate. Now, that's a very harsh judgment (especially to Governor Romney or one of his family). Indeed, the defeat of his Presidential campaign might be easier to take if he could blame it on religious prejudice. But that just would not be the truth; and the nation is better off because that is not the truth. Mitt Romney was defeated by his own campaign problems, not by rank prejudice. (Or, at least not rank anti-Mormon prejudice--as I explain below there was a different type of prejudice at work.)

In mitigation, I emphatically insist that the problem certainly was not that Mitt Romney actually is inauthentic, or lacks character. However, abetted by a few gaffes and sincere changes in political positions, the public perception arose that he is inauthentic, and he was never able to shake it. His policy positions seemed too well-honed to a model conservative political agenda prepared by McKinsey-trained consultants. He was too good looking and dressed too well.

Indeed, ironically, Governor Romney was handicapped by having led a life to date that is so full of success and achievement and so perfect that it inspires jealousy and envy rather than pure admiration. As Mike Huckabee put it following his defeat of Romney in Iowa, the voters went for the candidate who looks like the guy working next to them in the assembly line, instead of the one who looks like the guy who layed them off. The voters [usually] unspoken emotions of jealousy and envy fed the fault-finding and gave rise to the charges of inauthenticy.

So the answer to the question in the title of Jimmy Carter's 1976 campaign biography, "Why Not the Best?", may turn out be, "Because the Best Won't Get the Most Votes."


Blogger Claudia L. Meydrech, CN said...

Interesting take on this, I never felt complete peace about voting for Romney, and never could put my finger on why, even though my hubby did vote for him in the primary. I don't think anyone is perfect, but do understand the point the article is trying to make.

Claudia, who is Married to Politics

Sunday, February 10, 2008 9:39:00 PM  

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