On the O’Reilly Factor last night, Dennis Miller gave voice to something that I’ve been pondering since last Tuesday night. One very grave disappoint of this election cycle (of which there are certainly very many) is that Team Obama is basically getting off scot-free with such a viciously negative, personal, and populist campaign. They’ve in essence been rewarded for relentlessly calling Mitt Romney a heartless corporate raider and vulture capitalist, a tax-sheltering sneak thief, a greedy sycophant who may-or-may-not be a felon and is pretty much responsible for cancer deaths via factory closures.
The Obama campaign put their full weight into making Mitt Romney into somebody we all need to be scared of, instead of what he actually is: A pretty admirable representative of the possibilities of the American dream. Sure, he started out with a good leg up (what parent doesn’t aspire to provide a better life for their children?), but he was hugely successful on his own merits; spent his life highly focused on family, religion, and community; and was a bigtime go-getter who personally created jobs and economic growth. The personal and class-warfare-oriented attacks all seemed to imply that Mitt Romney is what’s wrong with America, but if we can’t recognize that he personally is at least one type (and there are many types) of exactly what’s right with America, then this is even more serious than we thought.
I want to say that I have met Romney. Folks, I know a lot of you have been convinced out there that this guy is the problem with America. He’s not. He’s a very good man, he cares greatly about this country. … He’s a great patriot. I know that that side is going to paint him as the trouble with America. If he’s the trouble with America. If he’s the trouble with America, folks, this country does have a lot, a lot of problems.
I’m hoping it’s a good sign that, after the first debate when Americans finally saw and listened to Mitt Romney in person without all of the extra noise, there was a massive popular shift in his direction, but however great or small a factor all the negativity really was, it was part and parcel of a strategy that worked for Team Obama, and the fact that they believed such attacks were part of an effective path to victory is enough in and of itself.
In that vein, some food for thought, via Tom Bevan and Carl Cannon at RCP:
Romney’s critics on both the right and the left often accused him of lacking “a core,” but those who are close him believe this misses the essence of the man utterly. “Core” values to Romney are his church and family, and to them he is a consistently devoted servant.
Mark McKinnon, a confidant of George W. Bush, describes Romney as a good man whose values run deep, but whose politics are “transactional.” That’s hardly a sin, given that the two party’s politics are transactional as well. …
To liberal writer Ezra Klein, Romney’s problem — in terms of how he’s perceived — is that what he most values is empirical data, which he thinks complement his natural management skills.
“A lifetime of data has proven to him that he’s extraordinarily, even uniquely, good at managing and leading organizations, projects and people,” Klein writes. “It’s those skills, rather than specific policy ideas, that he sees as his unique contribution. That has been the case everywhere else he has worked, and he assumes it will be the case in the White House, too.”