How soon we forget.
After less than four years of having a deeply reflective, intellectually gifted and emotionally moving communicator as Commander-in-Chief, in one calamitous gaffe-filled day, Mitt Romney managed to bring back a level of international embarrassment this nation hasn’t experienced since the days of “Dubya.” Forget the fact that good ol’ Mitt apparently lacks the basic home training it takes to instinctively know not to insult your host — at least not while you’re still in their house. And never mind the litany of mishaps that preceded this international spectacle: the proudly stated proclivity for contributing to the unemployment rate; the apparent confusion between living, breathing, human beings and entities that employ the masses, while garnering tremendous amounts of wealth for the few; the long list of other head-scratching moments like those psychedelic musings on the “perfect height” of trees or the inexplicable rationalization that somehow made it OK to strap a dog to the roof of a car as if it were some K-9 model of the latest, greatest family Christmas tree. The sheer volume and wacky nature of these moments would be thoroughly amusing if they weren’t indicative of a broader, deeper flaw. One for which we are all still paying the price.
One thing is clear: No matter how much he wants to be, or how hard he tries to be, Romney is no natural-born political leader. Now is that a disqualifier for the highest office in the land? Of course not. In fact, some would say it’s a preferable attribute. Better to have someone real. Someone authentic. Someone who really gets my struggles and the challenges my family faces. But wait a minute, that doesn’t describe Romney, the wealthy son of a governor, either.
Still, wealth and privilege is not synonymous with a lack of empathy, the absence of a sense of social responsibility, or a missing proclivity toward the greater good (think Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bill Gates, Oprah!). But wait a minute — it seems Romney’s almost exclusive charitable cause is his own church.
Barring natural talent, or obvious interest in serving the public in any broad-based capacity, the true disqualifier, in my eyes, is good old-fashioned laziness. You need to be willing to put in the work if you want to be the president of the United States. Once the gaffes are all but forgotten, two highly predictable thorns will remain in the side of the Romney campaign: years of unreleased and therefore highly suspicious tax returns and the collateral damage caused by Bain Capital. The Bain fiasco has already cost him one election, his unsuccessful Senate campaign, and was a predictable vulnerability in this one. Why not be better prepared to address it this time around?
The tax issue, on the other hand, with proper planning could have been avoided. It’s just common sense. Someone who has been actively running for president since 2006 should have, at least for that period of time, gotten his fiscal house in order.
Perhaps this gross lack of forward thinking and preparedness could be excused if there were some evidence of time well spent toward other worthy endeavors, like, I don’t know, maybe a detailed prescription for economic growth. But, no, don’t look to Romney for such insight. Despite all his criticisms of President Obama’s policy prescriptions, the average voter is still left to ask WWMD (What Would Mitt Do)?
This clear case of political and policy negligence leaves one to wonder why he is running at all. Is it because it’s the one shiny object all his millions can’t buy and, therefore, it’s all the more appealing? Or perhaps he has some daddy dearest desire to accomplish something his father never did. Unfortunately for him, unlike his father, he has no bold ideas, no convictions he’s unwilling to compromise to placate the outliers in his party, and, ultimately it seems, no true talent or authentic calling for public service at all.
Do we really need someone else in office just because his daddy did it? Or in Romney’s case attempted to?
I seem to recall we tried that before.
It didn’t turn out too well.