MITT ROMNEY MAKES A HOSTAGE VIDEO
Seriously, I've seen people held for ransom by guerrilla armies who read scripts more convincingly than Romney reads this -- which will apparently be the only ad he'll have on TV in the coming days (apart from some Spanish-language ads). A few phrases come off as sincere -- those are the ones that denounce Obama, which tap into his deep reservoir of free-floating resentment. But when he says it's regrettable that people are in straitened economic circumstances, and he tries to arrange his face to suggest he feels your pain, it looks as if his entire being is recoiling at the effort to connect with the unwashed masses.
If it's a hostage video, who's holding the gun to his head? Obviously he's hostage to the circumstances of the race; he's forced to do this video because the notorious "47%" tape leaked -- and since he's a guy who was always the alpha male in his own life, from prep school to Bain to the Massachusetts state house, he's really not comfortable doing anything he doesn't want to do.
But I feel as if he's the person holding the gun to his own head. He's set himself on this six-year quest for the presidency, and the process is making him miserable -- he's constantly being forced to say things he doesn't want to say, do things he doesn't want to do, display feelings he doesn't really feel! It's awful! Why is he making himself do this?
If I were Maureen Dowd, I'd point out here that he's following in the footsteps of Al Gore and George W. Bush: he's a scion with daddy issues who feels he's supposed to run for president, as a way of both loving and competing with his father. Well, maybe -- but Gore and Bush never seemed miserable while running for president. Neither of them ever seemed to be conveying the message Romney so often seems to convey: I have a compulsion to become president, and I have no control over my desire for this goal -- and you're compounding my misery, you bastard, by making it difficult for me to succeed. That's what he so often seems to be saying -- to opponents, to the press, to the public.
And to himself.