The earth-shattering “47%” videos that were released to the public via the Mother Jones website this week only reinforce the idea that Mitt Romney has connected with the American public about as well as John Carter did.
The video, for all of its peephole graininess, is positively compelling if only for the fact that this is the first time in the entire campaign where Romney actually appears to be acting human – not simply portraying a model politician, as he comes off as in just about every one of his appearances. In the video, he’s loose and off-the-cuff; he speaks earnestly and even has room for some humor.
That’s the real Romney, the one we see behind those closed doors, the one most comfortable in the smoky, $50,000-plate fundraisers attended by the other staggeringly-rich Republicans. That’s when his politician veneer gets stripped away. It’s everywhere else that he seems to be just playing the part of candidate.
Say what you will about Obama – and there are certainly valid criticisms to be leveled at him – but he rarely comes off as fake. Intellectual, perhaps, but not aloof, as the Republicans have charged. For that matter, neither did George W. Bush, although he did it by being the opposite of intellectual. Bill Clinton was the all-time master; Ronald Reagan was right behind him. Romney is none of those.
Maybe the best comparison for Romney is John Kerry. In nominating Kerry in 2008, the Democrats thought they had the perfect foil for Bush – a war hero and Vietnam vet respected for his knowledge in foreign-policy matters who was utterly exposed against a struggling incumbent, through sleazy means (the Swift Boat campaign) and the candidate’s own stiff foibles.
On paper, Romney, again, seems like the perfect candidate to run against Obama, a successful businessman who, ostensibly, could run on a record of turning companies around. Yet the bright lights of the campaign have only accentuated the fact that Romney, like Kerry, lacks the basic human-connection element that the most successful politicians have.
He doesn’t seem like a viable presidential candidate, just someone playing the role of a viable presidential candidate, someone shoe-horned into the position of running against the incumbent. Eight years ago proved that Americans could see right through that, and judging by the latest polls they’re seeing right through it now.