Mitt Romney is just too weak, according to David Frum, writing for the Daily Beast:
It's not just his arguments that are weak. For the past year, we have watched him be pushed around by the radical GOP fringe. He's been forced to abjure his most important achievement as governor, his healthcare plan. In December, he was compelled to sign onto the Ryan budget plan after months of squirming to avoid it. Last fall he released an elaborate economic plan. On the eve of the Michigan primary, he ripped it up and instead accepted a huge new tax cut - to a top rate of 28% - that has never been costed (and that he now tries to avoid mentioning whenever he can). Romney has acknowledged in interviews that he understands that big rapid cuts in government spending could push the US economy back into recession. Yet he campaigns anyway on the Tea Party's false promise that it's the deficit that causes the depression, rather than (as he well knows) the other way around.Or perhaps the problem is that Mitt Romney is just too aggressive, which is the theory of ... um, David Frum, writing for CNN.com:
... at every point, Romney has surrendered to the fringe of his party. Weak. And now in his first tough encounter with Barack Obama, Romney is being shoved around again.
The NAACP incident shows a hyperactive campaign war room, overcorrecting one way ("the boos are no big deal; everything's going according to plan!") and then overcorrecting the other way ("we weren't trying to generate TV images of racial confrontation; why, look, here's Condi Rice!"), spinning and counterspinning without any forethought for how this hour's aggressive statement would sound when the next hour's realities arrived.I'm not sure these two descriptions of Romney are incompatible. A lot of people are pathetic weaklings in the presence of those they fear and are hyperaggressive, sometimes dangerously so, in other parts of their lives. Plenty of wife-beaters and bar brawlers and road rage-oholics are weaklings in their relationships with bosses or fathers or other people they actually fear. That's how I see Romney: as a guy who's terrified of the radical right and who overcompensates by trying to lash out at opponents. It's not an appealing combination of personality traits, to say the least.
And it was that "win the hour" mentality that got the Romney campaign into much more serious trouble when the Obama campaign launched a big push on Romney's business record the next day.
Thursday morning, the Obama campaign released a tough ad attacking the record of downsizing and outsourcing at Romney's old firm, Bain Capital.
The Romney campaign reacted with outrage. That same day, it announced a multimillion-dollar purchase of airtime for an ad that bluntly accused President Obama of lying....
Wham. The first attack on Romney had been a jab, dropping Romney's guard against the haymaker: On Friday, the Obama team counter-charged that it was Romney who was lying in his ads or who had committed a felony, lying on 140 official forms that he signed as CEO and sole shareholder of Bain between 1999 and 2002.
Romney now chased the Obama story, granting five TV interviews to reiterate his version of events. The more he talked, the more deeply into trouble he sank. By Sunday, even Romney supporters were urging the thing he wants least: release of more income tax returns.
And here again, what got Romney into the trouble was his war room. It was the too-fierce response to Attack 1 -- the adamant insistence that Romney had nothing, nothing to do with anything that happened at Bain after February 1999 -- that set up Romney for Attack 2: Did he lie on SEC forms? And now he will struggle through the rest of the election trying to reconcile his answers.