Thursday, September 20, 2012


Jack Shafer doesn't think we saw the real Romney on that hidden-camera video. Shafer thinks we've never seen the real Romney because Romney is as phony and malleable as Richard Nixon:
Pragmatists like Nixon and Romney, who have few core beliefs beyond the personal, require staff pollsters and strategists to tell them where they should be on issues.

Liberal writers such as Paul Krugman and Jonathan Chait would have you believe that the Mother Jones video reveals the true, inner Romney, somebody who regards the poor, the sick and the retired as grifters. If only that were true. He doesn't even have that conviction. As a pragmatist politician speaking to wealthy donors behind closed doors, Romney is content to say what they want to hear: That the 47 percent are parasites and the donors are exalted beings.
I think that's true and not true.

Romney has no ideological convictions, but -- as I've said many times -- he has a deep reserve of free-floating anger. In this he's like Nixon, except that Nixon resented certain fixed groups (economic elites, blacks, Jews), while Romney seems to despise ... well, anyone who gets in his way.

That resentment strikes me as absolutely genuine.

The targets of Romney's resentment include not just his primary and general-election opponents, but voters themselves. Recall what Ezra Klein wrote a couple of days ago:
Imagine you're Romney, the Republican presidential nominee: For the past year you've been unable to grab a clear lead in the polls against an incompetent who has been unable to get unemployment below 8 percent or reach a reasonable debt- reduction deal with Congress. Which would you prefer to believe? That you're not good enough, not smart enough and doggone it, people just don't like you? Or that the incumbent Democrat has effectively bought off half the country with food stamps and free health care?
I'd say that Romney thinks the voters themselves are contemptible for being, as he sees it, so easily bought off.

Romney isn't a natural wingnut, but the wingnut idea that people who take government benefits are incorrigible moochers and Democratic voters as a result of that mooching really appeals to Romney's innate, deep-seated sense of grievance. He feels victimized whenever he doesn't get what he thinks is his due, and this argument provides him with an explanation of why he's not getting his due. He may not have believed this nonsense all his life, but once he absorbed it, it stuck.

It stuck because it gave him someone to hate, which is what he wants.


Cirze said...

I've felt the same for years now as I watched this loser get more and more bitter as his prospects faded in the clear light of the voters' considered appraisal.

He strikes me as a spoiled baby who never actually got what he really wanted from Mommy and Daddy: respect for being the douche bag he is.

Nice reporting!

Victor said...

Mitt was born very well off.

Nixon WAS born a poor, black child - ok, not black, but he carried more resentment than many black people who were born poor.

It was always Nixon v. World.
I can see the reason for Nixons various psychosis and neurosis.

I don't know where Mitt's resentment comes from, except that the things he felt entitled to have come fairly easily, but not easily enough.

He could defeat any problems by throwing money at them.
Sometimes his, sometimes he had to reach out for the government to help him. And he became a master at having the government come and pick up after him.

But in politics, FSM only knows why he wanted to be a politician, he's so bad at being one, except that's the only way you can become President, which he feels he's entitled to be - to 'the The White House born.'
But you can't buy the Presidency directly - you can only buy it by throwing money around AND pandering to "The Help" for votes.

It ain't just the 47% - I think he finds everyone contemptible, except for his family and his fellow Plutocrats.

How dare he not win the Presidency by acclaim!

Rand Careaga said...

"Most of us when we do a caddish thing harbour resentment against the person we have done it to, but Roy's heart, always in the right place, never permitted him such pettiness. He could use a man very shabbily without afterward bearing him the slightest ill-will."

—Somerset Maugham, Cakes and Ale

Kathy said...

I keep coming back to a New York Times article (I think) from 2008 that chronicled the other candidates' dislike for Romney. It wasn't just professional competitiveness; they despised him on a personal level. If he can't buddy up with people who should be his ideological brothers, why would voters like him?

Steve M. said...

Exactly, Kathy.

Anonymous said...

I think his resentment stems from a core belief that he is, wait for it, entitled to be the President. He is the golden boy of his universe. He was promised by the echo chamber that is his life that he would make a great President. His path to greatness was paved by all his admirers. From the days of the bullying in school, to college, onward, the echo chamber of sycophants convinced him of his greatness. Furthermore, being a Mormon, he is convinced as a male, a Bishop, Prophet and on the path to being a god in the afterlife, being President is a given.

Greg said...

There may also be some "avenging the father" involved with Romney's ego, as he may harbor some lingering resentment for how his dad was derailed from a promising path to the presidency by the "brainwashing" comment.

But I think, for the most part, it's simply pragmatic plutocrat assholery that drives Willard. He's seen the difference that the presidency makes in advancing plutocratic interests. He wants more of that, much more.

Tom Hilton said...

Nailed it, Steve.

@stellaaaa: Yup, this. And not only is he entitled to the presidency--we should consider ourselves lucky that he's running (as Ann says).