As more and more Republicans seem ready to anoint Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate, others are giving Newt Gingrich a new look. See my previous post here.
You do not have to think too hard to know why. Romney supporter Roger Kimball reiterates his reservations about his preferred candidate: “Mitt Romney is our Bob Dole, a company man at a moment when the problem is the company. We are living through a serious crisis–really, multiple crises — and many people look at old Mr. Business-as-usual, “is-it-my-turn yet?” Romney and wonder whether he is really up to the job. He deploys a sly, knowing smile when Rick Perry forgets how to count from 1 to 3. He certainly has competent hair — the most competent, I think, of the entire campaign. But what, besides competent hair, can be said for him? That he’s not Obama — true enough, and that fact should not be minimized. But think of the relatively small proportion of people who are Obama. That cannot be the distinguishing feature of the successful Republican candidate. What we need is vigor, leadership, and wisdom, not the path of least resistance dolled up with an attractive herbaceous border.”
Mull over that last sentence. More than a few Republicans feel uneasy about Romney. They might not be able to put a finger on why, but they do.
They see the Romney packaging, recognize that it is perfectly crafted, but they wonder what they are going to find when they open the box.
They are far from convinced that Romney can an advance a Republican agenda with principled political leadership. After all, he never has.
Dutifully, Kimball notes the many Gingrich flaws. Newt has his faults and foibles. He is imperfect. He does not come from central casting. He would never get through an audition. Yet, most of us trust imperfect more than we trust seeming perfection. At least we know that imperfect is real.
When all was said and done, Babe Ruth was not exactly an Adonis. Still, he got the job done.
Kimball is asking the important questions, even wondering whether Romney is really a lock in the general election.
In his words: “Let’s see whether his [Newt’s] wisdom and articulateness on behalf on individual liberty and limited government are enough to garner him the nomination. From where I sit, Newt looks to be our last non-business-as-usual choice. He is beginning to round up some impressive support for a campaign in which, as he said, resembles nothing so much as the the story of the tortoise and the hare. Mitt Romney is every establishment conservative’s first choice. Why? ‘Because he can win.’ Can he? That’s the universal answer. I’m not at all sure the confidence is justified. But now that we approach the 11th hour, it seems worth pondering whether the more intelligent alternative not also be the most likely one. Newt is hardly above criticism. Nor, as he showed in 1994, is he above winning, a capacity that, at the end of the day, we’ll all want to place a premium.”
The Romney campaign has brilliantly convinced everyone that a Romney candidacy is inevitable and that a Romney victory is a sure thing.
Yet, we do not really know how well the Romney aura will hold up under hundreds of millions of dollars of negative advertising and under the attacks that the mainstream media will launch against him.
While Romney garners the most support among independent voters, he also elicits the least enthusiasm among more conservative voters.
Will Tea Party voters turn out en masse for Mitt Romney? How excited can you be when you are being asked to vote for great packaging?