Carol Platt Liebau: What Is It About Mitt Romney?

Friday, July 06, 2007

What Is It About Mitt Romney?

That seems to attract such ridiculous -- and unfair -- press coverage?

First, there's this story: "Romney Criticized for Hotel Pornography." Sounds like the governor was indulging in a little extracurricular fun in a hotel room, doesn't it? So much for the misleading headline -- the story's about how Romney couldn't persuade Marriott hotels to stop offering in-room pornographic movies when he served on the company's board. So why the headline?

Then there's this piece by NRO's Jim Geraghty -- whose work I generally admire and enjoy so much. It argues that it would be easy for political opponents and the MSM to portray Romney as "strange" or "creepy" -- whether it's because he strapped his dog to the roof of the car or because he's a Mormon (Geraghty does note, as I did here in March 2006 about the MSM's new-found fascination with Mormonism).

It's legitimate to look at whether a candidate is himself polarizing or whether he, by his past behavior, has rendered himself unpalatable to a vast swathe of the electorate. But the issues Geraghty surrounding Romney fall into neither of these categories. They are, as Geraghty himself concedes, petty and idiosyncratic.

It strikes me that it's a mistake to try to preemptively disqualify candidates by second-guessing how the other side might slime them. After all, look at Ronald Reagan in 1980 -- no wonder Carter wanted to run against him: An old guy, former actor, co-star with a chimp, reputation as a Goldwaterite war-monger. What's not to love, from the Democratic perspective? Surely Howard Baker or John Anderson would have seemed to pose a much more formidable threat.

But Republicans refused to play the game of preemptively benching their own players simply because of what we feared the other side might try to say about them. We picked our strongest candidate . . . and look what happened.

Whether, this year, that candidate is Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani remains to be seen. And with the help of an all-too-complicit MSM, the Clinton camp will be able to make Rudy Giuliani sound just as "weird" as Geraghty finds Mitt Romney.

If Republicans are going to start discarding our own candidates, let's find more substantive reasons for doing it than fears of scurrilous attacks from the Clinton camp -- those are coming no matter who the nominee is. Our energies are best devoted to repelling such attacks and pointing out the desperation and the ugly mentality that underlies them -- not engaging in a futile attempt to evade them.


Blogger stackja1945 said...

"weird" seems to sum up the MSM/Dems since the 1960s.

6:28 PM  

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