The great thing about being at the convention is that you’re in the middle of history in action. The bad thing is that there’s so much going on that you end up missing everything. For instance, the interview Mitt Romney did with Politico. He said two things that were just plain absurd. One involved himself, the other President Obama.
Romney discussed the yawning personality gap between himself and the president, which has Americans viewing Obama as more likeable than Romney. “I know there are some people who do a very good job acting and pretend they’re something they’re not,” Romney told Politico. “You get what you see. I am who I am.” And who might that be?
In the case of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, part of what underlies the unease is an uncertainty about core beliefs. Every politician will change positions over a career; you’d worry if he or she didn’t. But few have covered as much ideological ground as the former Massachusetts governor: on abortion, stem cell research, health-care reform, gun control, immigration, gay rights, climate change and more.
It may seem a small thing, but when a man who’s been hunting twice can blithely say that he’s been a hunter “pretty much all my life,” it makes people wonder what is real. His attacks on primary opponents Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich for revealing even a sliver of pragmatic concern for undocumented immigrants suggested an ethos of winning at any cost and a deficit of principle. The sketchiness of his policy proposals since then only aggravates the concern.
The Romney absurdity involving Obama concerns what he thinks the president was able to get done during his term. “I do believe that people of this country are looking for someone who can get the country growing again with more jobs and more take-home pay, and I think they realize this president had four years to do that,” he told Politico. “. . . He got every piece of legislation he wanted passed, and it didn’t work.”
That Obama “got every piece of legislation he wanted passed” will come as news to his administration. Romney rails against the president on job creation, but is mute on Congress’ inaction on the American Jobs Act that the president sent to Capitol Hill almost a year ago. After two years of haranguing Obama with “Where are the jobs?” the GOP leadership suddenly seemed less than interested in his proposal.
But the lack of interest in working with Obama was by design. Thanks to Robert Draper and Michael Grunwald we know that Republicans had it in for Obama before Day 1. At what point will Romney acknowledge Republican complicity in the president’s and the nation’s economic “failure”?