Am I the only one beginning to wonder if Mitt Romney really even wants to be the president? He’s such a terrible candidate to begin with, smug, awkward, given to saying the stupidest things. Yet somehow he manages to get worse and worse, on an almost daily basis, demonstrates no capacity whatsoever for learning from his mistakes, or even recognizing them. Or maybe he just can’t be bothered. Either he’s inept beyond belief, or the Oval Office appeals to him less than decaf Diet Coke.
Thanks largely to Rick Santorum’s extreme views on contraception, abortion, women in the work force, and women in the military, women have thus far been some of Romney’s most consistent supporters. They made his minuscule margins of victory over Santorum in Michigan and Ohio possible. Santorum took note, responded as any even marginally competent politician would. He started talking about the strong women in his family, and backing off a tiny bit from some of his most insane ideas.
What did Romney do? Did he, perhaps, increase his focus on women, or set about clarifying the contrasts between himself and Santorum? No, of course not. Nothing so simple, or possibly effective, for Mittens. Instead, he seemed to think his best move was to pick up Santorum’s misogynistic slack. He started talking about getting rid of Planned Parenthood, couldn’t quite bring himself to condemn Rush Limbaugh for calling notorious contraceptive user Sandra Fluke all sorts of nasty names. By this week’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, the gender gap had disappeared, taking with it some of Mittens’s aura of inevitability, leaving him with third place finishes in both states.
The next day, Mittens showed up on Fox News, presumably looking to regain some momentum, reassure any wavering supporters who might be toying with the thought of switching sides. It’s no big secret he’s had trouble connecting with lower income voters. Granted, he has trouble connecting with humans, generally, but comments about his friendships with Nascar and NFL team owners haven’t helped matters much. Megan Kelly offered him a golden opportunity to reach out to those who travel in less lofty social circles, asking him about what she called, “gaffes.” Did he take it, make some effort to seem even a tiny bit less clueless? Don’t be silly, of course he didn’t. Instead he pretended the problem didn’t exist, saying, “Megyn, guess what? I made a lot of money. I’ve been very successful. I’m not going to apologize for that,” and, “”You don’t win a million more votes than anyone else in this race by just appealing to high-income Americans.” Maybe he doesn’t bother reading exit polls. Who can blame him? It’s so much work, sifting through all that tedious information.
His problems with hard core conservatives aren’t news to anyone either. They certainly played a part in his unimpressive southern showings. Kelly gave him a chance to speak to that as well, but did he take it? What do you think? Where another candidate, one of the minimally competent variety, perhaps, might have chosen to reach out to his conservative skeptics, reminding them how many of their views he shared, Mittens went in a different direction. He denied the problem existed, said anyone who claimed otherwise was wrong, “Well I’m sorry they have to go back at some other states that actually are kind of important, let’s say Florida for instance where I won and Michigan and Ohio and Nevada and New Hampshire, the list goes on. Last night by the way they’re forgetting there were a couple of other contests like Hawaii, where I won.” He modestly neglected to mention his victory in American Samoa.
No candidate is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, of course. But Romney’s are so obvious. It’s almost as if he’s willfully choosing to alienate as many potential voters as possible every time he’s allowed to speak in public. Maybe he really is just that inept. Or maybe he’s realized he’d rather take his millions and by himself an island, a little bit too late. Maybe everything else has come to him so easily, he expects all of his ambitions to fulfill themselves, and wake him when its over. None of these possibilities suggests a presidency I’d be interested in living through. Lucky for me, Mittens is doing his level best to ensure I’ll never have to.