What is constant about Romney is his civic-minded desire to serve in office and his confidence that he can do a good job. He is probably right that he would do well in office. He is wholesome, efficient, industrious, and faithful. But he combines all this with a barely concealed panic; he has no idea how to make a majority of voters choose him for the job. And so each new persona seems like a new attempt to condescend to us.
Romney’s severe disability is found in the Constitution: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.” Romney looks, acts, and thinks like an American noble, one who tragically cannot be made into a duke or earl. If America gave out titles, surely the Romneys would have received one or more by now. In such a world, Romney’s sense of duty, and the sense of deference in the public to excellence like his, would have provided him with suitable offices. Romney belongs to an extremely exclusive Mormon subculture of successful families. These are the men who built Huntsman Chemical, Marriott International, JetBlue Airways. Like the ancient families with titles, Romney is subject to confusingly personal feuds within this group — namely with Jon Huntsman Jr. — that have no real political content.
Donald Trump has most of Romney’s political faults, and many more of his own. But unlike Romney, Trump has a fundamentally democratic personality and bearing.