I’m going to convert this into a longer entry over time, but I will start with a bunch of quotes from the National Review, which endorsed Mitt Romney, but has said many negative things about him; in fact if you read all of these negative things, you really wonder how they came to endorse him. It is actually illogical.
I’m sorry but Romney still comes across like a well-cast actor in a movie of the week about a guy running for president.
Romney’s Catastrophic Answer: “I’ve always been personally pro-life.” That sure isn’t what he tried to convey in his debate with Ted Kennedy, citing his mother’s pro-choice activities and the death of a family friend as the result of a botched abortion. Courtesy of YouTube, hundreds of thousands have now seen that debate with Kennedy, watching with their own eyes as Romney asserted a personally pro-choice position. But he still can’t admit it? A highly intelligent, immensely accomplished, and hugely likeable candidate. But this? Appalling.
Romney sounds like a game show host. (Rich is quoting someone here, but presumably he wouldn’t have posted this if he didn’t agree with it.)
Romney the Salesman: That’s what he seemed like on that English question. First, he didn’t answer it. Then, he joked “I hope they vote for me”—which is what everyone suspects, that he’s pandering to everyone possible. Finally, he ended with a riff that fell flat about selling things.
Romney has got to avoid seeming to dodge these flip-flop questions—just contributes to the problem.
Mitt — Doesn’t Answer the Question About Why He’s Running Spanish Ads: Not his best moment tonight … and since he hasn’t seemed to get called on much, that’s making it a bad night.
The Romney Speech: Here’s my take: Put aside how rambling and unfocused it was. Maybe that can be chalked up to a bad night or fatigue. But to speak for 50 minutes or so and not to talk about the Iraq war before a conservative audience at a crucial moment in that war is bizarre and just wrong and almost offensive in my view. This doesn’t seem like an oversight. He went out of his way to check off every conservative box—except the one that is politically risky at the moment. The rest of his foreign policy stuff—when he talked about Iran and the broader war—felt very shaky and about an inch deep. His account of how he came to change his view on abortion—through the issue of stem-cell research—isn’t very compelling and he would probably be better off not talking about it at all. Fairly or not, people aren’t going to believe it. It was his misfortune to boast about signing Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge, after Jeb Bush gave a very mature and persuasive explanation earlier in the day for why he hadn’t ever signed the pledge, but still cut taxes each year he was in office. I’m a fan of the pledge myself and I’m glad Romney signed it, but his boast on this night after following Jeb played into what will be the chief vulnerability to his candidacy—the sense that he is simply pandering to the right. Believe me, I prefer politicians pandering to the right than to something or someone else. But it won’t be enough to sustain a serious presidential campaign, which has to have a deeper rationale than occupying a niche in the marketplace. It was just one night, and Romney is impressive in many ways, but Saturday night was a missed opportunity.