Childlike credulity about presidents’ abilities to subdue turbulent portions of the world by projecting “strength,” or to “manage” the domestic economy, encourages political infantilism. This manifests itself in people seeking in public figures attributes pertinent only to private life.

A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll asked respondents to say which presidential candidate “would you prefer to have take care of you if you were sick” and which “would you rather invite to dinner at your home.” What is depressing about these questions is not that they miss the point of presidential elections nowadays but that they seem to touch the electorate’s erogenous zones. …

An attractive aspect of Romney as a candidate is how endearingly unsuited he is to politics in an era when “friend” has become a verb. Would that he could just say this:

“I am not running to be your friend, because I hope you pick your friends from among people you actually know and for reasons unrelated to politics. And I will not insult your intelligence by claiming to feel your pain, which really is yours. Neither will I tell you that as president I would pacify distant mobs. I am running just to make government somewhat less destructive, to partially ameliorate the country’s largest afflictions and to make the world a bit less dangerous.