I know the CW is that Mitt Romney is to Barack Obama as John Kerry is to George W. Bush, and certainly there are good parallels: the patrician aloofness, the tin ear, and clunky soundbite (“I was for it before I was against it” vs. “I’ll bet you $10,000…”), but if today is any indication, Mitt is going to face the full Al Gore treatment from the press.
I’m not suggesting, by the way, that the press being petty and juvenile is a good feature in our democracy, I’m just saying they are, and Mitt is positioned to catch the bulk of their Mean Girls wrath.
Exhibit A, from Roger Simon at Politico:
…on the flight from Des Moines, everything had gone well. Reporters had their names on pieces of paper on each seat (reporters hate confusion), Romney came to the back of the plane wearing one of his windowpane shirts (he has several) and a pair of faded jeans (he switches between Tommy Bahama and The Gap, though some reporters feel The Gap is more flattering to him) and “banters,” saying things like, “You guys got nothing better to do?”
So everything is fine. Everything is dandy. The candidate looks confident and happy. And then he has to ruin things by actually campaigning.
At the high school gym, the campaign plays a medley of oldies — “Eye of the Tiger,” “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher” — and then the sound cuts out entirely as Ann Romney and political dignitaries enter not to uplifting music but to dead silence.
So, OK, stuff happens. There are some introductory remarks for which the sound is “crispy good,” and then Romney and John McCain walk out. McCain had endorsed Romney the night before, the value of which is problematical, but what the heck, he was the last Republican nominee (to lose).
And then there’s the Post’s Dana Milbank:
If this is Mitt Romney’s idea of a victory rally, one shudders to think what would have happened if he had lost the Iowa caucuses.
The day after his impossibly thin eight-vote victory, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination flew here for a town hall meeting at Manchester Central High School, where he was to bask in the endorsement of his 2008 arch rival, John McCain.
But the senator grimaced when he was introduced, and as Romney delivered his own stump speech, an increasingly impatient McCain pulled up his sleeve and fidgeted with his bracelet. McCain gave his endorsement address without mentioning Romney’s Iowa win until the end. “By the way, we forgot to congratulate him on his landslide victory last night,” he said, laughing. Romney ignored him.
I remember all he crap Al Gore got, from the Naomi Wolf dresses him meme (iffy, at best) to analyzing the deep sighs during the debate with W to stuff about inventing the internet (not what he said) and being the inspiration for Love Story (actually, true). It was partially laziness and partially the fruit of a contemptuous (and, to no small degree, contemptible) press corps.
I’m not, by any stretch, objective, but Mitt Romney is transparently inauthentic, and I have Republicans in my circle who think so, too. It doesn’t meant they won’t vote for him, but passionate defenses of his honor aren’t likely to burst forth, either. So expect more of this, because it’s fun stuff to write, and Mitt will give them plenty of opportunities to do so.