January 15, 2015

The “Draft Romney” movement has been located: it’s in his head.

According to media reports the former liberal senatorial candidate, former moderate gubernatorial candidate, former conservative presidential candidate, and former severely conservative presidential candidate recently told some of his party’s Daddy Warbucks brigade that “I want to be president.” The only thing the potently malleable Romney lacks is a rationale for his candidacy and, displaying a heretofore unrevealed sense of humor, he appears ready to run as a crusader against poverty.

I really had no intention of writing a Romney post but I was just gob smacked by this, from Matt Viser’s must-read piece in the Globe: “Underlying it all is the notion that, in the mind of Romney and his top advisers, the country made a mistake in not electing Romney in 2012. They want to give the country another shot at sending him to the White House.”

Oh, what fools we’ve been!

And then there’s this: “If you believe in your heart that this country is going to hell in a hand basket and is worse than ever, you owe it to your country to think about this,” one longtime Romney adviser said. “There’s a burden there to think this thing through carefully.”

Plus this: “If Romney were president, one longtime adviser said, ‘There wouldn’t be an ISIS at all, and Putin would know his place in life. Domestically, things would be in better shape.’”

The ISIS/Putin remark spurred TPM Livewire to recall past claims by Romneyites of our Paradise Lost. For example:

Last year Scott Brown claimed we’d have no Ebola worries, if only . . . 

In 2013 Ann Romney told “Fox and Friends” that there would have been no government shutdown, if only . . .

Paul Ryan and Bill O’Reilly both stated there would be no sequester, if only . . .

And Romney himself told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he’d run Obamacare better than Obama, if only . . .

Alright I’m having some non-academic fun with this but let me make two points that occur to me from scholarly literature. First, let’s go back to the Globe and that anonymous adviser: “But there needs to be a rationale,” the adviser continued. “If we made one mistake — and we made more than one in ’12 — it was in not making people understand this is the Turnaround guy.”

The answer to this is to return to economic themes and yes, incredibly enough, offer the rationale that Romney will be the savior of the downtrodden. Thus, the first point from Jonathon Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Religion and Politics: we humans decide what we want to do, then devise a rationale for it. The decision comes first, the justification second. Now in this Romney is no different from the rest of us. It’s just that he is so nakedly transparent.

Second, the articles I’ve seen are full of speculation from Romney acolytes. If only the voters could see the real warm Romney. Or, he’s sure to pound tired old Hillary Clinton. He’s just the man for the economy, etc.

I’d forego those sources and ask some political scientists what they think. In nomination contests, for instance, research indicates that the establishment almost always prevails. Given that there will be two or three establishment candidates in the GOP contest, that factor will be most interesting. Also as John Sides and Lynn Vavreck show in The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election important variables for the General Election will be the state of the economy during early 2016 and the incumbent’s approval ratings; not Mitt’s cuddliness.

So let’s have one more quote from the Globe story, from Spencer Zwick, Governor Romney’s former campaign finance director. In preparation, remember we are talking of a man who traversed the country disparaging the commonwealth of Massachusetts – while he was governor of the commonwealth Massachusetts. An American-firster with Swiss bank accounts. Cue Mr. Zwick: “I believe Mitt Romney is too much of a patriot to sit on the sidelines.”

It reminds me of the old Fernwood 2-Nite episode in which parents appeared on the show wondering if their son, a Catholic priest, could be deprogrammed?

Could Mitt and the Minions be deprogrammed?

2016, presidential politics, Mitt Romney

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