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

Romney’s timely end

Mitt Romney has been justly criticized for moving far to the right on a whole range of issues in order to pander to conservatives in the presidential campaign. What hasn’t been noted often enough, though, is that Romney never stopped shape-shifting, adopting a range of different personas in order to suit the state of the week. Peter Canellos gets at it nicely in today’s Globe:

In the end, all those inconsistencies combined with a somewhat plastic presence on the stump made Romney seem inauthentic and opportunistic — a meat-and-potatoes car guy in Michigan who morphed into a Pollo Tropico lover in Florida.

Romney furthered those impressions by changing his emphasis in state after state, from being a social conservative in Iowa, to an anti-Washington crusader in New Hampshire, to an economic nationalist in Michigan, to the one true Reaganite who played to right-wing talk shows in the days leading up to Super Tuesday.

By the time Romney took the stage in Boston on Tuesday night, wearing the frozen smile of a politician desperate to stave off defeat, his message had unraveled into a series of generic platitudes and warnings.

Also in the Globe, Joan Vennochi mocked Romney effectively yesterday, and Scot Lehigh comes back with more today.

In the Herald, Peter Gelzinis is on fire:

Mitt Romney’s quest for the White house dissolved under the weight of some very expensive brainwashing by a circle of consultants who sold him on the ludicrous notion that he could become president by running to the right of a genuine war hero.

That would’ve been a tough sell even if Mitt had spent 13 months in Vietnam, rather than two years searching for Mormon converts in the Bordeaux region of France.

But then, when you subscribe to the world according to Rush Limbaugh — the OxyContin-popping Charles Foster Kane of talk radio who bloviates his conservative rant from behind the locked gates of his Florida compound — you’ve already lost touch with a large part of reality.

Personally, I think Republican voters took the measure of Romney’s character and found it lacking. Even by the debased standards of politics, Romney was unusual in his willingness to say anything in order to get elected. Too bad he didn’t realize that’s not the way to get elected.

As Republican political consultant Todd Domke said on WBUR Radio yesterday, if Romney were the person whom he claimed to be, he’d be sailing to the nomination right now.

Further thoughts from the Outraged Liberal, himself a recovering journalist.

Channeling the same wavelength: A Globe editorial refers to Romney’s “shape-shifting,” too.

Photo (cc) by Tim Somero. Some rights reserved.

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  1. mike_b1

    If Romney were the person whom he claimed to be, he’d be running for God, nor president.

  2. Anonymous

    My only question about Romney is when he’ll move back to Utah now that Massachusetts has no political value to him. Rarely have I felt such a visceral urge for someone to get out of my state.

  3. Anonymous

    His speech yesterday was beyond contempt. If he stayed in “he’d be aiding in the surrender to terror” Give me a break. I can’t believe I ever voted for this guy. Jon Stewart had a point-but-point rebuttal last night that was brilliant.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 9:46: That speech would have been scary if Romney were an important person.

  5. Anonymous

    Well he certainly isn’t important to me, but I’ve just seen that kind of stuff work too many times for the Republicans. Remember swift boating? I’d like to think Romney is so transparent that even the people that usually fall for that stuff wouldn’t this time, but you never know. If McCain is really the straight talker he claims to be, he really needs to denounce that speech, but given his tenuous relationship with the Right, I doubt we’ll be hearing that.

  6. raccoonradio

    I’m so glad we now have a governor who gives $150,000/yr positions to guys that eventually get caught sexually assaulting 15 year old boys in Florida. Together, we can! As for Romney, was he pretending to be liberal on abortion/gays in ’94, or did he swerve right to get GOP nomination? Either way, conservatives consider him Republican in Name Only (though many use same term forMcCain).

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Raccoon: I don’t think Patrick promised to see into the future when he ran for governor. Hiring a guy who then gets arrested is not a scandal. Hiring a guy after he gets arrested is a scandal.

  8. John

    Certainly I’m not the only person to hear John McCain’s odd praise for Romney (and his campaign and his supporters and his ideas, ad nauseum) on Super Tuesday night and wonder what that was all about. Then come Romney’s withdrawal, and I’m thinking quid pro quo. Mitt for McCain’s VP, anyone?

  9. mike_b1

    Not a chance, John. Not a chance. The two guys hate each other. Heck, the only reason Huckabee’s still in is because he’s hoping for a spot on the ticket.

  10. O-FISH-L

    I voted for Mitt this year on the premise that his current stated views are the closest to my own. That said, I wasn’t enthusiastic. Still, I am both amused and mildy awestruck by the jealousy and malevolence of the comments here. This morning, a regular caller to the WBZ overnight Steve LeVeille Broadcast, I think her name is Carole, put it best. When asked by LeVeille why she thought Romney had failed, she replied something to the effect, “He’s too good. He’s good-looking, he’s got a beautiful wife and kids, he’s wealthy and clean living, he’s got what everyone wants. A lot of people don’t want to look at that.”Although I was more than half asleep at the time, I couldn’t help but nod in agreement.

  11. Anonymous

    Huckabee’s still in because he thinks God may intervene at any minute. Mitt has “suspended” his campaign instead of ending it because at age 72, any kind of health scare for McCain could set off a panic.Mitt found out that what voters are primarily looking for in a presidential candidate is “authenticity” — and if you can’t fake authenticity, you can’t hang with the big boys.Bob in Peabody

  12. Anonymous


  13. Don, American

    Gelzinis’ unsolicited attack on Rush Limbaugh had absolutely nothing to do with Mitt Romney. Why did you include it, Dan? It just makes G look like a jerk, or was that your intention?

  14. O-FISH-L

    don,american is right.How cowardly of Herald d-lister Gelzinis to take a cheap-shot at the Limbaugh-Romney alliance, when the Herald’s one man life-support, Howie Carr, has been a stronger and longer supporter of Romney not only on talk-radio but in print. Brave move Peter, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, just maul the one in FL doing the same thing.Lastly, kind of odd that Gelzinis, the self-styled slayer of the Bulgers, wouldn’t have a modicum of respect for the only guy in 30+ years to take down Billy Bulger. As Carr rightly noted at the end of today’s column, “It may not matter much outside Massachusetts, but you’ll always be the one who took Jane Swift and Billy Bulger off the board. You’re Mitt Romney, and they can’t take that away from you.”

  15. Anonymous

    I think Edwards just ‘suspended’ his campaign, too. As I understand it, it may have more to do with the finances of the campaign, more than any hope to resurrect it if something unexpected happens to the leader.

  16. Anonymous

    Insular populism has been very good to Gelzinis. (If he had grown up in Revere instead of gentrifying Southie, he would be writing for the Metro).

  17. Anonymous

    don, “american”Rush has been attacking McCain and beating the drum for Romney for weeks. How can you possibly claim he has nothing to do with Mitt Romney? What’s a “solicited attack” anyway? Setting aside the fact that Rush (and mediocre minions like yourself and Bill Baar) spend all day every day disparaging liberals, is there a word of Gelzin’s paragraph that isn’t true?

  18. Anonymous

    Boston journalists are so pathetic in their contempt for Mitt Romney. I have to question how John McCain’s hororable service during Vietnam has anything to do with why Mitt Romney can’t run to the right of him. Because he was a prisoner of war, he becomes an impeachable voice for the conservative movement? Seems like ridiculously suspect logic to me. But I guess it would make sense to those who have an irrational hatred of a fine man in Gov. Romney.I think Gelzinis takes it a step further though with his religious bigotry. The MSM’s assault on Mormonism was disgusting. Gov. Romney’s religion was a media-made issue. The little jab Peter gets in about Gov. Romney’s mission in France was contemptable. The “Fourth Estate” apparently have become theological police set to adminster a religious test for public office.

  19. Peter Porcupine

    It was beyond contemptible, it was inaccurate. Romney never applied for a deferrment – his draft number was never called. As opposed to the Former Occupant spouse of She Who Must Be Obeyed, who spent VietNam smoking pot in England.

  20. mike_b1

    Romney a fine man? The guy who repeatedly lied, destroyed companies, and pushed honorable people aside when it suited his own needs? While a sitting governor, he spent taxpayer time and money taking trips to promote his — not the state’s agenda — and used those ops to mock the Commonwealth. Give us a break. And yes, his religion is a public issue if in fact his cultmasters (yeah, that’s right) in Salt Lake are dictating his policies — something he never disavowed, by the way.

  21. Peter Porcupine

    Mike – tell us again why Deval was in Iowa….what part of the Mass. agenda was being served?And please – find me a single instance of taxpayer money used to promote his alleged agenda. You must take into account that he served without salary for four years on the time issue.

  22. mike_b1

    Typical PP: try to change the subject.Re Mitt, oh, let’s see: all the travel costs, the security detail, the staff, the things that weren’t being done because he and his entourage weren’t here to do them — say, for instance, proper oversight of the Big Dig project — one of the planks of his campaign … you know, all those things that you like to ignore or would never consider because you are, well, you.

  23. Anonymous

    I think Mike lost any credibility when he called Mormon leaders cultmasters… disgusting is really all that is. And Governor Romney also has said many times that he will not allow his church to influence his presidential decisions.From his “Faith in America” speech:”Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.”How much of a reassurance does an ignorant bigot like you need Mike?

  24. Anonymous

    I’d also like to add that I think it’s comical that all your Baystaters are so offended that he mocks this state.Grow up a little.This state should be mocked, it’s constantly pushing the boundries of the far left. Maybe if any of you had a sembelence of any sort of actual virtue, there would be less to mock.

  25. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 3:20: Here’s another choice passage from Romney’s religion speech:”And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion — rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith.”In other words: As long as you hold a fundamentalist religious view of some kind, we welcome you. Otherwise, you’re our enemy. Thank you very much, Governor.

  26. Anonymous

    Anon3:26 wrote:I’d also like to add that I think it’s comical that all your Baystaters are so offended that he mocks this state.We don’t really care about being mocked. We care about being mocked about our GOVERNOR. We also don’t care about Mr. Romney’s religion. We elected him after all. We do care that he LIED about his positions on gay rights and abortion. Not to mention that he did nothing for the state except raise every fee he could find. As to Mass. pushing the boundaries of the far left, you clearly don’t live here. Yes we support gay rights, but we are, in general, far more truly conservative than Texas. Check out our divorce rate, for example. Or our drunk driving laws. Or our happy hour laws.

  27. mike_b1

    If you know anything about Joseph Smith — and I grew up not far from Nauvoo — you know he was a scam artist of the highest degree. And anyone who follows his “decrees,” by definition, is a cultist. Ergo, the head cultists are cultmasters.Calling me a bigot is a weak attempt to obscure the truth.

  28. Anonymous

    DK, I really disagree with your characterization of that portion of the speech. I think what he was saying was that he would not discriminate against someone of any particular religion. I don’t think he was excluding those with no religion, it’s just that the speech was about religion. This splitting of hairs time brings me back to media-contrived MLK story. Everybody knew that he meant “saw” metaphorically, but the media has to create some controversy because frankly covering the actual issues in a campaign is too hard. Instead, we’ll stick to being outraged over who is being pimped out and so forth.The press needs to stop focusing so much on process stories and horse race coverage. And I guess I will surrender to Mike on this whole religion issue. He must be more theologically enlightended than any other person on earth. I might just start worshipping him now, if he knows enough to confidently belittle a religion followed by millions. Secular progressives, what can ya do?

  29. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 7:46: You don’t understand the King story. The dispute isn’t over the word “saw” — rather, it’s “with.” George Romney never marched with MLK, period. And if it’s metaphorical, why did the Romney campaign provide two “eyewitnesses” to Politico? Let’s not forget, too, that Mitt Romney told the Herald in 1978 that he and his father had marched with MLK through “the streets of Detroit.”As for what Romney meant in his religion speech, I defer to David Brooks. Check this out:”When this country was founded, James Madison envisioned a noisy public square with different religious denominations arguing, competing and balancing each other’s passions. But now the landscape of religious life has changed. Now its most prominent feature is the supposed war between the faithful and the faithless. Mitt Romney didn’t start this war, but speeches like his both exploit and solidify this divide in people’s minds. The supposed war between the faithful and the faithless has exacted casualties.”The first casualty is the national community. Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious.”Brooks gets it exactly right.

  30. mike_b1

    Anon 7:46: The whole “Smith as prophet” notion has been categorically and irrefutably debunked. Whether millions since have drank the Kool-Aid is really beside the point. If you’d like to start defending L. Ron Hubbard now, be my guest.

  31. Anonymous

    “If you know anything about Joseph Smith — and I grew up not far from Nauvoo — you know he was a scam artist of the highest degree.” Talk about red herrings. What’s next, Scientology references? Er, never mind.

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