By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Not mutually exclusive

Dean Barnett writes in today’s New York Times:

The Mitt Romney I got to know was warm and likable. He had an electric intelligence. He was unfailingly decent. He was totally committed to his family. He treated everyone with respect and kindness.

If you’re like most politically attuned Americans, you probably don’t agree with my description of Mr. Romney. You may consider him to be the personification of political ambition. You possibly believe he will say anything to get elected president. You might even consider him one of the least honorable politicians in the country.

I’m not sure why Barnett thinks that these two propositions are mutually exclusive. I’ve never thought Romney was anything other than a smart, good person with a terrific family. He’d make a great neighbor. Sure, he has these weird delusions that he and his father marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but those are harmless.

On the other hand, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a presidential candidate as eager to reinvent himself on every issue in order to pander for a few more votes. The latest: his ridiculous promises to reinvent the auto industry in Michigan, which just so happens to be holding a primary today.

Mitt Romney: Nice guy, pandering pol. Not the first, but more blatant than most.

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  1. Anonymous

    Good point Dan. I seethe when I hear Mitt telling the Michiganders how he’ll revive the auto industry. Didn’t he tell us that he’d help the Massachusetts economy using his corporate clout to lure businesses here? Did that ever happen?What’s ironic is that MA is producing technology that can help the car companies (Watertown’s A123 Systems, for example). Do we really think that Mitt had anything to do with this?

  2. mike_b1

    Also, I hear at least five of his eight wives are really hot.

  3. Don, American

    For years I told people I sang at a Fourth of July celebration in Michigan on the stage with Gerald Ford. I have come to realize it was some other Michigan politician whose name has faded with time. Also, I now believe it was Memorial Day, or what it used to be called. Or is that what it used to be called? Ah, memory.

  4. acf

    Never mind what he said about reviving the auto industry in MI. The auto industry is not Staples, a company at the birth of an industry when he invested in it. The auto industry is an old, mature industry with little growth potential, and not the same thing at all. Also, look at how Romney made his fortune. He took distressed companies that he bought out and ‘fixed’ them by laying off people and cutting benefits (health insurance), the best way to reduce costs, increase productivity, and increase the bottom line for his investors. Also, lets not forget dismantling or selling off divisions deemed unlikely to produce increased profits was part of the strategy. Therefore, his career history makes it extremely unlikely that he even thinks in a way that would help the Michiganers he is pandering to, much less be inclined to follow through on the promises he’s pretending to make.As for Romney being a nice guy, well I recall people describing Bush as someone they would like to have a beer with. How did that idea work out as a reason to make him president? I have seen too many instances of Romney resorting to nasty political tactics in the same vein as Bush, and utilize political operatives with Bush experience. That tells me more about him than the fuzzy idea of him as a man with whom I would like to share a glass of lemonade (I know liquor or coffee are out) with.

  5. Anonymous

    Mitt was smoked out very early in the process and just couldn’t overcome the scorn of his fellow candidates or the media. Hopefully he’ll have a nice victory tonight and move his base from Belmont to Grosse Pointe.

  6. Anonymous

    Don,”american” Not that it matters, but I wouldn’t vote for you either.

  7. Peter Porcupine

    I would submit for your consideration that George Romney actually did what Mitt says he will do – he revitalized a sagging industry by inventing and producing the compact car. Why is it so far-fetched to think that the son would capitalize on advances on fuel technologies?

  8. Peter Porcupine

    Oh, and Mike B-1? You’re a nasty bigot.

  9. mike_b1

    Thanks Peter! Me and Mitt are alot alike then. Maybe I should run for president.Btw, Romney is in no better position to capitalize on better fuel technologies than anyone else. In fact, he missed a huge one, by not promoting the hybrid and high-density battery technology developed here in Mass. to Detroit and elsewhere. (Guess he was too busy complaining about how “liberal” we are to notice.)While I would submit the auto industry is just getting started — worldwide, penetration is very low — Romney certainly isn’t the guy to marry technology and skills. He is a destroyer, not a builder, of companies.

  10. Anonymous

    Invest Mass taxpayer cash in solar or stem-cell technology must be “hope” because an investment decision like this one coming from a Governor who was a college English major turned Justice lawyer with some token positions along the way, sure isn’t rooted in expertise. So, per you, Mr. Romney suggests that the auto makers and related manufacturers can make a comeback in Michigan, it’s pandering. Or, is it “false hope”? Perhaps your calling is Wall Street. More likely, it just tells me you’ll vote Democrat no matter what. Is it your prediction that Michigan manufacturing as a Michigan core business is truly over? Falling dollar and rising China labour rates might prove you wrong. Then, get government out of industry’s way, and who knows.

  11. bostonph

    Peter Porcupine,Two points:1) George did not revitalize the Michigan economy. He joined AMC in 1957, when Detroit was king. What he did was revitalize AMC by dropping “dinosaur” lines in favor of the compact line. He did NOT invent the compact car.2) Mitt was Governor of THIS state for 4 years. As you may recall, Mitt ran on a promise to revitalize the Mass. economy by using his business contacts to being companies here. The actual result was jobs and people leaving the state in droves.A more accurate comparison may be this quote about George from a 1959 Time article:”He finds it so hard to be wrong, that when he is, he convinces himself that he isn’t.”,9171,810925-1,00.html

  12. mike_b1

    anon 8:47: It wasn’t the government that told GM, Ford etc to pay the guy who cuts the lawn $50k a year plus a pension. It wasn’t the government that insisted Detroit churn out oversized, under-featured cars and trucks that didn’t meet the needs or wants of the American public.

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