MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Archive for January 2007

So What to Make of Mitt Romney

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By chance, I happened to see the now former Governor Mitt Romney on Tuesday on his last full day as Governor of Massachusetts. He had come to lay a wreath for Gerald Ford at the Old North Church, a gesture one local called a “crock of [bleep]” and just another photo op for Romney’s putative run at the Presidency. Lending weight to this view was that Romney’s visit lasted all of five minutes. He came, he shook hands with the vicar, flash bulbs went off as he laid the wreath, and then he was gone. Just another gesture in Ford’s endless interment, and one which may or may not have made the eleven o’clock news.

So what about Mitt? I don’t personally know him and so have no basis on which to form an opinion as does the esteemed blogger Dean Barnett. I did once work with the Governor’s son for a couple of years, and can attest that he was an awfully nice guy. There was a clannishness to the mormons who were there, and a subtle attitude of superiority. They do call the rest of us “gentiles” – even the Jews – and it means something to them. I did and do find the attitude vaguely distasteful. However, beyond that, I’m not concerned with the LDS issue. Mitt Romney says he believes in Jesus Christ, and I believe him. Most evangelicals will probably take him at his word, though those who are aware of mormon theology may not recognize the mormon Christ. Frankly, it’s a non-issue that the media will be happy to play up for lack of substance and understanding anyway.

My view of Romney as governor is somewhat more of an issue to me. He acted as the standard check on a Democrat-dominated legislature that has kept the GOP in the governor’s office for almost two decades. He spoke out on social issues. He visited the occasional disaster site for a photo op (we’re not Louisiana, so local officials are actually pretty good at managing those things by themselves). Basically, to me, he looked like a dilettante. I do believe he wants to be president, and he needed an elective office on his resume. Governor of a state is pretty good – far better than senator, so he checked it off. Could that be why he only served one term? Could that be why he failed to support his Lt. Governor in her bid for the office he was vacating? I don’t know. I do know Romney has coasted through his term. Which brings us to the presidency.

The presidential lineup on both sides of the political aisle is pathetic. All the senators are frankly lightweights, including Hillary Clinton and John McCain, despite their assumed air of gravitas. Guiliani was a mayor for crying out loud, and his whole candidacy rests on an admittedly superb performance dealing with a crisis. Obama is a media creation – though his time may come (hint: run for governor). Edwards is the lightest lightweight in a light lineup. There’s Vilsack, who was at least a governor, but is largely unknown. (There’s recent precedent there, of course: Carter, Clinton.) Romney’s there with Vilsack, though arguably better known because a) Massachusetts gets more national coverage than Iowa; b) the Olympics; and c) his father’s run for the presidency.

Word is Romney’s off to South Carolina now that he’s finished with Beacon Hill, and by a funny coincidence that’s a key primary state. I’m reserving judgment at this point. My initial instinct is that Romney doesn’t have what it takes and that he’s just another Massachusetts pol bitten by the presidential tse-tse fly. He does not have my vote – now. I did vote for him for governor, and if he’s the Republican nominee he’ll have my vote over any likely Democratic contender. But right now, this conservative, Catholic, GOP primary voter is keeping his powder dry.

Written by martinipundit

January 4, 2007 at 10:33 am

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