ROMNEY HOPES TO BORE YOU SO MUCH YOU'LL VOTE FOR HIM IN YOUR SLEEP
Politico tells us that, for the Romney campaign, being dull and uninspiring is a feature, not a bug:
Many of the current strategy discussions are centered on not falling into the traps McCain did: looking wobbly as a leader and weak on the economy in the final weeks of the campaign. The private discussions include ruling out any vice presidential possibilities who could be seen as even remotely risky or unprepared; wrapping the entire campaign around economic issues, knowing this topic alone will swing undecided voters in the final days; and, slowly but steadily, building up Romney as a safe and competent alternative to President Barack Obama.
McCain, according to Romney advisers, blew it on all three scores. And of the three, the most conscious effort by Romney's team to do things differently will be in the V.P. selection process. One Republican official familiar with the campaign's thinking said it will be designed to produce a pick who is safe and, by design, unexciting -- a deliberate anti-Palin. The prized pick, said this official: an "incredibly boring white guy."
I understand not wanting to repeat the Palin debacle, and wanting to avoid the appearance of flailing in response to economic headlines. But "building up Romney as a safe and competent alternative to President Barack Obama"? That sounds like the strategy of a dull suitor trying to woo a woman who's involved with a hot, charismatic guy -- "Well, I'll just seem trustworthy and stable, and surely she'll see what a mistake she's made." Does that ever work, outside of movies? Does it ever work in presidential politics? (Can we get Mr. Dukakis on the line?)
Even George H.W. Bush eventually grasped (at least in 1988) that he needed to give voters a little of the "vision thing." Romney just seems dead set against the "vision thing"; his vision is "Obama sucks," plus the occasional warbling of "America the Beautiful."
And the VP thing seems like a complete misreading of the Palin story. The problem with Palin isn't that she was too exciting; it's that she was exciting and incompetent. If she'd actually been the person she seemed to be after capably reading the speech that was up on the Teleprompter for her at the Republican convention -- if, in other words, she'd seemed like a smart, competent, qualified red-meat conservative -- McCain really might have had a shot. Palin's speech temporarily put McCain in the lead in the polls; after that, though, we found out she was an empty snowsuit.
So I guess we're not going to get Chris Christie (even though he's not stupid). We may get -- try to contain your excitement -- Tim Pawlenty:
"If not [Sen. Rob] Portman [R-Ohio], [former Minnesota governor Tim] Pawlenty, [Indiana governor Mitch] Daniels -- some other incredibly boring white guy," the official said. "If there was a fourth name on the list, it's [Virginia Gov.] Bob McDonnell."
One argument for Pawlenty is that he would help the ticket with evangelical Christians who are suspicious of Mormonism.
See, I'd have thought McDonnell was Romney's go-to evangelical. But here's an interesting thing: liberals made McDonnell and Virginia Republicans back down on an ultrasound bill. If you want to get Team Romney to cross a short-lister off the "safe" list, it looks as if all you have to do is make the short-lister controversial:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has a strong vibe with Romney, who is said to like the idea of running with a younger, more exciting conservative. But Ryan would be such a lightning rod for the left that he could violate the most basic requirement for a running mate: Do no harm....
Really? The Romney people are that easy to intimidate? You'd think, in that case, you could generate controversy about any potential pick and they'd back down.
Elsewhere we're told that Romney doesn't want to run with Mike Huckabee because "Romney does not want to signal weakness" (as in: I was forced to pick this guy who's much more popular with the base than I am).
So: no one who's a big star with the base, no one who's been successfully attacked by liberals, no one who has a personality. Oh, and no girls allowed, either:
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez are also seen as too untested and lacking the national experience that would assure officials at Romney headquarters in Boston that they weren’t walking into another Palin problem.
I agree on the "national experience," but why lump them in with Palin? Because they all have vaginas?
Ultimately, on the subject of uplift and inspiration, Romney seems to be saying what the Ramones said about money:
You better know what you want
You know how little I got
I can't give you anything
I can't give you anything