Over the course of the GOP primaries, it became clear from exit polls that Republicans were voting based on candidate character more than policy positions. Despite all the money Romney spent on ads and organization, including millions of his own fortune, voters just didn’t seem to like him. In the last weeks, Romney was supported by the full force of the conservative commentator corps, and voters still didn’t sign up. He was a PowerPoint candidate who was all points and no power.
It was a strange way to bow out for a man who, not that long ago, boasted that he was “an independent” during Reagan’s administration and who voted for Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic primary. (To boot, Romney spokesman Eric Ferhrnstrom wouldn’t rule out a 2012 run, though he said it was too early to speculate about that.) Instead of making the traditional farewell speech at home, surrounded by his family, Romney went down swinging.
Suddenly, here inside the hallowed walls of the Omni Shoreham’s grand ballroom, he rediscovered his zeal for the kind of talk on social issues usually reserved for nutty right-wingers. He accused Democrats of trying to kill American culture, for starters. “The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless,” he said. “And tolerance for pornography, even celebration of it, and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare, have led to today’s grim realities.” It was as if he thought Ron Jeremy was part of Clinton’s kitchen cabinet.
TNR’s Chris Orr (citing Kill Bill):
Superman was born Superman. It’s Clark Kent that is the invented alias, the pose, the “costume.” And in the way Superman plays Kent–weak, self-doubting, cowardly–we can see what he thinks of the human race overall.
It occurred to me that the same is true of Mitt Romney’s desperate, if never terribly persuasive, impersonation of a conservative Republican. That persona–angry, simple-minded, xenophobic, jingoistic–is exactly what Romney (who is himself cultured, content, and cosmopolitan) imagines the average GOP voter to be.