Mitt Romney's square deal

First, at least stylistically, Romney is the retro candidate. His stories are sentimental, his jokes are corny, his parents are his heroes and his family is aggressively nuclear. There is an admirable defiance about it all. You want authenticity? You got it. In your heart you know he’s square. …

Romney, in contrast, inhabits the world before Mrs. Robinson. Some deny it ever existed. Romney proves them wrong. This is not nostalgia; it is a lifestyle choice. Some on the cultural left have little tolerance for this particular alternative lifestyle. But millions of Americans, including many Mormons and evangelicals, practice it without shame. It may even help explain Romney’s strong appeal to seniors — a group he leads by double digits, for example, in Florida. Former governor Jeb Bush hypothesizes that cultural affinity may be a “secret weapon” in Romney’s outreach to the elderly. What’s not to like about an upstanding, earnest man prone to reciting “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” in public? …

A second self-revelation contained in Romney’s speech: He is not really ideological. He did not engage a debate on the role of government, or America’s place in the world, or the future of entitlements. He proclaimed policies instead of arguing for them. He offered five points instead of first principles.